It’s not often Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the smaller of two leads in a film, but in Rampage his co-star George (an albino gorilla) makes Johnson seem positively tiny.
Rampage is based on the ‘80’s arcade game of the same name in which players used three oversized animals (a gorilla, a werewolf and a dinosaur) to crush as much of a city as possible. Naturally, Hollywood couldn’t resist.
Rampage is now the story of former Special Forces anti-poacher team leader turned primatologist (a totally normal career path, right?)
Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is now working at the San Diego Zoo and spending his days with buddy George. George is a huge albino gorilla Okoye saved as a baby and raised at the zoo – he can sign and play pranks and is basically a lovable, slightly hairier-than-average human.
George’s life is going swimmingly until tragedy strikes – a secret bioengineering experiment taking place in space falls from the sky and lands — cue dramatic music — in George’s enclosure at the zoo! What are the odds?
When George touches the canister he’s infected with a pathogen that causes him to double, triple and quadruple in size and become incredibly aggressive.
As luck would have it, the other two canisters land on a wolf in Wyoming and, surprisingly enough, right in an alligator’s mouth in the Everglades.
What a disaster! Of a movie that is.
The rest of it plays out as you’d expect with The Rock and his team trying to save George while the military tries to kill George and company and while the bad brother-sister team that invented the pathogen tries to get away.
Now is a good time to advise I’m a big fan of Dwayne Johnson. There is no reason that a schlocky, over-the-top ‘90s wrestler should become one of the highest-paid movie stars with a magical talent for turning bad movies into watchable movies just because he’s there, BUT HE DID!
You cannot deny he is charismatic, likeable and, if given the right material, a fantastic comedic actor.
The problem with Rampage is no one is having fun! Instead of accepting it’s a beyond-terrible premise and being in on the joke, they play things serious about 80% of the time, which makes the movie intolerable.
When a gorilla gets the most laughs, you’ve got a problem.
The only bright spot is Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance as a secret government agent. He plays the character super southern (for reasons never established) and saunters around with the swagger of a cowboy having more fun than anyone else, either in the movie or watching it.
Had everyone followed suit Rampage might have been an enjoyable popcorn flick.
Instead, it should come with a warning that while no animals were harmed in the making of this movie, humans who watch it will be.
Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia