“Rampage” stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Released on April 13, 2018, the film is about a primatologist who sets out to rescue an albino gorilla when a genetic experiment transforms it into a giant, rampaging beast.
The film is directed by Brad Peyton, who also directed films such as Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, San Andreas, and Incarnate. It is loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games. The video game film train is still chugging along, no matter how many wheels it lost during the trip. Last month’s Tomb Raider reboot did a fine job at matching the tone that was used in the recent Tomb Raider games, but sadly, it wasn’t enough to please a lot of critics and audience members. It earned a decent amount of money at the box office, but that’s not entirely the case when it comes to critical reception. So now we turn our attention to yet another film adaptation of a popular video game that hopes to deliver on the fun and excitement without the use of a controller. For those who are unfamiliar with the source material, “Rampage” is a video game series that started in 1986 and has a simple premise: humans transforming into giant animal-like monsters and wrecking everything in sight. Sort of like Godzilla, but with the “humans transforming into monsters” part. Based on the marketing alone, the film looks like it’s going to follow that same concept, with some big changes, of course, but will it be enough to make a decent game-to-film adaptation?
The film’s story offers the same concept as the games it’s based on, but has a much different storyline to attract non-gamers and people who simply like mindless action films. Instead of transforming people into giant animals, the film switches things up a bit by transforming regular-sized animals into giant, mutated animals. Genius! The story follows primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) who finds and cares for an albino silverback gorilla named George. When George gets infected by a mysterious experimental gas, he starts to transform into a giant, aggressive ape. King Kong much? Now it’s up to Okoye to rescue his hairy friend from certain doom and figure out who’s responsible for creating the gas. To make things even more challenging, he has to face two other animals that are infected: a giant wolf that is actually part flying squirrel and a giant crocodile who looks like something that escaped from Jurassic World. The film marks the third collaboration between Dwayne Johnson and director Brad Peyton, who have a knack at crafting big-budget action films together. While their latest collaboration relies a bit too much on its CGI destruction rather than emotional storytelling, they know exactly what their audience is expecting it to be: a fun and silly monster film. Much like the other film adaptations of classic video games, the changes that are made in “Rampage” may or may not please several fans of the source material. As its own film, however, it was able to generate a good amount of action and humor to impress a solid amount of moviegoers who are looking for some enjoyment in their lives. The cast in the film had a pretty good time with their roles without being taken so seriously. Dwayne Johnson was very entertaining to watch as always, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan was surprisingly well-balanced as Harvey Russell, a government agent. Naomie Harris also delivered a decent performance as a discredited genetic engineer who serves as Okoye’s ally. As for George himself, who is portrayed by Jason Liles via motion capture, let’s just say that you’ll like him as much as I did. He definitely had a couple of good laugh-out-loud moments, and his relationship with Okoye was pretty convincing despite its lack of depth in some scenes. The visual effects were quite impressive in terms of the designs of the mutant animals and the action sequences during the final act. My other issue, besides its far-from-perfect storytelling, was that the main antagonist in the film (Malin Åkerman) wasn’t that great at all. She’s basically a cliched bad guy who did a really bad thing and needs to be stopped. That’s all you need to know.
Overall, “Rampage” is not a perfect game-to-film adaptation due to its average storytelling and its weak villain, but as an ordinary monster film, it’s a fun, yet idiotic, experience. Maybe it’s the fact that I love seeing Dwayne Johnson kick some butt onscreen, but whatever the case may be, I had a really good time watching this film despite my lack of experience with the games. If you like Johnson in his other films or you’re just looking for an entertaining blockbuster that has giant, mutated animals rampaging through the city, I would say go give this one a shot. As always, don’t expect anything more out of this film and you should be OK.