ReviewWriter: Florey DMWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” & “Kong: Skull Island” The Good, the Bad and Rampaging Monsters:
The movie opens like a sci-fi horror (think 2017's "Life") but if that was not what you were hoping for in a The Rock-headlined movie, don't worry, it's not what you're getting. It quickly dismisses its horror tone the moment the story shifts to Davis Okoye, played of course by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Introducing the primatologist in the sanctuary where his best buddy, the albino Silverback gorilla George, lives, his intro scene wastes no time in establishing his close connection to and understanding of animals, especially when it comes to his "bromance" with George. Seriously, these two must be fun at parties. Except we won't catch Okoye at a party because it is also established that he prefers animal companionship to human; you'll get the why further into the movie.
George is given very human traits - he jokes with his best friend, he gets sad when he's done something wrong and he even apologises for his wrongdoings (through sign language, as taught to him by Okoye) - so when he turns into a rampaging monster, it's very hard to root against the gentle-turned-violent ape. In fact, you'll be left gripping the edge of your seat, hoping against hope that Okoye will get to save his "bro".
Speaking of relationships, it is refreshing to see that the movie does not go down the cliched route of hero meets pretty lady, hero falls in love with pretty lady, hero kisses pretty lady before going off to save the world. No, Naomie Harris' Dr. Caldwell is a pretty lady alright but she's not batting her eyelashes at the hunk she's hoping would save her. She's not going around kicking and punching people either but she doesn't have to, strong women don't come in only one mould, she has her brains and she puts that to good use (she was the one who created the gas that modified the animals' genes after all). Harris nails her genetic engineer role perfectly.
These two are mainly the ones doing all the world-saving but some credit has to be given to Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Agent Russell too. The character often has this smirk, as if everything in the world both amuse and bore him greatly, and that is a role this "The Walking Dead" actor - whose sense of humour in real life translates to the big screen smoothly - manages to pull off.
The monsters are nothing short of impressive, thanks to the visual effects team's meticulous work. It's easy to forget George is really just a 190cm tall man (Jason Liles) running around in a green suit. The monster design is also impressive, each animal bearing characteristic that is a fun mix of other species' (listen closely to Dr. Caldwell as her information of which animal genes she uses in her experiments is peppered in her conversations with Okoye). The crocodile, for example, bears a resemblance to a frill-necked lizard and this makes it even more menacing whenever it roars. Ralph the wolf has spikes on its back and a hidden ability that stuns even Okoye - The Rock's one-liner reaction to this makes audiences titter.
Despite this being a movie based on an '80s video game, director Brad Peyton's vision is actually to make this more of a monster movie with a hint of the game (basically just three creatures going on a rampage and destroying things) and he's succeeded in that regard. It's a monster movie where gigantic creatures come in and stomp on everything and The Rock is there to stop them; a fun movie to just sit back and enjoy with your friends and family (though maybe close the little kids' eyes during some parts). Trivia:
• Jason Liles studied gorillas and trained with Terry Notary to perfect his motion capture portrayal of George.
• This is the third movie The Rock has worked on with director Brad Peyton, after 2015's "San Andreas" and 2012's "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island".Cinema Online, 19 April 2018