REVIEW: Rampage

Review by Dustin Heller

If you grew up in the 80’s (like I did), I’m sure you’re familiar with the video game Rampage.  Well, that popular video game has now been made into a live-action movie starring Dwayne Johnson and three larger-than-life CGI monster-animals.  The movie is directed by Brad Peyton who also directed the Johnson-starring disaster flick San Andreas back in 2015.  Along with The Rock, the movie stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Joe Manganiello, and Jake Lacy.  Rampage is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language, and crude gestures; and it is being released in 2D, Real D 3D and IMAX formats.

When a genetic engineering experiment goes awry in outer space, three tubes containing a gene-altering gas, crash land on U.S. soil.  This gas makes whatever consumes it get bigger, faster, and stronger in a short period of time.  Primatologist Davis Okoye works at the San Diego Zoo where one of the tubes lands; the gas is then consumed by his friend George, an albino silverback gorilla.  The gas from the other tubes is consumed by a grey wolf the internet has named Ralph and an alligator aptly named Lizzie.  In trying to cover up their mistake, the company responsible for the genetic engineering sends out a signal to the beasts from an antenna on the top of their tower in downtown Chicago.  The noise coming from the signal makes them very mad and they’ll do anything to stop it.  Thus, three giant animals are headed to the heart of a major U.S. city and the only ones that can stop them are Okoye and Dr. Kate Caldwell who believes she has an anecdote.  With the city not fully evacuated, it is a race against time to stop these animals before they destroy everything.

It is mid-April and summer blockbuster movie season is in full swing.  Seems like we could almost do away with that concept since studios roll out their big tent-poles year round nowadays.  Rampage checks all the boxes…huge movie star (check), larger than life CGI (check), based on popular comic book or video game (check).  Now the only question is whether it’s entertaining or not…in a word, Yes!  Keep in mind we’re dealing with giant animals destroying Chicago, so expectations of a high-brow film should be checked at the door.  The movie is quite simple with a very basic storyline, but really, the only reason we’re there in the first place are those city-destroying beasts.  The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is in his element and owns the screen (there’s a reason he’s the biggest movie star in the world).  Rampage, at its core, is a fun movie with amazing CGI that needs to be seen on the big screen.  To that point, there is a lot of controversy in Hollywood about the Netflix model of movie making and not releasing their movies in theaters.  It’s movies like Rampage that will keep theaters in business because of how big of a spectacle they are.  The small independent films are the ones that really suffer, but that is a topic for another time.  Back to Rampage…if you’re wanting an escape from the real world for a little while and need some amusing entertainment, look no further this weekend.

Grade:  B

Rampage opens in theaters on Friday, April 13.