Review by C.J. Bunce
King Kong. Mighty Joe Young. George of the Jungle. And all the derivative films made since. Add to that mega-sized monster movies like Godzilla and you’ll find their latest incarnation in this month’s release of Rampage. The evolution of the technology of putting a giant ape on film is all about CGI and motion capture now, and you’ll learn all about it in the new book The Art and Making of Rampage, by Ellen Wolff.
In Rampage, a genetic experiment goes wrong, unleashing three giant, mutant predators. Dwayne Johnson stars as a primatologist whose once-gentle friend George, a highly intelligent silverback gorilla, is exposed to the experiment. Johnson’s character joins with a geneticist played by the James Bond films’ Naomie Harris to find an antidote to try to save both George and the world from the giant mutants.
From its roots in the 1980s Midway arcade game (Warner Bros. owns the Midway game titles) to the corresponding giant-sized personality of the film’s star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rampage is all about bigger and better. The recurring theme is “go big, or go BIGGER, or go home.” Readers of The Art and Making of Rampage, a full-color hardcover volume, will get the entire behind-the-scenes tour. From concept to screen readers will follow the “band getting back together” as Johnson reunites for the third time with director Brad Peyton and producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia, who he worked with on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas. With bits of Jurassic Park, Project X, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Pacific Rim, Rampage is full of action sequences, all detailed in the book.
Writer Wolff interviewed production designer Barry Chusid (Serenity, Source Code), visual effects supervisors Erik Winquist (The Lord of the Rings films and Planet of the Apes films) and Colin Strause (The Fog, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Skyfall), costume designer Melissa Bruning (War for the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), art director Tom Reta (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Surrogates), and more, providing chronological commentary about the story, actors, sets, and locations. The book highlights the use of American Sign Language in the film, how Johnson’s character communicates with albino gorilla George. With the help of movement choreographer Terry Notary (Planet of the Apes films, The Hobbit films), actor Jason Liles (Godzilla: King of Monsters) plays George, Johnson’s hairy co-star. Readers will see a motion capture film in full swing, with dozens of photographs, pages of storyboard art, and concept art. And there are photographs of the Alpha monsters and the climactic takedown of Chicago’s Willis Tower.
Here is a look at the book The Art and Making of Rampage: