Directed by: Brad Peyton
Written by: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan Condal, Adam Sztykiel
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid
Runtime: 115 min
Primatologist Davis Okoye (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.
I discovered that Rampage was actually based on an arcade game a few days before watching the movie. When I saw what the game was about, I was 90% sure this was not going to be a ground-breaking story ... And I wasn't wrong.
A lot of exposition scenes bring down what was surprisingly being a touching narrative. Unfortunately, it's boring and uninventive until the last act. It follows everything you would expect from an action-monster blockbuster. The protagonists survive ridiculously implausible falls or explosions, expecting the audience to turn off their brains in order to believe the unbelievable.
Brad Peyton shows good camera handling and an excellent use of the visuals which definitely improve the monsters' fights. I mean, the action is amazing as expected but that means nothing to me if there's no substance or real stakes to back them up. He ruins the tone with several silly tries at a Marvel move (jokes at the end of a serious moment) but they all fall flat. Also, the end ending is as annoying as it is frustrating!
However, my main issue with the movie and the thing that completely took me off of it is the villains. The main characters are well-developed (even if solely through exposition) but the villains are horrible. Really, really awful and if that wasn't enough, Jake Lacy and Malin Akerman's performances are able to turn an absurd script in something even worse. Their displays are extremely over-the-top and incredibly irritating just as the characters they portray.
Nevertheless, Rampage has a few points in its favor (even if it's still not a good film). With the exception of the actors mentioned in the above paragraph, the casting is pretty great. Dwayne Johnson proves that he is a multi-layered actor and that there is no one better to lead an action blockbuster than him. He didn't turn out to a typecast actor like I thought he would and for that, I have to congratulate him.
Naomie Harris is great as well as Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who lends his instant coolness to every single scene. Sadly, I think he is going in the way I thought The Rock would go. He basically plays a different version of Negan ... It's not like I don't enjoy it (I mean, it's Jeffrey Dean Morgan, damn it!), I just hope that he doesn't settle down and accept every single typecasting from now on.
The visuals are exceptional, they truly are. The monsters are beautiful to look at and their fights are jaw-dropping. The problem is that the audience only receives that massive destruction in the last 20-25 minutes ... The CGI is remarkable throughout the entire runtime, the monsters are amazingly well-blended into the environment. However, when Dwayne Johnson joins them, it either looks like a video game or the green screen is extremely noticeable (and don't ask me when, just watch the last trailer).
The pacing is more than adequate for a movie like this. I can't exactly say I felt bored. I just felt annoyed at the dreadful script and at the fact that they could have actually made something really cool with the core story and the characters. It's another film that is going to be loved by the mainstream audience, who just want visually astounding monsters to fight each other and a huge bag of popcorn to shove down their throats.
If you turn off your brain, you will enjoy it for the action (even if there isn't much of it), the main characters/actors and its visuals. If you don't, then you'll not only find a conventional narrative but everything that comes with the genre: cliche annoying villains, laughable plot points/devices and implausible action sequences.