Rampage is an incredibly dumb production, and despite some glimpses of hope, it falls apart more each time they try to make us take that stupidity seriously.
Director: Brad Peyton
Summary: Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
There is nothing wrong with a dumb movie. There are plenty of classics out there that are dumb movies, and a lot of them are classics because they embrace how stupid they are. That leaves the door open for a ton of fun. Rampage is an incredibly dumb movie as it tries to create a world where a giant monkey, a giant wolf that can fly, and a giant alligator that ends up looking more like Godzilla break half of Chicago because of reasons. The movie gets that part down perfectly. It’s the other half of being a dumb movie that doesn’t work at all.
The moments when Rampage embraces how stupid it is are the moments when it works best. The moments when Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) looks like he is just so done with all of this crap are the best moments in the movie. However, that tone isn’t consistent.
There is a moment, early on, when George (brought to life via motion capture by Jason Liles) pretends to attack someone as a joke. The moment is in a lot of the trailers, but that tone doesn’t follow the rest of the movie. The wolf stalks and hunts a group of people, and it’s like something out of a horror movie. It’s inconsistent, and it makes the entire movie feel very schizophrenic. It bounces between a tense and scary monster movie with huge stakes to a giant monster movie with a guy who thinks he can talk down the giant gorilla through the power of friendship. Rampage can’t decide what it wants to be, and the moments where it asks us to take it seriously aren’t even unintentionally hilarious. They’re just dumb.
As previously stated, there are moments where the movie works. The decision to make George a creature brought to life via motion capture compared to just a giant monster was a good one. It made the connection between human and ape feel much more apparent in the beginning, and considering the entire emotional weight of this friendship, that was a good idea. The fights between the monsters during the big finale are pretty brutal to watch, and while they aren’t the most entertaining thing in the world, they aren’t boring. The ending is yet another tonal shift, but in a good way that won’t be spoiled here.
Rampage doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. On one hand it wants us to take the idea of “genetic editing” very seriously, and on the other we see a gorilla flip a man off. When it decides to embrace the tone of the latter is when it works, but then it decides to try to be serious again. It’s not terrible, but it could and should have been a lot more fun.
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