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Review: Rampage

There’s just something about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that lets him get away with making disastrous disaster movies. Perhaps it’s the twinkle in his eye as his characters defy death for the gazillionth time, the gentle nod to the absurdity of the plot, the giant muscles in constant flex for the betterment of humanity… Whatever it is, it’s working for him. Rampage is ridiculous. But it’s not bad. Especially if you have a thing for monster movies, disaster movies, a high body count, cartoonish villains, stereotypical government ‘suits’, implausible stunts, self-deprecating humor and cheesy dialogue.

Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist who shares a special bond with a smart and sensitive silverback gorilla named George. He’s generally a playful and gentle ape, until a rogue genetic experiment goes horribly wrong, turning George into a giant, raging creature. And he’s not the only one. A couple of other beasts mutate as well and they all end up converging on the streets of downtown Chicago, flinging cars and buildings around like tiny toys. Imagine Godzilla, King Kong and the Loch Ness Monster on steroids.

The formula players all step into the plot in one way or another. You’ve got the greedy corporate villains putting profit above people with an evil plan to sell weaponized DNA; the black ops government agent tasked with eliminating the rampaging creatures at all costs (“When science sh*ts the bed, I’m the one they call to change the sheets.”), the military leaders itching to drop the MOAB on the Windy City, etc. And, of course, you’ve got Davis (Johnson) racing against the clock to find an antidote so he can save his buddy George – and millions of innocent people. He teams up with a genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a discredited former employee of the company that started the whole mess. Mayhem abounds.

Rampage is a mish-mash of PG-13 action-adventure, sci-fi fantasy and disaster that looks a lot like 2015’s San Andreas. Both were directed by Brad Peyton, and both starred Dwayne Johnson. So if you’re game for more of the same, feel free to check out Rampage, as long as you take it in with the same grain of salt that seems to pepper every movie featuring The Rock, his toothy grin, and yes – those bulging biceps.

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