Friday, April 13, 2018

Rampage Review: Monstrous Entertainment

Many video games have made the jump to silver screen with some adaptations being more successful than others. However if there was one video game that I never expected to be told in a celluloid format it would be the game Rampage. Rampage is a game series where you played as giant monsters who are tasked to destroy city after city. Now these colossal beasts burst on to the big screen in a spring blockbuster directed by Brad Peyton. Like most adaptations Rampage looked to break away from its source by bringing a new spin on the video game concept, but despite the changes Rampage seemed like a standard blockbuster. Going into this movie I did not have the highest expectations for Rampage, and this may have been a good mindset to have as I found myself quite entertained with this adaptation.

Rampage centers on Davis (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) a primatologist who gets caught in a destructive situation after his ape George (Jason Liles) is transformed into massive mutant. The plot of Rampage was as simple as one could get. If you have seen the film’s trailer then odds are you probably know how this story plays out. However was this matter of simplicity a bad thing for the story? In my opinion no, it was not;in fact the plot’s straightforward storytelling was both appropriate and appreciated.  Some details got lost in delivery but even with its inconsistency the story still worked. The plot was entertaining as it never got boring and, much to my surprise, the story’s structure was paced remarkably well. When it came down to it Rampage was a story about giant monsters destroying things and the movie never strayed from this concept-which made this monstrous tale all the more enjoyable.

Another element that took me by surprise was the cast of Rampage. While the cast featured no dynamic performances or complex characters, what I found fascinating about this group of characters was how natural they felt. Rampage is the kind of film that I expected to feature a cast riddled with over the top traits and basic tropes (and in some cases it did), but the characters acted within reason and it made it easier to get behind this outrageous group. Dwayne Johnson was his usual charismatic self as Davis, and while this role played too closely to the Rock’s strength there was no denying that Johnson made for an enjoyable lead. The cast also featured solid performances from the likes of Naomi Harris as Dr.Kate Caldwell and Dean Jeffery Morgan as Harvey Russell. In Morgan’s case his sense of charisma was able to go toe to toe with Johnson; and that is no easy feat. The weakest point in the cast had to be Malin Akerman as the villain Claire Wyden. This problem was not Akerman herself but rather her character as Claire was a standard villain (even by this movie’s standards); plus Claire’s brother/minion Brett (Jake Lacy) was just a nuisance. Joe Manganiello had a small role as the soldier Burke and somehow managed to be effective even with his brief screen time. Then there was the character of George. The characterization of George showed that this ape was more than just a monsterous gorilla as his interaction with Davis gave this motion capture character a good  personality.
As previously stated  I was not expecting much from Rampage and this mentality did not waver in the likes of special effects and other technical elements. However, continuing the trend of this review, the likes of effects ended up being better than expected. Although it did not have  the most crisp sense of movie magic  the effects were decent to say the least especially with the three monsters whose design and execution were handled remarkably well . Helping the special effects was the film’s camerawork which featured an array of creative moments for movie which also  aided in the delivery of the film’s big time action scenes. The film’s music was efficient but did not resonate any tunes that I would consider memorable.

Rampage falls into the saying of “what you see is what you get”, and in this case it is a blockbuster laced with big spectacle and little substance-and that is not a bad thing. The movie is pretty standard in likes of storytelling and character development and that does limit the movie’s presentation. However with its keen sense of simplicity the movie is never boring and even features a solid plot, good characters and decent effects. Rampage is a popcorn film through and through and manages to live up to the video game’s simple concept-well in its own way to say nothing else.

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