'Rampage' review: The bigger, the blander
There is something about Dwayne Johnson that makes even the most noxious films he stars in somewhat tolerable.
The former wrestler is certainly an imposing figure, who by himself is already quite a spectacle, most especially if he performs stunts whose sole aim is to astound.
However, there are many other action stars who are capable of looking daunting while making his way around a crowd by sheer brusque. What differentiates Johnson is his ability to poke fun at himself without diminishing his overt coolness.
He personifies primal masculinity in the way that his figure sends signals that this man can certainly survive alongside dinosaurs. His easy and breezy swagger comically defies stereotype. Sadly, after a string of performances that have abused this facet of his personality, Johnson has turned into a blockbuster stereotype.
This has become most apparent in Brad Peyton’s Rampage, a big-budgeted but small-minded reimagining of an arcade game about gigantic animals toppling cities. In the film, Johnson plays an ape trainer who gets involved in a mess involving genetic manipulation of animals when his beloved albino ape named George falls victim and turns into a King Kong-sized monstrosity with rage issues.
Johnson here is a flaccid character, defined by his preference to associate with animals than humans. He is close to humorless but still manages to save the day with his brute strength and internal resolve. In other words, Johnson’s character here is close to being an absolute bore, a mechanically shaped reiteration of the Johnson stereotype with less of the self-deprecating humor and more of the muscular spectacle.
Peyton hinges his film’s pleasure on the climactic battle between the mutated beasts.
The rumble is sadly just a rote and regurgitated assembly of stuff we have seen before since a lot of Hollywood blockbusters these days are not without a familiar metropolis being reduced to rubble. The climax however should prove to be more relevant here, since the goal of the game the film is based on is for the player to topple as many cities as he can.
The film, however, decides to play it safely and instead creates spectacles out of massive creatures fighting to the death in the middle of a near empty city.
There really is hardly any drama here. Peyton forgets to shape any sense of danger. It is all eye candy, all empty noise and chaos.
What’s worse is that the film takes a while to get to its limp showpiece. It has to first introduce the dull hero, the even duller heroine and love interest (Naomi Harris), and the unimaginatively villainous corporate types (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy), before laying down the cornerstones of the overly simplistic plot.
Rampage is close to intolerable. It could have been salvaged probably by a bit of playfulness but the expensive gloss ruins any kind of fun to be had from a film that drowns in such silliness.
Gigantic waste of time
It isn’t always the case that bigger is better.
In Rampage’s case, the bigger it gets, the blander. The film is one gigantic waste of time, one that not even Johnson, the MSG of Hollywood blockbusters, can salvage. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.