Tuesday, June 26, 2018

monkey trouble.

It's the school holidays so the podlings are choosing the movies around here for the next 6 weeks.

Luckily today they chose probably THE best monkey/wolf/crocodile-based beat 'em up released this year.

Rampage (2018).
Dir: Brad Peyton.
Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Marley Shelton, P. J. Byrne, Demetrius Grosse and
Breanne Hill.

"...Of course the wolf can fly!"

Somewhere in Earth's orbit spacelab Athena-1, a research facility owned by the junior Umbrella Corporation Energyne, is on fire and falling to bits due in part to the mutated lab rat named Larry, who's escaped from his cage looking for snacks.

Stuck in the middle of all this mayhem is Dr. Kerry Atkins (Warriors of Virtue's Princess Elysia and Planet Terror's Dr. Dakota Block Shelton) who is desperately trying to secure some highly important Thermos flasks full of science-y stuff before the whole place explodes.

Which it does in spectacular fashion just as she reaches a handy escape pod which unfortunately too explodes sending the flasks hurtling to Earth.

And it's on Earth - or more precisely at a San Diego wildlife preserve -
where we meet ex-US Army Special Forces tough guy, UN anti-poaching officer and part-time primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) and his best friend, a rare albino gorilla named George whom he saved from pesky poachers when he was just a baby.

The gorilla that is, tho' I'm sure Dwayne Johnson was a baby too once.

After some basic character stuff and some Mr Tumble style comic signing Davis heads home for the night so misses the point where one of the space-based canisters crashes into George's enclosure spraying him with a noxious green gas.

Meanwhile the remaining flasks crash to Earth landing in the Everglades, where it's scoffed by a hungry crocodile and a Wyoming forest where a lands on a sleeping gray wolf.

Hmmm....I forsee trouble.

And maybe a wee bit of rampaging.

"Shite in mah massive monkey mooth ya green-gilled bastard!"

The next day Davis and co. are fairly surprised to find that poor George has grown to over twice his normal size, killed a grizzly bear in a fit of pique and is now hiding in a cave covered in snot and tears.

Which is nice.

As Davis waves his arms about trying to find out what the hell is happening who should turn up but genetic engineer and plot exposition expert Dr. Kate Caldwell (Ms Moneypenny herself, Harris), who helpfully explains that the gas that George has come into contact with was developed by Energyne in order to rewrite a creatures genes, she developed it in order to cure her brothers ingrowing toenail and bunions but Energyne - being a huge multinational company and therefore evil - have perverted her research and weaponised it.

The companies owners, the resting bitch faced Claire Wyden and her Donald Trump Jr. like brother Brett (ex Famous Monsters editor and Watchmen's Silk Spectre Åkerman and ball-faced Lacy from The Office) upon discovering she was about to spill the beans (tho' not alas slowly over her silky smooth thighs) got her sent to prison and discredited before continuing the research.


George, hungry for bananas and bored with all this chat escapes only to be quickly captured by a team of covert government agents led by the twangy  Agent Harvey Russell (The Walking Dead's Morgan) who pops the sleeping chimp on a plane bound for a secret base of something.

Honestly if they don't care why should i?

Meanwhile, Claire and Brett have hired a hit squad of mercenaries to find and capture the wolf, which has now mutated to giant size and is going by the name of Ralph.

No, really.

"Laugh now!"

Nothing about this plot thread matters tho' as the mercenaries are quickly dispatched giving us much more time to witness Davis signing to George and telling us how animals are nicer than people whilst a giant wolf makes it's way across mainland USA killing people.

He really didn't think that one thru' did he?

With the death of her private army Claire falls back on plan B, which involves capturing Ralph and and George then hoping one of them will kill Kate therefore keeping their secret experiments um, secret.

To this end they rig a huge transmitter atop their offices in order to lure the animals to Chicago.

Yup it seems that as well as having super strength and giganticness genes the animals have also been cunningly engineered to respond aggressively to a certain sound frequency.

Seems legit.

No sooner have they switched on the transmitter than George goes mental* and crashes the plane - tho' luckily Davis, Kate, and Russell manage to parachute to safety which acts as a bonding experience for the two tough guys who then vow to help each other save George and bring down the bad guys.

And girl.

No caption needed.

By this time George is miles away and heading for a showdown (and a bitchslap) with Ralph in downtown Chicago.

And as someone who's been there I can safely say it's no great loss.

Arriving at a military base for no other reason that to show how incompetent and trigger happy the army are, Davis and Kate convince Russell - who has gone from wise-cracking cowboy arsehole to wise cracking cowboy hero - to help them steal a helicopter (which Davis can fly obviously)so that they can arrive in Chicago before George and maybe even grab a bite to eat before the building throwing starts.

Unfortunately due to Trump's travel ban they get stuck in customs touching down just as George and Ralph begin their big bash attack.

With the military overwhelmed and outmaneuvered by a large CGI chimp and a dog puppet Davis and Kate valiantly attempt to make it to the Energyne building in order to steal a vaccine for George and save our monkey mate their journey is hampered by the surprise appearance of the mutated crocodile (named Lizzie) from earlier.

