Friday, 13 April 2018


Evil corporation makes a thing that makes animals huge, and it falls to one steroidal primatologist/poacher-poacher (Dwayne Johnson), a disgraced science person (Naomi Harris) and a cowboy cosplayer (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to save the world from the animals' RAMPAGE.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this move. It's not that kind of movie. But it is far better than it has any right to be.

I cannot believe this movie is good. A movie based on a video game - from the 80s - should not be this good. The reason may be that the game's premise - a trio of super-sized monsters destroying a city - is so simple that you can build a story out of the components without disturbing any story structure or gameplay specifics.

It helps that the story is about a sympathetic gorilla named George. The opening act of this movie is like a remake of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with the Rock as James Franco. It's not as good as that, but the opening sequences with the Rock's primatologist(!) Davis and George do a good job of building up empathy for this unlikely duo.

After Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle Dwayne Johnson has found another movie that successfully adapts a shaky property into an entertaining flick. It will take a few more solos vehicles for this theory to stick, but I think the Rock has finally cottoned on to the kinds of movies that suit his out-sized presence.

Cannily blending his 80s-style machismo to animal rights, this is probably the closest the Rock has gotten to the macho action stars of the hardbody era - military past? Check. All the women love him? Yep. Pokes fun at other man's lack of traditional masculinity. Yep. Sexual reticence as a sign of his badassness? Yep.

This movie is no masterpiece -  the rest of the cast are all over the place. Naomi Harris is saddled with an unnecessary American accent and a line of jokes that she cannot carry off in said accent. She is totally fine otherwise, but those moments clank. The scene in which they reveal their tragic backstories is ridiculously melodramatic, but it works for this story. I REALLY liked that there was no attempt at a romance - there's a crass joke at the end which undermines it a wee bit, but it's fine otherwise.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is making a whole bunch of choices as a government black ops guy with a heart of gold. They are not good choices.

Malin Ackerman is completely toothless as the movie's big corporate baddie. The character is meant to be a sociopath, but there is no bite from her performance. The script does give her a load of clunky exposition, which would be fine if it  was peppered with some spiky one-liners. The person who walks away with the acting honours is Jake Lacy as her dim bulb brother, who is totally onboard with her plan to cash in on the super-growing thingy, but is totally incapable of contributing anything.

This movie does very well at two things - animal centred melodrama and big scary monsters jumping out of the darkness. The wolf and the crocodile are CGI, but director Brad Peyton does a pretty good job building them up, and focusing on quick glimpses and ramped-up sound design. This is not Spielberg-level in any respect, but if you are in the mood for giant monsters smashing things and killing people in PG13 ways, it does the business.

Rampage, kids.  It is exactly what you think it is, and that is no bad thing.

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