Video game-inspired movies have earned a reputation as cheap, lackluster cash grabs. Combine that with a current trend of successful monster movies (Pacific Rim, 2014's Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island), and Rampage had disaster written all over it.
The story is of one Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a primatologist who has a close relationship with a hand-signing albino ape, George, who begins to suddenly grow quickly. As other animals also start to become massively enlarged, Davis must fight to save his friend — and the city of Chicago — from the government.
The first two-thirds of this film are completely worthless. The characters are flat, the acting is no better and any attempt at humor lands with a thud. Some people might say that these aren't as important in a "dumb action movie," but there are a few issues here. First, the movie *really* thinks that it has an interesting plot and characters and clearly has no idea that it's a "dumb action movie." Second, everyone talks about "The Rock" as this ultra-charismatic movie star that makes any movie better, but that is clearly untrue based on this performance. And third, the few action scenes that we get in the first two-thirds are brief and uninspired, which leaves us watching a poorly written, poorly acted character drama.
The climax of this film, however, has much more to offer. Although the story is nonsensical and uninteresting, waiting over an hour to watch a gigantic ape fight a gigantic mutated wolf and alligator is well worth it. On top of that, for the PG-13 rating, this movie is not afraid to show collateral human damage. Multiple shots clearly have lots of people dying as a result of these monsters, providing a lot more weight and realism to the events. As a side note, George's strong personality and facial animations make him the only likable and interesting character.
Bring all of this together, and Rampage is two-thirds of terrible, Hollywood trash capped off by one-third of an enjoyable, spectacle-filled blockbuster. If you are willing to sit through over an hour of pointlessness to get to the good bit, then you will be happy that you paid to see this in theaters. But if you're looking for a more consistent movie, then avoid this one like a city in which a gigantic ape is fighting a gigantic mutated alligator-wolf.
*Spoiler note: The animals grow by inhaling an experimental "genetic editing" mist. This movie loses a lot of points by not having The Rock inject himself with this stuff for the final battle. It's a MAJOR missed opportunity.
Vox Rating: V (1 out of 5) for the first two-thirds, VVVl (3.5 out of 5) for the last third