Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rampage - The Rock, A Giant Gorilla, A Giant Wolf and a Giant Alligator Walk Into a Bar.......and Oh Yeah, the Giant Wolf Can Fly

A Quiet Place was knocked out of the top spot last weekend by its complete cinematic opposite. Replacing the quiet but "grip your seat tense" movie experience was a spectacular-spectacular of noise, destruction and giant monsters. I've included a trailer above with Dwayne Johnson having a little fun at his own expense, and some big, dumb fun captures why Rampage succeeds despite the obvious urge to roll your eyes.

What to say about Ramapage's plot? Well there is one fortunately. An evil corporation (darn you, Citizens United) run by siblings Claire and Brett Wyden (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy) have gotten their hands on a concoction that can "edit" the genetic structure of living creatures in incredible ways. It will take you a quick minute to realize they are not using it for warm and fuzzy purposes. Due to poor planning and an accident, samples of the chemical end up crashing to earth in three different locations and spawn the three monsters. One is found by George, a extremely intelligent gorilla, cared for by Davis (Dwayne Johnson) who works with animals dislocated by loss of habitat and poaching. Mainly he's a big, scary giant of guy with a heart of gold. When the monster chaos busts loose on the screen, the remaining two main characters show up. There is Kate (Naomie Harris), the scientist who developed the genetic editing and got herself in a bit of trouble trying to keep it from being used to create weapons and Harvey (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who works for a shadowy government agency trying to contain the situation. All of our bad guys, good guys and monsters end up in Chicago for the destruction-fest finale.

Rampage survives or falls on two things - the quality of the abundant amount of CGI and the actors who have to "act" in relation to all of that technologically rendered fake stuff. I have trouble judging CGI but I thought it was really well done here. From the small stuff such as dust particles to the bigger set pieces, I never reached that point where I was knocked out of the fantasy by it all being just too much. Dwayne Johnson flexes his muscles as a natural showman with a knack for comedy; so that's nothing too surprising. His chemistry with Naomie Harris was spot on and never seemed forced. I liked that because I've only seen Harris in pretty weighty fare like Moonlight or Collateral Beauty. Jeffrey Dean Morgan worried me at first because he was talky and smarmy in a way that made me cringe and think "Oh great it's Walking Dead's Negan minus Lucille" but that was dialed back as the movie progressed. So there, I give Rampage and A. It's corny and you might think you're not supposed to enjoy it but I bet you will.