April 18, 2018

Rampage Review

C'mon Donkey Kong, I see some more barrels.

It feels like summer already at the movie theater! Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson just dropped a new blockbuster featuring a gigantic ape battling a humongous wolf and an enormous alligator. The sort-of disaster movie is based on the ’80s arcade favorite in which players took control of George the gorilla, Lizzie the Godzilla wannabe and Ralph the werewolf in order to destroy a city, but spends too much of that precious building-smashing time to explain its overly complicated plot. 

You see, two nefarious siblings, Claire and Brett Wyden (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy), have spent billions—they even built their own private space station for their illegal experiments—on a serum that will genetically modify animals into bigger, more dangerous predators; naturally, the Wydens plan to sell this pathogen to the highest bidder. However, they did not account for infecting the primate best-pal of a primatologist played by the ever-more-muscular Johnson, who makes it his personal mission to foil their evil scheme. 

All the rampagin’ clocks in under two hours and leaves you feeling far less battered than any of the Transformers movies. Still, Rampage is far too grisly (especially that wolf intro) a PG-13 for youngsters that might get a kick out of giant monster fights. The producers also should have cast a less charismatic lead had they been so intent on selling Davis’ whole antisocial personality, which is far too much of a stretch even for Johnson, who gives the role everything he’s got. A top-notch comic actress, Akerman shows the limits of her range as she surprisingly struggles with her campy villainess. 

Thank goodness for Jeffrey Dean Morgan and George, both of whom elevate their every scene. Morgan’s cowboy routine makes something out of a shady government nothing; his tiny, obvious Band-Aid delightfully highlights his character’s survivability. George may be computer-generated but easily breeds the movie’s biggest laughs, as well as its sole moment of genuine emotion. Were the movie just a little more destructively fun, Rampage could be more than a forgettable faux-summer flick.