Esther McCarthy reviews Rampage and Making the Grade
Rampage (12A) ***
There is something satisfying about checking your brain in at the cinema foyer and watching humans frantically try to fight back against a force of nature. Throw Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson into the mix, a proven box-office draw, and you’re guaranteed bums on seats. Rampage, then, is a perfectly serviceable blockbuster that will provide to a ready audience. It’s just a shame it’s not more fun.
Based on the video game that is also said to have inspired Disney’s hit Wreck-It Ralph, the movie tells the story of how a giant ape, lizard and werewolf wreak havoc on earth after being given genetic treatment that causes them to increase greatly in size and develop vicious temperaments.
Malin Akerman plays the ruthless head of a shady scientific corporation which aims to ‘weaponise’ creatures selling them to governments to wage war - as well as developing the antidote which will be of even greater value.
But when an experiment being conducted by Akerman’s company in outer space goes horribly wrong, George is one of the creatures who ingests the samples that fall to earth. It transforms him, a giant Godzilla-like lizard and a vicious wolf into ginormous and destructive wrecking balls, leading Davis desperately seeking an antidote to save his beloved creature. It's engaging but generic, and the CGI effects don't quite give the film the epic scale it needs.
Making the Grade (G) ****
The director who brought us the life of a woman through subjects of all ages in the wonderful His & Hers is back weaving his magic through another common theme.
Ken Wardrop looks at the quirks, personalities and often very moving personal stories of piano students - and their teachers. Moving up through all eight grades of the national piano exams, we get to meet children and adults from all over the country as they aim to improve - sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes reluctantly.
Like all of his films, it’s not long before stories start becoming personal and the film is particularly successful at developing the unique bond between students and teachers as they spend this valuable time together once a week.