12 pages of FILM, MU­SIC, THEATRE, BOOKS, ART & MORE

It could have been one of those ‘so bad, it’s great’ B-movies. But pair­ing ‘The Rock’ with a crazed giant go­rilla has merely cre­ated...

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS -

There are some films that can send your spir­its plum­met­ing just by be­ing de­scribed, let alone see­ing the trailer, and Ram­page, alas, is one of them. Never mind that it stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ John­son – I’ve been do­ing this job long enough to know that the like­able wrestler-turned-ac­tor has made some very en­ter­tain­ing films – but John­son in a film that in­cludes a su­per-sized go­rilla, a wolf the size of a he­li­copter and the sort of pumped-up al­li­ga­tor that could leave a Tyran­nosaurus Rex feel­ing in­ad­e­quate? Nope, as some­one who’s never re­ally warmed to King Kong or Godzilla, it didn’t sound like a film for me.

Then I saw the de­struc­tion-filled trailer and knew it wasn’t.

Now, how­ever, I’ve seen the whole thing and…? Well, the only good news I can of­fer is that Ram­page is no worse than I ex­pected. The vis­ual ef­fects so vi­tal to this sort of thing are vari­able in qual­ity and the ridicu­lous go­ing­son are un­der­pinned by a vein of com­edy that is clearly meant to sig­nal that ev­ery­one in­volved knows it has been made with tongue in cheek. At times it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that they’ve al­most set out de­lib­er­ately to make a bad film; an old-fash­ioned B-movie, if you like.

But if that was the case, what they have failed to do is make a B-movie so won­der­fully bad that, by a mys­te­ri­ous process of cin­e­matic trans­mo­gri­fi­ca­tion, it be­comes de­li­ciously en­joy­able. No mat­ter how badly the sup­port­ing cast over- acts, Ram­page never quite makes it over this ‘Wow, this is ac­tu­ally so much fun’ bar­rier. For most of its run­ning time it’s just plain medi­ocre. At least for any­one over the age of 12. De­scrib­ing the plot can­not be done with­out tak­ing a very deep breath. And that’s not just so we can be­lieve in the highly im­prob­a­ble char­ac­ter played by John­son – Davis Okoye, a mus­cle­bound San Diego pri­ma­tol­o­gist who has built up a sign­lan­guage-based re­la­tion­ship with an al­bino go­rilla called Ge­orge, and who just hap­pens to have a back­ground in the Spe­cial Forces. Which is handy be­cause…

Else­where, the sin­is­ter En­erg­yne Cor­po­ra­tion – run by the un­scrupu­lous but hugely wealthy Wy­den sib­lings (re­ally quite badly played by Malin Ak­er­man and Jake Lacy) – have been ex­per­i­ment­ing with gene-edit­ing on their pri­vately fi­nanced space sta­tion. When that ex­plodes (clearly not a good sign), the only things that sur­vive re-en­try are three can­is­ters con­tain­ing the gene-trans­form­ing pathogen – one of which lands in the San Diego go­rilla sanc­tu­ary, a second in the forests of Wy­oming (good wolf coun­try), while the third lands in the Florida Ever­glades. And we know what lives there.

What does for the film is its sheer in­evitabil­ity. From the mo­ment we see the stepped sil­hou­ette of the En­erg­yne tower, we know that Ge­orge – by now grow­ing at a rate of two feet ev­ery 24 hours – will be climb­ing up it, King Kong-style, pretty soon. OK, hav­ing a giant tusked al­li­ga­tor at­tempt the same could go down as a sur­prise but, hey, it’s just an­other a big rep­tile in a high­rise city, and that’s very fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for Godzilla fans.

But there’s so much other at­ten­dant silli­ness go­ing on here. Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan’s mas­sively over-the-top per­for­mance as the mys­te­ri­ous Agent Rus­sell is ex­tra­or­di­nary. But then if you’re play­ing op­po­site The Rock, I sup­pose you do need to bring some­thing pretty big. Or some­thing just pretty, if we’re talk­ing about Naomie Har­ris, who pitches up to play the in­evitable side­kick, a beau­ti­ful ge­neti­cist.

For di­rec­tor Brad Pey­ton this is clearly film-mak­ing by num­bers. Sadly, num­bers that just don’t add up for me.

Ram­page Cert: 12A ★★★★★ 1hr 47mins

From top: Dwayne John­son and Naomie Har­ris; Ge­orge the go­rilla; Har­ris, John­son and Jef­frey Dean Mor­gan; Malin Ak­er­man; Joe Man­ganiello

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.