Kyle J. Steenblik

Rampage is Exactly What You’d Expect [Review]

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Directed by: Brad Peyton
Screenplay by: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel
Story by: Ryan Engle
Based on Rampage by Midway Games
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Production company: New Line Cinema, Flynn Picture Company, Rickard Pictures, Seven Bucks Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date April 13, 2018
Running time 107 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language, and crude gestures.

2 stars out of 5

Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth.  But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size.  To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals.  As these newly created alpha predators 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.  

As soon as the credits rolled on Rampage I muttered to myself “I don’t know what I expected” as I scribbled down a few last notes.  While it is typically true that most of us attempt to walk into every film with no presuppositional expectations, it is relatively unrealistic in practice.  Honestly the only way that would be at all possible is to know nothing at all about the film being watching it, given that all of us critics are inundated with press releases and promotional material going in blind is virtually impossible.  With a film such as Rampage the expectations of what we would and would not see were written on the wall.  We have all seen this film dozens of times, in countless iterations.  This iteration brought nothing new or innovative to the table, and the entertainment value of what we saw is debatable at best.  While Rampage may not be awful, it is not what I could call good, enjoyable, or entertaining, but I did not hate it.  At best it is benign and forgettable, at worst it is tone deaf, socially insensitive, and start to finish forced machismo camp.

As far as any comparison or similarities to the source material, that being the arcade game of the same name, there are startlingly few.  The basic premise is dramatically different, not that the game had much more than the most paper-thin premise.  Aside from the difference in narrative, the kitchy, campy fun was almost entirely absent as the entire cast sleepwalked throughout the film.  I cannot recommend spending any time on Rampage, but it would be better than watching paint dry, but just barely.

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