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The UnPopular Opinion: Rampage

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Dwayne Johnson is the big budget equivalent of all the direct to VOD actors that populate Redbox kiosks and used to be the bread and butter of video stores. There are countless action heroes like Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, and Jean-Claude Van Damme who have fallen from the heights of Hollywood fame to the remainder bin of DVDs at countless highway gas stations. The biggest difference between those names and Dwayne Johnson is that he has the charisma coupled with monster sized studio budgets to deliver hits like JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, SAN ANDREAS, and the latter entries in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise. Despite some hit or miss films over the last year, 2018 has been especially hard on Dwayne Johnson at the box office with both RAMPAGE and SKYSCRAPER underperforming. The biggest shame of it is that both of those movies are much more fun than people give them credit for with RAMPAGE deserving to have been a much bigger hit than it was.

While it di quadruple it's budget, RAMPAGE should have been so much more successful than it was. In adapting a video game that is essentially unadaptable, Dwayne Johnson and director Brad Peyton managed to deliver a stupidly good time at the movies. This summer has, thankfully, seen some intelligent and high quality movies like AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT, but every summer needs some dumb movies to numb us to the world and all of the bad things happening. Sometimes, we just want to watch a big city get completely destroyed by giant monsters so that the horrors of the news doesn't feel quite as daunting. Entering a darkened theater to see RAMPAGE, you know exactly what you are in for. There is no reason to expect character development or nuance. No, RAMPAGE is exactly what the title says in every way, shape, and form.

The UnPopular Opinion, Rampage, Action, Drama, Science Fiction, Malin Akerman, Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

And there is no actor better suited for this type of movie than Dwayne Johnson. With an impeccable physique and the charm of even the top movie stars working today, you cannot help but like Johnson. In fact, I cannot think of ever hearing a single person say "I don't really like Dwayne Johnson". Like Tom Hanks, Johnson just exudes an approachability and an everyman demeanor despite being an unattainable level of famous and physically fit. To boot, he is actually a good actor and pours himself into every project as if it was the last movie he would get to make. RAMPAGE is no exception. During pre-production, Johnson would constantly share posts on social media of the production and proclaiming his love for the video game. That could have just been his media relations team driving the buzz, but Johnson is good enough that you believe he is being honest. In the finished movie, Johnson is not the only actor having fun with the material. In fact, everyone from Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan all act as if they are in a prestige picture and not standing in front of green screens pretending to run from mutated animals.

For their third film together, Brad Peyton and Johnson do not stray far from their tried and true formula. Like JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, this movie has all sorts of giant animals wreaking havoc. Like SAN ANDREAS, there is large scale destruction porn that would give Michael Bay an erection. Together, this movie is somewhat less wholesome than either of those films with the profanity flying freely while the violence remains relatively bloodless. This is a movie aimed directly at an audience who will believe a six foot tall human being could do more against three massive monsters than an entire armed force of soldiers, helicopters, jets, and so much firepower. That audience is not caring about the logic or exposition which is convoluted and nonsensical. No, the audience that wants RAMPAGE is an audience who wants to see stuff get blowed up real good. And boy is that audience in for a treat!

While RAMPAGE will most assuredly get a better audience on Blu-ray and eventually cable, it was a movie that was designed for big screen viewing. With the cost of movie tickets higher than ever, I am sure many decided to opt out of paying for something as cheesy as RAMPAGE. But that was a classic mistake. There are bad movies and there are cheesy movies. RAMPAGE falls squarely into the cheesy mold with a talented cast talking as if their lives truly depended on it. Malin Akerman teeters between a cliche corporate villain and a more comedic take, all the while still being damn sexy. Naomie Harris, coming off her Oscar nominated role in MOONLIGHT, plays a scientist spouting technobabble and looks like this is a vacation project that allowed for fun without investing her emotional sanity. Even Joe Manganiello's brief performance seems like a warm-up for bigger and badder characters on the horizon. And then there is Jeffrey Dean Morgan who seems to be playing his Walking Dead character of Negan but with a Southern drawl and a heart of gold. Morgan clearly seems to have come to the set and asked if he could make the character his own for no reason besides just for shits and giggles.

RAMPAGE also deserves kudos for going the full distance and royally fucking up the city of Chicago. WETA Digital scanned over 15,000 images of the city to get every aspect of the architecture corret and then studied footage of the World Trade Center being destroyed to get the devastation just right. In most films, cities like New York or Los Angeles are decimated which leaves my hometown of Chicago out of the fun. The unique layout of Chicago with lakeshore, riverfront, and massive skyscrapers helped make the final battle in TRANSFORMERS:one of the most memorable action sequences of the last twenty years. Here, the wanton destruction of the city is actually quite the cinematic achievement and is much more memorable than anything in SAN ANDREAS. Here, recognizable landmarks like the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center are smashed and broken in such a manner that looks unlike anything else in recent memory. It is a very cool sequence that echoes the gameplay of the original RAMPAGE and translates perfectly to the big screen.

The UnPopular Opinion, Rampage, Action, Drama, Science Fiction, Malin Akerman, Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Overall, RAMPAGE falls into the category of bad movies that are lots of fun to watch. No one would ever mistake this movie for anything more than what it is and those who had expectations that it would be more dramatic or more well scripted were not anywhere near the mindset for a movie featuring a giant primate, wolf, and alligator. RAMPAGE is stupid in all the best ways possible in that it doesn't require you to think. If anything, you can watch this movie and laugh at the logistical inconsistencies and clear lapses in sense that were either holes in the screenplay itself or oversights in the editing process. In either case, seeing a film where a star with the presence of Dwayne Johnson can act as if everything happening were within the realm of the movie's reality is an achievement on it's own. But, the mere fact that the trailer included veiled references to the sheer ridiculousness of the premise of RAMPAGE should have shown you this movie knew exactly what it was trying it be and it absolutely delivers.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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