Rampage - 2018
Director(s): Brad Peyton
Writer(s): Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel
Cinematography by: Jaron Presant
Editor(s): Bob Ducsay and Jim May
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Joe Manganiello
Synopsis: When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago (IMDB).
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the hardest working actor in Hollywood today. I don’t only measure this by his sheer number of movies and series he is involved each year, but the way he carries what would be a Sci-Fi original TV movie all the way to the big screen. Rampage is one of the biggest examples of his herculean effort. Based on the video game of the same name in which giant animals team up to destroy cities for points and… no reason really. It’s the ultimate arcade game in which you button smash your way to the finish line with zero to no strategy outside of getting as many points out of your turn as possible. The makings of a great movie?
Now don’t get me wrong, there is definitely an avenue for big blockbuster movies that feature giant monsters. Recently we have seen a trend with variations of said formula including Godzilla, King Kong, Pacific Rim and Power Rangers, to mention a few. But something that writers and directors tend to overlook is that you need characters behind the big monsters and a storyline that keeps the audience engaged long enough for the next big set piece to arrive. Unfortunately, this is something Rampage failed to do despite it having four credited writers.
The Rampage script is drenched with tropes and paper-thin characters that we see repeatedly. We have the doctor/scientist who lives a peaceful life and is devoted patiently to his work. But it just so happens he has a past where he is a highly trained, “black ops” type, as his skills will come in handy when shit hits the fan. We have the military colonel that will not listen to our protagonist. The over-the-top-millionaire villain who, no matter how bad things get, thinks that their money will save them in the end. I could essentially go on as there is not a single character that is interesting or describable outside of their rinse-and-repeat archetype.
Quick note: on top of stereotype characters, this movie also has stereotype action sequences seen before in countless movies. This movie weirdly reminded me of Transformers: Dark of the Moon since both have a bloated third act that just destroys Chicago to the point that you are bored.
Ok, so I started this review a bit too negatively and it seems like I absolutely hated it, but I didn’t. I had something that can be described as fun or close to fun. There are a few sequences where I was extremely entertained as they managed to recreate the spirit of the game. You see the monsters body checking the buildings, blowing-out the windows and destroying their foundations. There is a sequence that looks like a side scrolling video game as George the giant gorilla and Ralph the giant wolf fights the army. I wasn’t void of entertainment and I wasn’t angry that I gave this movie my time and money, I was just disappointed since the moments of “fun” where so few and far between.
Rampage is a monster movie blockbuster that, despite having one of the most charismatic and entertaining actors working today in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, lacks charisma and has around 25 minutes of entertainment in its close to 2-hour runtime. With characters less real than its oversized, mutated animals, the audience can’t find someone or something to connect with in this movie. The action is shot well but it goes on for so long and you are just begging the army or the animals to give up so you can go to the bathroom. Dwayne at some point will need to say no to a script, but I don’t fault the man for taking jobs as they come. I sure would if I was half the man he is. I’m probably one fourth the man he is right now. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is why I love movies.
Rampage is currently playing in theaters. Not a bad movie to see in theaters if you have MoviePass. If not, wait till its hits Netflix.
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