Rampage (4K Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 18-Jul-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 107:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brad Peyton
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Dwayne Johnson
Naomie Harris
Malin Akerman
Jake Lacy
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Joe Manganiello
Marley Shelton
P.J. Byrne
Demetrius Grosse
Jack Quaid
Breanne Hill
Matt Gerald
Will Yun Lee
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $36.95 Music Andrew Lockington


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Portuguese
Spanish
Arabic
Cantonese
Hebrew
Korean
Mandarin
Mandarin
Russian
Thai
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    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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Transfer Quality

Video

    According to technical information available on IMDb, Rampage was shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras at resolutions ranging from 3.4K to 6.5K, and was completed with a 2K digital intermediate, which presumably renders this Ultra HD Blu-ray an upscale direct from the DI. Nevertheless, as with multiple other 2K "upscales" before it, Rampage greatly benefits from the jump to 4K UHD Blu-ray, thanks to a heftier 60 Mbps video bitrate, superior encoding, and the addition of Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range, making this the superior way to experience this giant monster yarn at home. Indeed, this 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded presentation smokes its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart with ease; the image is richer, more vibrant, sharper, and more detailed. Although not among the best 4K discs on the market, it's another fine demonstration of why "upscales" have merit despite the inherent stigma. As with all of Roadshow's 4K releases, it's apparent that the disc was sourced from overseas; no Roadshow logos are present on the disc art, and the disc offers the exact same language options as the American 4K disc.

    Textures remain exceptional no matter the environment or shot. It's not that there's always additional fine detail compared to the 1080p Blu-ray, but everything looks more refined and better resolved here. Long shots occasionally looked smeary or soft on the 1080p Blu-ray, but the offending shots look much improved here, showing that the standard Blu-ray was let down by pedestrian encoding as opposed to source-related shortcomings. It's hard to pinpoint particular shots to show off the strengths of the 4K presentation, because shots look are constantly excellent throughout the movie. Even medium and full shots look razor-sharp and richly detailed, revealing the finer details of actors' faces, and doing justice to the intricate digital effects work. Indeed, during shots of the primates, you can really appreciate the insane detail of the CG models; individual hairs stand out, and you can make out skin imperfections, bugs and small pieces of foliage, creating an amazing sense of tangibility. Other digital effects shots, for instance those showing the destruction of Chicago, stand up to the added resolution provided by the 4K encode. Backgrounds and environments look more textured and precise, and clarity from start to finish is outstanding. The source noise, which is deliberately designed to emulate the look of film grain, looks organic and fine. Whereas it occasionally looked blocky on the 1080p Blu-ray, no such issues arise with this 4K presentation; it only enhances the textures of each shot, and at no point looks distracting.

    With Rampage, Roadshow/Warner Bros. further show that Dolby Vision is here to stay on their releases, which should please videophiles the world over. Of course, for those without DV-compatible equipment, the disc will play in regular old HDR10. For the purposes of this review, I focused primarily on the Dolby Vision presentation. I did sample the movie in HDR10 and it still looks excellent, though the DV remains the preferred edition as it's oh-so-slightly more balanced, with stronger highlights. It's certainly not a dramatic difference, but devout videophiles (myself included) will prefer to watch the movie in Dolby Vision. As ever, the HDR is one key aspect which elevates the Ultra HD presentation over its 1080p counterpart. Even the opening Warner Bros. logo, which is glowing, carries more palpable highlight detail here, whereas it looks utterly blown out in 1080p. In the opening shots, the depths of space look deeper and blacker thanks to the HDR, while explosions and flames are searing and more impactful. Textures and highlights on the space station are stronger. I mentioned that certain scenes on the 1080p Blu-ray struggled to resolve textures, such as the foggy showdown with Ralph in the forest, but the HDR here brings out superior highlights and as much detail as the source can afford. Clarity is slightly improved compared to the standard Blu-ray as well, particularly in scenes set in fog or smoke, thanks to the use of HDR.

    From top to bottom, the presentation's encoding is thankfully exceptional. Blacks are more balanced and contrast is borderline perfect, with no evidence of crush or milky/grey blacks. Other encoding shortcomings, such as aliasing and banding, are also kept at bay. It's perhaps not as impressive as a native 4K production, particularly with the digitally-created Ralph not looking as impressive as George or Lizzie, but this is a minor quibble. All things considered, this is a stable, high-quality 4K presentation from Warner Bros., which again shows the benefits of this new format.

    Multiple subtitle options are included. Sampling the English track, I saw no errors and had no issues with the formatting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no special features on the 4K disc. All of the extras are housed on the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    All 4K editions worldwide are identical, as far as I can tell.

Summary

    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.

    The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Roadshow improves upon a solid 1080p Blu-ray. Although the 2160p presentation is not perfect, it's an appreciable improvement and it looks downright exceptional from top to bottom, particularly with the benefit of Dolby Vision. And with the set also containing a standard Blu-ray disc containing a fine selection of special features, this one comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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