After watching “Rampage,” I am convinced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can do anything. A part of me struggles with blockbuster fatigue but 2017 affirmed me that there’s a resurgence in smaller films that can pack a huge punch when it comes to characters, stories and brillant writing. It has shown that big and bombastic doesn’t mean better—unless you have The Rock there. I was prepared to quietly exit halfway through the film but I can’t believe I finished it.
In Rampage, Dwayne Johnson plays a primatologist named Davis Okoye (no relation to the General of the Dora Milaje) who has built a special bond with a silverback gorilla named George. After a series of mishaps resulting from harried science and corporate greed, George, turns gigantic and more aggressive. Then it’s all chaos and madness as Davis the animal and pet lover tries to get the George he knows back.
It’s absurd but The Rock just holds it together. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in it too—the trailers just showed the scenes where he’s behaving like Negan (his current “The Walking Dead” character) but thankfully, he wasn’t being Negan.
Hollywood owes the magic of Dwayne Johnson a lot for reviving and starting up franchises. He brought “Jumanji” back to life and there will be a “Jumanji 2.” There’s even going to be a “San Andreas 2.” Furthermore, he gave the “Fast and the Furious” franchise a much needed shot in the arm—just look at it now. I was about to jokingly say, “The Justice League” might just need him because Wonder Woman can’t save the brand alone. But it turns out we may just see him in a DC movie soon.
Going back to smaller films packing a big punch—“A Quiet Place” opened here two weeks ago and people are still talking about it. It has an incredibly simple premise and a very modest budget. There are only six actors in the credits and two of them are on maybe less than five minutes. It stars Emily Blunt and her husband John Krasinski who directed the film.
Sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn did a remarkable job here, where sound and the absence of it play such a huge role. In words of director Krasinski: “Re-thinking sound was huge for us the whole way. We’ve all had to learn to be quiet in ways we’ve never been before on a set. And apart from that quiet, the importance of the sound design started to become more and more apparent. When you’re so quiet, and then you suddenly hear water or trees blowing in the wind, it’s astonishing. You realize that in this day and with the phones and everything, we don’t often get a chance to just listen to the world.”
Whether you like it loud or want to experiment with the sound of silence and suspense, there’s something out there for you.