Have you ever known anyone that was “kinda” attractive but they hung out with unattractive people on purpose to look better by comparison? That is what we have with the film Rampage.
Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” had the honor of making this film under his Seven Bucks production company. I had assumed early on but now I’m certain, that Johnson had no idea what he signed on to. Everyone’s favorite muscle-bro put himself in an impossible situation: take a video game and make it a movie.
Remember in my introduction how I made that “look better by comparison” argument? That is exactly what he did for this film. Unlike Jumanji, where the movie survived on humor with a cast to match (including Jack Black and Kevin Hart), The Rock opted not to tap any big names for Rampage. So when I say the acting was bad and the dialogue was poorly written, that unearthly combination is what made Dwayne Johnson appear to be Tom Hanks in Castaway. The Brauma Bull looked like a Grade A steak because he was surrounded by fun-size Snickers.
In short, the film is about a wolf, gorilla, and alligator that get infected by a genetic experiment that alters their growth and their rage. That genetic experiment is owned by a sibling duo bearing the last name Wyden. Brett and Claire Wyden (Jake Lacy and Malin Akerman) are supposed to be the spoiled, snotty pair that runs the company and are naturally greedy and power hungry. But their execution was off and Malin came off as a rookie trying too hard to fit the role. Neither of them was believable and became more annoying as time passed. Davis Okoye is a primatologist played by tall, dark, and gruesome (The Rock if you’re clueless). He has a special relationship with George the gorilla. They even have inside jokes which they express through sign language. He makes a friend in Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris), a former scientist at the Wyden company. She had her moments, but for the most part, she was a nonfactor. Then the ‘cowboy’ was the absolute worst (and that’s all the time I’ll spend on him).
All of this leads up to the biggest point I’m going to make tonight: stop making movies off of video games. Johnson fell into the trap of wanting to reflect a personal love for a video game on the big screen. It’s been tried, it’s failed, and it has failed copiously. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Mortal Kombat, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Tomb Raider, World of Warcraft, Dragon Ball, Need for Speed, Silent Hill, Hitman, Super Mario Bros., Doom, and every iteration of Street Fighter that are games beloved by masses that saw zero success on screen (but for good reason, they were terrible). So can we agree to just stop? Stop trying to make video games into movies unless the gaming studio does it themselves, with an unlimited budget, and ZERO Hollywood input.
This movie is going to do well opening weekend solely because Dwayne Johnson’s name is on it. But we have to get serious people, The Rock can’t save everything. Last year he was given film project after film project, lead role after lead role, paired with the fact that he’s easy to look at and has a massive social media following, it seems like a failsafe plan to hand him the keys to theatrical Valhalla. But Rampage isn’t Mario Bros. or Kirby’s Dream Land. Rampage is a simple arcade game where you climb buildings and destroy them. That’s it. The entire game revolves around destruction. So a story was made to expand this simple concept to an hour and forty-seven minutes with a D+ supporting cast and terrible writing. Bad. Idea.
Rampage gets a 5 out of 10. Another video game franchise is ruined on screen and now people will hesitate when they see his name on a film’s production. I’ll save you the 1hr. 47 mins. He plays a scientist with a Nigerian name and makes a black friend with an American name. Their enemies are Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb who remind me more of the Trump children. An experiment goes awry, animals destroy cars and buildings, The Rock is the hero. Boom. You should’ve known this was going to go badly.
Shame on you.