McCoy on Movies: Rampage

McCoy on Movies: Rampage

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Does this video-game-turned-movie score big points? Keep reading for our movie critic’s review.


“Wait! Stop – I’ve got a better movie coming out soon!” Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) and George (Jason Liles) in New Line Cinema’s and ASAP Entertainment’t action-adventure RAMPAGE. Credit: © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Jake Lacy, Malin Akerman, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, Matt Gerald, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse and Will Yun Lee

WRITER(S): Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel (screenplay), Ryan Engle (story)

DIRECTOR(S): Brad Peyton

WEB SITE: www.RampageTheMovie.comHERE’S THE STORY: Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist who loves working with his buddy George (an albino gorilla performed by Jason Liles) more than he does with people. But unbecknownst to him, the cunning and manipulative Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and her halfwit brother Brett (Jake Lacy) are the heads of a Chicago-based corporation that conducted an experiment that will soon change George’s life forever. You see, Claire and Brett have come up with a pathogen engineered by disgraced scientist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) that can weaponize anything that comes in contact with it.

So, when George starts to grow in size and aggression, Davis is understandably concerned since he doesn’t know or understand what is happening to his friend. But, once government cowboy Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tells him about the 30-foot wolf also on the loose, he starts to get an idea.

… Just wait till they all find out about what has started swimming off the coast of Florida …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Children under 18; people who just need a few explosions, fight sequences and simple jokes to make them happy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan fans; people who like gorillas

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Dwayne Johnson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan fans; anyone paying attention

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? Two things I’m going to admit right off the top of this review: 

(1) As a professional wrestling sports entertainment fan, I have for the better part of going on 20+ years been a fan of the man once known as The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. As my all-time favorite in-ring performer, I’ve seen nearly every TV and film role the man has done, save for The Game Plan, San Andreas and The Tooth Fairy – the latter two of which are regarded as, while somewhat commercially successful, among his worst work. (I mean there’s always The Scorpion King, but everyone has to start somewhere.)

(2) I grew up as a child during the 1980s, when arcades were plentiful and rich, glorious after school haunts where hordes of children would congregate to play the latest in the still relatively new technology of video games – and oh, how glorious those days were! There was Punch-Out! (long before Mike Tyson came into the mix), Paperboy, Dragon’s Lair … And then there was Rampage. The inspiration for the video-game-within-the-video-game-movie Wreck-It Ralph, Rampage was a simple, side-scrolling beat-’em-up that had a simple concept: Three human beings had been mutated – George into a giant brown gorilla, Ralph into a huge werewolf … And a woman named Lizzie into a huge alligator – by a mega-vitamin, radioactive lake or food additive. As you fight off military forces trying to stop you, you eat people hiding in buildings while smashing buildings, clearing a level once you had finished obliterating the structures present to little more than rubble. And if your character’s rampage stopped, you were reduced to a very embarrassed human being walking off screen with your hands covering the parts a leaf would if this were the Garden of Eden.

And that was it. A game simple enough in its execution and enjoyment that seemed as basic as your could get for 1986. Problem is, someone decided that classic by Midway Games needed to be a nearly two hour movie. Wanna know what 40 year-old me learned that nearly 10 year-old me didn’t know back then?

Sometimes its best to leave childish things to children … because as much as I love Dwayne Johnson and the Rampage video game, Rampage the movie is a prime candidate for the 2018 Golden Raspberry Awards and deservingly so. For this movie is an absolute gorilla-sized horrible excuse of a B (or F) movie that thankfully Harambe will never see.

I almost don’t even know where to really start with Rampage. I mean, Johnson tries his absolute best to make the film anything close to salvageable, but given the downright cartoonish brother-sister villain combo played by Akerman and Lacy (who also deserve Razzies for their “work”), the “I’m Negan 24/7 now” smiling slickness that is Morgan’s performance, the fake “I’m a soldier – I can’t listen to anything close to reason!” colonel that is Demetrius Grosse (channeling his inner Thunderbolt Ross right down to the high-and-tight mustache) and the “here’s the answer for everything even though I seem clueless as hell” scientist played by Harris, there is no other option even close to choose. 

George might not only be the best character but best actor in the film, which is either a CGI triumph or a travesty for his human counterparts, if not both. (At least Joe Manganiello had the common sense to take a role that obscures his face so that most people won’t even notice.)

Of course, the bad acting is only possibly outdone by the film’s dialogue – which sounds like a 12 year-old wrote it with the help of his slightly smarter but still immature older brother. Of course, when you make every scene predictable so you can sit in the audience and deconstruct it as it unfolds on the screen Mystery Science Theater 3000-style with direction that feels copycatted from just about any other monster movie you’ve seen, you can’t be surprised at the “how is the hero surviving moments that should have killed him five times over?!” action sequences. (Seriously, for a man with no superpowers, even Bruce Willis’ John McClane would have said “C’mon man – you’d be dead by now!”)At the advance screening I attended, there were more than enough audience members who laughed at a few of the film’s borderline-level dad jokes, liked the monster fights and ignored the straight illogical (even for the world the film creates) actions of the film’s characters. Then again, plenty of people once thought the world was flat … And many people who are not scientists (or who have never paid attention to science) still think it is.

Unfortunately, the only thing flat is Rampage – because this film is so corny/ridiculous, it might make smart audiences go on one back to the ticket office demanding their money back.