Rated PG-13, 107 minutes
What do you get when you make a movie based on a video game starring The Rock and it ends up an infusion of "King Kong," "Transformers" and "Starship Troopers?" Mostly, a big mess, in spite of the charms of its lead actor and some entertaining moments, thanks to some cranky, oversize creatures.
Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), a man who is the head of an anti-poaching unit, finds out his beloved albino silverback gorilla friend George has been infected with a mysterious experimental gas that turns him into a giant, aggressive, and emotional unstable beast. To make matters worse, a grey wolf named Ralph and an American crocodile named Lizzie have been infected too. With the help of a discredited genetic engineer named Dr. Kate Caldwell (Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris of "Moonlight"), and the Marine elite force he must save George, stop Ralph and Lizzie from destroying most of America.
Big, loud and dumb, "Rampage" is the type of derivative schlock that shows what's wrong with movies today in providing simplistic, mindless entertainment. That means it'll also be a big hit at the box-office, no doubt thanks to The Rock and enough fun and energy to keep the film going. It will not only appeal Johnson's fan base, but also the load of video-game fan boys who find substance in the "Transformers" films.
The plot is drawn so predictably dumb that you know that by the film's end, who'll emerge as the winner, in spite of some pretty silly characters, particularly the bland villains, played by Malin Akerman ("Billions") and Jake Lacey ("Carol"), who clearly have no idea who they're up against, and we don't mean the oversize, mutated creatures, but The Rock, a tough guy who happens to be a primatologist - or some smart-sounding title with "ologist" at the end.
Of the entire cast, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who infused later seasons of the TV show "The Walking Dead" with bloody fun, does the same here as a Southern cowboy-FBI type and is the most colorful. Outside of that, it's up to the creatures to provide some energy, and while they do, for a film about oversize, mutated creatures, the special effects in "Rampage" seem remarkably cheap and green screenish, particularly when they roam the streets of Chicago in the finale.
I get that "Rampage" is based on a video-game and it won't be first-rate cinema. However, it can't seem to strike the balance of having some cheesy fun or taking itself a little too seriously. Silly, likable and forgettable, the ape is the smartest thing about the film, and he's fake.