3.5

Between the Rock and a hard place, Dwayne still saves the day.

Well, he helps at least. Video game movie Rampage is the latest output from Brad Peyton and star Dwayne Johnson whom previously worked together on San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

After a failed experiment, three animals become mutated in size and characteristics, leading to catastrophic damage being caused. One of the animals, George, an albino Gorilla is the friend of Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson). So naturally, when the shit hits the fan, Davis goes after George to try and stop the authorities from putting him down. A little out of his depth, Davis teams up with a geneticist, Dr Cate Caldwell (played by the elegant Naomie Harris) and the shifty government agent/cowboy Harvey Russel (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Malin Akerman plays Claire Wyden, the evil corporation boss who conspires to make a fortune off of the death and destruction that these mutated monsters are wreaking across America. Her brother, Brett, played by Jake Lacy is the dumb, snivelling jock type who we all cannot wait to see die. Joe Manganiello gets a small mention as the scar faced bad-ass Burke. I was looking forward to seeing him battle the animals in opposition to the former three. However, I was left bitterly disappointed with his role.

This is a standard but fun action comedy. As just that, you will enjoy this film while munching down a bucket popcorn. Try to find anything more in it than that and you will end up wasting your time.

The best part of the film is George (performed via motion capture by Jason Liles). The cheeky Gorilla has a killer sense of humour and his chemistry with Davis Okoye is great. Johnson did very well conversing and signing to a CGI gorilla. In fact the special effects and arts departments all deserve a round of applause. When movies are comprised of so much CGI, it makes an incredible experience when the computer imagery is both beautiful, and legible.

As for the direction, Brad Peyton is just there, doing what he does. He gets Johnson, Harris and Morgan to just do what they do – execute their roles just fine. Johnson is fast becoming, if not already, the biggest action star in Hollywood. If he was in action films in the late 80’s and early 90’s I am not sure that the great Jean-Claude Van Damme would be my man crush. Johnson can act, he has great comedic timing, and he is massive. Why shouldn’t he be an action superstar? I have enjoyed his films since 2003’s Welcome to the Jungle, which is a great action comedy. Aside from the Manganiello debacle, I have zero complaints about Rampage, but I also won’t be going to the pub or to work and tell my mates to go watch it either.

The story does stray from the video game a little, which isn’t a huge deal. But it is a scary feeling when video game films come out and change aspects of the original plot. As a film it will either go one way or the other. Brad Peyton’s next film, Just Cause, is another video game movie which I played on my PlayStation 2 for hours on end as a kid. I hope he can follow suite and keep it fun and entertaining.

Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Writers: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel