Rampage Blu-ray Review

Press jump to start the game: Let’s get ready to Rampage

Rampage promises to be a sci-fi monster film of grand scale, but opening with a slow pan over to a space station might not be the start you expect to see. Inside, there is destruction. Debris drifts across the screen along with lone survivor of the mysterious chaos, Dr Kerry Atkins (Marley Eve Shelton), raving about the test subject being loose. “Doctor, the test subject is a rat”, chimes mission control. “Not anymore”, she replies as a hulking form in the distance dashes across the screen. There’s no surprise later when this form enters the light and reveals itself to be a giant, and very angry, rat and with that, the film firmly sets you up for the absurd popcorn movie that follows.

Image via Warner Bros

This time, Brad Peyton’s Dwayne Johnson star vehicle sees the leading man as Davis Okoye, a US Army Special Forces soldier turned primatologist along with Naomi Harris’ Dr. Kate Caldwell as they face the evil brother-sister duo Claire and Brett Wyden (Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacey) who plot to perfect and sell the monster-making pathogen as a biological weapon. Oh, and there’s also a trio of towering beasts - including Lizzie the crocodile, Ralph the wolf, and George, Davis’ favourite albino gorilla and friend - all of whom have been transformed by the very pathogen that was shot out of space in the opening sequence.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Johnson take part in a video-game world, with the recently released Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle only reiterating him as an action hero icon. However with Rampage, whose source of inspiration consisted of one joystick, two buttons, and actions limited to ‘jump’, ‘punch’, and ‘climb’, there’s far too much going on. Between the unnecessary amount of exposition and the, presumed, intention of simply being a bit of mindless fun there’s more see-saw than balance. What should have been as simple as the game, is a needlessly over-explained narrative that leaves so many characters underplayed and even Johnson occasionally straying into an overly earnest performance.

Image via Warner Bros.

While in the game it turns out that the big beasts are really humans transformed by radioactive waters and experimental pills, the film is decidedly lacking oil humanity. Heroes and villains fit into the well-worn moulds - the invulnerable ex-serviceman, the miracle worker scientist, the money-motivated villain(s) - who all sadly take themselves far too seriously. We’re here for The Rock stopping big monsters from making a mess, not bad jokes crammed into ludicrous scientific explanations (yes, I am looking at you “R19, the chill pill” sequence). In recognising it’s laughable nature and exploiting it Rampage might’ve made more of an impact.

With all that being said, this film can be a lot of fun. Though not all jokes land, and some surprisingly inappropriate ones given its 12A certificate, there are enough great ones to make up for it. For all the deadpan deliveries Johnson makes, his usual charisma makes an appearance and reminds you why he is so suited for these roles. And, when it gets to its final act, Rampage delivers on its expected, well, rampage!

Image via Warner Bros.

For fans of the original game, or any BTS enthusiasts, the Blu-Ray includes a gag reel, deleted scenes, and the featurettes Not A Game Anymore, which dives into the various ways the classic arcade game inspired the filmmakers in bringing the larger than life game to the big screen Rampage - Actors in Action, looking at the preparation that went into all the rampant set pieces, Trio Of Destruction, getting a closer look at the big bads, Attack On Chicago, which sees director Brad Peyton discuss the difficulties of filming on location in the windy city, and Bringing George To Life, that takes you behind the scenes of the mo-cap creation of George with movement coordinator Terry Notary and actor Jason Liles.

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After the long wait for the monster mauling, it is surprisingly not big enough or dumb enough to take full effect.


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