Susan Granger’s review of “Rampage” (Warner Bros.)
If “A Quiet Place” could be considered sublime horror, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new monster movie, based on a 1986 arcade game, falls into the ridiculous category.
Back in 1993, there was breakthrough bio-engineering technology, known as CRISPR, which gave scientists a way to treat incurable diseases through genetic editing. In 2016, fearing its misuse, the U.S. Intelligence Community designated genetic editing a “Weapon of Mass Destruction and Proliferation.”
Cut to the explosion of an American spaceship. Its cargo was a genome experiment gone awry, and three CRISPR vials fall to earth, much to the consternation of nefarious brother-and-sister execs (Malin Akerman/Jake Lacy) at a Chicago company called Energyne.
At San Diego Wildlife Preserve, primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson), who prefers animals to people, has formed a strong bond with an albino silverback gorilla named George that he rescued from poachers and with whom he communicates in sign language.
Suddenly, overnight, once-docile George becomes hyper-aggressive and grows to gigantic proportions. Obviously, he’s become infected by a pathogen from one of the vials. And there are two other mutations: an agile 30-foot-long Rocky Mountain wolf and an immense Everglades crocodile.
These enhanced predators wreak terror and destruction on Chicago, where an Energyne sonar beacon beckons them – with Okoye and former Energyne scientist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) trying to administer an antidote to George as a wily government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) runs interference.
BTW: George isn’t just Weta Digital CGI. He’s based on 6’9”-tall motion capture performer Jason Liles, who spent hours watching gorilla footage, joining mo-cap actors like Andy Serkis (“Planet of the Apes”) and Doug Jones (“The Shape of Water”).
Collaboratively scripted by Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel, it’s formulaically directed by Brad Peyton (“San Andreas”). And apparently, charismatic Johnson wields enough clout to insist that the original sad ending be more optimistic.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Rampage” rumbles in with a foolish 5, it’s Godzilla on steroids.