Nom nom nom…
When it comes to turning games into films, Rampage is in the same ballpark as Battleship in that you’re taking a very narrow idea — in this case three mutated creatures that smash shit — and then building an entire story around it. Still, if you stick The Rock in there, throw some money at decent CGI monsters and blow stuff up, then you have a fighting chance at creating something eminently watchable.
Genetic editing is being conducted on a space station by the Energyne corporation, led by trust-fund siblings Claire (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy), and when the results predictably go wrong, the station explodes. This sends fragments of the mutagen hurtling planet side with impact in places like San Diego, Wyoming and the Everglades.
This spells trouble for Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), an Army Special Forces operative turned Primatologist at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, as his friend George, an albino gorilla, is exposed and immediately begins growing at an exponential rate. George, who can communicate with Davis via basic sign language, also starts to display unusually high levels of aggression. An incident related to that aggression draws the attention of Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who recognizes her work.
As Davis tries to get George help, a team of mercs is dispatched by the Wydens to the Wyoming crash site, which has spawned a massive wolf. When that proves ineffective, the Wydens activate a beacon that draws the creatures to them in downtown Chicago. Now, Davis and Kate must enlist the help of Agent Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who’d been sent to investigate, in an effort to save George and the city of Chicago before it’s too late.
It’s hard to say if Rampage would work even half as well as it does without The Rock, who does a good job of not taking things too seriously. As usual, his comedic timing is very good playing off other characters and the CGI gorilla. He has a fairly absurd back story, but what other combo could provide us with a guy that has a primate for a best friend and can also kick all kinds of ass when it comes down to it. Pro tip: don’t overthink this one.
We’ve seen some sketchy CGI in other monster/disaster movies recently, but Rampage is pretty good throughout in that department. The creatures are the stars with George’s rendering not much below what we saw in the most recent King Kong film. The mutated gator is impressive as well, and the way they lay waste to Chicago makes for some fun moments with little nods here and there to the video game.
When we say don’t overthink it, we mean don’t overthink it. There are so many silly moments when common sense and logic go flying out of the window it’s hard to keep track. Things are brought up but never paid off — like the fact that Davis likes animals more than people, only to watch him risk his own life to save pretty much everyone he meets — and we’re even treated to a gunshot wound that basically doesn’t bleed. Uh, okay…
Outside of The Rock, this isn’t a great cast. Harris underwhelms as female science buddy, the Wydens are basically caricatures and the only difference between Morgan here and as Negan is that he carries a pistol instead of a barbed wire bat. The private military team, led by True Bloods‘ Joe Manganiello, has some juice, but they don’t stay long enough to move the needle.
THE BONUS FEATURES
Around an hour of extras awaits with featurettes that focus on the cast, the monsters, the video game influence and so on. There’s also a beep-filled gag reel. All of it is well produced, but the 10 minutes of deleted scenes is the most interesting addition.
We’re given a little more back story for the Wyden siblings along with an extended ending that suggests a fourth creature was created. What’s fun about that is that it features Alexandra Daddario, making this the second recent film (along with The House) that she shot scenes for but was edited out of.
Despite more than its share of eye-rolling moments, Rampage is actually pretty fun. The Rock is his usual likable self, and the action-heavy CGI holds up, making it a title worth getting in 4K UHD.