Often when I don’t respond favorably to movies like Jurassic World, San Andreas, Geostorm and Kong Skull Island I am asked with derision “Rachel, why can’t you just turn off your brain and enjoy a dumb movie…?” Well, my friend I can enjoy dumb fun but not when it is uninspired and boring as the 4 movies listed above. When the film can provide charismatic performances, new visuals or an energetic pace/tone I can enjoy a stupid film. Case in point- Rampage.
What Rampage gets right is pretty simple. First, the two main lead actors, Dwayne Johnson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are charismatic as heck. They are both funny, engaging and Johnson and the Gorilla have a nice chemistry together. There is a believable relationship between the gorilla and Johnson that works and gives heart to the film.
The second reason it works is the CGI monster-fest was actually something new and fresh. I have seen a million dinosaur scenes like in Jurassic World (snooze) but I haven’t seen a giant wolf fight an oversized gorilla and crocodile creature. That’s novel and enjoyable. The movie also gets pretty grisly which was kind of refreshing. Several named characters are eaten by the monsters and in one scene the wolf gets his teeth right up next to the character and stays there before snapping. Pretty memorable moment!
The science in Rampage is stupid but it isn’t dwelt on too much. It’s basically some magic genetic goo that gets the plot going. Rampage is a blessed 107 minutes and doesn’t waste our time trying to justify the ‘science’ of giant monsters fighting each other. Most of the movie is a fun cat and mouse type chase to capture these giant creatures.
Unfortunately there is one part of Rampage that seriously holds it back. Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy play corporate execs who want the genetic goo to do something with, and they are SO AWFUL. Every scene they are in is like nails on a chalkboard. I am sure Akerman is a lovely person, but I honestly don’t know why she has a career acting. She has been terrible in every project I’ve seen her in, and she’s terrible here. Every scene they are in is painful to get through, and they are in quite a bit.
Naomi Harris also does not work as the female scientist who agrees to help Johnson out. She seemed like she was in a different, more serious, movie than the rest of the cast.
Still, if someone asked me to recommend a ‘dumb fun’ movie to enjoy with friends on a Friday night I might go with Rampage. It had engaging performances with some heart and gave me new images and spectacle to enjoy. That’s all I’m asking for folks. It’s really not that complicated.