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Let’s Go Monstering

No one speaks an intelligent word through all of Rampage. Rather, they blabber on about corporate badness, genetic gobbledygook, and hoo-ra America militarism. Oh well. At least Rampage has monsters.

Rampage is one of the few giant monster movies that tonally understands what people pay for. It’s a chipper 90-minutes, amusing, and flush with monsters doing monster-y things. In the middle is a big, seemingly invincible muscle bound hero firing a grenade launcher and missiles at said critters, while the mega mutant gorilla flips everyone the bird. Seriously. He does it three times. That’s not even his rudest gesture either.

This is based on a videogame series, one relatively forgotten for over a decade. It’s not clear why New Line Cinema even bothered with licensing; it’s not as if the name recognition carries much value. Call Rampage anything (Three Monsters Outside Chicago, Illinois?), and a few minor references aside, then Rampage is any ol’ giant monster mash. But a good one. A genuinely fantastic one for this genre.

For the final half hour, everything explodes and does so with exuberance. Rampage skirts the R-rating (somehow) with plenty of gore, thrown/smashed bodies, and even a woman being eaten in slow-mo. Expletives fly freely too. Some language hides behind explosions or collapsing buildings (it’s so loud).

Rampage is on such a mission to get creatures on screen, it doesn’t even have time for a title card or opening credits.

Skyscrapers topple because a porcupine squirrel wolf, a climbing gilled spike-tailed crocodile, and a gorilla knocked them over. Don’t ask why the gorilla doesn’t sport wings or horns while the others do. Explanations would only slow things down. Rampage is on such a mission to get creatures on screen, it doesn’t even have time for a title card or opening credits.

There’s monsters. They look cool. They murder lots of Chicagoans in bloody, awkward ways. Before Chicago, the crocodile manages to swim up from the Florida keys totally unnoticed by anyone, and the wolf munches on military contractors in a genuinely eerie if familiar sequence. George, the gorilla, roams wild as a 30-foot gorilla presumably would. He’s headed for Chicago too. Evil movie corporation #1357 set up a beacon to call them. Not too smart considering, you know, Chicago is full of people.

But again, it’s stupid. Unlike the stupid of say, Transformers, Rampage just goes with it. Dwayne Johnson casts a smile over the film and Malin Akerman holds down the villainess side long enough to get her comeuppance. Rampage makes zero attempt to develop a human being. The gorilla has more character. Good thing George is in Rampage a lot.

That’s why it works: Big creatures smash buildings in glorious ways, to the epitome of modern visual effects, and eat people along the way. There’s no sense this is running overlong or turning tedious. The videogame was about mutants trekking across the US, smashing landmarks. Going into a movie like this, that’s the expectation. Rampage succeeds because it’s so willing and open to being what it needs to be.

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Rampage is nothing less than anti-intellectual nonsense, but by embracing the popcorn value, this monster romp is a success.

User Review
2.5 (2 votes)

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