RAMPAGE

★★

NO MONKEYING ABOUT

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Brent Davidson
12th April 2018

It’s no secret I have a love and affinity for films that are widely regarded as absolute trash. These make up the majority of movies I tend to recommend and re-watch. I’m also a massive fan of video games. So in my mind ‘Rampage’ was the perfect combination of both - but why wasn’t I chomping at the bit to see this smashing action flick?

Genetic experiments in space go awry, and send three capsules of a serum designed to alter DNA (making the subject faster, strong and bigger) falling back to earth, only to be absorbed by three different animals. One of these animals is an albino gorilla named George, who is looked after by Davis Okoye (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Davis, with the help of geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris) heads to Chicago in order to cure George and stop the evil corporation who engineered the serum.

SWITCH: 'RAMPAGE' TRAILER 2

Now it’s a pretty big stretch, creating a story loosely based on a video game that has almost no plot. The original Rampage saw you play as the animal characters and try to destroy as much of a city as possible before the army killed you. So it is a much riskier move than something like ‘Tomb Raider’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed’ because those films already have such a rich source of plot to draw from. I guess the question could come up - why make a movie out of ‘Rampage’ in the first place? But the question is justified by the reason the original game was so great in the 80s.

It’s fun.

There is no question about just how much fun it is to see (or be) big monsters destroying a city. Yes, it might be a bit of leave-your-brain-at-the-door, but video games and films sometimes need to be a form of escapism. In a world of ‘Ready Player Ones’ which some might say are oversaturated in nostalgia, there are just a few brief (if heavy-handed) nods towards the origins of the source material and the time it was created.

Yes, the plot is simple. Yes, the dialogue is clunky. But the action is pretty fun and it ticks all the “action film archetype” boxes.

I went into ‘Rampage’ expecting to see something that was far worse that it was, and I was reminded of how so often we come to judge something like this before it has even been seen. Yes, the plot is simple. Yes, the dialogue is clunky. But the action is pretty fun and it ticks all the “action film archetype” boxes. For me I would have loved to have seen more buildings being destroyed and a bit more general destruction, but otherwise I was more than satisfied going along for the journey.

It’s a bit clunky but mostly fun, and because I had severely lowered my expectations when I eventually did see it, I was pleasantly surprised. An average action movie with Dwayne Johnson is almost becoming a genre unto itself, but it’s a genre that knows exactly what it is. Maybe that’s why it’s such an enjoyable guilty pleasure!

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