Could it be we finally have an easy, 3-step recipe for avoiding the videogame movie adaptation curse?
1) Take 80’s videogame that has no plot and no one plays anymore.
2) Make up whole new plot that barely covers the game.
3) Add Dwayne Johnson.
It’s a plan that certainly worked for his Jumanji reboot and that wasn’t even based on a videogame. So here we have another fun, thoroughly decent adventure movie aimed very much at Johnson’s core demographic featuring lots of Rock, the occasional shock and a giant-ass croc that strives to entertain, while you rest your brain.
Obnoxious rhyming from me aside, Rampage is very much the definition of a 3 star movie and I don’t mean that in a snobbish way at all. Simple, filled with jokes and one-liners and striving to appeal to the widest demographic it can, it’s an extremely uncomplicated way to spend 2 hours and if the sight of a giant mutant wolf, crocodile and gorilla punching a skyscraper until it falls over doesn’t raise the corner of your mouth a smidge, then I’m sure the multiplex has something else to offer.
Make no mistake, this movie is dumb and probably will feature the worst science you’ll see in a movie this year, but it knows it. It’s not hard not to know it when it features a 30 foot wolf dubbed “Ralph” flicking tail spines at an attack helicopter. Think Kong: Skull Island but without so much of the visual pizzazz.
Dwayne Johnson once again plays Dwayne Johnson, desperately trying to save his Gorilla buddy, George, after debris from a collapsing space station mutates his DNA (toldja). Worse yet, other fragments have mutated the aforementioned Ralph, who proceeds to eat every bastard he sees and makes a battleship sized dreadnought out of a crocodile dubbed “Lizzie”. Hampering his bald, muscular, heroic attempts are a shady government agency run by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (essentially playing his Walking Dead character, Negan, as a good ol’ boy) and the ridiculously nefarious corporation that owned the space station. It all sets the stage for all three monsters to converge and take a metaphorical dump on the city of Chicago while the good guys scamper around to save the day while desperately avoiding becoming monster poop.
Not all the japery works. Malin Ackerman’s super-evil, corporate, b-word is SO cartoonishly amoral you’d swear she’d done work experience at Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation. It’s also a shame that despite portraying a kick ass Moneypenny in the last couple of Bond movies, Naomi Harris is reduced to simply following Johnson around, spouting science at CGI carnage. None of the set pieces are terribly original either, giant monsters have trashed Chicago before in not one but two Transformers movies and a plane crash mid-movie strongly resembles one seen in Tom Cruise’s The Mummy. In fact, Pacific Rim: Uprising did the whole giant scale rumbling arguably better with far more crazy set pieces and situations.
However, it would be simply untrue to write Rampage off for two reasons: firstly it really is big, unrepentant, undemanding fun and should be treated as such; and secondly, this technically is the best video adaption ever made, by a decent margin, too. Rage against that news all you want but it’s simply just true.
Whether it’ll be as a monster hit a Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle remains to be seen but Rampage contains just enough cool shit, that if you let it, will swallow you up.