Oct 17, 2018

[Movies] Rampage (2018) Review

There's a certain stigma around video game movies as they rarely seem to translate well to the big screen. There are two extremes when it comes to the more problematic side of these movies - good games that are twisted into bad movies or games with very thin plots that become odd movies. This is definitely one of the latter ones.

Rampage is based on a now obscure game that really didn't have much of a plot - if anything it barely had a premise. But somehow we ended up with a big budget movie that hopes to capitalize on nostalgia somehow but really the average movie-goer is too young to even remember the game existed.

To top it all off we have Dwayne Johnson in the movie. He's not a bad actor and in fact he can be quite funny. But his main challenge is that he doesn't always pick the most fulfilling roles for himself. At the very least he seems to have fun with all of his movie projects though.

Synopsis: Rampage is a 2018 science fiction monster movie directed by Brad Peyton. The screenplay was written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel and loosely based off of the Rampage video game by Midway Games.

The movie starts with our ominous little event - the Athena-1 space station owned and operated by genetics company Energyne has an unusual laboratory accident that leads to the destruction of the station with no survivors. One of the scientists assigned to the station was ordered to save samples of their work but her escape craft doesn't survive reentry into Earth's atmosphere and fragments of the debris fall across America. The cannister fragments release their unusual payload and result in various wildlife mutating into more monstrous versions of themselves.

Enter primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) who now works at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. The prize ape under his care is an albino gorilla they've called George, but our primate friend gets affected by one of the cannisters and starts to grow into a giant version of himself over a short period of time. He also gets increasingly aggressive despite his training under Davis.

What I Liked: As highlighted in the trailers for the movie, there are some crazy action sequences that try to deliver on the core Rampage franchise promise - giant monster creatures fighting human forces. It's not necessarily about monsters fighting other monsters because that's still more Godzilla territory after all. Here it's monsters fighting human military forces and other asymmetric battles because that's what the game was like. And we're totally on board for a giant wolf jumping towards an attack chopper.

And Dwayne Johnson totally makes the most of these roles. He's an action hero with a bit of a flair for comedy and he milks those moments when he can. He's always in some dual role where he's something smart but also an ex-military asset if only to justify how physically impressive he is. And it's not something to complain about - it's just part of the fun of having The Rock in your movie!

What Could Have Been Better: Okay, the story behind this movie is paper thing. Even the premise of the whatever device attracting all these giant monsters to the city to get somehow close to how the original console game would appear (monsters running through a city as a somewhat side-scroller in case you were wondering) but it didn't make a heck of a lot of sense when you try to look at things more rationally.

And the way this evil corporation sub-plot managed to somehow define the direction of the movie and play a role at the very end of things was just silly. I guess it was a decent effort to wrap up this additional plot point introduced to give the movie more substance than the game somehow. It's all kind of silly when you get down to it.

TL;DR: Rampage is a simple enough movie and not one that you need to think too hard about. But even for a movie of this nature, it's not particularly great or memorable and maybe suffered from lacking a decent enough franchise base to stand on. And thus the movie only gets 2 crazy big monsters being monstrous out of a possible 5.

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