Much computer generated mayhem ensues as the terrifying trio begin throwing lumps of skyscraper at each other as the wolf flies around trying to each fighter planes.

Which begs the question, if Ralph has grown wings and can fire quills from his back and Lizzie has sprouted horns and a frilly neck thing, why George does nothing except change size dramatically between scenes.

He could at least have a massive mutant wang to beat folk with.

Or grown an extra head.

It's almost as if the film features no real science at all.

But at this point who gives a fuck cos the airforce have launched a big shiny stealth bomber and plan to level Chicago with a massive bomb.

Fuck yeah.

"Spice Girls number one for Christmas.....MONSTA!"

Meanwhile at Energyne our heroes easily manage to procure a few vials of the antidote but in order to ramp up the excitement level are caught by Claire and Brett.

Well by Claire actually as Brett's main characterisation appears to be sweating and twitching whilst wearing a blouson jacket that not even Timothy Dalton would be seen dead in but them the breaks I guess.

As a plus point Jake Lacy is considerably less punchable than his slightly more famous lookalike Matthew Lillard so it's a win all round really.

As she sinisterly - and it has to be said quite sexily -  reveals that the serum only eliminates the animals' aggression rather than revert them back to their normal size - or in George's case whatever size suits the scene.

Taking the vaccine, Claire shoots Davis in order to show what a thoroughly bad girl she is but luckily with Dwayne Johnson being constructed entirely from 100% ham he survives so she decides to just leave the pair where they are and escape by helicopter which is kept on the roof.

The same roof that houses the transmitter.

You remember the one the beasts are after.

I foresee trouble.

Malin Åkerman in a scene obviously cut from the movie.

As Davis and Kate attempt to catch up with the dirty dealing duo our science-type pal informs Davis that she secretly hid a vial of vaccine just in case the situation arises where she can pop it into Claire's bag and feed her to George, laughing at the thought of such a thing happening they continue to the roof where the aforementioned monkey is busy beating a wolf around the head with the helicopter.

With her only means of escape currently being waved around by an angry simian, Claire forces Davis to distract his hairy pal (George not Kate obviously)  while she attempts to sneak into the helicopter dressed as a banana but being resourceful Kate does indeed sneakily pop the vial into Claire's handbag and pushes her towards George, who swallows Claire her whole.

You'd think he'd spit that bit out tho'.

With George returning to his senses Davis hurriedly explains the situation to him and the by now far less angry ape agrees to help the humans but the airstrike is still incoming and preparing to blow the city to bits.

Will George defeat the bad beasts before making an inappropriate sex-based sign language joke?

Will Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character actually do anything other than spout chocolate box platitudes like some PC be-suited Roy Rogers on Valium?

Will the world's love of Dwayne Johnson (and it's ability to forgive him every shite film he ever makes) ever end?

 Will I actually remove the pole from my arse and admit to actually lapping this film up?

Let me start by admitting that I'm a sucker for a giant monster movie - especially one based on one of my fave arcade games (a game which, I admit I still occasionally play) so when they announced that they were adapting Rampage for the big screen - and featuring everyone's fave beefcake Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson no less - I'll admit I was a wee bit excited.

And that excitement literally doubled when I discovered that the director attached to the project was Brad Peyton, the man behind not only the criminally underrated Cats And Dogs sequel Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (a film that is on an almost constant loop in our house thanks to young master Cassidy) but also the retro-style disaster flick San Andreas (which also features Dwayne Johnson, helicopters and one of the Watchmen cast - is there a pattern forming?) and introduced the world to the spooky charms of Nadia Litz in his short film Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl.

Seriously why hasn't this guy won an Oscar yet? - or at least one of those well done certificates they give school kids.

Or even an 'I am special' badge.**

"I'm not a real welder!"

But - I hear you cry -  enough of the Brad Peyton love-in, is Rampage any good?

Well quite frankly yes.

It's a work of genius that is so meta in its almost perfect pastiche of dumb as nuts 80s action movies that it could actually be mistaken for genuinely wanting to be one.

It's terrifyingly predictable to a point of almost becoming a Mel Brooks style piss-take of the genre and it knows it but unlike most other movies of its ilk Rampage doesn't actually give a fuck - it just cares about how much giant monster-based destruction it can throw at the screen and how many times it can have Dwayne Johnson signing "Are you OK buddy?" at a CGI albino monkey whilst looking vaguely concerned.***

It even has a message of sorts about man being the real monsters tho' this is slightly less convincing when it's offset with footage of a huge horned crocodile eating people whilst a wolf the size of a bus bites a helicopter.

Plus it features the worlds most popular actor Dwayne Johnson wearing a tight 'muscle' top going around hitting people whilst still having a caring, sharing side that appeals to men and woman (and gorillas) alike.

And if that's not enough at one point he tries to kill a flying wolf with a bazooka.

Essential viewing.

*Please note how I resisted putting that he went apeshit. You're welcome.

**The campaign starts here.

***The answer is 24 times by the way.

No comments: