If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD
Rampage (3D Blu-ray) (2018)
This review is sponsored by
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
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Will Yun Lee
Pan & Scan/Full Frame
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese 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.
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.
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
As with virtually every new release major blockbuster, Rampage was shot in regular old 2D before being converted to 3D in post-production. Native 3D titles are becoming rarer, particularly with the 3D "boom" now over, and with 3D TVs no longer being produced by major manufacturers. Nevertheless, Rampage has received a local 3D Blu-ray release, for which Roadshow make use of a dual-layered BD-50, permitting ample video bitrate breathing room since the movie has the disc to itself. Still, the movie only takes up 40GB, alternative language options included, which seems like a waste - the bitrate could have been amplified. With a 11.98 Mbps 3D layer, the presentation's total video bitrate exceeds 35 Mbps, which is above-average but nothing special. Furthermore, the MVC-encoded transfer retains its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio, yielding black bars at the top and bottom of a typical 16:9 widescreen television. Ostensibly identical to the Warner Bros. encode for the U.S. Blu-ray, Rampage's 3D conversion yields mixed but mostly satisfying results - this is not among the best 3D presentations on the market, but it's an adequate use of the format that will be enjoyed by fans of the movie and of 3D.
As with most 3D-converted titles, it's likely that the digital effects and compositions were natively rendered in 3D, which would explain why such sequences look best. Indeed, the opening set-piece inside a crumbling space station looks outstanding; the depths of space, as well as the interior of the space station stretch back into the TV, while floating objects - such as laptops and other debris - look separate to the rest of the image. When we are first introduced to the primates at the wildlife sanctuary, they take on a convincing extra dimension, with no pop-up book effect. However, converted shots of the live-action actors do not always fare as well; although there are no issues with depth, the performers themselves aren't always as convincingly 3D as their digital co-stars, with a few shots taking on the appearance of 2D objects at different depths. See the forest near the wildlife sanctuary - trees are flat, rather than noticeably round and thick. These shortcomings are not too frequent, thankfully - in other moments, Davis's jacket collar convincingly protrudes, and there is convincing separation between characters as well as appreciable depth to hallways and other environments. When the plane goes down at the 47-minute mark, the external shots take full advantage of 3D; the plane looks separate to the rest of the shot, and it looks like a long plummet to the ground. The climax also for the most part satisfies in 3D, with deep cityscape shots while the digital creatures benefit from the extra dimension. The scale of the destruction is better emphasised with the added depth.
It appears that Peyton and director of photography Jaron Presant did not specifically plan for 3D and the conversion was a perfunctory afterthought, since shots are not designed to take advantage of the format. There is a nice moment at 30:20 when Manganiello raises his rifle to take aim at Ralph, and the barrel appears to be slightly protruding from the screen, but these moments are few and far between - shots of the canisters after landing on Earth would have been a good opportunity for screen protrusion, but framing and camera movement doesn't allow it. Furthermore, shots during certain set-pieces are overly frenetic, editing tends to be on the quick side, and lighting is dim throughout the plane destruction at the 45-minute mark, which does not exactly lend to the most agreeable 3D experience. In order words, 3D was evidently the furthest thing from the minds of the filmmakers, which I guess is understandable given the plummet in 3D interest. As previously stated, too, the conversion is not always effective, with certain shots and moments looking underwhelming compared to the rest of the movie. The extended period spent at the military base starting at around the 55-minute mark underwhelms, and I honestly forgot I was watching a 3D transfer.
In terms of the qualities of the transfer itself, the presentation retains many of the strengths of the regular 2D transfer. The most noticeable difference between the two transfers is that the 3D lacks the subtle source noise, which was designed to emulate film grain. Noise and grain for 3D is usually frowned upon, so it's understandable why it's excluded for this presentation. Thankfully, although noise is absent, there are no signs of digital noise reduction; it's likely that the noise was actually manually added to the 2D presentation of the movie, but a separate master was authored for 3D sans noise. To that end, noise/grain haters will prefer this transfer, and luckily I didn't pick up too many moments when the transfer is detrimentally smooth or smeary. Textures often impress, from facial complexions to clothing, as well as the hairs of the primates. Sharpness does take a hit compared to the 2D and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray transfers, but that's to be expected. Naturally, image vibrancy is slightly lacking due to the inherent dimness associated with 3D, as well as the lack of High Dynamic Range, but it is mostly serviceable. Having said that, though, blacks take on a slightly milky appearance and highlights are blown out when harsh lighting sources are present within a shot, while colours look flat and almost desaturated at times, with occasionally sickly-looking skin tones. The transfer also struggles to resolve fine detail during the climax when heavy smoke is involved, which could have been rectified with a higher bitrate. Luckily, though, I didn't detect any major encoding artefacts. At the end of the day, the 3D is a mixed bag, but at least it's not a Clash of the Titans-level disaster. I'll be sticking with the 4K Blu-ray in future, but 3D lovers might find some value in this one. I just don't think the movie is worth buying twice for both the 3D and the 4K.
A number of subtitle options are available. As ever, once you adjust to reading subtitles in 3D, the English track is fine.
Video Ratings Summary
The sole English language option on the disc (aside from a descriptive audio track) is a 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track; as per usual, there is no 7.1 or Atmos mix available. And this remains depressing - as recently as two years ago, Warner Bros./Roadshow were offering Atmos mix on their 3D Blu-rays; see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Nevertheless, if you can momentarily put aside the frustration due to the lack of Atmos, this 5.1 mix will prove good enough for most, particularly if you only have a 5.1 set-up or do not use surround sound at all. It just remains odd to see those who still buy 3D discs getting short-changed in the audio department, especially given that the 3D Blu-ray set costs more than the regular 2D edition. Anyway, the track is okay on its own merits, getting the job done without touching the quality of the Atmos track. Since it is a 5.1 track, it makes use of the surround channels and creates an all-encompassing soundscape, with noticeable panning effects and precise speaker placement, while the subwoofer effectively accentuates roars, gunshots, explosions, helicopter blades and other impactful sound effects. When Davis drives his vehicle away at 12:50, panning effects are evident as he drives past the camera. During the opening space station sequence, as well as the plane set-piece at the 45-minute mark, sounds of explosions, sparks, creaking and more can be heard originating from the surround channels to put you in the thick of the action.
Not everything succeeds - certain moments and lines of dialogue sound a bit hollow, lacking in impact and crispness, while the Atmos does make for a richer, more immersive watch with the right equipment. A decade ago when 5.1 tracks were the norm, before Atmos, this particular mix would almost be hailed as reference quality. However, home video technology has progressed beyond 5.1, and it's disappointing to receive an inferior mix when the accompanying 2D Blu-ray contains a Dolby Atmos mix for which this 3D disc has sufficient capacity to accommodate. Accordingly, I am deducting marks from the audio rating, but it's still serviceable despite its shortcomings, so don't be too concerned.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
The 3D set also contains a 2D disc, which offers an array of special features.
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.
3D releases are the same around the world, with identical language options. Alas, there are no releases which offer Atmos audio. 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.
This 3D Blu-ray from Roadshow is adequate but unremarkable, with the 3D conversion only occasionally providing outstanding moments, while the downgrade in audio to a 5.1 mix is disappointing. The set also contains the 2D disc with an acceptable array of special features. This is a try before you buy situation, but if you're 3D-compatible and liked the movie, it's worth picking up at sale price.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, September 27, 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|