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‘Rampage’ Has One Disastrous Problem

[This story contains spoilers for Rampage]

This weekend’s Rampage wants to be two types of blockbusters: a King Kong-like monster movie and a Roland Emmerich-esque disaster flick, with Dwayne Johnson at the center of it all. 

But this video game adaptation does not have the ability to satisfy these impulses in a way that’s tonally consistent, which distracts from its promise of mindless thrills. Despite the Rampage arcade cabinets being constantly visible in its villains’ headquarters, director Brad Peyton’s live-action adaptation comes off as too emotionally glib and mean-spirited, even for a mega-budget B-movie.

The film, written by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel, has a big albino gorilla in the room named George, who embodies the story’s schizophrenic identity to evoke some of the cartoonish game but also make a spectacle out of destruction. Sometimes George is goofy, like when introduced as a playful, sarcastic zoo animal with an emotional bond to the human-averse primatologist Davis (Johnson), which is tonally matched by scenes where hammy villains played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy talk about their scheme to genetically edit animals with the same threatening nature of Boris and Natasha from Rocky Bullwinkle. But George is also shown to have the potential for great violence as well, after a pathogen genetically modifies him to grow in size, his rage causing a plane full of people to crash and then a city to be destroyed, as mirrored by jarringly dark scene where a modified super-wolf reduces Joe Manganiello into splattered red corn syrup. With distinct scenes playing out like they came from completely different movies, Rampage could have used a great deal of genetic editing itself.

Because the script most of all needs to show George acting monstrously with a fellow mega-wolf and mega-crocodile

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