Rampage is Highly Entertaining & Deceptively Well Made (Review)

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I don’t really want to admit it, but I wanted to see Rampage since the moment I first heard about it.  Younger Mark LOVED the old Rampage video game and apparently I still harbor some fondness for the franchise because I was excited to see the film.   Weird that it’s another Kaiju movie – is this just a new trend or am I suffering from the Baader-Meinhof effect because I saw Pacific Rim 2?  This one didn’t have giant robots though, so humanity was at a distinct disadvantage. I guess if Charlie Hunnam had been there, maybe it would have been a much shorter movie. 

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.


At first glance, Rampage seems like it was written by and for 14 year old boys.  It’s an action film with giant monsters that was based on a video game. Rampage plays to its strengths and it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is.  But it’s easy to get sucked in by the illusion – you see how simplified the plot is and you miss how deftly the relationships are established and character goals rolled out.  Particularly good was the relationship between the ape, George, and Davis (The Rock). Rapport is not easy get right and they nail it. And then get right back to the action and the ‘science’.

 

Oh god, the science of this film was hard for me, at least at first.  I spent the first 20 minutes of this film silently counting the incidence of ‘_________ doesn’t work that way’  (mass, CRISPR, pathogens, sign language, computers, etc, etc, etc, so many) and then realized – it’s not that they were missing these things.  They were doing this on purpose. Science schmience. Rampage knows it’s being cheesy, that’s part of the fun. When I realized that, I started seeing all kinds winks to the camera.  Apparently I was the only one catching them because nobody else was laughing, which was too bad.

Man this movie looked like a lot of fun to make.  Sometimes you can just tell and from where I was sitting, everyone was having a great time.  Whether it was the overly scarred and badass Joe Manganiello, the cartoonishly evil Malin Akerman or the cowardly stooge Jake Lacy.  Though nobody had more fun, I suspect, than Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whose thick southern drawl and perpetually amused demeanor didn’t actually break the fourth wall but certain leaned on it a little.  Only Dwayne Johnson played it straight, which he needed to do. I loved everyone’s performance in this. Except that there was no fan service. They had plenty of opportunity (see above, re: Joe Manganiello) but they just… didn’t.

So is Rampage worth watching?  Yes, it’s highly entertaining. Don’t go in expecting too much, you’ll forget about it as soon as the credits roll.  It’s absolutely a popcorn flick. But it’s one of the best popcorn flicks I’ve seen in awhile. It looks fantastic, I loved how good the monsters looked and how well shot everything was.  Why they decided they needed a movie based on a video game popular in 80s (and later 90s) but I’m glad they did. I liked it.

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