Call him Mighty Joe Yawn.
Rampage gives us a big ape who seems like a chimp off the old block a king-sized gorilla with a fearsome snarl, and a loyal trainer who swears the furry fellas just misunderstood.
A misunderstanding that grows once the ape does, and starts tearing things apart. You know, like buildings, and airplanes.
But unlike straight-forward faves Mighty Joe Young and King Kong, the movie keeps monkeying around. And by the time the big apes finally gone really bananas, the movies appeal has gone missing.
Inspired by an old arcade game, the story starts with a scientific breakthrough called CRISPR. It sounds like a button on your toaster oven but its actually cutting-edge genetic engineering.
Then one experiment goes wrong, spreading monster-making pathogens. And suddenly theres a king-sized ape, alligator and wolf on the loose, all headed for Chicago.
And destroying everything in their way.
Dwayne Johnson stars as the worlds leading primatologist (and a former Special Forces bad ass). When his hairy pal George starts growing, the Rock turns to Naomie Harris, the world’s leading geneticist.
Nice that they could meet, isn’t it? Even OKCupid doesn’t manage matches like this.
But before the cute couple can figure out how to treat suddenly giant George of the jungle, the big guy’s off and running and joining two other modified monsters in turning America into one big buffet.
Hungry as they are, the animals dont come close to chewing up as much scenery as Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a cowboy government agent, or Malin Akerman as a corporate villain. Or Jake Lacy as her privileged preppy flunky, a smug smirker who seems to have wandered in from The Donald Trump Jr. Story.
To be fair, Morgan is clearly having a helluva time, and Johnson remains in high spirits throughout. And at least George, whos based on motion-capture work, looks cool. The other special effects are clumsy CGI, though, and the wolf, a hybrid whos been crossed with a porcupine, looks ridiculous.
But Rampage is its own kind of badly engineered hybrid.
Is it serious sci-fi? It starts off with pretty taut monster-in-space sequence. Is it corny comedy? Johnson has taught the gorilla to flip people the bird. Is it a drama? It sure isnt, but sometimes it tries to be, giving Johnson and Harris back-to-back scenes where they tediously explain why they’re the way they are.
As if people seeing a creature feature called Rampage wanted to see anything except creatures, you know, rampaging.
Some movies are feasts. Some films are desserts. This picture is cheese in a can, and if it only accepted that, it would be a lot more fun like Alligator, the tongue-in-cheek classic that had a toothy terror climbing out of a city sewer.
But Rampage has no sense of humor, or even of itself. It fights its cheap B-movie roots all the way and were the losers.