Rampage SPOILER-FREE Review

Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes 

Rating: PG-13 

Directed by: Brad Peyton 

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan 

When three animals become supersized beasts, what do you do? You call Dwayne Johnson, the only other supersized beast who can stop them. Rampage is based off of an old-school arcade game, and it seems like a strange choice for a movie. What kind of story can you tell around a game that really only involves giant monsters fighting each other? But leave it to the powers at Hollywood to find a way to make it a big blockbuster motion picture in order to suck the money out of the audience's wallets. At least, that's how I saw Rampage going in. Nobody was asking for a Rampage movie. When you talk about the most desired video game movie adaptations, you hear names like The Last of Us or Uncharted, not necessarily Rampage. My hopes were never too high for this movie. I love the Rock, but he doesn't always make the best movies. For every surprise hit he has like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, he also has a dud such as Baywatch. So I walked in not expecting much, and I was ultimately surprised by how much I enjoyed Rampage. It's no Jumanji, but Rampage is a fun, entertaining film that you can have a good time with while watching a whole bunch of monsters wreck shit. 

Rampage is supposed to be pure, dumb fun. It's not looking to win any awards for its masterful filmmaking; it's just trying to give you a good time, and that's what I had. With that said, the quality of the film itself is genuinely surprising. It actually has an interesting story with decently developed characters. The dialogue isn't Aaron Sorkin-level, but it doesn't make me cover my ears and cringe. The design of the creatures, and the accompanying CGI, is really good. I have heard a lot of critics call the film "stupid but fun", however I didn't find it to be that stupid of a movie. It's no Godfather, but it does a really solid job in telling its story and delivering on a good movie. And, of course, the monsters duking it out made it all the more entertaining. The thing Rampage does best is establishing the relationship between Davis (Johnson) and George (Jason Liles). This bond between them is key for selling the rest of the movie, and they did a really great job with pulling it off. It is very reminiscent of the dynamic between James Franco and Caesar (Andy Serkis) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It's not done nearly as well as with that film, but it's a similar kind of dynamic, and this aspect of Rampage is probably the best part of the movie. The CGI is also really good. This is the kind of movie where bad special effects can ruin the entire film, since the monsters are front and center. Fortunately, the special effects are really well done, and they do nothing but enhance the movie. 

The biggest glaring weakness of Rampage is the villains. Jake Lacy and Malin Akerman play Brett and Claire Wyden, a brother-sister team who run the company that developed the genetic editing that ultimately creates the monsters. It feels almost as if there was a first draft for Rampage that was awful. They then did a re-write that made it actually pretty good, but the guy doing the new draft didn't touch any of the scenes with the Wydens. All the cringe-worthy dialogue and the horrendous performances seem to be contained within those scenes. Jake Lacy is frankly terrible in this movie. He wasn't just a poorly written character; Lacy wasn't just given bad lines to say. The character of Brett Wyden is not only a terrible character, but Lacy gives a really bad performance. Every time I was getting into the movie, it would cut to Lacy and he would be doing some bullshit. If the movie had re-written Lacy's character to make him a tougher, more hard-edged CEO, and replaced the actor with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, then you would have had a great villain. Morgan as Harvey Russell is really good in the movie, but he would be better suited as the villain, and then you could have someone like Jon Bernthal come in to play Harvey instead. I think that really would have solved the biggest issue Rampage has.

Overall, Rampage is a lot of fun. It isn't a great film, but it ended up a far better one than I initially thought it was going to be. Dwayne Johnson is Dwayne Johnson. He's charismatic and charming, packing as many punches as he does one-liners. The best part of the film is the dynamic between him and George, and the steps the movie takes to establish their relationship before shit hits the fan. The CGI is really good in this movie, which is a huge plus. However, the villains are the worst part of the movie. Jake Lacy and Malin Akerman's characters are poorly written and the actors give bad performances-- Lacy more so than Akerman. A simple rewrite could have made the villains stronger, and thus the movie would have been a lot more effective. The biggest question audience members will have before seeing Rampage is "How is the giant monster fights?" They're great. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but director Brad Peyton does a really good job with heightening the tension and making the action exhilarating. In the end, Rampage isn't a movie you're going to remember in a year, but it's a fun time at the movies. If you're looking just to have a good time, you may want to check out Rampage.


What do you think? Have you seen Rampage? If not, are you planning on seeing it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nathanael Moln├ír
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