Fresh on Blu-ray: ‘RAMPAGE’ and ‘ISLE OF DOGS’

James Cole Clay // Film Critic

RAMPAGE

Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Malin Akerman

Word on the street is RAMPAGE is a brainless piece of blockbuster filmmaking that isn’t as entertaining as it should be. This is partly true.

The Dwayne Johnson-led movie is a (semi) satisfying B-monster movie with a massive budget. The dialogue is bad, the performances are broad and the action is ham-fisted, but this movie was too damn fun to ignore. It’s the perfect type of movie to put on at 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and just let the silliness wash over you.

Johnson is pairing with Brad Peyton once again after the disaster movie SAN ANDREAS back in 2015 for RAMPAGE, a film based on the arcade game from the 1980s where monsters climb building and destroy cities all for the sake of button mashing catharsis. Johnson plays yet another invulnerable helicopter pilot/former special forces/primatologist expert, Davis Okoye, who works at the San Diego Zoo specializing in work with an albino ape named George (a motion captured performance by Jason Liles). After a big thing in the sky crashes to Earth releasing toxins that mysteriously have George growing in size and aggression, Davis is on the move with the help Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to find a cure before George, a 30-foot wolf and a massive alligator destroy Chicago.

RAMPAGE is paper thin in terms of its plotting. It doesn’t matter that two mustache-twirling business villains (Malin Ackerman and Jake Lacy) plan to destroy the world and get rich. What does matter is the relationship between Davis and George, which veers into an almost emotive experience before toppling into a disaster film of the highest order. This is the type of movie that can’t be fully recommended, but also, if its perks your interest, you’re bound to have a nice bit of escapism thrown your way. It knows exactly what it’s doing. and while it’s easy to poke fun at its silliness, there’s just an inherent charm to watching Davis and George’s relationship melt hearts and destroy buildings.

Grade: B

Extras:

  • This release is loaded with features that are typically unexpected with a studio release. It comes with a great feature that shows how Liles and movement coordinator Terry Notary (PLANET OF THE APES trilogy) brought the look and personality of George to life. The movie is also equipped with several behind-the-scenes looks at the stunts and all digital work and coordination that goes along with making a film of this size.
  • RAMPAGE: Actors in Action
  • Trio of Destruction 
  • Bringing George to Life

ISLE OF DOGS

Rated PG-13, 101 minutes.
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin,Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum and Greta Gerwig

Wes Anderson’s latest and second venture into stop motion, ISLE OF DOGS, shows a softer side to the director’s work. It’s been said that Anderson has been too caught up in the beauty of his design, but the majority of the film takes place on a structure known as trash island, located off the shores of the fictitious Megasaki, Japan. Due to the Kobiashi Dynasty’s 150-year disdain for the species, dogs have been relegated to vermin.

A young boy known as Atari (voiced by Koyu Rankin), a.k.a. “the Little Pilot,” ventures to the island to find his lost dog Spot (Liev Schriber). Atari is rescued by former “inside dogs” Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum). The only naysayer is Chief (Bryan Cranston), a husky-voiced dog who has always been a stray and has a biting complex that serves as his existential crisis. Chief is up there with Anderson’s best characters. While FANTASTIC MR. FOX’s titular character was goofy and wily, Chief is principled and only cares about keeping his freewill in life.

ISLE OF DOGS is cute, cuddly and a piece of animation that challenges the audience’s thinking and celebrates in moments of triumph. Like our friend Chief, we can bite at any time, but a puppy snap and a pat on the head is much more rewarding.

Grade: A

Extras: 

Wes Anderson Blu-rays are typically skimpy on special features. This has gone back for over a decade, as his films typically receive the Criterion Collection treatment a few years after its initial home video release. (We’re still waiting on that THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL Criterion announcement.)

  • Promotional Featurettes
  • Theatrical Trailer

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