When I go to see a movie, I play a small game. The game is called, “Find the hidden stories within the story.” It’s simple, all you have to do to play the game is find a story from the past that seems to have been slipped into the present story—kind of a mosaic of stories cannibalized to make a new-old one. Rampage is one of those stories.
It highlights the fears of the 1950’s when atomic energy was more feared than appreciated. Most Sci-Fi movies in the 50’s had monsters or giant bugs that were created from atomic isotopes. “Beginning of the end” (1957), centered on giant grasshoppers that eventually attack Chicago. Where the 1954, “Them,” had giant ants that attacked the sewer system of Los Angeles.
The list of giant insect horror movies seemed to follow the same pattern.
Rampage (2018) has giant animals but in the 21st Century they weren’t created by atomic isotopes, we have evolved into genetic research and experimentation. We can now make any creature our ID, a word that comes from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet.” It stood for the subconscious. Since today’s genetics scientists don’t have a conscience in what they are playing with, there is no limit to the number of creatures and stories that can be created.
Rampage also has elements from another era—the 1940’s. In 1949, a film called, “Mighty Joe Young,” which was a take-off of the 1933, “King Kong.” Mighty Joe Young is about a young woman who befriends a giant ape in Africa. Rampage, on the other hand, has a primatologist who befriends an albino ape he saved while in Africa.
But it doesn’t stop there. Like the H.G. Wells story, “War of the Worlds,” nothing seems to be able to stop the giant creatures as they descend on Chicago. I find it interesting that the three cities most adopted to get attacked by creatures or aliens seems to be Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York. How would the story change if aliens or giant creatures attacked Madison, Wisconsin, Greenville, South Carolina, or San Jose, California?
Isn’t it amazing that all the military power that can take down a country can’t take down a giant animal or insect? And, like most of stories, the military always has an atomic weapon, I guess a trump card from the 1950’s to wipe out the creature(s) and the whole city. But wait, we won’t have to do that. Why? Because there is always one individual who has been studying the creature and knows the weak spot. Shakes of Smoke, the Dragon in, “The Lord of the Rings.” There is always one plate, one Achilles hill, that can take down the enemy.
And our protagonist, who can be a young boy to a young girl, a student, or a librarian intern, always has studied the problem more than the experts and will be responsible for delivering the final blow. It’s all part of the pattern of The Hero’s Journey—You got to love it!