Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: "Rampage" is a rampage, you're either in or your out.

Rampage Review
I don't know if you're interested in seeing "Rampage" or not. If you are, I really hope you know what your getting yourself into. I used to play the video game in which the movie is based on. It's a fairly silly, fairly simple idea to set up. In the video game, you choose your monster. You have three choices between a giant ape named George, a giant wolf named Ralph and a giant reptile named Lizzie. You then go around the world and flip over cars, eat people, and leave a poor town with a beyond-hefty property damage bill. It's an absolutely ridiculous concept, which was why it was so much fun as a video game. I don't know if it would ever be made into a movie.

Here's the thing though, the concept of Hollywood has drastically changed over the years. There are no movie stars driving the business anymore. There was a time when a studio would take a chance on a script, because if they had a movie star at their disposal, they could sell the movie, and it could make money. No studio takes chances on scripts anymore. Every studio has their own brands, because brands sell everything now. And these brands are getting nostalgic. Rampage was a well-known in the 1990's, and so a movie is being made to see if that fan base will follow them. And while I said there are no movie stars left, technically there are, but they are inserted into the branding process too. The Rock could be argued as a movie star, but he sells a certain type of movie at this point. Its the persona that he's built an entire career from. The Rock is just The Rock in all of his movies, and "Rampage" is no different. The Rock is just playing up what he's been doing for years now.

But the persona kinda works for a film like "Rampage." I wouldn't expect an Academy Award worthy script from a film like "Rampage." I would expect moral complexity from it either. There aren't any self-important voice-overs, nor characters finding out some thought-provoking truths. The video game was a bunch of monsters destroying cities, so the movie is going to be giant monsters destroying cities. That's what your going to get from the "Rampage" movies. You will get giant monsters doing giant monster things. The Rock plays Davis Okoye, he's a primatologist, who also happened to work in the military. Just so there can be a scene where he subdues two military guards. He's got a connection to George, an albino ape. There is a mishap in a space station containing genetic alternating material that lands on Earth, getting exposed to George. Who grows in size and in aggression. The material also infects a wolf and a crocodile, and they all end up in Chicago to wreak havoc. Essentially, that's the plot. Sure, Jeffrey Dead Morgan appears, who seemingly brings in his Negan persona from "The Walking Dead." Because it feels like he never left the AMC stage. Malin Ackerman and Jake Lucy play the two most unconvincing human bad guys. Because of course there are human bad guys. Ackerman gets hammy though, so it works in context.

 The thing is, there is lots of set-up, and not as much pay-off as I hoped. This movie should have been filled to brim with carnage. I guess I can give them a few points for taking a stab at character development. Because let's be honest, these movies aren't made for the character development. If it weren't for the cast, this movie would have been on of those direct-to-TV movies you watch at midnight on Saturday on the Syfy channel. The movie spends time developing The Rock, but doesn't spend much time developing many of the other characters. Lots of types in this crew. So I wondered why they even bothered at all.

The big draw is the monster action, and when that is in full gear, I feel you'll be satisfied. I feel if they really wanted to adapt this video game correctly, the animals should have been much bigger, but nevermind. There were many moments that made me think of the times I would play this game with my brother and my friends on my old Nintendo 64. The story line was pretty generic, but that was to be expected. You don't come to a movie like "Rampage" to get wowed by a story, you come to watch monsters blow shit up. That's what happens, monsters run around and blow shit up. There are some wild upgrades to the animals that I didn't remember from the video game, that are crazy here. Like the wolf shoots spikes from his tail. Did that happen in the games? I honestly don't remember, but its crazy here. There is enough carnage at the end that it makes up for the slower "development" parts of the movie.

Time will tell if this ends up being a new brand. But I was a little surprised how much of it worked.

FINAL GRADE: B

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