Rampage (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brad Peyton|
|Story by||Ryan Engle|
|Music by||Andrew Lockington|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$428 million|
Rampage is a 2018 American science fiction monster comedy film directed by Brad Peyton, and based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It follows a primatologist who must team up with George, an albino gorilla who turns into a raging creature of enormous size as a result of a rogue experiment, to stop two other mutated animals from destroying Chicago.
The film is the third collaboration between Peyton and Johnson, following Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and San Andreas (2015). Even though their company is uncredited, Rampage also marked the final released Warner Bros. film to be financed by Access Entertainment/RatPac-Dune Entertainment as the studio had ended their partnership with the company due to sexual harassment allegations against RatPac-Dune owner Brett Ratner, and the final project to be produced by RatPac overall before the company went on hiatus.
Principal photography began in April 2017 in Chicago. The film was released in the United States on April 13, 2018, by Warner Bros. Pictures, in 2D, RealD 3D and IMAX. It grossed over $428 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the visual effects but criticism of its pacing and story.
Athena-1, a space station owned by gene manipulation company Energyne, is destroyed after a laboratory rat (Larry) mutates and wreaks havoc. Dr. Kerry Atkins, the lone surviving crew member, is ordered by Energyne CEO Claire Wyden to retrieve canisters containing a pathogen. Atkins flees in the escape pod when the station implodes, but it disintegrates upon re-entry, killing her and leaving a trail of debris across the United States. One canister is swallowed by an American crocodile in the Everglades, and another lands in a Wyoming forest where a wolf is exposed to the pathogen.
Primatologist Davis Okoye, a former US Army Special Forces soldier and member of an anti-poaching unit, works at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. He has befriended a rare albino western lowland gorilla named George, having saved it from the poachers who killed his mother, and communicates with George using sign language. One of the canisters crash-lands in George's habitat, and George is exposed to the pathogen.
As George grows considerably larger and more aggressive, Davis is contacted by genetic engineer Dr. Kate Caldwell, who explains that the pathogen was developed by Energyne to rewrite genes on a massive scale. She had hoped to advance CRISPR research as a potential cure for diseases, but discovered Energyne's plans to use it as a biological weapon, and was fired and falsely sent to prison, resulting in the death of her terminally ill brother. George escapes from captivity and goes on a rampage at the preserve. He is calmed, but George is captured by a government team led by Agent Harvey Russell and put on an airplane. Meanwhile, Claire and her brother Brett oversee a mercenary team's attempt to capture the mutated wolf, Ralph, which ends in failure and the slaughter of the entire team.
Claire, hoping to capture Ralph and use George to kill Kate, uses a massive transmitter atop the Willis Tower to lure the animals – engineered to respond aggressively to a certain radio frequency – to Chicago, unconcerned about the massive risk to civilian lives this poses. George reacts violently to the sound and crashes the plane, though Davis, Kate, and Russell parachute to safety. George survives the crash and joins Ralph as they make their way to Chicago, and Davis and Kate are aided by Russell in stealing a military helicopter in pursuit.
They arrive to find George and Ralph tearing through the city as the military struggles to contain them. The situation worsens when the mutated crocodile, Lizzie, joins George and Ralph. Planning to steal a counter-serum to turn the mutated animals back to normal, Davis and Kate infiltrate Energyne headquarters at the Willis Tower and take several vials of the serum, but are caught by Claire and Brett. Claire reveals that the serum only eliminates the animals' enhanced aggressiveness rather than revert them to their normal size, and shoots Davis, but he survives. When George climbs to the top of the tower, Claire orders Davis to distract it while she attempts to escape with Kate at gunpoint. Kate slips a vial into Claire's handbag and pushes her toward George, who devours Claire along with the serum, killing her and returning him to his normal personality. Below, Russell takes incriminating evidence from Brett, who is crushed to death by falling debris. As the damaged tower topples, Davis and Kate survive by crash-landing a helicopter on Federal Plaza.
Davis stays in the city to help George defeat the other two monsters, while Kate and Russell rush to prevent the military from deploying a MOAB against the creatures. George fights Ralph, whom Davis tricks into flying into Lizzie's jaws, decapitating the wolf. Lizzie chases Davis, but George intervenes in time for Davis to incapacitate the crocodile with grenades. However, Lizzie survives and overpowers George, who is impaled by rebar. Davis distracts Lizzie using a fallen Apache helicopter, but is nearly killed before George stabs Lizzie through the eye with the same rebar, killing it. With the threat neutralized, the airstrike is aborted. In the aftermath, George and Davis, joined by Kate and Russell, help clear the city of debris and rescue civilians.
- Dwayne Johnson as Davis Okoye, a former US Army Special Forces soldier as well as primatologist and head of an anti-poaching unit.
- Naomie Harris as Dr. Kate Caldwell, a disgraced genetic engineer who teams up with Okoye.
- Malin Åkerman as Claire Wyden, the CEO of Energyne responsible for the infection and mutation of George, Ralph, and Lizzie with the mutagenic serum for Project: Rampage.
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Harvey Russell, a government agent who works for the "Other Government Agency".
- Jake Lacy as Brett Wyden, Claire's dimwit brother.
- Joe Manganiello as Burke, the leader of a private military group.
- P. J. Byrne as Nelson, a scientist and friend of Okoye.
- Marley Shelton as Dr. Kerry Atkins, a scientist and astronaut.
- Demetrius Grosse as Colonel Blake
- Jack Quaid as Connor
- Breanne Hill as Amy
- Matt Gerald as Zammit
- Urijah Faber as Garrick
- Will Yun Lee as Agent Park
- Jason Liles as the motion-capture performance for George, an albino gorilla (comparable to Snowflake) raised and trained by Okoye. George becomes one of the animals affected by a strange chemical that mutates them into colossal-sized monsters.
- Vincent Roxburgh as Paavo, a young male western lowland gorilla (uncredited).
- Skye Notary as the Female Gorilla #1.
- Willow Notary as the Female Gorilla #2.
Warner Bros. acquired the film adaptation rights to the 1986 arcade game Rampage in 2009, as part of their acquisition of Midway Games for $33 million. The project was announced in November 2011, with John Rickard set as a producer. Rickard said that he decided to work on the movie by searching the list of titles to which Warner held the adapting rights and, upon finding Rampage, remembering playing the arcade game. In June 2015, Dwayne Johnson was set to star, re-teaming with New Line and producer Beau Flynn, while the studio was looking for a director to start production in mid-2016. Johnson mentioned that he loved the game as a child, playing the arcade game in a pool hall and later owning it on the Nintendo Entertainment System. During the search for a script, writers offered many takes, including a faithful one to the game where the monsters were mutated humans, before the producers settled on the one by Ryan Engle, who aimed to make a "love letter to the monster movies I grew up watching", such as Jaws and Jurassic Park, while making it clear that the animals were not the heroes.
After Dwayne Johnson was cast, in July, Brad Peyton went to direct and produce. Peyton later described the film to "be a lot more emotional, a lot scarier and a lot more real than you'd expect". Between January and July 2017, the rest of the supporting cast was assembled.
Easter eggs to the original game were featured, as Energyne's offices have a Rampage arcade machine, George eats a person who he pulls out of a building he punched, and Claire is devoured while wearing a red dress, just as the woman featured in the arcade's opening screen.
The visual effects were primarily provided by Weta Digital. Effects supervisor Erik Winquist and a small crew travelled to Chicago to create a model of the Chicago Loop that would be destroyed in the climactic battle, learning the building materials and architecture styles. Up to 15,000 photographs were taken with 3D scanners, while motion cameras covered downtown Chicago. As reference for the building destruction, the artists studied both the World Trade Center collapse from 2001 and implosions of buildings affected by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake in Weta's hometown of Wellington. One of the more challenging aspects for Weta was figuring out how the weight and mass of the monsters would affect the city environment and destruction.
Given Weta had plenty of experience creating animated apes in King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its sequels Dawn and War, it helped the studio create George "in a much shorter time than it may have 10 years ago", according to Winquist. Motion capture coach Terry Notary even took a break from Avengers: Infinity War, which was also filmed in Atlanta, to help Jason Liles in his performance as George. On the other hand, the lack of motion capture for Ralph and Lizzie let the animators go loose with how these monsters were portrayed, such as "a wolf that has porcupine spines and wings".
The music was composed by Andrew Lockington. The film marked the 4th collaboration with director Brad Peyton. An exclusive track was also released by Kid Cudi titled "The Rage" which plays in the film's end credits. The soundtrack was released digitally on 13 April 2018 by WaterTower Music.
Rampage was released on April 13, 2018, in 3D and IMAX, by Warner Bros. Pictures, after initially being set for release a week later, on April 20. The release date was moved up after Avengers: Infinity War had also shifted its release up by a week, to April 27, so as to provide Rampage with a two-week cushion. The film was coincidentally released 3 weeks after Pacific Rim Uprising, another American kaiju film.
As part of the promotion, three new games were made available: one is a browser game called Rampage: City Smash; another an arcade beat 'em up playing more as a redemption game, was made available on Dave & Buster's; and a free VR game called Project Rampage VR.
Rampage grossed $101 million in the United States and Canada, and $327 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $428 million, against a production budget of $120 million plus another $140 million for the marketing budget.
In the United States and Canada, Rampage was released alongside the openings of Truth or Dare and Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, as well as the wide expansion of Isle of Dogs, and was projected to gross $35–40 million from 3,950 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $11.5 million on its first day (including $2.4 million from Thursday night previews), $13.9 million on Saturday, and a total of $35.7 million over the weekend, finishing first at the box office. Like many films starring Johnson, the audience demographics were diverse, with 43% being Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 19% African American and 14% Asian. The film dropped 41% in its sophomore weekend to $21 million, finishing second behind A Quiet Place, which was in its third week. In its third weekend the film fell 64% to $7.1 million, finishing fourth. It fell 35% in its fourth weekend, grossing $4.6 million and finishing fifth. In its fifth weekend it fell just 27% and grossed $3.3 million and finished seventh.
Internationally, the film opened day-and-date in 41 markets, and made $25.4 million over its first two days. In China, where it was projected to have a $60 million debut, it made $15.7 million in its first day, the third-ever highest for a Warner Bros. film. It went on to have a foreign debut of $114.1 million (for a global total of $148.6 million) in 61 countries. Its top markets were China ($55 million), the UK ($5.7 million), Korea ($5.7 million), Mexico ($4.8 million) and Malaysia ($3.5 million). In its second weekend overseas, it again topped the international box office with $57 million crossing $200 million, in which China brings $106 million alone. In China it grossed $27 million in its sophomore weekend dropping 50%, but nonetheless topped the box office. In its third frame overseas, it fell 72.6% and grossed $16.2 million from 61 markets. In its fourth weekend overseas, it grossed $13.7 million from 63 markets. The film opened in the Philippines atop the box office with $1.7M, and in France it opened at second place behind Avengers: Infinity War with $2.3M. In China it has grossed $156 million, making it Warner Bros.' second-biggest film ever in the market. It fell just 6% in France in its second weekend and has a total gross of $4.8 million. It opened in Germany with $1.6 million and ranking No.2 at the box office. As of May 20, the film's largest markets after China were Mexico ($12.8 million), United Kingdom ($12.4 million), Korea ($11.2 million) and Malaysia ($7.9 million). It opens in Japan on May 18 as its final market. The film was released in Japan on May 18, 2018 and debuted to $1.8 million.
Rampage concluded 2018 as the 20th highest-grossing film of the year worldwide.
Rampage was released on Digital HD on June 26, 2018, and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on July 17, 2018. To date, Rampage has sold $28.7 million worth of DVDs and Blu-rays in North America.
The film received polarized reviews upon release. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 51% based on 271 reviews, and an average rating of 5.27/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Rampage isn't as fun as its source material, but the movie's sheer button-mashing abandon might satisfy audiences in the mood for a brainless blockbuster". It became the best-reviewed live-action video game film in the history of the site until the release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu the following year. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported adult and children filmgoers gave it respective overall positive scores of 90% and 86%.
Variety's Peter Debruge gave the film a moderately positive review, saying: "However derivative it may be, Rampage knows its audience—namely, Transformers fans and kids born after 9/11 for whom elaborately orchestrated scenes of falling skyscrapers carry nary a whiff of real-world trauma.... What director Peyton lacks in artistic vision he compensates for in his ability to wrangle such a CG-intensive production". Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave the film 2.5/4 stars, and wrote that "when Johnson is doing that movie action star thing he does so well and giant animals are going enormous-mano-a-enormous-mano, there’s undeniably goofy fun to be had. You just have to be patient during the downtime". The Mir Fantastiki review gave the movie 7/10, claiming it's a stupid movie, but one that's good at what it's supposed to be, and honest about not being any more than that.
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, reviewing: "Rampage is a drag. Three times during the thing, I wrote down the phrase 'NO FUN,' with increasingly impatient underlines". In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, Nick Allen wrote about what he called the film's "disastrous" tone, saying that "despite the Rampage arcade cabinets being constantly visible in its villains’ headquarters, director Brad Peyton's live-action adaptation comes off as too emotionally glib and mean-spirited, even for a mega-budget B-movie".
Empire described it as quintessential Johnson project: "it sounds like a dreadful basis for a movie. And it sort of is, but it’s also sort of a lot of fun". Empire notes that the film is not as tongue-in-cheek as viewers might expect, concluding that "Rampage is big dumb fun, but not as big, dumb and fun as it could have been".
Director Brad Peyton was asked if the rat in the beginning of the film was based on "Larry" from the Atari Lynx port of the original game. Peyton responded: "We didn't name him Larry, but I'm going to use that, if there is a sequel, I'm going to make the rat's name Larry". The film was also speculated to be a prequel to The Walking Dead television series because of the similarities between Negan and Harvey Russell, both of whom are played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Rampage was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, in the category Choice Sci-Fi Movie, and for the acting performances of Dwayne Johnson (Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor) and Naomie Harris (Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actress).
In late March 2018, German director Uwe Boll, famous for his movie adaptions of video games, threatened to file a lawsuit against Warner Bros. if the studio did not change the film's title. Boll, who produced and directed an unrelated Rampage film trilogy, about a spree killing revolutionary who shares Boll's political views, claimed that the Warner Bros. film would "shrink" his brand and revenues he could use for future installments of his Rampage films. He also went on to say that the Warner Bros. film "confuses the audience" and is "one of those typical feelgood, popcorn movies..." As of 2020, Boll has not sued.
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