With the insanely shit weather driving a lot of us Kiwis to the cinemas, it is with some relief that I can state without reservation that director Brad Peyton’s (San Andreas) “Rampage” is exactly what you expect – a gleefully over the top, enormously entertaining, and knowingly dumb blockbuster hit!
Based on a classic eighties arcade game, the film is a city destroying, giant monster beatdown, that unabashedly embraces its roots and thankfully knows how ridiculous it is.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a silly movie — provided that it actually knows that it is a silly movie. There are few things as painful as a film that approaches a totally ridiculous concept with absolute seriousness, as it often has the effect of sucking all the fun out of the film (Assassin’s Creed anyone?). Thankfully it seems like the cast and filmmakers did the opposite, approaching the film with a nod and a wink, as it paid off in spades!
The film carries the baggage of every single video game adaptation before it, ranging somewhere between “not great” and “garbage,” but thanks to the effortless charisma of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who stars as soldier turned primatologist Davis Okoye, the film avoids the many pitfalls that have felled its contemporaries.
The original arcade game offered little in the way of story with the thrust of it revolving around giant monsters battling each other inside a dense urban cityscape. The film on the other hand chooses to focus its narrative on the interspecies bromance shared between Okoye and his ward, George (Jason Liles, via motion capture), the fiercely intelligent but friendly albino gorilla who is accidentally administered an illegal genetic drug that falls from space (as I said earlier, we’re not here for the plot). The drug in question causes George to rapidly grow in size and aggression. Mayhem obviously ensues and George and his two other genetically modified mates, a Werewolf and a Crocodile, join him in a havoc-inducing journey through Chicago.
Fortunately for humanity ‘The People’s Champ’, aided by discredited geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and gun totting good-ol’ boy (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), are here layeth the smacketh down on the oversized monsters.
Let’s face it — sometimes you just want to turn your brain off, sit back, eat some popcorn, and go for a ridiculous big screen ride. Johnson has consistently said that he’s in the game to give the audiences what they want and it’s hard to imagine they’ll be left unsatisfied by this crazy creature feature.
“Rampage” is a CGI and explosion filled spectacle that is hard not to like. It won’t be winning any Oscars and if you are looking for depth or complexity, head elsewhere. This is box-office friendly film that also happens to be one of the (very) rare good video game adaptations. I would recommend it anyone looking for mindless fun.