They had me at “giant albino gorilla,” and the rest is just genetically mutated gravy.
Like the recent Tomb Raider film, Rampage is the movie adaptation of a video game; in this case, it’s a game that has been around since the arcade days of the mid-’80s. Since then the game has been played on a multitude of platforms, but I can’t say I’m familiar with its story details beyond a couple of quarters I plopped down back in the day.
In the new film, though, the plot is pretty simple (and perfectly logical): Scientific experiments with genetic mutations are being performed on an orbiting space station. When the tests go awry and the dangerous gases come crashing back to Earth, an ape, a wolf and a crocodile are transformed into gigantically enraged monsters, hell-bent on destroying the planet.
Only Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a badass primatologist who once saved said rare albino-gorilla, named George, and taught him sign-language (including the nasty words) and scientist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), together with deep-state government agent, Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Walking Dead’s Negan), can acquire the monster-antidote and save the day.
If you think that all sounds pretty silly, it is, but it’s also 60 tons of fun (King Kong’s weight, by the way – yes, I looked it up!) Rampage taps into that deep-rooted and primal desire in each of us to tear everything down just for the fun it. (Don’t believe destruction is part of our DNA? Take a look at who we elected to be President. Better we keep that stuff on the movie screen!)
Director Brad Peyton and writers Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse (Lost) have infused Rampage with numerous goofy but memorable lines, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have the lion’s share of them – including one where he explains his job that will definitely go into my book of favorite quotes – you’ll know it when you hear it.
For fans of The Walking Dead, Morgan basically plays TWD’s smarmy Negan character as a government agent, and I’m sure, based on Negan’s popularity, that’s not an accident. (Hmmm… maybe The Walking Dead could use an infusion of giant monsters? Just saying!)
It’s also nerdily notable that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Rampage’s villainess, Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman), were both in 2009’s Watchmen film, as the Comedian and the Silk Spectre II, respectively.
Rampage also stars Joe Manganiello as a short-lived mercenary who is sent out early-on to stop the rampaging monsters and Jake Lacy as Claire Wyden’s brother, Brett, who plays the part of the dumb guy who holds up (and usually eats) the film’s product placement items.
The special effects here are of high quality and the action-adventure sequences are wild and crazy-fun. My only real faults with this movie are some gratuitous gore and a couple of juvenile and completely unnecessary gorilla signings. Those issues turn this from what would have been a fine “family” adventure film into something you probably don’t want to bring young kids – even though they’re the ones who will probably most appreciate a gorilla being crude.
Despite some very minor complaints, I had a blast watching this movie and I would love to see the further adventures of The Rock and his large gorilla. This is definitely not Oscar-worthy material, but that big ape inside of you is going to love it. Grade: 7.5/10
Photos Copyright © 2018 – Warner Bros. Pictures
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