The Cambridge Geek


I had high hopes for this. It has Dwayne Johnson, who was so enjoyable in Jumanji recently, and it has giant monsters fighting, of which I'm also fond. However, in the end it fell short.

The background is that Energyne, a corporation specialising in both genetic engineering and evil, have been using CRISPR to generate hybrid animals on the international space station. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and the activating pathogen falls to Earth, infecting a wolf, a crocodile and George the gorilla, who was raised by Johnson.

And then havoc happens.

It's based on a game franchise the last installment of which came out in 2007, which should tell you how long this film has been being made. To be fair, they spent a long time on getting some of the set pieces correct, and in the main they are rather impressive. Hell, the starting sequence set on the space station is absolutely brilliant. I don't know whether they stole someone else's set or built it last, but it was damned convincing.

I wish I'd watched the film that sequence belonged to.

The film isn't terrible, it's just mediocre. Johnson should be a charming chap (see Jumanji), but here the quips are generally left hanging in mid air, not woven into a rapid fire dialogue. It's possible to guess the next line a bit too often.

There's also a weird conflict in the intended chemistry, between Johnson and either George or Naomie Harris. There's probably a nice moral about friendship in here, but it feels a bit too saccharine in places. There's also a certain amount of bad acting, particularly from extras running from a non-existent giant gorilla. Still, the gorilla is vaguely entertaining.

The CGI is mostly convincing, but there are a few moments in which it looks a bit too much like a topdown game. Now, that's likely intentional, given it's a spinoff, but it actually pulls you out of the film, since it's a sudden shift for a brief moment.

Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy are pretty fun, being pulled straight out of the supervillain playbook, but they're definitely outplayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is resolutely the best thing in the film. He has the advantage of being allowed to turn up, be a dick for five minutes and bugger back off again, before he has the chance to get awkward.

The second best thing is the giant wolf. It has some very amusing scenes when it bites the heads (torsos, legs) off a whole bunch of people, and also has a rather neat trick that leads to probably the funniest line in the film. Unfortunately, by the time it starts fighting other big monsters, the choreography suffers, and the fights just aren't that thrilling. They also run on too long, with insufficient variety. Although saying that, the Girl thought the film needed more comedy murderdeath, so your mileage may vary.

Final problem is that the plot tended to rely on magic solutions. Some of the ways problems got resolved were just awkward. No-one hacks a server through a thermostat.

In the final reckoning, there are too many other films that do everything this one does, and does them better. Skip it.

Score 2

Tagged: Film Action comedy Kaiju Fiction Cinema