‘Rampage’ dishes out fun and mayhem in epic way (review)

“We’ve created the next chapter in natural selection…Project Rampage works!”

Are you familiar with “guilty pleasure” films? No, not those. Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean “guilty pleasure” in terms of those films that are just abhorred by many other moviegoers for its overuse of certain tropes, repetitive plot points, bombastic and unnecessary effects and stunts, and, of course, the ridiculous resilient and unkillable protagonist. We all know the films that I’m talking about, movies such as those of The Fast and the Furious, Transporter or XXX franchise. Maybe it has something to do with bald headed protagonists.

Now, I know I’m the first one to be quick at shooting down movies like this. Personally, I can’t stand what any  of the TFATF films have become, and I’ve never been a fan of the XXX franchise, ever. I’m not sure if it’s the fantastical world they thrive in, or the unbelievable acting of Vin Diesel. Yeah, probably that. But along comes a “guilty pleasure” film that although is ridiculous in premise, does something that the others don’t: not annoy me. Maybe it’s because it’s derived from a mid-80’s arcade game, or maybe it’s because it stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yeah, probably that.

Rampage, directed by Brad Peyton, stars Johnson as primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance but shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, incredibly rare albino silverback gorilla who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with discredited geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

Peyton is no stranger to directing B-movie type films, such as 2012’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and 2010’s Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Naturally, these are the abhorred films I mentioned previously, and should never really see the light of day. Then, Peyton directed a massive hit in 2015’s San Andreas –starring Johnson as well- the disaster flick that took everyone by storm. Rampage was the perfect project for this director. Peyton honed his craft at not only creating a great disaster flick, but a fun one.

Honestly, how can you hate on Dwayne Johnson? Now, there have been some missteps he’s taken (Journey 2, The Scorpion King, etc.). But Johnson’s work at his physical and comedic peak in this film really shines, between his conversations with George the gorilla and the machismo banter between Johnson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film really sits on Johnson’s shoulders, but it’s his interactions with great performers that keep the film from going stale. Naomi Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan help the film move along, but the film does struggle when it comes to the scenes with Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy. Their ability to portray siblings, as well as the antagonists, suffer greatly through the lack of chemistry between these two performers.

Of course, you can’t have a monster-disaster flick without monsters! The CG in the film was very well done, as most of the major points in the film involve CG animation. Every creature was done creatively and expertly, from George’s massive size, the enormous flying wolf and the scary looking porcupine-alligator. What really gave the icing on the cake for the creatures was their ability to fight in their own unique way, giving personality to each one. This was done through the expert team that worked on the film, giving fans the dream monster battle they’ve been waiting for since they first played the game.

All in all, the film was good. It did have its failures, including the mention of the two antagonists, but also the pacing and some logistical aspects. But when you adapt a video game -that doesn’t really carry much of a plot, itself- to a major motion film, you won’t be able to please everyone. This film is a fun adaptation of the game that many people will enjoy, not because of its ability to mirror the game, but rather its ability to give a dynamic story to a game that originally had none. If you’re a fan of good storytelling, and looking for a “guilty pleasure” film, this isn’t a bad place to start.

Rating: 3/5 Atoms

Facebook Comments