One thing I’ve always hated is when people decide to add “that’s a low bar” to any positive statement, I get it, I know it may well be a low bar, but it’s annoying not only because I already know it is, but because it ends up feeling insulting. Rampage is the latest videogame to get the big screen treatment and yes, it is the best one to date, sure it’s easy to say that’s not a high bar, after all Angry Birds probably held that title before this, but it’s an accomplishment worth being proud of. It’s not every day we get one of these that’s actually good, and this may in fact be the first that’s good, as the high bar prior to this was decent. I think the team behind this should be proud of their work, because it isn’t just good as far as videogame movies go, it’s just good.
For those unaware Rampage is based on a pretty old game series (was the N64 the last time we saw these guys?) about giant animal monsters destroying buildings, the movie is that, but with a little more meat for a full three act structure. The Rock stars as Davis Okoye, a former soldier now animal expert, who finds himself in the middle of an evil experiment involving DNA splicing with animals after his ape friend George is caught in said experiment. Along the way two other experiments reveal themselves, a giant wolf named Ralph and a giant alligator named Lizzy; the organization responsible decides to use a beacon to attract the creatures, ignoring the destruction being caused. Davis tries to fix this, but without his friend it may just be impossible.
Obviously this is not a deep plot, it’s fairly standard, especially for the kaiju genre and won’t get many surprises out of you, but it works because of how committed it is to be a fun feature. All the actors are clearly enjoying the film, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a government agent and Malin Akerman as the evil CEO being the most fun in the film. Side note, I’m not sure if it was intended, but Akerman and her brother in the film are a little too reminiscent of a pair siblings in our world, I won’t say who, but I half-expected their father in the film to be a president... Anyway like I said before this is a fun feature, dumb, but very fun. It knew how often to bring out the monsters, as well as building up the big destruction found in act three, I may have preferred Godzilla (2014) but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up pleasing more people in the long run, due to being open about all the monsters we see.
So, what makes it the best videogame movie to date? Honestly it’s the confidence in itself. Unlike plenty of other videogame adaptations, Rampage doesn’t try building towards a sequel, nor does it feel the need to stop to explain all the mechanics of the plot. This is a giant monster movie at heart, embrace it and be proud of what you offer, which Rampage does. It’s unique while also feeling like a homage to the classics of the genre, that’s all it really needed and it succeeds at it. Rampage is by all means a silly, dumb film, but it understands what it needed to be to work, it cuts all useless fat to keep the film at a reasonable length, while remaining a fun film for it’s specific genre. If I were a kid this would be the kind of movie that inspires me to be a geek for movies, as an adult it’s an absolute blast, it may not be the best movie I’ve seen all year, but due to how much fun it is I think it’s deserving of a near perfect score. It’s a great time, unapologetically silly and avoids any major issues to really bring up.
3.5 OUT OF 4
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Written by Octaviano Macias