Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jaron Presant
WRITERS: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel
MUSIC: Andrew Lockington
“Rampage” is based on a video game that was released in 1987 and spawned several sequels in the arcades back in the day. In the game, you take control of one of three monsters (an ape, a lizard, or a wolf) and you proceed to basically destroy and eat everything in sight including people. It’s a good, mindlessly fun time but not necessarily something that shouts that it needs a big budget Hollywood treatment.
Therefore, when I went into the movie, I couldn’t blame the film for being brainless fun and that’s all I really expected. Sadly, the film couldn’t even reach that very low bar for entertainment. First, let me get one positive note out of the way.
It is undeniable that Dwayne Johnson has carried on the legacy of action stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. He has a certain charm that pulls you in and even if the rest of the film is not up to it, Johnson always gives it his best. The same can be said as Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist who takes care of an albino ape named George.
After an incident on a space station, several canisters containing a weird compound that mutates genes crash lands on the planet. Eventually, the canisters contaminate not only George, but also a wolf and a lizard. They proceed to mutate and grow and eventually the military starts to come after them. Beyond this, two corporate Snidely Whiplash villains are trying to coverup their roles in the creation of the genetically mutated creatures.
If you’ve seen the trailers, then you know that the creatures eventually attack a city. This happens in the last twenty minutes of the film. Had the rest of the movie contained the sort of mindless fun that the climactic battle contains, then it could have possibly been a nice little B-movie. However, for the first hour and fifteen minutes, we mostly follow the human characters as they simply chase the creatures down and we barely seen the creatures during this time.
The biggest problem is the ever-changing tone of the movie. There are moments where it wants to be a monster flick, then there are moments where it sort of tries to be a horror movie. Also, there are moments where I can see the PG-13 rating at work, then there are scenes involving crude humor and blood and I wonder how it got away without getting an R rating.
The movie never quite infuriated me as much as, say, a “Transformers” film, but I definitely rolled my eyes a time or two. I’m all for a mindless good time, but I don’t want it all bottled in the last twenty minutes as I drag through two ultimately boring acts that not even the charm of Dwayne Johnson could save.