- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2018

Two creature features highlight some unusual monsters in the ultra-high definition format.

Rampage(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 107 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.95) — Dwayne Johnson’s monstrous homage to a legendary, 1980s video game now roars onto 4K Ultra HD to rumble around home entertainment rooms.

Very loosely based on Midway’s side-scrolling and climbing arcade classic, the film features a trio of Godzilla-sized creatures causing mass destruction across the United States before tearing up a Chicago cityscape.

Specifically, after a bungled corporate space research station crashes to earth, unleashing a genetic altering pathogen, a wolf, a crocodile and a signing, albino, sliver back gorilla named George are transformed into multistory behemoths.

George’s best buddy, primatologist Davis Okoye (Mr. Johnson), bands together with an unemployed genetic engineer (Naomie Harris) and mysterious government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to figure out a way to reverse the pathogen’s effects before the beasts crush the Windy City.

The always affable and muscle-bound Mr. Johnson takes in the outrageous special effects packed proceedings in stride but really comes to a machismo-loaded life when acting next to “The Walking Dead’s” own Neegan (Dean Morgan).

By the way, the game did feature an objective of controlling the original monsters — George (a gigantic gorilla), Lizzie (Godzilla-like lizard) and Ralph (giant werewolf) as they climb and pummel large buildings, gobble up citizens and destroy attacking military forces.

In those terms, director Brad Peyton homage to “Rampage” succeeds handsomely and may even elicit a few smiles and laughs when watching the communicative relationship between Davis and the scarily lifelike George.

4k UHD in action: The upscale and high-dynamic range enhancements from the 2K source material not only highlights some colorful explosions and the trail of destruction by the monsters (reference the crocodile splashing out of the Chicago River) but some great work on the gorilla George by special effect masters Weta Digital.

Some memorable shots include the young ape’s glistening eyeballs reflecting a poacher beating his mother, George devouring a human in slow motion with each tooth shining at the camera and his finely textured hair and wrinkled skin matted around the claw wounds on his body.

Of course, the welcomed Dolby Atmos soundtrack delivers the aural, room-shaking assault during any of the large-scale battle scenes especially within the last 30 minutes of the film.

Best extras: Between the five featurettes, including a brief overview of the original arcade game, viewers will most appreciate 12 minutes highlighting the creation George.

Through the motion-captured talents of Jason Liles, his movement mentor Terry Notary and those effects genius at Weta, this magnificent silverback came to life. The segment offers short interviews with the principals involved in building the evolving beast.

A Quiet Place(Paramount Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 90 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.98) — The post-apocalyptic horror film that won nearly universal acclaim from critics and audiences earlier this year arrives on ultra-high definition to stop the hearts of home theater owners.

Director and co-writer John Krasinski offers a tale that takes place roughly three months after a hostile extraterritorial invasion of Earth.

A family living in a remote farmhouse must learn to survive by remaining nearly silent after learning the invaders are blind, and sounds by any living creatures will lead to deadly results.

That sets up a tense narrative where the family members use sign language extensively (subtitled, so pay attention watchers), softly walk by barefoot (often on sand paths), fear generating the slightest noise and even play Monopoly on a blanket with felt icons.

They exist in a world of such sound suppression that even minor mistakes such as not removing an exposed nail on a staircase (and eventually stepping on it) can become a fatal event.

Determined performances by Emily Blunt as the pregnant mother Evelyn Abbott (yes, try having a baby without making any noise) and Mr. Krasinski as the survivalist father Lee both add layers of simmering, emotional complexity to the creature feature.

Suffice it to report, if your idea of fun is holding your breath for 90 minutes, have I got a movie for you.

4K UHD in action: Although I can appreciate the increased visual presentation in some of the foliage dense rural outdoor landscapes, the 2160p upscale really works when finally getting a look at the intricate creatures. I won’t ruin the fun, but they really are scary in a “Signs” and “Alien” sort of intensity.

Also, silence is often golden throughout this nail-biter, so an immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack is mainly irrelevant, highlighted by the moody though unnecessary musical score.

I will note the aural exception that is someone making a slightly loud noise that pierces the silence. In those cases, it sounds like a freight train roaring through an entertainment room that snowballs into the signaling sounds of the creatures on the attack.

Best extras: Viewers only get a trio of featurettes offering a quick overview at the production.

Best of the group are a far-too-short, 8-minute look at the fantastic creature design (courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic) and almost 12 minutes on the importance of sound and music design in this horror, sci-fi classic.


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