I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
When I reviewed RAMPAGE in the theaters earlier this year, I was not shy in my negative feelings toward it. The fact that it happens to be the highest-rated film adaptation of a video game (currently sitting at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes) should only indicate that Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how to make a good movie based off of a video game. Now, only a few months later, RAMPAGE is making its way to the 4K UHD home video market, and I must admit, I had no intention of watching it all the way through again. But before I knew it, the credits were rolling and I realized that I actually had a good time.
Movie Grade: D+
“Based off of the 1986 arcade game of the same name, where the player would take control of a gigantic animal to wreak havoc on a nameless city and its inhabitants, this adaptation understandably takes some creative liberties. Yet for all of its efforts and spectacle, RAMPAGE is irreparably held back by virtually every addition to what was always a simplistic premise.
Perhaps the most baffling of changes made from the source material is the origin of its monsters. In the original game, each of the main monsters were humans before being transformed into their respective gargantuan creatures. Instead of keeping in tune with such an origin, the film’s primary primate, George (a motion captured performance by Jason Liles) is simply an albino gorilla who’s best friends with a primatologist/beefcake named Davis Okoye (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Perhaps this change is because Warner Bros. shuddered at the thought of not having a human protagonist in a movie based off of a game with no human protagonist. Perhaps it’s because not having The Rock looking and acting exactly the same as he does in every other movie starring The Rock was too bold of a move for The Rock to make. We may never truly know.
However, when the rampaging finally does get going, the movie is actually a sporadically fun experience. The three monsters are intricately well designed creations and admittedly pull off some legitimately cool acts of destruction. It’s just that nearly every other aspect of the movie refuses to stop getting in the way of it all. For example, after the third and most fearsome monster triumphantly reveals itself as the ultimate threat, Johnson simply can’t help himself from dragging any momentum to a halt with zingers such as: ‘Well, that sucks,’ and ‘I need a drink.’ And who could forget classics like, ‘Of course, the wolf flies’. These throwaway one-liners are surely meant to elicit a laugh from the audience, but ultimately, come off as annoying and stupid.”
To read the rest of my theatrical review, click here.
Video/Audio Grade: A
RAMPAGE may be one of the dumbest movies of the century, but there’s no questioning the fact that it feels right at home on 4K UHD. While captured in a combination of 3.4K and 6.5K resolutions, and mastered in a 2K Digital Intermediate, RAMPAGE makes its way to 4K through one of the finest upscale treatments I’ve seen this year. Upon watching the film, I honestly wouldn’t have believed it was not captured in native 4K if I had not looked it up. The creature design for this film is nothing short of top notch. Textures like George’s facial animation and fur look spectacular, and the intricately detailed Lizzie (the crocodile with a thousand teeth) is one of the most visually stunning movie monsters of recent memory. But the film doesn’t just shine when the the monsters take the stage. Skin tones on human characters as well as costume design are given a noticeable improvement over the Blu-ray, and the surprisingly high number of practical sets benefit from the resolution as well.
As is the case with most 4K upscales, the inclusion of HDR10 and Dolby Vision is what truly elevates this release. Night scenes are refreshingly clear with black skies that never feel crushed or washed out. Brights also greatly benefit from the increased pallet especially with George’s white fur contrasted with a mostly grey urban environment for the latter half of the film. The 4K and 3D versions of the film feature a Dolby Atmos audio track, and it absolutely delivers. Dialogue is clear and precise and the superb sound mixing in the bombastic third act will likely wake the neighbors.
Extras Grade: B
There are no extras included on the 4K disc, but all special features can be found on the included Blu-ray. They cover just about what one would expect for a film like RAMPAGE: the process of adapting the film from the video game, the motion design of the three monsters, the actors and the action set pieces they were in, and the motion capture performance for George. It’s certainly worth a look and shows just how much work had to go into the film’s visual effects. It’s just too bad that these features couldn’t make it onto the 4K disc.
- Not A Game Anymore – From arcade sensation to movie monster epic, we explore how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers to create the ultimate disaster film.
- Gag Reel – Hilarious outtakes and mishaps captured during production.
- Deleted Scenes – Deleted scenes that barely missed the final theatrical cut.
- RAMPAGE – Actors in Action: Strap in for a wild ride as Dwayne Johnson, Joe Manganiello and the cast prepare for the film’s demanding stunts and explosive set pieces.
- Trio of Destruction – Follow the innovative design team and the artists at Weta Digital as they bring to life the biggest and baddest monsters for the film’s climactic battle royal.
- Attack on Chicago – Director Brad Peyton reveals the challenges of filming on-location in Chicago and turning digital destruction into a cinematic reality.
- Bringing George to Life – Discover the wonder of what it’s like to be a gorilla, as movement coordinator Terry Notary teaches actor Jason Liles how to move, behave and become “George.”
Final Grade: B+
In spite of being one of my least favorite films of the year, I honestly have a hard time not recommending this 4K release, as it provides everything a home theater enthusiast is looking for on the format.