By HARRY FISHER
In 1986, the company Midway Games released one of their most famous arcade games, “Rampage.” In the game, the player has the choice of one of three giant monsters to take control of and uses him or her to smash buildings, eat people and fight the military in each level.
The monster cast includes a gorilla similar to King Kong named George, a Godzilla-like dinosaur named Lizzie and a giant werewolf named Ralph. The game is pretty entertaining, especially because of how silly it is. The monsters all have amusing animations and exaggerated expressions, and when the player dies, their monster turns back into a human and shuffles awkwardly off the screen. Like a lot of other games from its time period, the game has aged surprisingly well, and even though it’s no masterpiece, it can still be fun to play today.
The game has received renewed public interest now that Warner Brothers has just released the movie “Rampage,” which is based on the original 1986 arcade game. I recently went to see the movie and while I was expecting it to be terrible, it was actually fairly decent. It has a very different tone than the games, but on its own, it can be a rather entertaining movie.
The movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a primatologist who befriends George, a rare albino gorilla. George ends up becoming the victim of a gene manipulation experiment and starts mutating into a giant monster, along with a wolf and a crocodile, who are the movie’s versions of Ralph and Lizzie. When George begins to go on a massive rampage alongside the other two monsters, Johnson’s character has to try to break through to his old friend so that they can take down the other monsters together.
It doesn’t surprise me that Johnson plays the protagonist in this movie. In fact, considering the action movies he’s been staring in lately, he’s pretty much become the new Arnold Schwarzenegger. Like Schwarzenegger, I find Johnson to be entertaining, especially when he’s in an over-the-top action movie like this. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well, but the movie’s story isn’t all that interesting. It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but I honestly wasn’t as interested in the human characters as I was in the untamed monsters.
The action scenes with the monsters are very well done, with some pretty good CGI, and they’re easily the best parts of the movie. In fact, I would say the movie is worth seeing just once for the monster scenes alone. The movie is kind of like the game in the sense that the most entertaining part is watching the monsters eat people, trash the military and cause mass destruction.
However, the drawback is that most of the human scenes aren’t as entertaining, and you have to deal with watching them in between watching the monster scenes. Of course, the movie does have some decent performances and funny lines, but I feel like it could have benefitted from a more interesting and well-written plot to add more depth to the human characters.
Another thing I think this movie could have benefitted from is a slightly sillier tone. I feel like the movie takes itself a little too seriously, given how cheesy and ridiculous its source material is. For one thing, the monsters in the movie are just mutated animals. They’re not humans who mutate into giant animals like in the game. Because of this, George is the only monster in the movie who has any character, since it’s shown early in the movie that he has a human-like sense of humor. The wolf and the crocodile just behave like generic giant monsters who want to smash stuff. It would have been more interesting if they all had human characteristics, and were pointing and laughing at each other while they were beating each other up.
Also, it’s revealed at one point that the wolf can glide like a flying squirrel. Why not give weird traits like that to the other two monsters? Why not have George breath fire, or have the crocodile shoot spider webs out of its mouth or something? I think that if this movie wanted to be more faithful to the video games, there are many ways like this that could have made it more silly and cartoon-like. There are a few silly moments in the movie, but overall, I think the movie is a little too serious for its own good.
Of course, it’s still an entertaining monster movie, and even though it could have been better, I would say that it’s still a decent way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. I would also recommend checking out the game, which you can actually play on the movie’s website for free. Overall, the movie “Rampage” may be different from the game, but they’re both still dumb yet surprisingly entertaining.