How does one go about making a movie about an 80’s arcade game where the sole purpose is to destroy city after city after city as either a giant ape, wolf, or lizard? I suppose Brad Peyton’s Rampage is one way to do it.
The movie, much like the game, is really more about the stupid fun and rampant destruction than anything else. As would be expected, some core changes to the story have been made. Instead of humans that mutate into giant creatures, these are normal creatures that mutate into giants. Now, why Ralph and Lizzie gain additional attributes and George (the ape) just gets huge is never really explained, or I just missed it, but it is what it is… which can be said a lot about this movie. It is what it is.
In Rampage, Dwayne Johnson plays as primatologist Davis Okoye who is best buds with a rare albino gorilla, George. When George gets exposed to a secret mutagen that fell to earth from a secret space experiment he gets bigger and angrier. As the trailer revealed, two other creatures get doused with the secret sauce – an alligator and a wolf. It is not like they needed to hide their reveal as anyone who played the game knew there were three big beasties.
Malin Ackerman (of Silk Spectre II fame) plays the one note bad guy – The ruthless, anything for a buck head of NRG, the company behind the secret testing. Malin’s Watchmen alum Jeffery Dean Morgan pops up here as well basically playing Negan on holiday. Not quite as ruthless as his Walking Dead counterpart, he exudes a same kind of smarmy charm as military operative Harvey Russell. It’s a performance you have seen him do, but is still fun watching him in his element. Same for Dwayne Johnson as he goes from one action set piece to the next just “Rocking” it up along the way.
Rampage got a few solid laughs out of me. Davis’ and George’s back and forths give the movie more heart than you would expect. Now, did they have to completely rewrite the characters from the game to make a more engaging movie? Not necessarily. They could have made Lizzy, the giant lizard, The Rock’s wife to stick more to the game’s monster origins and provide some depth, but then they couldn’t have thrown in the obligatory potential love interest Dr. Kate Caldwell played by Naomie Harris.
If you are looking for some mindless fun with some big action and a few laughs, catch Rampage as it hits the dollar theaters or Redbox it when it hits home DVD/Blu-ray. It’s sure to make its production budget back and then some thanks to the global market. It won’t change your life or world view or anything, but it is worth checking out for fans of kaiju flicks, 80’s arcade nostalgia and The Rock.