*. If you’ve read many of these notes you’ll probably be expecting me to hate Rampage. I don’t like CGI movies and I don’t like movies that make me feel as though I’m watching someone play a video game. So I really should hate Rampage. It’s all CGI and, to my surprise (since I spent more than a few hours in arcades in the 1980s and I didn’t recognize it) it’s based on a Bally Midway video game.
*. But I didn’t mind it. The CGI isn’t very good, and doesn’t try to do anything special, but one thing CGI does well is destroy cities. Whether it’s being done by superheroes or giant robots or monsters, tearing down skyscrapers is one of CGI’s specialties. And Rampage has lots of that.
*. As far as the rest of the movie goes, it’s predictable and stupid but perhaps mainly thanks to Dwayne Johnson it has a D-picture charm to it. You know where it’s going every step of the way, and I mean that literally. There were scenes where I was even reciting the dialogue along with the actors. It’s that obvious.
*. Maybe it just reminded me not of 1980s video games so much as an even earlier part of my life: the Toho monster movies made in the 1960s that were shown on weekend afternoon television “creature features.” Basically this is just King Kong vs. Godzilla all over again. Which means it’s also very much a children’s movie. When George makes the hand gesture for intercourse at the end it’s one of the few missteps. Not that I’m a prude about such things, but I just thought it wasn’t right for the target audience, which I had pegged as being around 8 to 10 years old.
*. There’s a reason why Dwayne Johnson became one of the highest-paid actors of his generation. He looks CGI himself, or like some kind of rubber action figure, is completely indestructible even with buildings falling on top of him, and still manages to hold his own in terms of star power with the monsters. When he and George have to take on Ralph the wolf and the mutant alligator at the end we can actually feel as though this is a fair tag-team match.
*. So I didn’t hate Rampage. It’s trash but it knows what kind of trash it is, and despite being so formulaic I didn’t find it boring. More than anything, though, what it did was take me back to being 8 years old again. Despite being so much a movie of its time, all its charm for me was nostalgia.