Grade: B-/C+
Entire family: No
2018, 107 min., Color
Sci-fi Action
Warner Bros.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language and crude gestures
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 5.1
Bonus features: B-/B
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer
Amazon link

Watching Rampage, I got the giggles when a giant gorilla and an equally enormous mutated wolf and alligator all headed for Chicago, lured by a homing device of some kind for a reason I’m not sure we’re ever really clear about. Rampage is, after all, a popcorn movie—an action film that takes no prisoners and hopes viewers will ask no questions.

Still, I couldn’t help but giggle when a government honcho learns these creatures are only minutes away from doing to Chicago what Godzilla did to Tokyo, and he barks, “Evacuate the city, immediately!” Really? A city of 2.7 million people? Just like that? You couldn’t even convince people to leave the drive-thru line at Portillo’s during that length of time.

Then again, logic isn’t standard issue for a film like this. We don’t need to know exactly why genetic editing was outlawed, or by whose authority. We don’t need to know why some corporate scientists were still working secretly in space, or what they hoped to accomplish. We don’t even need to know why one government agent acts like a cowboy and is unquestioned in his authority everywhere he turns up. All we need to know is that genetic editing is bad, bad people are still doing it, and a good person who used to work for the bad corporation is now trying to save the gorilla . . . and maybe Chicago too.

Rampage is rated PG-13, and because the set-up depicts a cute relationship between buff primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) and an albino gorilla named George—who playfully gives Davis the “finger” and then laughs about it—it’s probably not a film for adolescents, since lovable George will be hunted like the other monsters. Military soldiers and helicopters try to take him down, and there’s at least one scene that could be traumatic for children.

George’s journey from alpha gorilla to monster begins when he inhales gas from the debris of a space lab that had blown up, after a key part of it landed in his gorilla sanctuary. George starts to grow at a phenomenal rate, from 7’ to 9’ overnight, and his personality also seems to be affected. Other pieces of the space lab fell near a wolfpack, infecting the alpha, and into the Everglades, where an alligator gets a big dose. But while George looks pretty decent for a giant CGI gorilla, the wolf and gator almost seem like throwbacks to Ray Harryhausen. Maybe that’s because they’re not only growing ridiculously fast, but they also develop character traits from several other species. They’re animal mutants—real monsters—and 90 minutes of the film’s 108-minute run time is devoted to documenting the mayhem these creatures are causing, as well as attempts by authorities to stop them and efforts by Davis and Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to save George.

Don’t look for back stories or much else in the way of plot or characterization. As with San Andreas, another movie that director Brad Peyton and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made together, it’s all action once you get past the warm fuzzy set-up. And it’s entertaining enough to watch once, but it’s basically another disaster film. Unlike another recent “Rock” popcorn movie—Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle—the writing, plotting, and characters aren’t consistently engaging enough to warrant repeat play . . . or so our family felt. But for an evening’s diversion, it feels like a fun throwback to the old classic monster movies.

Language: Mild expletives throughout, with the ape using his middle finger twice and a couple of unfinished mother-f*****ers
Sex: One intercourse hand sign and a suggestion of sexual submission is all
Violence: Lots of Godzilla stomping Tokyo action, blood spraying, creatures eating people and stomping on them, taking down planes, and several scenes where someone important appears to be mortally wounded
Adult situations: Nothing more than the violence, really
Takeaway: Johnson announced he’d consider running for president, and I’d consider voting for him . . . if he showed me he could persuade people rather than just kicking their butts

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