Rampage

★ ★

Dwayne Johnson has finally found a co-star bigger and musclier than he is, a giant silverback gorilla named George, the only living thing on earth large enough to flip the rock in the bird and get away with it.

Based on the 1986 arcade game “Rampage,” the new film directed by Newfoundland native Brad Peyton, sees a genetic experiment go horribly wrong. “We’ve created the next chapter in natural selection. Project Rampage works.” Except when it doesn’t.

George, the giant but gentle silverback gorilla, a winged wolf and a reptile are transformed into monsters with an appetite for destruction. That’s right, there’s a gorilla so big it makes The Rock, who plays Davis Okoye, a Dr. Doolittle talking-to-animals type with king-size muscles, look like a first grader by comparison.

Luckily Okoye raised George and they share an unbreakable bond, a connection so strong the primatologist just might be able to reason with the gorilla and put an end to the invasion of the mega-beasts.   

I’m no different than anybody else. I’m happy to spend cash to watch nature go wild as humungous beasts (including the pumped up Johnson) battle one another. It should be loads of fun, peppered with Johnson’s trademarked one-liners, some heavy beast-on-beast action topped off with an evil corporation with an appetite for destruction and a scientist with something to prove but instead it’s a about spectacle and little else. Don’t give me wrong I didn’t expect “Coriolanus” with a giant flying wolf but in the CGI era when anything is possible I know the visuals will pop. I’d also like the script to do some of the work as well. It’s the kind of big budget b-movie where it takes four credited writers to come up with bon mots like, “I can’t believe we survived that,“ and “Thank you for saving the world.” (That is not a spoiler. You know the world will survive the rampaging creatures.) Johnson is an engaging performer, so is co-star Naomie Harris, but imagine how much better the movie would be if they were given better things to say than, “Davis, try not to get killed.” Without characters you care about who cares if giant beasts made of pixels destroy a pretend city?

“Rampage” isn’t the only oversized fiend film coming this year. To warm us up for “Rampage” they showed a trailer for “The Meg,” a.k.a. “Jason Statham and The Giant Shark.” Call it the year of the gigantic beast if you like but so far—I haven’t seen “The Meg” yet, bigger isn’t always better.

2 STARS