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Rampage (Blu-ray) (2018)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Not A Game Anymore
Featurette-Trio of Destruction
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Rampage – Actors in Action
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Attack on Chicago
Featurette-Bringing George to Life
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Will Yun Lee
Pan & Scan/Full Frame
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Original Aspect Ratio
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
Not to be confused with the 2009 Uwe Boll film of the same name, 2018’s Rampage represents another big-screen video game adaptation, released in the shadow of the Tomb Raider reboot. However, Rampage’s source material is not an expansive open-world game or a popular first-person shooter, but instead an obscure, virtually plotless arcade quarter-muncher from 1986 wherein a players’ objective is to cause as much destruction as possible while battling military and police forces. It is not exactly fertile ground for a pre-summer event film, but the adaptation nevertheless translates to a perfectly enjoyable “big dumb” monster movie, presented in the same pure, unpretentious spirit as a Roland Emmerich blockbuster from the 1990s. Directed by San Andreas helmer Brad Peyton, Rampage is essentially an old-fashioned B-movie brought to life with A-grade production values. (And it’s more sophisticated than the usual SyFy pap.) It’s also one of the best video game films to date, clearing one of the lowest bars in cinema history.
A former U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier, Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) now dedicates his life to working as a primatologist at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. Davis shares a special friendship with rare albino gorilla George, who was saved from poachers as an infant, and can communicate through sign language. However, George is exposed a pathogen originating from a destroyed space station, which causes him to rapidly grow in both size and aggression. The space station debris also lands in other parts of the United States, exposing the pathogen to a wolf and a crocodile, who respectively become known as Ralph and Lizzie. With the mutated giants rampaging across the country, Davis receives support from genetic engineer Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who was partly responsible for the creation of the pathogen. Kate once worked for a biotech firm run by Claire (Malin Åkerman) and her idiot brother Brett (Jake Lacy), who are now trying to recover the assets by sending out a secret radio signal to lure the monsters to Chicago. Davis, meanwhile, refuses to give up on his friend, teaming up with Kate to follow George to Chicago and save the city.
Rampage may not resemble a family movie on the surface due to the violence and destruction on display throughout, but the story does ultimately boil down to an animal conservationist and his tender relationship with a gorilla. George is a surprisingly likeable character, performed through motion capture by actor Jason Liles (Netflix’s Death Note), and there is palpable chemistry between the primate and Davis, which provides some semblance of heart and stakes amid the cartoonish, thoroughly absurd climactic spectacle. In addition, it’s almost possible to forgive the blatant, silly contrivances which allow for Davis to team up and fight alongside the giant-sized George to take down Ralph and Lizzie during the Chicago battle. However, the screenplay (credited to four writers) overthinks the material and tries to take things too seriously, leading to a first half that’s jam-packed with laborious exposition, spending too much time with Claire and Brett. Ultimately, pacing is affected by a villainous corporate subplot in which motivations are ludicrously foolhardy and unclear, resulting in a narrative in need of streamlining. Dialogue, meanwhile, usually amounts to clichéd action movie chatter. (Can characters in movies please stop saying “Go to hell”?)
Lots of money was thrown at Rampage, making it look more expensive than its comparatively modest reported $140 million budget. For the most part, production values impress, with state-of-the-art digital effects giving convincing life to the trio of giant monsters. The film’s third act transforms into the most expensive recreation of a cheap 1980s arcade game in history, filled with the type of things that players did in the “Rampage” game: destroying buildings, climbing buildings, squashing people, eating people, taking down planes, demolishing tanks, and so on. However, as with any major blockbuster, the quality of the CGI varies from shot to shot; some moments are phoney, including some obvious green screen work, while others look borderline photorealistic. The score by Peyton regular Andrew Lockington (San Andreas, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) gets the job done by ramping up the sense of excitement during the big set-pieces, but it sounds utterly generic on the whole. Furthermore, Rampage is surprisingly violent within the confines of a PG-13 rating, but it simultaneously pulls punches as well. See, in keeping with the game, the monsters are mean-spirited - they flatten, eat and dismember people - but such sequences feel vanilla; some over-the-top bloodshed would add some campy comedic qualities to the enterprise. The rating also forbids Davis from saying “motherf***er” in its entirety during the Chicago battle.
At this point, Johnson can play a charismatic tough guy in his sleep, and he is predictably ideal as the hero here. He “gets” the type of film he’s in, and takes the material seriously despite the screenplay’s innate campiness, carving out a surprisingly believable relationship between Davis and George. Johnson never pushes his abilities here, but the flick plays to his strengths and he’s perpetually easy to watch. As the token good-looking smart female scientist, Harris (Moonlight) holds her own, convincingly swallowing her native British accent and doing her utmost to make the scientific nonsense sound believable. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead regular Jeffrey Dean Morgan gets the chance to espouse a goofy cowboy accent and strut around playing the token Government Agent who winds up backing the heroes. As the token corporate bad guy, Åkerman commits to the movie’s goofy tone and delivers an effective performance that is both hammy and amusing. Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) is even on-board as the cartoonish token military tough guy, in a surprisingly minor role. You could certainly do much worse than this on the casting front.
