The much-adored video game Rampage has been turned into a live-action adventure with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson contending with a mammoth Gorilla and so much more. Now comes the age old question that we always ask when a video game is turned into a film, does it break the video game adaptation curse?
The story of Rampage is a simple one even if director Brad Peyton and a team of writers overly complicate it. Davis Okoye (Johnson) is a wonderful zoologist at the San Diego Zoo, he works with the animals there and adores them. Above all of them is George an albino gorilla who Davis saved years prior to the events of the film. Everything is going great, George and Davis are like families, Davis is beloved by the ladies and admired by the men nothing could possibly go wrong. Cut to several canisters landing across the world, one of these strange items lands in George’s enclosure, and something worrisome happens to George. Overnight he grows approximately two feet taller becomes far stronger, aggressive and dangerous. Davis tries to contain the situation but unfortunately, the government get involved and worsen the whole ordeal.
Add to this an evil company with nefarious intentions and two even more deadly beasts lurking in the wings and you have an average Tuesday for Dwayne Johnson.
What works for Rampage is the surprising chemistry between Johnson’s Davis and George (Jason Liles). These two are fantastic together you believe they have this unbreakable bond and the two of them together have some of the best comedic beats in the whole film. Johnson, unfortunately, has to pull most of the weight charm-wise as the majority of the cast add nothing to the story. Naomie Harris plays Kate Caldwell, the scientist who is inadvertently responsible for the mutations that are happening to George and the other animals. She has good intentions though and hopes to fix this situation. Harris is unimpressive in her role, she’s needed when George is offscreen and Davis needs a sidekick unfortunately that happens a lot and she’s completely forgettable. Another human “character” is the evil CEO Claire Wyden (Malin Åkerman) who helped create this mutagen to try and create weaponised DNA. She is evil literally for evil’s sake there is nothing to her as a character beyond that. As well as the gargantuan beasts roaming around eating everything they can get their mouths on there is also Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Agent Harvey Russell who is chewing scenery left, right and centre. Flip a coin, he can easily be funny or annoying depending on what side the coin lands on.
On the technical aspects of the film, the cinematography of the action sequences are great. There are some great shots that if someone thought they were real would be genuinely terrified. The CGI of Rampage is also commendable, the beasts, for the most part, look impressive (Ralph looks more like a giant rat than a wolf). The action scenes are enjoyable but it’s not until the final third of the film that it goes from Independence Day to a Pacific Rim style movie.
Ultimately the success of Rampage depended on the execution of the premise of the original game, destroying tons of building while playing as giant monsters. And it does that, in the third act of the film until then you have to rely on subpar characters talking about the devastation these monsters are unleashing on America. So did Rampage break the curse? No, but it’s still a fun time at the cinema.