If there’s one complaint that’s often leveled at Hollywood creature features, it’s that the subgenre tends to pay so much attention to jaw-dropping visual effects that the human characters – shallow, thinly-drawn human characters at that – are subsequently swept aside in the name of spectacle.
From Godzilla to Pacific Rim, you don’t have to look too far to locate an example of a western monster movie told through the lens of a forgettable lead, and though Paramount’s Baywatch flop stands as living proof that Dwayne Johnson is not, in fact, critically bulletproof, many are already looking to New Line’s Rampage adaptation in the hope of an entertaining, yet compelling creature feature.
Headed up by director Brad Peyton, who reunites with Johnson after the surprisingly successful San Andreas, the story details released thus far point to a relatively straightforward, effects-laden blockbuster of government experiments and a rogue hero (Johnson’s primatologist Davis Okoye) who steps in to save the world from plunging into chaos. But there’s still reason to be hopeful, and not just because of Johnson’s signature charisma.
For in Rampage, the Fast and Furious stalwart will be at the forefront of an ensemble cast comprised of Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, P.J. Byrne, Marley Shelton, Breanne Hill, Jack Quaid, and Matt Gerald. There’s also Naomie Harris and Jeffery Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead fame, who are on board as an anti-poacher from Rwanda and a “groundbreaking geneticist from CRISPR.”
You’ll be able to find an early peek at those two characters kitted out in costume above, along with a second set photo of Dwayne Johnson in action with Jason Liles, the motion capture performer set to bring the albino gorilla known as George to life.
“In this scene our Oscar-winning Weta Digital (‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Avatar’ etc) is using their groundbreaking ‘performance capture’ to bring ‘George’ the Silverback to life. It uses over 30 special cameras to ‘see’ the performance of my co-actor [Jason Liles], allowing the digital artists to make the most realistic and badass animations possible. He’s wearing a ‘facial capture helmet’ and we can record every muscle movement and expression and emotion of George as goes on a rampage. Jason studied gorillas for months preparing for this performance capture role – facial expressions, sounds, habits and emotions. Spectacular performance. What a learning curve for me and such a pleasure to help produce these amazing artists who come to set daily to be game changers.”
Rampage stomps into theaters on April 20th, 2018. With any luck, and assuming production continues to motor along as planned, we’ll likely clock eyes on the film’s first trailer sometime this summer. Watch this space for more.