Rating: 3 outta 5!
This is one of those movies you go in, not expecting much, to enjoy it for what it is- like a greasy burger at your favorite fast food joint- including the “after meal guilt”. Rampage, however, met expectation, and exceeded...gargantuanly (*googles* “ha! That’s an actual word”). Rampage is one of *the* best video game movie adaptations I’ve seen, bar none. The irony of the whole damn thing is that comparatively with other video game movies, it probably has the least amount of story to pull from!
The basic premise of all Rampage video games: Pick a monster, destroy stuff. There *is* some loose story in the games to tie it altogether- humans that were mutated into monsters, and now- are pissed (rightfully so, I’d think?). That’s all folks. That’s all we needed- and we got a few games, and a cult following from this- which mutated into the big Hollywood behemoth terrorizing our theaters right now.
Granted, there is some “artistic license” taken to help fill up the 1 hr 55 min movie - and when I mean some, I mean...most of the movie. You could say perhaps the movie was “influenced” by the games, and more of a tribute than anything. The 3 main monsters (I’m saying this for inclusion of the spiky rat in the beginning of this film..which was friggin’ amazing looking) are directly based off characters from the original game- George the Gorilla, Ralph the Wolf, and Lizzie the Reptile.
The story this time around is about some radioactive pathogen that changes and in effect, enhances the genetic structure of whatever is exposed to it...hence our 100 ft antagonists. The intro of the movie shows us the effects of the pathogen on a very neat looking spiky rat (again, friggin’ gorgeous thing) wreaking havoc in a space station owned by Energyne, the b-move/monster genre’s “evil corporation” for this movie. The sole survivor of this beastly rodent, Dr Kerry Atkins (played by the beautiful Marley Shelton) has to rescue canisters of the “Rampage Gas” to bring back with her - she escapes the rat, but dies shortly after in the escape pod, which explodes mid-space, the surviving canisters descending to the Earth...and who knows what this will lead to?!
Back on Earth, Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock plays Davis Okoye, aka the “Mysterious, Super Hero-built Primatologist-Ex Military- Anti Poacher Squad -Look At All My Muscles in all These Wide Shots- Bad Ass”, a friend to George, an albino gorilla (despite the fact he’s brown in the game..but really out of anything to be picky about in such a loosely-based film, why pick that out?). Davis saved George from poachers years ago, raising him in the San Diego Zoo. We’re given some good ol’ fashioned foreshadowing as George knows sign language (even giving “the bird”. Oh, how I love stupid humor sometimes, especially if its a monkey), and “The Davis” takes a few minutes to sign with George (and demonstrate to the audience) different words/symbols that will come into play in their epic team-up later.
Now onto the evil cave of evil bad guys! We’re introduced to Claire and Brett, sibling runners of the sinister Energyne. They have discovered the canisters survived and now are on a mission to find them. George discovers one, is blasted, becomes big overnight - a wolf (“they’re calling him Ralph” - nice easter egg name drop, Warner Bros) finds one in a forest- and of course, a crocodile, Lizzie, finds one in a swamp.
The next good while of this film is The Davis trying to calm down the increasingly agitated, and growing George- Ralph murdering mercenaries in the forest, and Lizzie in glorious wide angle tease shots, as they made her the Godzilla to the other two monsters’ King Kong. When Lizzie is revealed in the finale fights of the movie, holy crap thats one awesome Kaiju-lookin’ lizard...a mixture of a Dilophosaurus & Biollante (of Godzilla movie fame (yes, I do love me some Godzilla..er, Gojira). The last 20 minutes of this movie is a true Big Monster fan’s dream- so much chaos and destruction and buildings falling- senseless destruction done right. The movie ends with George alive and the other two dead, and seemingly everyone’s hunky dory with a giant gorilla helping to clean the battle’s debris.
There is Dr Kate Caldwell, played by Naomie Harris, the genius genetic engineer who hates Energyne and Harvey Russell, played by the insufferable Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the “rebel cowboy” agent of OGA (Other Government Agency). I felt Caldwell’s character could’ve been WAY stronger vs the “Damsel In Distress” bit, which is a bit tiresome, but for what could be considered a very polished B-Movie Creature Feature, can be (though shouldn’t be) expected. I honestly love JDM in most all his roles, as he has a certain charisma about him- and his character as the cliche aggravated government help was very entertaining.
Claire and Brett, the main human antagonists, did what they were supposed to - with Claire playing the straight character and Brett being the snively comic relief. I’ll always feel bad for Joe Manganiello (plays Burke, the scarred mean-mugging mercenary lead), who I became a fan of during his stint as in the HBO tv series True Blood, as he never can seem to catch a good film break -though, him being playing a werewolf on TB, and being eaten by a giant wolf in this movie made me happier than I possibly should’ve been.
Dwayne Johnson has flown so many helicopters now, and shot so many guns at so many things, animals, aliens & bad stuff in general at this point, it’s kind of expected - in a good way. He’s become the Action Movie Star of this decade- and hopefully can ride it out in all the fiery glory as our action movie stars from yesteryear - I’ll be the first one in line for his first “serious old man role” in whatever movie that is 30 years from now. I honestly rolled my eyes when I saw he was starring in this film- but in hindsight, for such a campy movie, I should’ve expected it, and really he only adds to the fun that is Rampage.
Though a different creature from the games, Rampage was a lot of fun and once again is one of the best video game movie adaptations that has *ever* come out. I know, that doesn’t say a lot for VGMA in general, but hey- that is a pain that us nerds have endured for years now so - let us have this one, yeah?