Dwayne Johnson in a scene from "Rampage."

Dwayne Johnson in a scene from "Rampage."

/AP

If you want to watch an ape give The Rock the finger, then Rampage has something for you — but not much else.

It's a shame, because things were kind of looking up for movies based on video games. Last month's release of Tomb Raider was decent, and Ready Player One, while not based on any single game, was a fun movie heavily inspired by video-game history. But then here comes Rampage to make a mess of things like a bull in a china shop — or a trio of giant mutated animals in the streets of Chicago.

The setup could hardly be more bland (or stupid): An experiment in genetic editing is taking place in space (because why not?). It goes wrong (because why wouldn't it?). Capsules containing the experiment crash land on Earth (because where else?) and infect three animals: a gorilla, a wolf and a crocodile. Those animals-turned-monsters then rampage (get it) their way through people and property and must be stopped before they destroy all of Chicago.

Granted, it's not like there was much lore from the source material to draw from. The arcade game classic, released in 1986, gave you control of one of three giant monsters and gave you one simple task: Destroy things to get points. Since that was more or less the extent of the plot, trying to adapt it for film was a fool's errand in the first place.

The movie version of Rampage hinges on the relationship between primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and an albino ape named George. Davis happily calls George his friend, and for good reason. The gorilla, which is skilled in communicating with Davis via sign language, has more personality than every other non-Rock character — enough so to jokingly give his human friend the aforementioned finger.

Johnson is acceptably charming in these bonding moments with George, and a movie all about the two of them as buddies might have been more enjoyable than this dud of an action flick. Instead, George soon becomes infected with "Project Rampage," grows big and aggressive, and starts wreaking havoc.

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Yes, the experiment that mutates animals is called "Project Rampage," which is made even more dumb by the fact that the woman behind it (played by Malin Akerman) has a Rampage arcade machine in her office. Let that sink in: The Rampage video game exists in the same universe in which a science experiment gone wrong just coincidentally creates the same monsters that are present in the game, and the dang experiment was named "Rampage." Come on, y'all. Next to the Rampage game sits a Mortal Kombat machine, so does that mean this company's other evil plan is named "Sub-Zero," or perhaps "Fatality"?

A bit more self-awareness could have helped Rampage, but the movie takes itself far too seriously far too often. The plot has the stupidity of Sharknado without the sense to make fun of itself, and it's hard to like even when attempting to turn off your brain and simply enjoy the action (of which there are a small handful of fun moments).

You would be better off spending a couple of hours playing any of the old Rampage video games, and the quarters you might spend doing so will probably cost less than a movie ticket.

Rampage (D)

PG-13 (for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language and crude gestures). 107 minutes. In wide release.

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