Who remembers the Rampage arcade game? The one where you play as either a giant ape, giant lizard, or a giant wolf where your goal was to destroy a city as much as possible until you lose all of your health. This was a game that was not only fun, but combined the simplicity of games like Asteroids,Pac-Man, and Mortal Kombatwith a giant monster attack. What kids wouldn't love this kind of game. Like a lot of games, there was no point, but it was entertaining. Rampagewas something I would seek out at every pizza place arcade.
Making a movie out of that isn't impossible, but would require someone who understands the comical and popcorn-like entertainment thatRampagewas. The other problem is that most video game movies are not that good. With the exceptions of Mortal Kombatand maybe Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva,video game movies can't seem to either stretch the button mashers into stories or can't take a hundred of playable story and condense it into two hours. But with Rampage'smonster movie-like concept, this has got to be the one to break the mold, right? Well…let's see what Rampagehas.
Primatologist Davis Okoye (played by Dwayne Johnson) overlooks the gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Wildlife sanctuary, but puts a lot of focus on a rare albino gorilla named "George". Davis has taught George sign language and has even made friends with him, ensuring behavioral control. One evening, a canister crash lands in the enclosure, causing George to be exposed to a gaseous pathogen. When Davis returns the next morning, he finds George to be bigger and more aggressive. While under observation, Davis is visited by Dr. Kate Caldwell (played by Naomie Harris) who reveals that the inside of the canisters were from an gene manipulation company, Energyne.
Energyne's CEO Claire Wyden (played by Malin Åkerman) had developed the pathogen to use as a biological weapon. She turns on a radio signal that lures George, and two other other animals that were exposed to canisters, a wolf from Wyoming, and a crocodile from the everglades, to Chicago. With all three grown to ridiculous size and with the power to level cities, Davis and Kate, along with the help of CIA agent Harvey Russell (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) race to get to Chicago.
In terms of the video game's mindless plot, Rampagepretty much delivers the same idea of monsters destroying a city. Rampagedoes seem to be aware of how ridiculous it's story is and goes with it. This pretty much means that the movie is a blockbuster with a B movie premise. I only wished that the movie was much more self-aware. B movies work when not only do they embrace the chaotic nature of it's plot, but manages to have fun with it. Rampageonly has moments of that. Though I guess I should expect it, I was surprised by how much attempted drama and backstory was set up involving the gorilla George and Dwayne Johnson's character. While I appreciate trying to build up this world, this could have cut much of it in favor of getting to what the people really come for; mindless destruction.
B movies are basically exploitation movies; their not striving to win awards, but to give audiences memorable fun. Once Rampagegets to the three animals destroying Chicago, the movie does get enjoyable. Unlike a Transformersmovie, which would have stretched it to over two and a half hours, this is not a long movie, feeling like that once it reaches it’s high point, it ends nicely.
I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Apart from being an adaptation of a video game, this is also a Dwayne Johnson movie. At this point, he is pretty much playing himself. He's got a name and a character, but this something that I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger would have done in the 1990's. Johnson has a lot of charm and charisma that does make watching him just as fun as the monsters. Some of the CGI can look fake (and not rendered fully), but the film doesn't overuse it.
I'll give this three screens of the Rampagevideo game out of five. This serves as a passable popcorn movie at best. At worst, it's a little ambitious with it's ideas of combining drama with it's B movie feel. I had some fun watching it. It could have used more self-aware humor I might have found from a Roger Corman or Troma film. While I'm not going ape over this, I certainly feel like I saw a video game.