14 May 2018

The Rock Spanks His Monkey

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Although it pains me to say I was sadly at the funeral of my best friends' new born daughter the other week. During the speeches about her life it was genuinely mentioned that one of the experiences that had been lost was the chance for me to sit with her and explain exactly why The Rock is the greatest human of all time... And obviously this annoyed me. “Hang on” I thought, “why would I have to be the person to explain this? Does this mean that not everybody here actually fucking thinks it too?” It seemed an inappropriate time and place to bring this query up afterwards but it also seemed a little inappropriate that some people might not love The fucking Rock as much as I do and so I had to say something. I mean, seriously?! In the way that he raises those eyebrows whilst playing everything with his tongue firmly in his cheek it's like he's a cross between Roger Moore and the Incredible fucking Hulk. Just look at his entrance into Fast Five in which he stomps into the series with the confidence that the British Empire used to have whilst stomping around the world, casually claiming countries as their own. As Dominic Toretto and his merry band of morons were too busy stealing cars, it seems that they weren't quite quick enough to spot The Rock and his charm were stealing their own fucking franchise.

The point is that I'm quite a big fan of The Rock and his particular style of silver screen thesping which perfectly blends irony with both definitions of absurdism. You can therefore imagine my excitement when I sat down to watch his latest film, the premise of which sounded so stupid that I suspected it may well turn out to be a fucking masterpiece. In Rampage, The Rock plays a special zoo guy that's friends with a big albino gorilla. I mean, do you even need to hear more? Fuck off Citizen Kane I think there's a new 'best film' for Sight And Sound Magazine to wank all over. However in the first few minutes of the film a giant space rat accidentally destroys a satellite and sends the canisters of green gas that created it flying towards Earth. The gas has been invented by an evil organisation to make animals bigger, stronger, and more aggressive, for reasons that I don't think are ever really explained and quite frankly are none of my business. These canisters of green shit land in America next to a wolf, one next to a crocodile, and holy fucking titty shits.. only The Rock's big white gorilla friend! Each of the three creatures start to mutate and grow and smash things up because of their new-found muscles and anger issues. Other than the fact that their bollocks don't shrink and they don't all murder their families, I suppose this is nothing that The Rock won't have seen from his steroid addled colleagues at the WWE.

Of course, as most people will probably know, this film is based on a video-game with most video-game movies tending to be about as fun as staring at a stuck loading screen whilst your Nan loudly masterbates in the next room. However there's a few things about Rampage that prevent it from becoming the sweetcorn-spackled turd that it could have been, with the first being that the game has basically no story and no characters whatsoever. One of the problems with the recent Tomb Raider was that it had tried to adapt a game that had already tried it's best to be as cinematic as possible. So although the game felt fresh because these movie cliches were in an interactive environment, the film simply removed that unique element to leave us with a bog-standard action movie. Also because the game was already so cinematic, it left the filmmakers with little ability to change anything to fix this sense of cliché without then losing aspects of the series that the fans would then bitch about missing out on. The Rampage game however has literally none of this complexity, with the concept being that you choose one of three monsters to play as and then you smash as much shit up as you can before the army takes you down. As a result, the film can pretty much do whatever it likes in terms of story or characters as long as it has this single aspect in. Considering the film features a giant monkey continuously nutting a building whilst The Rock screams and shoots a grenade launcher into the face of a giant fucking crocodile, I'd say this box was well and truly ticked.

Of course there's only so much destruction you can watch before it stops being fun, which is why we've all stopped talking about Lindsey Lohan's career. However the brilliance of the movie lies within the relationship between The Rock and the monkey. The Rock might not quite be as good an actor as De Niro was, however I'd like to see De Niro fist bump a CG gorilla and make me jealous of their friendship. As a result there's an actual heart at the centre of this film in which you care about both characters. This isn't just about big creatures destroying a city but about one friend trying to save the other despite how serious the situation gets. At one point the giant ape gets to the top of a sky scraper, picks an innocent man up and flings him into the sky. To be honest.. that's how I think I'd like to go too. Throughout the duration of the monkey's mutation, as much as you enjoy seeing him smash things, you really just want him to snap out of it so that him and The Rock can go and save the world. Which is obviously back down to the brilliance of The Rock's performance and the level of likeability that oozes out of him. Of course this is all helped by the film which does for the most part also seem fairly aware of its own silliness. When asked which shady Government agency he's a part of, the suspicious Jeffery Dean Morgan simply replies with, “When science shits the bed.. I'm the man they call in to change the sheets”. I don't normally give a toss about awards but unless every Oscar at next years ceremony is melted down and turned into one giant Uber-Oscar to give to the writer of that line then somebody has seriously fucked up.

None of this is to say that the film is perfect of course. Despite the level of destruction at the end of the movie, I wouldn't have been against at least a little bit more simply because of how much fun it was. And there were a few tonal issues in which the film did forget how silly it was supposed to be in favour of some unnecessary bleakness. Despite there being a scene in which an albino Gorilla gives The Rock the finger, the film also plays on some 9/11 imagery and with some of the gore being pretty randomly full on. Imagine if, just after back flipping a car to hook some grenades onto the helicopter in Fast And Furious 7, Vin Diesel was then knocked out and brutally raped and that's sort of how some of the scenes here feel. Sort of. The ending also gets super depressing before flipping emotions like a menopausal piss-head with the cheery final few minutes absolutely smacking of studio imposed re-shoots to undo the trauma of what had just come before. In any other reality I'd say that the villains are way too unbelievable and cartoonish too. Except for the fact that they kind of feel like they could be two of Trump's kids in which case their stupidity is actually more believable than our current bullshit real world. There are a couple of slow moments in between all of the action however they become more than watchable for me due to my huge man-crush on the huge man at the centre of the film. And that's really all that matters to be honest. If you like the idea of The Rock fighting some monsters then Rampage is the film for you. If not however then maybe stay clear of this film and probably also me, you boring bastard. Thanks for reading, motherfucker, and see you next time.

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