It is surprising that Rampage never really took off at the box office, considering the presence of The Rock and the abundance of over-the-top destruction which usually gets bums in seats. Still, it’s not perfect, with a few tonal issues, uneven pacing and all the rampant stupidity on display. Loose ends are also left hanging, with Davis’s friends (including an ostensible love interest) from the opening of the film suddenly disappearing without a trace and never being spoken of again. Nevertheless, as giant monster movies go, Rampage is effective and enjoyable; on the same level as last year’s Kong: Skull Island.
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In keeping with Roadshow's usual home video trend for their major big-budget blockbusters, Rampage arrives in multiple different flavours: standard Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. And again, in keeping with recent traditions, Roadshow/Warner Bros. refuse to fill discs to capacity; even though the movie as well as the extras are placed on a dual-layered BD-50 with multiple language options, over 11GB of free space is left on the disc, and the movie has only been mastered with a video bitrate just under 24 Mbps. Certainly, the bitrate is higher than those of Ready Player One and Kong: Skull Island, but it's nothing compared to the unexpectedly excellent Father Figures. Nevertheless, Rampage's 1080p, AVC-encoded image (framed at 2.39:1, in keeping with the theatrical presentation) is impressive given the resolution and average bitrate. It does look closer to a Netflix stream than a premium-quality disc, but casual viewers without 4K capability should find the results acceptable.
As with most major contemporary movies, Rampage was shot digitally, with the crew making use of various Arri Alexa cameras. The resulting image is cinematic and vibrant, boasting strong textures and superb object delineation. As to be expected, close-ups and medium shots look the best, with every pore on Johnson's face being effortlessly brought out. A number of wide shots look just as impressive, such as Lizzie's emergence from Chicago river; the waves of the river are nicely brought out, while people on the overturned ferry are sharply-defined, and Lizzie's reptilian body is replete with appreciable textures. Terrific sharpness also capably resolves Morgan's facial hair. However, shadow detail in the opening spaceship sequence is hit-and-miss, particularly in darker shots which could look better resolved. Furthermore, fog is used when Manganiello's military unit confront Ralph in the woods, leading to shots that struggle in terms of fine detail. In other moments, softness and smeariness rears its head, a result of the flawed compression and encoding. The textures are accentuated by a light layer of non-intrusive source noise which emulates film grain; without it, the presentation would probably look too smooth. However, the noise is not always well-resolved; in certain moments, it's blocky and uneven. Still, this is arguably preferable to a smeary image.
Colours are about as good as can be expected given the limited colour space of 1080p Blu-ray, and the lack of High Dynamic Range. Certain moments, such as the military unit in the woods with Ralph, lack appreciable image depth, while contrast is hit-and-miss in other scenes. At other times, skin tones look too saturated, needing more balance and accuracy. Furthermore, highlight detail is blown out in various places, which is to be expected with SDR presentations - for instance, shots of Davis and Caldwell against the sky at around the 55-minute mark; the sky loses highlight detail, which is better retained on the movie's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray counterpart. Other instances of this appear throughout, such as lights at the military base at night, as well as muzzle flashes throughout. These shortcomings aside, Rampage looks nice for the most part from a colour perspective. Greenery jumps off the screen when Davis and Caldwell talk on the ground following the plane crash, explosions and destruction looks eye-popping during the Chicago-set climax, and so on. Luckily, I didn't detect any bothersome black crush despite certain moments when blacks look oh-so-slightly oppressive. On that note, other encoding shortcomings like banding and aliasing are thankfully avoided. All things considered, this is a satisfying Blu-ray.
Roadshow supply a variety of subtitle tracks. I had no issues with the English track.
Video Ratings Summary
Whereas other studios like Sony continue to downgrade audio tracks for 1080p Blu-ray, Roadshow/Warner Bros. remain committed to offering Dolby Atmos tracks on standard Blu-rays. As per usual for Roadshow/Warner Bros., there are two primary English language options for Rampage: a Dolby Atmos track which defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix on non-Atmos set-ups, as well as a superfluous DTS-HD MA 5.1 track for those interested. And as per usual, the disc defaults to the 5.1 track, which continues to baffle the mind - so be sure to select the Atmos track from the main menu before playing the movie. Anyway, the Atmos track is pure demo material which will give your surround system one hell of a workout. The strengths of the track are evident from the beginning, during the opening sequence on-board a crumbling space station - the rear channels are filled with crackles, creaks, sparks, alarms and other background noises, to create an immersive soundscape and give you the feeling that you're inside the space station with the scientist. These qualities carry over to the other major action set-pieces, such as George going wild inside of a plane - wind, engine and creaking noises can be heard from all around, in addition to the destruction perpetrated by George. Even more impressive is the climactic showdown in Chicago; it's immersive to the extreme.
