I feel like we’re experiencing a lot of movies with giant monsters in them recently. It’s sort of a kaiju renaissance, if you will. This works out great for people like me. I love this stuff. But, just having giant monsters in your movie doesn’t mean it automatically good. And a film like Rampage isn’t going to be for everyone anyway.
Loosely based on the old 1986 video game, Rampage essentially has three animals, an albino gorilla, a wolf, and a alligator, that have come in contact with a secret, government-manufactured gas that mutates the animals to massive size and strength, and makes them really irritable. They all converge on Chicago and wreak havoc. Maybe they aren’t Cubs fans? Oh, and Dwayne Johnson is best pals with the ape named George. He tries to help fix things.
Dare I say that’s all you really need to know about the plot? I mean, really, the rest is sort of rehashed from a million movies of similar ilk. It’s sort of like a fill-in-the-blanks kind of thing. An nefarious bio-genetic corporation takes helpful gene science and twists it for military gain. An accident occurs and the chemical ends up where it shouldn’t be and then the corporation tries to cover it up and things go awry.
There are all the usual elements here: the evil corporation has a very diabolical leader – the deliciously nasty Malin Ackerman, who seems to be relishing her bad girl role. Her buffoonish sidekick/brother, played by actor Jake Lacy, is practically a Disney character.
Then there’s the shadowy government suit that seems vaguely threatening – played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is basically playing his Negan character from The Walking Dead, but with a coat and tie. There’s the attractive but smart scientist who designed the chemical that has affected the animals, but wants to help our hero fix the problem she helped create – actress Naomie Harris. And of course, none of these people have anything to do without our hero – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He plays ex-military (of course) guy, now primatologist, David Okoye, who had raised the gorilla, George, since he was a wee babe, after George’s mother was killed by poachers. (Insert social message here. It’s a good one, though.)
Almost everything that happens in Rampage – particularly the actions of each character – is obvious from more than a few minutes prior to it happening. Some things that happen are out-loud laughable. And yet, that’s part of the fun. And indeed, there is some legitimately funny stuff here. Frankly, Rampage is actually pretty fun all around despite so much predictability and cheesey one-liners.
And let’s face it, Dwayne Johnson is just compulsively watchable. I get it, some people may not be fans, but I can’t find a reason to dislike him. He delivers his one-liners with an affable ease, and he’s just impossible to look away from. And manages to convey complete sincerity when interacting with George, the ape, even when we know it must be a guy in a motion capture suit.
Speaking of which, the CG is great. The giant animals/monsters are awesome, and the last third of the film is full of them doing impossible things, destroying buildings like the game namesake, and fighting each other. It’s a kaiju fan’s dream come true. Moreso than Pacific Rim: Uprising. It seems like everyone is trying to get their monster battles in before the next Godzilla movie comes out next year.
It’s a tough call to say Rampage is a good movie. But it’s certainly not the worst movie, either. If you love Dwayne Johnson, you’ll dig this. If you love giant monsters, you’ll also probably dig this. If you don’t care about those things, this movie will do nothing to change your mind about them. Rampage isn’t going to be for everyone, but the audience is more built-in for this.
I enjoyed Rampage enough to give it three kittenhands. It’s good for a big screen viewing, but I’ll bet most people would be mildly entertained watching it on a plane or when it becomes available for streaming. I’m just a sucker for this kind of crap. 🙂
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, watching in wonder as one of the trailers in front of Rampage was Skyscraper, yet another Dwayne Johnson film. Is that common? It makes me wonder if I’ve ever seen that happen before? I must have.