‘Blu-ray or Bust’
RAMPAGE (2018, PG-13, 107 minutes, 7 BUCKS ENTERTAINMENT/WARNER BROS.)
There is a darn good reason that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is everywhere nowadays.
The man has gone from being a versatile entertainer to a rather versatile actor. Sure, the majority of his films are action pieces, but his clear sense of humor and playfulness come out in everything he does. He is a charming badass, and this persona has carried him far.
So, I can forgive him if he stumbles upon a slight detour every now and again. Take RAMPAGE, for instance. Based on the old Konami arcade game, the film is about giant animals that (you guessed it!) go on a rampage through Chicago. Mr. Johnson’s timing and comedic skills are quite evident, as is his physical onscreen presence. But he gets a bit lost amidst all the chaos, and that is truly when this film suffers the most. You see, there isn’t much to set this apart from other “monsters loose in a big city” fare, besides that the majority of those movies do it better.
There is too much rehashed dialogue here, and too many one-note characters. Like the evil corporate bad guys, a brother and sister team. Played by actors Malin Akerman (WATCHMEN) and Jake Lacy (MISS SLOAN), these two are the most badly written baddies to date. It isn’t their acting, but rather the fact that there are no layers to these people at all. They are here for one singular purpose: one is smart, the other is stupid, and together they are an absurd corporate pairing of incompetent greed.
Mr. Johnson does his best—again, many of the films jokes land solidly because of his delivery, and his interaction with George the giant ape are believably honest. Yet there is only so much his bravado can do, and sadly, it isn’t enough to save this ludicrous mess.
The shining star here, however, isn’t Mr. Johnson, or the giant CGI beasties. That honor belongs to the great Jeffrey Dean Morgan (WATCHMEN, “Supernatural”), who has been chewing scenery long before he was swinging that bat on “The Walking Dead”. His portrayal of government agent Harvey Russell is done so with tongue planted firmly in cheek. He gets the joke, and he’ll share it with you as much as he can. He hasn’t looked this relaxed since his work as The Comedian in WATCHMEN, and it is a relief whenever he enters a scene. But even he cannot escape the bad dialogue, or the predictable elements, which litter this production.
The special features are blasé, at best. There are several behind-the-scenes docs, including one about the actors performing their own stunts. Skip the one about the motion capture performances; any that you’ve seen before with Andy Serkis at the helm are a lot more fun and informative to watch. Hell, even the Gag Reel kinda sucks.
Up next for Mr. Johnson are four films in various stages of pre-production, and four others that have been announced. His, kiddies, is a busy schedule. Let’s just hope that out of the three upcoming sequels planned for him, they stay away from this stinker. Can’t say I’d easily forgive a second trot down this particular dirt road.
Special Features: C
Blu-Ray Necessary: Only if you have kids—that would easily explain it being in your movie collection if someone else notices that you have it…
-- T.S. Kummelman