‘Rampage’: Can’t stop the Rock, unfortunately

by Tim English on April 14, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor “The Rock” Fist Down]

At this point The Rock is like a virus, spreading through Hollywood remaking old properties in his image. Think Agent Smith in the Matrix Revolutions and you’re on the right track. In addition to his hostile takeover of the Fast and the Furious franchise, DJ has a remake of Big Trouble in Little China in the works, he’s bringing the rip-roaring Disney ride Jungle Cruise to the big screen (finally….amiright??) and will be invading the train wreck DC franchise as Black Adam in Suicide Squad 2. Ugh.

This week, he’s bringing the 80’s arcade classic Rampage to the big screen. Because…..why not? Dwayne Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a member of an anti-poaching team, who has a special relationship with a endangered albino gorilla named George. When a genetic science experiment in space goes awry, the remnants plummet to Earth, and turn the only three animals to come into contact with it into rampaging beasts: a wolf, an alligator, and poor George. Okoye teams up with the former employee of the sinister company, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and some government agent dude, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whose one job seems to be standing around with a cocky smile and spit out one-liners. Their goal here is to stop the monsters from destroying Chicago and hopefully help George.

Oh, The Rock….okay actually he’s fine in this. And I do like the guy. He has great on-screen charisma and for the most part he’s a lot of fun to watch. But I mean, come on…he’s playing the same dude in every movie and it’s hard at this point to remember when he was in something that was actually good (and I’ve been trolling his IMDB listing.) No mistake, he is this generation’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or Sylvester Stallone, but at least they were doing original (even if equally dumb) movies. If he keeps cranking out the repetitive remakes in order to stroke his own ego, he’ll always be the LeBron to their MJ.

The flick is directed by Brad Peyton, who teamed up with The Rock for San Andreas a couple of years ago, which was — eh, not bad for what it was: a mindless disaster flick and quasi-educational public service announcement for earthquake safety. Rampage substitutes the safety tips for ham-fisted messages about the treatment of animals and endangered species that are peppered into the writer’s attempt to make something out of nothing.

The game itself was pretty simple-minded; level after level you play as a werewolf, gorilla or a giant lizard smashing buildings (and fighting off helicopters and tanks), but that was pretty much it. The film might have been a little more fun if it fully embraced the city to city carnage. Instead we get a few brief action scenes — after skipping out on any visual developments of the creatures, which seems like it may have been interesting to see — intercut with long, drawn out scenes where characters pretend what they are saying is more interesting than the monsters. It gets kinda boring at times and honestly just made me wish I was playing the game.

Rampage is a visual feast. The monsters are kinda cool…I guess? But it doesn’t matter how big the Rock’s smile is or how muscular his arms are (and he reminds us), it’s not enough to make an old mindless and entertaining 32-bit video game into a big, loud pre-summer wanna be blockbuster that is this more mindless than entertainment.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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