There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Davis (Dwayne Johnson) is a trained animal expert who works at a zoo, and he has a particularly special bond with an albino gorilla, named George. The two are able to communicate with each other through sign language, and the gorilla even has a sense of humor, as he likes to tease Davis on occasion. One day, a group of astronauts are returning to earth with a mysterious substance that drastically increases the size of any animal it is exposed to, while also sending some animals on a bloodthirsty path of destruction. This substance is bad news, and has been exposed to a rat on the spaceship. After the rat got loose, one astronaut makes a desperate attempt to save their research, as they release three capsules of the substance into earth’s atmosphere, so that someone may find it and learn of the astronauts' discovery.
One capsule finds its way into George’s exhibit. Curious, he examines the capsule, but inadvertently releases the substance. George is discovered the next morning, having drastically increased in size, and he got into the grizzly bear exhibit, killing a bear with ease. Concerned, Davis brings the scared George into the lab, learns that he is still growing, and finds out that George is not alone. Elsewhere, a wolf has been exposed to another capsule and it is slaughtering every living thing in its path. Davis must find a way to make sense of this situation and save his buddy George from becoming a monster of destruction without having to kill him.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Davis & George (+6pts)
Malin Akerman (-5pts)
Naomie Harris (-3pts)
Monster Action (+4pts)
The Plot (-8pts)
Pro: Davis & George (+6pts)
I was not expecting much from this movie, but the bond between Davis and George added a much needed layer to this story. These two were quickly setup as close friends, and I thought Dwayne Johnson did a great job at conveying his character’s love and concern for his pal. The relationship worked for two reasons. The visual effects were effective, and Dwayne Johnson effectively sold his character’s love for the ape.
The filmmakers were able to get George’s jovial attitude across through the visual effects. The quality was overall fine, but the detail that went into his facial expressions were what made it so effective. You will know when this character is sad, happy, scared, and angry. It may not sound like much, but it added a lot of personality to this character. Then there was Dwayne Johnson’s performance. It is not an incredibly dramatic performance, but the guy could be entertaining even if he was acting alongside...well, a rock. On top of simply being entertaining, he made the character’s love for George very believable, which made it very easy to get invested in Davis’ story, as well as the friendship he had with George.
Con: Malin Akerman (-5pts)
A movie is only as good as its villain, right? Well this one stunk. Now, there was not anything wrong with Malin Akerman’s performance. This character was just written to be as one-dimensional and bland, as one-dimensional, bland characters come. She is one of those antagonists who was evil, because money. That was all this character wanted, and there was no action too extreme if it meant increasing her wealth. Beyond that, the character got no development whatsoever, and she had the absolute dumbest plan imaginable.
Her plan was to lure a group of enraged, destructive monsters to her exact location, and did not at all see the massive, monster sized flaw in that plan. It was blatant, lazy writing if I have ever seen it before. Malin Akerman did about as good as most actors could have done with the role, but at the end of the day, this was a very poorly written character and she gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not even try to write a decent story here. It was as if the filmmakers just hired the Rock, threw in some monsters, slapped together a lazy, cookie-cutter script, and decided that would be enough to make some money.
Pro: Negan (+3pts)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan basically played this character as if Negan was a good guy. Sure, the character found himself going head-to-head with The Rock a few times, but the two were really on the same side here. It felt like Jeffrey Dean Morgan was doing an impression of his popular character from The Walking Dead, but I thought it worked for this movie. He came across as a parody of himself, but it gave the movie some extra flavor that it sorely needed.
The character had super cheesy dialogue, which effectively added some humor and kept the tone light. It was a ridiculous premise for a movie. There is no doubt about that, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan played the role in a way that made it feel like the filmmakers knew just how ridiculous the concept was. This made it easy to go along with the silly nature of the character, and it lightened up the movie’s tone for the better.
Con: Naomie Harris (-3pts)
Naomie Harris played one of those characters that will make you wonder why on earth the filmmakers gave her such a big role in this story. She was one of the scientists that helped develop the substance that was causing all of the story's problems. For some reason, the filmmakers thought that justified her being right there, alongside The Rock, throughout this entire story. They even set her up as a potential love interest for Davis, which felt completely unnecessary.
The filmmakers just kind of forced her into this story, when her presence made no sense, and when the romance she was in felt forced. All she really did was take screentime away from other more important characters. Even then, her character got no real development, and there was no real payoff for her being present through this whole thing. Put all of that together, and you have a character that felt like a huge waste of time.
Pro: Monster Action (+4pts)
The monster action in this movie was decent, but not great. There were some cool moments, sure. These mostly involved the giant wolf, but beyond that, it did not feel like anything we have not seen in countless other movies. Was it bad? No, but it was not great, and it did not really set itself apart from other movies that had done big monster action better. Still though, there were a few action sequences that were at least mildly entertaining.
Again, the good spots mostly involved the giant wolf. When the main antagonist, learned of the wolf’s whereabouts, she sent a bunch of hired guns to go get him—really a fool proof plan, if you ask me. The sequence that followed was pretty intense, and darn entertaining. After that, there were some decent, destructive action sequences, but none really did anything all that special.
Con: The Plot (-8pts)
This movie had a ridiculous premise. If you know what this movie was about, that should not be much of a shock to you, and while the filmmakers made a plot to setup this premise, they did not care to make a plot that made any real sense. The antagonist made this substance for no good reason. She seemed to think it would make her money, but there was no real reason as to why she would think that, considering the drug did not seem to do anything good. Then, the antagonist got a plan to save her investment, and I have already mentioned my issues with her plans throughout this review.
The movie followed Davis, who was trying to get his ape-friend out of the situation it had stumbled into, but he did not have any real plan on how he was going to accomplish that. His main focus was just figuring out what was going on, and following George to wherever he wound up next. Everything was just kind of happening with very little logic or direction from both the characters or the writers. The whole movie had a stench of lazy writing, and I had a tough time looking past it.
Grade: C- (72pts)
Through all of the marketing, and all of the trailers, Rampage looked like it would be a lazily made movie that might have a few decent action sequences. That was exactly what this movie ended up being. The plot made no sense and it felt like it was thrown together to very loosely explain why there are giant, violent animals destroying a city. The protagonist was entertaining and easy to connect with, but he had no real plan to achieve his goal. To make things worse, the antagonist was bland, and had a plan that made absolutely no sense.
The CGI was decent and it was able to add a lot of personality to the gorilla, George. The relationship between Davis and George was pretty entertaining, there was some decent monster action, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character added a flavor of cheesiness that the movie definitely benefited from having. My point is that the movie was not all bad, but there was still a lot working against it. The result was a movie that I think would be watchable if it is on, but it is not one that I would recommend seeking out.