Cinematic Releases: Destroy All Buildings: Rampage (2018) - Reviewed

Insert token here. Then Rampage.  

Let's get a couple things out of the way. The Rock always makes entertaining movies. And with a name like that, did you really think that Rampage would totally suck? At the front end of the cinematic barrage that won't stop until August, Rampage kicks it off with a wink, a smile, and some structural carnage. 

While you're patiently awaiting the return of Godzilla and King Kong in a fight to the finish, Dwayne Johnson and his primate friend are here to tell you that all's not fair in the battle between massive computer generated creatures. Armed to the gills with mega tons of alligator scales, razor sharp wolf teeth, and furry muscles that are ready to shred everything in sight, this video game adaptation is one control stick shy of being the stupidest movie I've ever seen. But, it doesn't mean that it isn't a whirlwind of a bad ass time in the cinema. 

Dude. This green screen is SO bad. Must RAMPAGE!

With Johnson's sweaty brawn at full tilt and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's swagger unable to escape the trappings of The Walking Dead's Negan, one thing is for sure: Rampage takes a baseline plot about genetic engineering and turns out one hell of a early spring blockbuster release that will most likely dominate A Quiet Place this weekend. 

Centered on the video game by Bally Midway, most of the minimal plot points of that 1986 release are kept. Massive creatures stave off waves of military attacks as they reduce city buildings to cinder and rubble. When they're unleashed on the world by a scientific accident, things quickly turn ugly as The Rock is once again expected to save the world from certain doom. As an action spectacle, Rampage delivers on almost every front. Other than a second act that seems like it might slip off a cliff into a muddled mess, this attempt at trying to bring an arcade classic to the screen is a goofy but assertive flick that's never too self serious. And whenever things seem to get heavy, little comedic jabs are thrown in to let the audience know that this was never meant to be high art. 

Where Rampage really seems to falter is in some of the rendering. At times, the animals appear to exist in a separate frame than their human counterparts, which immediately sucks the viewer out of the experience. On the other hand, the actual design work is nearly stunning. George, the gorilla is cut from the same cloth as those from the Planet of the Apes reboot series. His movements are sharp and his emotive expressions are hyper realistic. The interaction between him and Dwayne Johnson is actually quite impressive. If only they had made sure that the other mutated animals looked the same, they would have been onto something. In other areas, the green screen work is abysmal. 

Ape not kill ape. But no one said anything
about ape kill gigantic wolf monster. RAMPAGE!

Now, getting to the core of Rampage, there's a lot of good and a lot of bad here. Malin Akerman's antagonist is a reflection of every blockbuster baddie we've seen before. She's a cardboard cutout. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is playing a caricature. And The Rock just does what he normally does. Luckily enough, his charisma and his humor are enough to carry the weight of a movie that would have definitely faltered under the lead of a lesser talented actor. With a huge dose of action that's geared towards destroying a major U.S. city, there are some shades here that might be bothersome to some. It gets scary for a while. While buildings are torn to shreds, there are some definite horrific elements that will be bothersome to children. And some adult humor may upset parents that take their small kids. 

This is PG-13 for a reason. Heed that rating, please.