Rampage Review

If I were to list games I never thought would get turned into films “Rampage” would be right up there. It’s such an early game that there was no plot, just Godzilla-like city destruction. So, how did this simple concept translate onto the big screen? Well, not too bad really, it became a very by-the-numbers summer blockbuster affair, complete with lots of CGI city destruction and The Rock being all beefy and cool. Given the original game that’s got to be considered over-achieving! Let’s take a closer look…

Synopsis:

Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla that’s been in his care since birth. When a rogue genetic experiment goes wrong, it causes George, a wolf and a reptile to grow to a monstrous size. As the mutated beasts embark on a path of destruction, Okoye teams up with a discredited genetic engineer and the military to secure an antidote and prevent a global catastrophe.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

This is pretty much the whole film, but to be fair it was pretty much the whole game, so…

How “good” you find the film depends entirely on how much you like CG-heavy disaster summer blockbusters. I myself don’t love them if I’m honest, I remember loving Independence Day in the cinema when I was 11, but then… well, I was 11. Rampage fits this bill perfectly, with some exciting scenes and lots of skyscrapers falling and things exploding, but with little-to-no substance or plot. The trio of monsters from the game (George the giant ape, Ralph the giant wolf and Lizzie the Godzilla rip-off) are here, though are less anthropomorphised than the games, especially in the case of Ralph and Lizzie who just resemble large regular wolves and crocodiles. They are well realised in CG and do in the end climb skyscrapers, throw tanks and eat the occasional person, so they do have the games down well! Basically, if you’re just looking for something to pass two hours, then it’s fine, it does its job.

The Rock also does his job, that being the job of a charismatic leading man with great star presence. His character of Davis Okoye is very likable, both a talented Primatologist and a former army man (just to make his action stunts in the film make a little sense, not that it really needed to…) though he does occasionally suffer from being “overly nice” while also being an 80s action hero who literally shrugs off being shot in the gut as “I guess I got lucky and she missed all the vital organs, anyway let’s do this next bit”. It’s a very weird combination that doesn’t always work, but he’s never dull when he’s on screen, that’s for sure!

Agent Russell is a few more “poor decisions made by a naive general” away from breaking out the barbed wire baseball bat…

I also liked Jefferey Dean Morgan as Agent Russell, though he’s pretty much just playing Negan… to the point where Mr. Morgan himself admits that he filmed this alongside Walking Dead and may have gotten confused at points. Given Russell actually turns out to be a nice guy rather than an evil Agent like normal, it was a little disconcerting as I kept expecting him to turn on The Rock and give a sarcastic response while leaning ever-so-slightly backwards…

The Bad:

That ain’t the Lizzie I know! … Doesn’t look too bad though, to be fair…

While the film is far from deadly serious (obviously!) the villains were straight out of a 90s kids movie. Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and her comedy sidekick brother Brett (Jake Lacy) are a bumbling and depth-less duo that hatch sinister schemes that literally make no sense what-so-ever, and it’s completely at odds with the rest of the film. When the special mutating gas… stuff falls from a space station and infects the trio of monsters, who then start running amok and killing people, Claire unveils her plan of using a big radio mast to call the monsters to her headquarters and inject an antidote that will make them less aggressive. Great plan! Call the destructive monsters to your flimsy sky scraper and then try and inject them with something. What could go wrong? To make matters worse we find out later that it takes about 10 minutes to take effect, so what was the plan exactly? If this was a slapstick-filled U-rated kids film I wouldn’t have any issues, but that’s not how the rest of the film is presented.

Claire’s death also makes no sense. So all this time Davis has been palling around with a former employee of Claire’s company called Kate (Naomie Harris) and the two female scientists have a confrontation on the top of the company’s sky scraper as the monsters scale it, and Kate has one single syringe of the antidote. Up to this point George hasn’t eaten a single person, but Kate decides to put the antidote in Claire’s bag and call George, who then turns up and swallows her whole, antidote and all. I’d like to know what Kate’s plan would’ve been had George arrived and squished Claire under his fist, or flicked her away into the horizon like he’d done to every other puny human he’d come across. They’d be completely screwed! Far too convenient without any attempt to explain anything, though I did appreciate the motion the giant ape does to swallow her mimics the one from the game…

After the whole sky scraper thing we get a three way fight between Davis and George against Lizzie against Ralph, with the large lizard dispatching wolf early on. For whatever reason I just started to zone out here, I don’t know where I was CG actioned-out or it was the idea of the just-recently-shot human man being the one to take on the giant lizard for most of the confrontation, but I was just… no longer interested. George eventually delivers the killing blow and in a funny (though entirely predictable) scene pretends to be dead so he can flip Davis off to give everyone a warm and funny end to the film. It’s fine, but like I said, by this point I think I’d just zoned out…

Overall Thoughts:

Yep, looks like your average zoo worker to me!

Rampage is one of those films where if you went to see it in the cinema at a certain age I’m sure it will stick with you as a great time, but as a 35-year-old man watching it in his living room, it was just… okay. Inoffensive and well-made visually, it’s let down by an inconsistent tone and just a mind-numbing final 30 minutes. I can’t say it’s a bad movie for the genre it’s in, but I can’t say I’ll ever watch it again…

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