Rampage is the awesome Jurassic World sequel we got—but didn’t deserve

Warner Bros.

It’s time for a monster-sized mea culpa. Earlier this year, I made the mistake of assuming the worst about Rampage. The April film, directed by Brad Peyton and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is based on the arcade games of the same name, which is already a bad start, since that franchise ranks well below the likes of pretty much any other game license ever slapped onto a film. (What, Mr. Do was unavailable?)

And its pre-release hype and trailers consisted mostly of Johnson alternating between agony, screaming, and sympathizing with a giant CGI ape. What hope did this film have?

Turns out, filmgoers had no idea what a treat Peyton and co. delivered. Hindsight is already incredibly kind to Rampage‘s tongue-in-cheek fun and action, and that’s thanks to the triceratops-sized dump that the Crichton empire laid in June with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Do gorillas eat cheese?

Both films revolve around questionable DNA editing techniques applied to wild animals—and their destructive results. They each also include sniveling corporate goons in charge of these ill-informed experiments. And in both films, the villains are put in their place by handsome, muscular men who can only open their hearts to the creatures they take care of.

But where Fallen Kingdom couldn’t make its mind up between over-serious drama, all-out intensity, and maddeningly silly leaps of horror-film logic, Rampage manages a perfect landing with its monster-sized feet. The secret is how seriously Peyton takes his film’s cheese.

Rampage understands a beat-by-beat playbook for strapping viewers into a relatively predictable ride. Johnson’s character of David Okoye quickly establishes a master-and-puppy relationship with George, who starts the film as a reasonably sized gorilla (and a rare albino one, at that) in a wildlife conservatory. A breezy, humorous sequence sees Okoye and George eyeing each other slyly as the gorilla pranks one of his newer caretakers, and this does as much to sell enjoyable jokes as it does to establish why Okoye will risk everything for his albino buddy once things go, you know, ape.