Rampage

 

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Dwayne Johnson stars in a Planet of the Apes riff with the addition of a giant wolf and a humungous crocodile.

 

Rampage

George and The Rock   

 

It’s only April and the world’s cityscapes and multiplexes have already taken a battering from Hollywood’s outsized. But how much CGI and skyscraper scrap can an audience take before the summer box-office has even kicked off? Rampage, inspired by the video game of the same name, does have a few things in its favour. Dwayne Johnson knows how to take a lark like this seriously and with each new film hones his deadpan quippage to an even finer degree. Here, he’s abetted by Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris, and she, too, adds a measure of thespian dedication that skims off much of the cheese from this cholesterol-rich platter. Rampage is meant to be fun, but there’s a fine line between rollercoaster escapism and machine-tooled tedium.

 

Rampage, directed by Brad Peyton, who brought us the knowingly awesome San Andreas (which also top-billed Dwayne), starts promisingly – in space. Here we find an orbiting research laboratory dedicated to the nefarious practice of genetic editing. An unscrupulous company called Energyne has spliced together the dominant genes from a number of different animals in order to create an advanced species. However, when the crew of the satellite is killed, the rat is out of the bag. Samples of the manipulated DNA come crashing down to Earth (specifically, the US) and infect a silverback gorilla, a grey wolf and a crocodile. And so the unsuspecting guinea pigs are transformed into enormous, aggressive and hangry monsters. And they’re getting bigger by the hour…

 

Taken in the right spirit, Rampage is an affectionate riff on King Kong and Godzilla and ticks a number of familiar boxes with skill. The green screen effects are not quite in the Spielberg league, but for the target audience there are enough big bangs to warrant its buck. George, the albino silverback – reared by ‘primate specialist’ Davis Okoye (Johnson) – earns our compassion, while the trigger-happy authorities are suitably maladroit and insensitive to environmental progress. Hiss! With eleven months until the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters – starring Sally Hawkins (of all people) – this should fill the monster gap very nicely.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Jason Liles, Demetrius Grosse, Jack Quaid, Breanne Hill, Matt Gerald.

 

Dir Brad Peyton, Pro Brad Peyton, Beau Flynn, John Rickard and Hiram Garcia, Ex Pro Dwayne Johnson, Screenplay Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel, inspired by the video game, Ph Jaron Presant, Pro Des Barry Chusid, Ed Jim May and Bob Ducsay, Music Andrew Lockington, Costumes Melissa Bruning.

 

New Line Cinema/Access Entertainment/Dune Entertainment/Flynn Picture Company/Wrigley Pictures/ASAP Entertainment/Seven Bucks Entertainment-Warner Brothers.

107 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 11 April 2018. Cert. 12A.