Nutshell: Big mutant animals! On a rampage! With lots of good looking guys all over the place! People who are looking for Fine Cinema in this film are idiots. For those of you who just want big monster fun, this is it. Grade: B
“This is beyond protocol!”
Story: Loner primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwane Johnson) has been working with albino Silverback gorilla George ever since George was a baby. But after space station debris touches down in George’s enclosure, things get weird. Bigger, meaner, and more violent kinda weird. But George isn’t the only animal infected. Cue the super-sized wolf and alligator! Good luck, Chicago.
Genre I’d put it in: Big Monsters Destroy City Boom
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the videogame of the same name.
Gotta say: This movie was kinda tailor-made for me. Monsters, plus good looking guys. Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello, Will Yun Lee. You can only beat that wonderful eye candy if you’d added in Idris Elba. (The fact that these guys are all in with the monster hijinks doesn’t hurt things.) Okay, so Morgan gets a bit too hammy with the Texas cowpoke persona. Also, Lee and Manganiello don’t get much screen time. But ain’t they all just the cutest though?
Cutting through the sausagefest is Naomie Harris (Moonlight, 28 Days Later) as scientist Kate Caldwell. Kate’s the one who came up with the genetic tweaking, though evil company supreme Engyne decided to try to weaponize it. They seem nice. Engyne honchos Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman, The Final Girls) and her brother-who-has-no-name (Jack Lacy, Girls) play the requisite eeeee-vil CEO and comic relief toady. These characters are only there to serve as exposition fairies and move the plot along. Still, it’s always nice to see Ackerman. Yes, I’m still bitter that Trophy Wife was canceled. That show was freakin’ gold.
WETA has done their usual top-notch job with the monster FX, making George and his wolf and gator buddies incredibly detailed and lifelike. Y’know, for a flying wolf and a gargantuan alligator/ankylosaurus hybrid. There’s a level of emotional resonance to George, and it grounds the film. Plus, it makes for a monster you can root for. Who doens’t love that? Director Brad Peyton (San Andreas) knows how to balance the glorious boom-boom-pow action with a touch of humanity by acknowledging the individuals trapped in Chicago when things go south.
I feel like I should say more, but honestly? This is a movie about mutant animals that’s based on a videogame. The word of the day here is ACTION. Set design, costuming, cinematography, even the performances all take a back seat to the glorious CGI hijinks. (Okay, the cinematography is beautifully crystal clear so we can have maximum monster enjoyment at all times. Thank you, Jaron Presant.) Oh yeah; Rampage has one of the best “holy cow they’re really gonna…” moments I’ve seen in quite a while. Bra-vo.
For folks looking for action-packed monster mayhem this Friday the 13th? You’ve found your monsters, y’all. Heck, if you’re in a disaster mood why not make it a disaster-fest and make it a Peyton double-feature with San Andreas?
P.S.: for folks like me who thought there might be an end credits scene with a certain rat test subject? Nup. Guess it was a Maguffin.
#Protip: Don’t know much about the Rampage video game? Me neither. So here’s a great “game vs. movie” breakdown from comicbook.com.