The Atmos track impress in quieter scenes, too. As Davis wanders through the jungle to the Wildlife Sanctuary at the beginning, ambience comes from all around, while Andrew Lockington's music nicely accentuates the majestic introduction of the primates. When Davis, Kate, and Morgan's government agent talk to Colonel Blade (Demetrius Grosse) at the 58-minute mark, chatter and electronic equipment can be heard in the background. There are no issues with prioritisation; dialogue is mostly front-centric, and is always comprehensible no matter the environment or the intensity of the action sequences. The track's dynamic range is incredible, putting Disney's latest encodes to shame. I do not have an Atmos set-up (only a 7.1) and therefore cannot comment on the overhead activity, but my surround sound system certainly got one hell of a workout. In addition, the Atmos track is aggressive and crisp throughout. At no point does it sound as if the mix is struggling or held back in any way; explosions, gunfire, primate roars and other sound effects are deafening, coming through with enough impact to make your walls shake. This is especially evident throughout the climax, with buildings sustaining endless damage and falling over, while military forces fire all sorts of weapons at the rampaging monsters. Helicopter rotors are likewise loud and crisp. Luckily, no encoding issues plague the audio; no drop-outs, sync issues, pops or clicks. It's smooth sailing across the board. Whereas the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is noticeably louder and more aggressive (probably preferable for those watching via a soundbar or through TV speakers), the Atmos mix is richer and more layered.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Although the disc lacks an audio commentary or two which would have nicely complemented the set, there's an agreeable selection of supplemental content on offer; nearly 50 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes, plus some deleted scenes and outtakes.
Not Just a Game Anymore (HD; 6:15) The original arcade game is the focus of this first behind-the-scenes featurette. Several members of the cast and crew reflect on their fondness for, and experiences with the game, and the genesis of this movie adaptation is discussed. The featurette touches upon the decision to run with writer Ryan Engle's pitch, while the movie's Easter Eggs are also pointed out.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 10:12) A collection of seven deleted scenes. There is no individual scene selection - this extra plays as one complete chunk (though there are chapter stops). Included is some additional material with Åkerman and Lacy, a mean-spirited additional moment with Manganiello, a couple variations of a scene towards the end, and a couple of versions of a scene featuring an Alexandra Daddario cameo which was visibly intended to set up a sequel. Considering the box office, it's probably best that they left out the sequel tease.
Gag Reel (HD; 2:43) The obligatory collection of stuff-ups, flubs and general tomfoolery. There is a lot of bleeped-out swearing; half of this gag reel consists of the bleeps to censor all the profanity. This is of limited interest - I would certainly prefer an uncut blooper reel.
Rampage: Actors in Action (HD; 10:45) This featurette concentrates on the actors, the practical sets, the special effects, Peyton's directorial approach, the extensive pre-production previz, and more. Special focus is also paid to Manganiello's military unit; the performers were trained by experts. Thankfully, this is a step above EPK, as there is some insightful behind-the-scenes footage and interviews to give us an idea of what it was like to make the movie.
Trio of Destruction (HD; 10:08) The three central monsters get a look-in during this behind-the-scenes featurette. The crew trace the design work of George, Lizzie and Ralph, as well as the involvement of Weta Digital in bringing them to life on-screen. The featurette also covers the complexities of shooting and framing when the monsters will be added in post-production, and the digital models are shown at varying stages of completion. Lighting the digital creatures, and animating the fur on George certainly looks like a headache.
Attack on Chicago (HD; 10:23) The climactic action set-piece in Chicago is explored here. The crew discuss their approach to the action sequences, with glimpses of concept art and a discussion about how the destruction of Chicago was achieved through live-action photography, live-action plates, and practical set work. A lot of thought went into the production, with visual effects staff needing to research the infrastructure of various real Chicago buildings in order to accurately show them being destroyed. As ever, this could stand to be longer, but this is a worthwhile extra.
Bringing George to Life (HD; 11:53) And finally, George is the focus of this final featurette. Whereas the "Trio of Destruction" extra concentrated on the complex CGI involved to portray the monsters on screen, this segment takes a closer look at the motion capture - particularly the performance of Jason Liles, who was trained by movement coach-cum-actor Terry Notary (Kong from Kong: Skull Island). Notary's daughters even played additional apes at the beginning of the movie. Weta Digital's role in the mo-cap process is covered, as well. This is more in-depth than your usual EPK pap, making the extra worth watching.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
As far as I can tell, all editions worldwide are identical and there are no exclusives with additional supplemental features. It's a draw. Buy local.
Rampage is a fun enough blockbuster, pure and simple. It's certainly daft, and the surplus exposition can be mind-numbing, but the movie delivers when it comes to pure, raw thrills. The climactic showdown in Chicago alone ensures this is worth watching if this genre is your cup of tea. Just don't expect high art.
Debuting on Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow Home Entertainment, Rampage looks and sounds terrific in 1080p, with a Dolby Atmos track that will spark noise complaints from neighbours. The disc also contains an hour of worthwhile video supplements. The set isn't revelatory, but if you're not 4K compatible and wish to own this one, buy with confidence.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
|DVD||Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|