All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 & a trademark of All Ages Media/Mike Pascale.
Three canisters containing gene-editing gas from a corporate space lab fall to earth and turn a wolf, alligator and a San Diego Zoo gorilla named George into giant, enhanced and pissed-off “rampaging” monsters. George’s pal, zoologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne “Stop calling me The Rock” Johnson) and a scientist (Naomie SKYFALL Harris) try to find a cure while a federal agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aka WALKING DEAD’s Negan and SUPERNATURAL’s John Winchester), evil corporate siblings (Malin WATCHMEN Ackerman and Jake THE OFFICE Lacy) and the US military hunt them down as the beasts level cities.
Written by Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel from a story by Ryan Engle. Directed by Brad (SAN ANDREAS, JOURNEY 2) Peyton.
- Simple story, easy to follow, very linear with only one flashback (and it only took four guys to write it!). Motivations are clear and everything is set up well for the “rampage.”
- Of course, we have to mention the special effects and action. The gorilla named “George” (presumably a nod to the classic 1960s cartoon GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE) is superbly done, up there with the current King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. The giant wolf and alligator have interesting mutations more like the game (see “Cons” below). Battles are fierce and fun, with tons and tons of damage and explosions as you’d expect.
- Bonus for the space scene set up at the beginning. Didn’t expect it and it helped set the stage for what was to come.
- Casting: I can watch Johnson in anything, even if he’s a similar character. This one was a calmer-though-still-capable former Special Forces tough guy. And is there anything Morgan is not good at? WATCHMEN, THE LOSERS, SUPERMAN V. BATMAN (Bruce Wayne’s uncredited dad), you name it, there’s a reason the guy’s in everything. Here he has a southern accent as a “cowboy” OGA (“Other Government Agency”) agent who swaggers in and has a change of heart. Akerman was a good cold one-dimensional villainess and Harris was perfect as the well-meaning, perpetually worried scientific sidekick.
- Extra points to Joe (MAGIC MIKE, TRUE BLOOD) Manganiello as a macho mercenary wolf-hunter (sorry, ladies, he keeps his shirt on, and so does Dwayne).
- Some decent bits of humor and humorous dialog. A few good in-your-face testosterone-test confrontations.
- The villain’s payback is fairly clever and delicious.
- Pretty formulaic. You’ve no doubt seen this in a dozen other monster films, about misunderstood people/animals with connections, greedy corporations gone wild, secret Feds, military that over-reacts but can’t do squat, and so on. You can guess how it’s going to end, even though there was a cute twist which almost got me.
- It’s painfully obvious the budget went to Johnson and the gorilla’s special effects and little was left over. George has PLANET-OF-THE-APES-level motion capture movement and expressions (supplied by actor Jason Liles) and stuff. The wolf and alligator look totally made up and their movements aren’t nearly as good. Both are mutated into Godzilla-type monsters for no reason (other than to apparently match the video game versions). The wolf shoots porcupine-like spikes (once) and sports webbed wings like a flying squirrel. The gator looks more like a prehistoric monster with a spike-filled tail used as a weapon. But the gorilla, other than his size, is perfectly normal. Ugh.
- Johnson’s zoo team introduced in the beginning magically disappear later on. (They either evacuated or became wolf-chow/gator-chum; we’re not really told.)
- FROM MIKE: Long-time storyboard (and sometimes comics) artists Tim Burgard and Dan Sweetman are listed as “Illustrators” (instead of storyboard artists) but their credits are far down the list, several names after the “barber to Dwayne Johnson”–HE’S BALD!
- No end credit scenes, before, during or after. Could have set up for a sequel.
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF DEPT:
- Other than the obvious gravity/logistics stuff, it made no sense why the wolf was twice as big as the gorilla the gator twice as big as the wolf! If they all had the same exposure to the same chemical around the same time, they should have kept their natural proportions.
- I did some quick Googling: The wolf runs about 1,140 miles from Casper, Wyoming to Chicago (with no one apparently trying to stop it). The gator, also untouched, swims over 2,000 miles from the Florida Everglades to New Brunswick, Canada, 310 miles through the Saint Lawrence River and about another 1,000 miles around the state of Michigan to Chi-town (off of Lake Michigan)—three times farther than the wolf does, yet they arrive in the city less than an hour apart! (Also according to Google, wolves run faster than gators can swim, and even if the gator is double the size, he would only swim about 15% faster. Thanks to my math teacher for the help!)
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the whole film. Other than the quick opening scene and the subplot with the evil corporate siblings, there’s nothing much else. If you like watching giant monsters fighting, and dig The Rock, you’ll enjoy this like a bag of popcorn—not filling or nourishing but a pleasant snack. It’s obviously fun to see giant things on a giant screen but you can probably get a similar effect sitting up close to the TV and turning up the speakers for less dough.
P.S. Pascale can draw any monster, animal or actor you want, gimongous or tiny! Good stuff at a good price, and he’ll beat his chest when he’s done. Just ask Craig here!