Good news, filmmakers. One of you can still be the one to make the first great video game movie! I know I keep saying that, but I’m daring filmmakers to actually make me stop by making a truly great film based on a video game.
Rampage was a simple arcade game. Up to three players at a time could control a giant monster climbing buildings, eating people and destroying the city like an old monster movie.
Like many games that captured the experience of a movie (Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Max Payne), adapting it back into a movie just makes it a mediocre version of the films that inspired it.
The original monster movies never had this convoluted a plot either. King Kong was tragic just being an exotic creature destroyed by the men who exploited him.
Godzilla was caused by radiation, and in some sequels he was the lesser of two evils when another monster showed up.
Adding more exposition does not make Rampage unique. It’s still mutated monsters running wild.
Davis (Dwayne Johnson) is an animal trainer. His closest relationship is with the albino gorilla George (Jason Liles), and Rampage makes a point that Davis avoids women.
The only purpose this character trait serves is so that his young male fans won’t go, “Ew, girls.” But The Rock has female fans too. Won’t this alienate them?
Anyway, Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) was running experiments on a weaponized genetic growth hormone in space, because of course she was. Why was this experiment in space????
Well, the experiment crashes down and one of the canisters lands in George’s habitat. The others get swallowed by a wolf and a crocodile causing them to grow and rage.
If this sounds like way too much exposition, just wait. Claire and her brother (Jake Lacy)’s entire roles are performed in their office plotting evil.
Note to screenwriters: you do not need a new reason that bad guys are making genetic weapons. Just agree that they are the same as every bad guy and have fun with the monsters.
I’ll say one more thing about the exposition because Rampage certainly does. In between monster scenes, characters recite exposition about each other’s backstories, because they can’t show Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris)’s career history, but it’s reeeeeeeeally important to the movie that we know it.
Maybe it’s video game insecurity. Super Mario Brothers and Street Fighter: The Movie had wildly convoluted plots to justify the adaptation.
I think it’s more blockbuster screenwriting 101. Bad movies have always mistaken exposition for plot.
There is some good disaster porn. It all looks animated but that’s how they do these movies now. I’d rather they give Sharknado this budget to express their outrageous ideas.
The action set pieces establish the geography of each scene, especially on a plane. We are still watching weightless CGI. George moves the same at any size, no matter how much extra mass he obtains.
Liles’ performance capture is really good. You can tell the difference between nice George and Rampage George. Nice George may be a little more human than gorilla, with sarcastic expressions I’d venture are not possible even with advanced signing primates, but we’re post Rise of the Planet of the Apes here. Monkey actors should be playing around and it’s one of Rampage’s actual strengths.
Lizzie looks more like an iguana than the lizard from the game or the crocodile she’s actually supposed to be. They didn’t even make Ralph the wolf or Lizzie bipedal like they are in the game. So they’re still on all fours, just bigger.
There’s time for The Rock to posture. That’s what the fans want so give it to them.
I guess I just don’t see why to make it Rampage if it’s a generic monster movie. Just make a monster movie with The Rock.
I guess if you wanted to have a gorilla, wolf and lizard, you’d have to give the game credit. But they don’t seem too attached to those animals, especially changing Lizzie to a croc.
It feels like they set out to make the game, then they got so far away from the game they threw in some homages to make it more like the game again.
Rampage opens Friday, April 13 in theaters.