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The Underrated Dwayne Johnson Monster Movie You Can Watch On HBO Max

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of our most beloved action stars. Lately, he's probably best known for playing Hobbs in the Fast and the Furious franchise and Bravestone in the Jumanji movies. Soon, he's going to become synonymous with superpowered anti-heroes when he takes on Black Adam.

Johnson is one of those actors where nearly everything he's in is a hit. The only hitch with that is, since Johnson is in so many movies these days, it's easy for some to get forgotten in the shuffle. Central Intelligence, Baywatch, and the Rock's ode to '70s disaster movies Skyscraper all came out within five years, but the volume of hits is so extreme that chances are you missed something good.

In fact, there's one other movie from that timeline that's available to watch on HBO Max right now: Rampage. To get it out of the way, yes, Rampage is an extremely loose adaptations of the arcade game series of the same name. In the original game, human beings transform into giant monsters that destroy cities across the United States. Those monsters also eat people to keep their energy up. It's a game — for the kids!

Obviously, it was pretty unlikely that the Rock would star in a movie where monsters randomly eat people and are still the heroes of the film, so the film's story was adapted to be a little bit less cannibalistic. In the process, Rampage became so over the top and — in places — ridiculous, that it has to be seen to be believed.

Rampage has a surprisingly impressive pedigree

The set-up for Rampage is like something straight out of the B-movies of the 1960s: A genetic pathogen created in space by an immoral company called Energyne is accidentally unleashed on Earth when the station holding the pathogen explodes. A number of creatures, including a crocodile, a wolf, and an albino gorilla are all exposed to the pathogen causing them to grow to incredible size and turn violent. It is up to Dwayne Johnson, who plays a primatologist named Davis Okoye, to stop the super-sized creatures before they can wreak havoc on countless cities and one another.

The movie has a number of selling points, chief among them Dwayne Johnson's portrayal of a character than can only be described as a jacked action scientist. He has a partner in the form of Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic engineer who was unwittingly tricked into created a genetic weapon for Energyne.

This is where Rampage really excels — its villains. Energyne is run by siblings Claire (Malin Ackerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy). The Wydens are, to put it simply, cartoon villains. Both Ackerman and Lacy chew their scenery with such skill that you'll love hating them, and become actively invested in watching their inevitable downfall.

The cast is surprisingly stacked for a video game adaptation featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) as a government agent and Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Zack Snyder's Justice League) as the leader of a private military organization. Even Jack Quaid (Star Trek: Lower Decks, The Boys) plays a small role.

Rampage has monsters to satisfy any kaiju fan

And, of course, there are the monsters. As you might expect, our trio of giant gorilla, crocodile, and wolf are the centerpiece of the action in Rampage. Much like the classic kaiju movies that helped spawn the latest wave of Godzilla and King Kong movies, a big part of what makes the monsters great is that you can root both for and against them.

The monsters are not heroes so much as forces of nature. Okoye isn't just a primatologist, he's also the caregiver and friend to George the gorilla. So while Lizzie the crocodile and Ralph the wolf are more mindless, destructive killing machines, George is portrayed as a victim of circumstance. The heart of the movie isn't a romantic love story so much as it is an emotional bond between a man and his giant gorilla — and it works surprisingly well.

It may not have been a critical darling (Rampage sits at a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but its audience score currently sits at a much more respectable 73%. In addition to being fun, there's even a bit of a mystery: How do three giant monsters from three separate locations all converge on the city of Chicago, mostly without being seen? It doesn't really make sense, but it's a very funny puzzle to analyze with a map.

So, if you're waiting around for Godzilla vs. Kong (due later in 2021), and you've watched all the other kaiju movies already, you could do a lot worse than Rampage. Spoilers: The wolf can fly. There aren't many things that we can all agree on in the 2020s, but if there is one thing it is this: The Rock trying to stop a giant, flying wolf from destroying Chicago is good, wholesome fun.

Rampage is available to stream on HBO Max now.