Yes, 'Rampage' Is Dumb, But It's Also a Hell Of a Good Time
Warner Bros.
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"Rampage" includes giant mutated lizards, huge gorillas, and one very large Rock.

If you like the idea of a movie in which The Rock is best friends with a wise-ass gorilla and teams up with a beautiful genius to run after giant mutated animals that are laying waste to Chicago, then you will like "Rampage." If that doesn’t sound like your cup of xtreme Mountain Dew, then you will definitely not like "Rampage."

That sounds straightforward and obvious, and yes, that’s the point, because that, unlike so many blockbuster movies, "Rampage" is straightforward and obvious. "Rampage" is not hiding any sort of agenda. It’s not using video game characters in a stretched-thin metaphor for the moral crumbling of society. George the giant gorilla is not a hairy substitute for any sort of tragic figure found in scripture or Greek myth. The Rock is not a Christ figure (in the movie, anyway). The villain is not a veiled stand-in for Donald Trump, and you’re not going to leave the theater reflecting on what it means to be a hero. "Rampage" is exactly what it sounds like, and that’s why it’s so good.

A few years ago, director Brad Peyton and a squadron of screenwriters (including "Lost" scribe Carlton Cuse) may have tried to make "Rampage" some kind of meditation on the cruelty of science or the burden of responsibility. It would have likely been some shade of "dark and gritty." But in the wake of the total failure of Zack Snyder’s ultra-bleak DC comics movies, paired with the continued success of more light-hearted blockbusters, it’s clear that self-seriousness is very much out — the real world is a nightmare, and movies are once again a form of escapism. A movie with The Rock at its center, even more so.

So instead, they bet that a movie based on a beloved, mindless arcade game in which three giant monster animals — the aforementioned gorilla, joined by a massive Godzilla-like lizard and werewolf — should be as dumb as it sounds. And more importantly, that it should know that it’s dumb, embrace that it’s dumb, and have a hell of a time with the fact that it’s dumb. Because that way, the audience — thanks in no small part to The Rock’s charisma and the inherent meta nature of his performance and existence — would have a hell of a time, too.

It was a very, very good bet. "Rampage" is a hell of a time. An albino gorilla grows to the size of King Kong and tosses people around like rag dolls in between Hulk-smashing its fist through skyscrapers. A crocodile mutates into a four-legged Godzilla and somehow swims from Mexico to Chicago. A wolf grows to the size of a forest canopy, grows bat-like wing extensions, and wrecks a helicopter mid-flight. And it’s all thanks to a ridiculous science experiment in space gone wrong, spearheaded by a set of evil, doddering siblings played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy, who is great as a sniveling doofus.

Not sold yet? Naomie Harris plays a brilliant, troubled scientist — and of course, The Rock’s love interest. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a swaggering special forces agent who carries an old-time cowboy revolver, for some odd and never-explained reason, and goes toe-to-toe (metaphorically) with The Rock… who plays a scientist specializing in monkey studies. The man who used to wrestle under the moniker "The People’s Champion," the dude who is the biggest movie star in the world for reasons other than his acting, plays a guy who claims to not be a people person. A guy whose best friend is a gorilla he rescued while he was fighting poachers, a gorilla he chases across the US and tries to save even as its ripping Chicago apart with its mutant animal pals.

Again, if none of that interests you, you would hate "Rampage." If you need to really feel the gravity of every decision and see some acknowledgment of the lives lost in a series of bizarre disasters, you will not appreciate this movie. If you think it’s important that characters that are set up as important supporting figures in the first act never appear again once the plot gets going, go find another movie. But if you just don’t want to hear about the real world for two hours, if you prefer disasters that don’t leave you picking up the pieces after exiting the theater, you will like "Rampage."

View Photos Getty The Premiere of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's 'Rampage'

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