Cinema: ‘Rampage’ I Smelled What The Rock Was Cooking, It Was Half Baked

Rampage is a loosely adapted film based on the 1986 video game of the same name. In the game you play as one of three different monsters and destroy cities. As you can imagine this is a pretty lean premise for a movie and Rampage struggles to pad out its runtime whenever there aren’t monsters on screen destroying Chicago.

Dwayne Johnson’s character Davis was perfect and had no flaws. Not even getting shot could slow him down. And as such it made his character boring to watch. Audiences can’t relate to perfect characters because no one is perfect. Davis also had very little personality other than being tough and generally nice. Dwayne did his best to add some charisma to the performance, but for the most part it didn’t work and felt out of place with the movie’s tone. His lines that were supposed to be funny felt very tacked on as if someone had added them on late in production. These scenes were so removed from the rest of the film that you could cut them out completely and audiences probably wouldn’t notice anything missing.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan played a supporting character named Russell in the film and his performance was nearly identical to that of how he plays Negan in The Walking Dead. Now granted, Russell wasn’t as morally gray a character as Negan, but so many of his mannerisms and even dialogue felt as if this character could have been Negan before the apocalypse. He even did his signature lean back and smile move that’s almost become a trademark of Negan’s. Now you may say this is just how Jeffery plays every character, but I urge you to watch his other movies and you will find that he is more than capable of playing other roles. For example, take his role in Watchman. Despite being the same actor, I would never accuse the Comedian of being too similar to Negan. It’s hard to say whether this was due to the director wanting a Negan like performance, or if it was Jeffery’s decision, but either way it came off as lazy. Regardless of the reused performance, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Russell was still by far the most entertaining character to watch out of the entire cast.

Speaking of characters, in the first act of the movie, there were three side characters set up as Davis’ friends and colleagues. It seemed a pretty safe bet to assume these characters would continue to be his companions throughout the film, but instead they were ditched after the first act and were never seen again. Now while having these characters continue to stick around probably wouldn’t have improved the movie all that much, it seemed pointless to set them up with defined personalities if the writers had no intention of using them throughout the movie. According to IMDB, Rampage was supposedly written by four people. Therefore, I wouldn’t be all surprised if these characters were originally intended to play a bigger role in one of the earlier drafts.

Rampage’s monsters were probably the highlight of the movie, but they were hardly anything new or special. George the gorilla was nearly identical to King Kong except he was an albino. Nonetheless, he did provide some very basic humor with his sign language. It was crude and juvenile, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get at least one or two laughs out of it. Alongside George, there were three other monsters in the movie. Ralph the mutant wolf and Lizzie the mutated alligator were the main beasts that battled George, but the beginning of the film also had a short appearance by a mutated rat.

All the monsters got their names from the video games, but only George’s name made sense in the movie. George was a captive gorilla at a zoo, so it would make sense that he could be named George by one of his keepers, but how Ralph got named was very forced. In the movie Ralph was named due to people on the internet dubbing him Ralph after seeing videos of his destruction. I get that this was just an Easter egg for fans of the game, but it made my eyes roll regardless. The movie didn’t even bother to specifically name Lizzie. We only know that’s her name from promotional material and from the game, so why was it was necessary to name Ralph is beyond me? 

The biggest problem of although was that the movie was boring. The movie wasn’t bad enough to be so bad it was entertaining, but wasn’t good enough to be compelling. With no characters to attach yourself to, the only thing that could offer any entertainment value was the monster fights. All the monsters were set up to be nearly indestructible, so their defeats ended up being a little underwhelming. Ralph’s defeat was by far the worst because despite, being built up to be the most dangerous monster he was beaten very easily. Lizzie’s fight was much better, but the way she was taken out was so silly and impractical it ended up being more funny than anything else. George realistically shouldn’t have stood any chance against these monsters, but arguing that would be a bit silly. It just seemed odd that the other monsters got all sorts of special mutations and all he got was a bit bigger and more durable. Maybe he didn't receive any disfiguring mutations just so the movie could retain his cuteness, but Rampage never bothers to elaborate on this point.  

The script of Rampage was about as bad as it comes. Dialogue almost exclusively consisted of exposition and bad one liners. None of the characters were written with any real depth and the bad guys’ motivation made no sense. The whole goal of the villains was to re-obtain the Rampage serum that or to at least collect the dead bodies of the beast infected with it. They wanted to do this so they could recreate it and sell it, but considering it was made clear they still had all the files and formulas, why did they even bother trying to re-obtain the monsters? They could have just recreated the serum from scratch, like they did before. It’s not like they wanted to get the bodies so they could prevent the serum from being traced back to them. No, it was made very clear that they just wanted the serum to sell it. Basically, the main conflict of the movie was started for no other reason than there needed to be a conflict.  

The movie took itself seriously for the most part, but with how silly the premise was, it would have been better off fully embracing its cheesiness and foregoing any of the serious plot elements. Rampage desperately wanted to be a big dumb monster movie, but it constantly undermined itself with its uninteresting human character drama. In the end, there’s not much here in Rampage for anyone. If you’re looking for a genuinely quality film this not it and if you’re just looking to see monsters destroy a city, you’re going to have to wait through at least an hour or so worth of boring nothingness. You’d be better off just playing the original 1986 game at this point.