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Rampage (2018)

Fact: This box cover is the entirety of the movie pitch to WB execs.

At several points in Rampage an arcade machine of the namesake game can be seen in the background of the evil villains’ corporate lair. What is it there? To remind the audience the movie is based on a video game. It had no relevance to the plot and I have a hard time thinking the E-VEEL corporate siblings (Malin Akerman and an insufferable Jake Lacy) like to unwind with the game. Rampage is a very stupid film that takes itself seriously. It’s a popcorn kids movie but it’s so violent you won’t want to take any kids under 13 to see it in the first place. It has several frightening scenes of mutated monsters wrecking everything in their path (or “rampaging” if you will) and chowing down on people left and right. Rampage really pushes the PG-13 rating to the limit so if you have little ones, be warned. Bloody bodies, dismembered limbs, and a body count that is off the charts make what should be a fun romp needlessly grim at times.

The plot is as bare bones as you can get. E-VEEL corporation conducts experiments with genetic manipulation and accidentally unleashes monstrosities. Primatologist David Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) tries to save his friend, George, a albino ape, after he is accidentally infected with the genetic go juice. He teams up with disgraced geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to save George and stop the other, um, rampaging monsters.

It’s a fun movie but you really have to put your brain in time out before you can enjoy it. At one point a group of mercenaries (lead by Joe Manganiello in what amounts to a cameo) come across the 5 foot wide paw print of the mutant wolf they are tracking. They hear a rustling in the woods ahead of them and are startled when a pack of elk come blasting through the trees. One mercenary remarks “What do you think spooked them?” I don’t know genius, maybe the gigantic wolf you are looking for. Cue the gigantic wolf to appear behind them and turn them in to Lunchables. But I did like that Manganiello (famous for playing a werewolf on True Blood) got eaten by a giant wolf. Touche b-movie!

Later in the movie, in an attempt to mimic the action of the video game, the E-VEEL corporate villains turn on a radio transmitter that magically calls all the animals to them in the heart of Chicago. For…reasons. Mainly because it’s in the script. The gorilla, wolf, and a yet to be seen alligator make the trek to the transmitter wrecking everything in their path. Davis and Kate try to stop them –  and prevent the military from dropping a MOAB on Lakeshore Drive – with the help of a cowboy federal agent played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan doing a passable impression of Tommy Lee Jones.

If you’ve seen the trailers you know what you are in for. It’s a fun movie but its likely not one you will remember with any fondness in 6 months. There is one action sequence toward the end that is truly spectacular, and the last 30 minutes or so when the animals finally get to, um, rampage is worth slogging through all the ridiculous scenes and dialogue to get there.

Stick around for the over wrought credit song by Kid Cudi that samples Smashing Pumpkins hit “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”. It’s no “Deepest Bluest” I’ll tell you that.

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