WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: Brad Peyton

 

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Breanna Hill, Malin Âkerman

At one point during Rampage, The Rock fist bumps a gorilla and I found myself naturally assuming this would just happen in reality also.

 

With the loosest of connections to the classic Rampage arcade/video game series, this would class as a video game movie, so with Tomb Raider having a crack at being the number one video game adaptation earlier this year, what chance could a movie about a giant gorilla, winged wolf and alligator have at taking the crown?

 

Honestly, not a lot. But it has a bucket load of fun in having a go.

After a top secret experiment conducted in space goes horribly wrong, a mutating contagion is sent hurtling to Earth – drastically changing the size, strength and attitude of a friendly gorilla named George, and a wild alligator and wolf. Man mountain primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) leads a personal charge to save George and return him to his unaltered state, with discredited scientist Kate Caldwell (Harris) aiding with her expertise of the chemical. As the monsters ‘rampage’ across America, the brains behind the destruction, Claire Wyden (Åkerman), has her own nefarious ideas for the beasts. Mwahahaha!

 

Crash! Bang! Wallop! The Rock’s biceps!

 

It’s all found in Rampage – an exceedingly ridiculous movie that has one major asset in its favour – it’s an awful lot of fun…for the most part. When the movie is simply mutated monsters going at each other as Dwayne Johnson bundles in, the movie is actually enjoyable – not good, but enjoyable. It’s the times when the science and drama attempt to take over that things instantly fall apart. It’s nice that the director tried to make us feel something for the characters, but, c’mon…GIANT WINGED WOLVES BATTLING A MASSIVE HORNED ALLIGATOR? I’m in. Whereas something like Transformers: The Last Knight can be brainless but also offensively un-fun, Rampage generally knows its limits – and the main reason it’s simply not utter rubbish is Johnson’s effortlessly likable performance.

 

The movie is still crap, but there are worse braindead action flicks out there.

 

The intro scene is actually pretty good. Set on a space station orbiting the Earth, one scientist must silently retrieve the experiment vessels whilst a rampaging monster lurks. It’s fairly effective as a tense, horror-esque scene. As the movie begins to lose sight of its loose video game origin, the awful writing – there is the obligatory “thanks for saving the world” moment - and characterisations bog the whole thing down. The villains are cookie cutter and could realistically be called Evil Cliché 1 and 2. Don’t be fooled by my opening salvo regarding the movie, Rampage isn't a good movie – again, Johnson’s action hero performance, drizzled with his charisma and affability are the key reasons this movie isn’t being slaughtered. The other reasons are the monsters themselves – they’re pretty decent. Some of the CGI is iffy, but I liked the designs and they really are allowed to run riot – at times, the movie can be quite vicious as the body count rises. In one of the main game tie-ins, briefly, the nasties scale buildings and just bash away. The movie actually suffers from a lack of building bashing and monster mayhem.

 

When the best relationship is between a giant gorilla and The Rock, its right to assume that the movie isn’t particularly good. It’s almost folly to try and point at the plot or writing as negatives given the subject of the movie, but, still, they aren’t great. For a fun, ‘no brain required’ romp, Rampage will tick your boxes when the monsters are on the loose. For anything else, steer clear.

April 12th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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