Movie Review: Rampage (2018)

Based on the classic arcade video game of the same name and directed by Brad Peyton (San Andreas), Rampage is a 2018 action-comedy monster mash. Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist, who has a close bond to albino gorilla George, who is soon infected with a man-made genetic mutator, which sees him grow to unbelievable sizes, with an increase in his aggression. Okoye is aided by Dr Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris), and hindered by Agent Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in his attempts to stop George, who is quickly becoming uncontrollable. Unbeknown to Okoye, however, is that George is not the only creature infected with the mutagen.

+ once the movie shifts from “humans talk about mutated animals” to “mutated animals destroy everything in front of them”, this really becomes the high-action kaiju film the games wanted to be. Some very welcome crude humour breaks things up, and adds some levity to an otherwise played very straight movie
+ I’m a Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan, and he certainly seemed to be having fun here. Agent Russell was essentially a on-the-nose parody of his turn as Negan, complete with the sideways lean and penchant for whistling, with the smooth, suit-wearing style of John Winchester. He was so cheesy, I couldn’t help but love it
+ Johnson and Harris are fine, if nothing particularly special, and two other would-be main characters are essentially just background noise; Malin Akerman (a favourite of mine, though sadly she never interacts with Morgan, her father in Watchmen – whoops spoilers) and Jake Lacy are Claire and Brett Wyden, the brother-sister duo responsible for the mutagen, and the bad guys. That single sentence is all you really need to know about them

George stares down Okoye (on the right…. obviously). Truthfully, who has the stronger power level is still up for debate.

– similar to 2014’s Godzilla, there is a lot of focus on the human side of this kaiju monster fight film, and these human-centric moments are easily the least enjoyable. Not to say they were necessarily poorly acted or didn’t make sense, but this movie is based on a game where big monster breaks stuff, so dang it, I know what I signed up for
– this was surprisingly violent, considering I thought this was meant to be a dumb B-movie based on a video game. Severed limbs, splatters of blood and people flying off boats, cars and planes are all shown in full detail
– a character (and his squad) are introduced early on as some sort of major players, but they are entirely ineffective. I don’t know if originally they were planned to have a larger role, but it just felt a bit jarring. Removing their presence entirely would not have changed anything

Should you see this film: This has been on my “not important” back log for a while, and dammit, a lonely Saturday night with The Rock never hurts anyone. I wanted big monsters, and eventually that’s what I got, so if you can sit through the hour or so of buildup until that point, this is the move for you.


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