Rampage

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 7/17/18;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $98.58 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language, and crude gestures.
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Movies based on video games often run into trouble when the screenwriters deconstruct the original premise of the game to the point where it either barely resembles the source material or loses the sense of fun that made the game popular to begin with.

On the other hand, some arcade games have a premise that is so basic that a convoluted screenplay is almost required to translate it into a movie.

Rampage, based on the 1980s Midway smash-em-up game that gave players the option to play as one of three mutant creatures attacking a city, manages to find a balance between the two extremes, using an evil corporation storyline to explain how a gorilla, a wolf and an alligator mutate into giant monsters and lay waste to Chicago.

The film jettisons the game’s notion that there are people who morph into the creatures — an aspect of the game’s constant replayability — in favor of a storyline involving a gorilla expert (Dwayne Johnson) caught up in a corporate conspiracy to weaponize genetic engineering.

The script doesn’t delve too deeply into the tropes it needs to use to get to the meat of what the game is about, and that’s giant creatures attacking everything around them, eating people, destroying buildings and causing all-around mayhem.

Johnson is pretty much settled into his generic action-star persona at this point, to the degree that his character has a name but it doesn’t much matter what it is. This is his third collaboration with director Brad Peyton, following Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, and the pair demonstrates a reliable confidence in delivering audience-pleasing action that doesn’t rely on over-complicating the storyline.

Likewise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan isn’t doing much more than a more benevolent take on his smarmy Negan character that made him a popular mainstay on “The Walking Dead.” But, again, it’s all in service to the central concept of getting the giant animals to a big city and trashing it.

And once they do get to Chicago, oh the destruction is glorious. It almost serves as a preview of the eventual King Kong vs. Godzilla movie. The filmmakers also took care to layer in several subtle references to the game mechanics, as revealed in one of the Blu-ray’s behind-the-scenes featurettes, the six-minute “Not a Game Anymore.”

Other featurettes, running between 10 and 12 minutes each, include a look at the stunts, the designs of the monsters, the attack on Chicago and the development of the Gorilla, George.

The Blu-ray also includes a nearly three-minute gag reel and more than 10 minutes of deleted scenes, including an excised cameo from San Andreas co-star Alexandra Daddario.

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