RAMPAGE, or: Giant Monster Movie Parody Swings Full Circle to Giant Monster Movie— 4K Blu-ray…

A 1986 arcade hit about colossal animals somehow translates to one of the best video game movie adaptations

Dwayne Johnson is huge. So how do you keep him from dwarfing everything else? Well, if you’re Warner Brothers and you own the franchises of Midway Games (now WB Games), you put him up against giant monsters!

Rampage is a classic arcade game series that’s short on plot, pitting players as giant animals on a tour of destruction, razing towering buildings and eating their residents. Most notably, the original game’s trio featured George the Ape, Ralph the Wolf, and Lizzie the Lizard.

Two of those characters are clearly parodying (or more charitably, homaging) King Kong and Godzilla, so perhaps it’s not too surprising or unfitting that the franchise, despite being dormant since 2006, has been fitted for a big-time Hollywood adaptation.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle here is that the games don’t really have much of a narrative beyond “smash smash smash”, but the filmmakers actually did a pretty admirable job of making this thing work, even if the trappings of the story are familiar (evil corporation accidentally releases weaponized chemicals causing ecological monster disaster). Dwayne Johnson’s character is a caretaker to George, an intelligent silverback gorilla capable of signing. George is one of three animals (that we know of) that gets accidentally exposed to the toxin: a wolf and alligator are also affected. The corporate baddies set an electronic beacon in Chicago to try to lure in their accidental test subjects, but as the creatures grow to enormous size this proves to be a terrible mistake.

Johnson is joined by a cool cast that includes Naomie Harris as a scientist familiar with the secret project and trying to set things right, Joe Manganiello as the leader of a paramilitary squad trying to take down the creatures on the corporation’s behalf, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a shadowy government representative working with the US military to figure out the situation.

The subplot with Morgan is the most interesting development as he plays one of my favorite types of characters — an adversary who becomes an ally. His smarmy attitude and personality are perfectly suited to the role, and he comes pretty close to stealing the spotlight in a movie that has both The Rock and giant monsters.

There’s one major caveat to this movie, and that’s the incredible carnage on display. From the outside this looks like a fun movie for the family, but it’s unexpectedly gruesome. Parents accustomed to PG-13 as the new PG may realize this is not necessarily something for the kids. The opening prologue, which takes place on a space station where an experiment has gone wrong, quickly sets a horror tone with blood-splattered walls and the mangled corpses and severed limbs of just-killed crew members as the last survivor tries to escape.

Other action sequences have the expected creature violence similar to the Jurassic Park or Pacific Rim movies, but the finale gets downright vicious when the creatures turn their attention to pummeling each other to death — all the more affecting that these are not alien monsters or fantasy creatures, but mutant animals with a case of roid rage.

Hugeness is the order of the day here, and the movie has several action packed sequences throughout (including a thrilling escape from a falling airplane) before the finale finds the monsters tearing up Chicago and eventually getting into a brawl. It’s a fun movie though perhaps too bloodthirsty, and how “good” it is may depend on what scale you’re weighing it with. It’s no masterpiece, but as both video game adaptations and American kaiju movies go, this is the good stuff.

The Package

Rampage is new on home video this week with 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray versions available. This review is for the 4K disc but all Blu-ray formats include the same extra features. (Note a DVD edition is also available which does not include the full set of bonus features).

My review copy came with a metallic foil slipcover and it’s a very slick looking package. Best Buy is selling some alternate 4K and Blu-ray Steelbooks, each with different art, but I actually prefer the standard 4K release.

Rampage is a huge, city-smashing movie about giant monsters, the kind of movie that should be see on the biggest screen possible. To that end, the 4K edition is in my opinion the best way to go.

According to IMDb, Rampage was shot on 3.4K and 6.5K source but mastered in only a 2K digital intermediate (which seems a terrible choice for a film of such massive scale; maybe it eased the extensive effects work). In other words, this is likely an upscale rather than a true 4K presentation. However the benefits of a wider color spectrum and cleaner image still make this the definitive home video version and closest representation of the theatrical release.

Special Features and Extras

The 4K disc is a dedicated feature presentation; the additional Blu-ray disc includes the film and all features. It’s a pretty solid bonus package, adding up to about an hour of behind the scenes exploration.

· Not Just A Game Anymore (6:15)
Cast and crew reflect on their love of the original Midway arcade game and adapting it to the big screen

· Gag Reel (2:43)

· Deleted Scenes (10:12)
Most notably an alternate ending with an appearance by (frequent Rock costar) Alexandra Daddario!

· Actors in Action: (10:45)
A look at the huge and incredible action sequences as the cast is put through their paces.

· Trio of Destruction (10:08)
Designing the giant creatures, or as Johnson calls them, the stars of the show.

· Attack on Chicago (10:23)
Director Brad Peyton on creating the film’s challenging final act — giant monsters tearing through Chicago.

· Bringing George to Life (11:53)
Movement coordinator Terry Notary and mocap actor Jason Liles on infusing the film’s hairy protagonist with realistic movement and energy.

· Trailers
Also on the disc are promo trailers for Tomb Raider (2:32) and The Meg (2:34).

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 — [4K] [3D] [Blu-ray] [Amazon Video]

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not the 4K version) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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