Director: Brad Peyton Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi
Run Time. 1h 47min. Age Rating. 12A Released: 12th April 2018.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman.
A dangerous pathogen infects three different animals transforming them in to towering monsters. Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) will do his best to save Chicago and rescue his mutating gorilla George along the way.REVIEW
When you’ve got a movie based on an arcade game about towering monsters fighting one another, it’s probably safe to assume the movie adaptation isn’t going to be Shakespeare. Of course the film knows what is, a big budget B movie, it’s ridiculously dumb but at the same time it’s somewhat charming.
Strangely enough we can almost guarantee that the biggest draw of Rampage won’t be the spectacle of a massive monster mash, but the chance to watch the equally massive action star Dwayne Johnson to get stuck in to the crazy spectacle. At this moment (minus Baywatch) Johnson is an undeniable action superstar, and with the likes of the rebooted Jumanji with a box office haul just under $1,000,000 it’s no surprise we’re seeing him lead not one, but two blockbuster movies this summer.When an experimental genetic formula crash lands in to the habitats of three distinct animals. A crocodile, a wolf and a white gorilla named George, that just so happens to be Davis Okoye’s (Dwayne Johnson) best friend. Following their contact with the formula, the animals rapidly start to grow and become more aggressive, leading to a a secret service team headed by Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to put a stop to their rampage.
The main reason any of this film works so well isn’t the solid CGI, or ridiculous action, but Dwayne Johnson’s undoubted charisma, I mean who else could pull off knuckle bumping a CGI gorilla? That being said the film doesn’t try to coast off of Johnson’s charm alone (though it certainly helps), there’s plenty of fine monster action to witness too, as well as a swaggering turn from Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Secret agent ‘Negan’, *ahem* agent Harvey Russell. The thing is Johnson’s charisma not only helps sell the bonkers spectacle, but also along with CGI gorilla George helps to sell a believable friendship between man and monster. A relationship that roots itself at the movies very core, elevating it ever so slightly above the generic big dumb action movies we’ve came to expect.
In terms of the action, and pacing director Brad Peyton wastes no time moving from scene to scene, he knows why the audience is here and doesn’t want to slow down that journey. Whilst the big duke out doesn’t take place until the film’s 3rd act, a lot of exciting action blips crop up to keep us entertained whilst the rampaging behemoths make their way to the final showdown. It’s all staged excellently too as the frames give off a great sense of scale to these monsters as they rip through the world like a poorly constructed LEGO set. There’s an increasing sense of power given to the beasts as they gradually build to the 3rd act beat down. By the time the throw-down happens you’ll be completely invested, expecting each wallop to bring down towers as you witness the citywide desolation no questions asked (at least no towards any of the action)
On the other hand, the plot perhaps embraces the campy silliness a bit too much, in fact it could give last year’s Geostorm a run for its money in some departments (we haven’t forgot you thermometer scene). The villain’s plot of the film seems to be so unfathomable you couldn’t even place what was going through their heads. It’s a strange feeling as the longer the film goes on, the quicker the narrative cohesiveness seems to nose dive, whilst the core relationship of Okoye and George seem to cruise comfortably, which helps to counter weigh the nonsensical actions of everyone else. The dialogue is B movie goodness at it’s best though and doesn’t seem to want to strain certain scenarios too far (even if they do push it extremely close at times). Then again outside of Johnson, Morgan and George the Gorilla, the performances of the rest of the cast seem to fade from memory as soon as you leave the cinema, although that’s probably owed in part to Morgan channelling (quite) a bit of Negan in the process.
Despite it’s enjoyable silliness, Rampage doesn’t quite keep tabs on all it’s moving parts. So as fun as Dwayne Johnson seems to be in the leading role there’s the laughably poor villains who seem to fall in to cookie cutter business woman and over scared partner, whose ridiculous plan starts as complete nonsense, yet somehow gets worse as the film goes on. Their performances seem a bit too serious, and when you compare it to the tongue in cheek delivery from Johnson & Morgan they seem so far field from the cheesy fun at hand. That being said Naomi Harris is fine as she is but doesn’t really do enough to make an impact on the film. Outside of the film’s misplaced villains and the at times banal plot points Rampage just about manages to keep the movie afloat, even if there’s a few minor leaks in the hull.
Rampage is B movie nonsense as you may expect, though the story at times can be a bit too far field. The action is good, and the central relationship of man and ape help elevate it beyond what could have been another bland CG experience. It’s massive monster destruction mixed with a charming Dwayne Johnson reeling off B movie dialogue, and it’s just as enjoyable as that sounds.
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