It has been a big year for films based on video game properties. Running the gamut from the rebooted “Tomb Raider” franchise to last month’s “Ready Player One” and even later this year when “Wreck-It-Ralph” returns to break the Internet, 2018 seems to be a banner year in gaming based films. Add to this already stacked pile of video game properties jockeying for their moment on the big screen is a project that has been a long time coming ever since Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the property when they bought Midway Games almost a decade ago. After attaching Dwayne Johnson to star in the project in 2015, it began to pick up steam as he was re-teamed with “San Andreas” director Brad Peyton with every intention of creating a spectacle that would dwarf their previous effort with a story seemingly MADE for the big screen, and after all this time and anticipation, the monster-mashing, building-bashing, creature feature “Rampage” finally smashes onto cinema screens.
Davis Okoye (Johnson) is a primatologist who has spent the last several years looking after George, a rare albino gorilla raised in captivity at the San Diego after being orphaned by poachers in Rwanda. After a genetic experiment in space goes horribly awry, George, along with a wolf in Wyoming and an alligator in the Florida Everglades are exposed to a mutagenic compound that makes them grow to a colossal size and converge on downtown Chicago. Davis, along with former genetic engineerDr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and government agent Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), team up to prevent the trio of “Rampagers” from destroying the city, saving his friend George and exposing the corrupt organization headed by siblings Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) that created the mess in the first place.
I gotta be honest here: I had a BAD feeling about this film VERY early on. It seemed like a fairly ridiculous premise to build a film around the plot of a game whose entire premise was simply “smash buildings… eat humans… rinse…repeat”. Much to my surprise, the folks involved have managed to wring a VEERY enjoyable summer popcorn movie out of this and provide plenty of bang for your buck. It’s not going to be a darling during awards season, but it is entertaining from beginning to end. There ARE some ridiculously over-the-top set pieces here, but that should be expected given the premise and its star. It is one of the more enjoyable films of his that I have seen in quite some time, and even though I really didn’t think they could pull this off, “Rampage” satisfies in ways I never expected it to.