Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson continues to work hard and expand his portfolio to encompass all manner of movies and TV shows – having most recently added the animated Disney musical Moana to his resume. The wrestler-turned actor also has a superhero movie and video game adaptation in his future, in the forms of Shazam and Rampage. There’s not been much in the way of new information of late to report on the former (which will costar Johnson as the villain Black Adam), but the Rock’s latter project is currently picking up speed.
New Line has now scheduled Rampage to open in theaters in April of 2018, meaning that production on the film should be getting underway within the first third of 2017 or so. The movie reunites Johnson with his Hercules (2014) co-writer Ryan Condal, as well as screenwriter Carlton Cuse and director Brad Peyton: The Rock’s collaborators from the 2015 natural disaster blockbuster, San Andreas. At the time of writing this, no cast members besides Johnson have been announced for Rampage.
Rampage is based on the video game that originated as a Bally Midway arcade game in the 1980s and has a premise that’s about as straight-forward as they come: three giant mutated monsters (namely, a lizard, an ape and a wolf) wreak havoc on a variety of city landscapes. There’s not exactly a lot of “mythology” for the Rampage film version to draw inspiration from, in other words, and Peyton noted as much during his interview with WGTC (which he conducted as part of the promotional tour for his new horror film, Incarnate):
With Rampage, we are using our love of the original game as our inspiration. Then we’re going to build a movie, like San Andreas, that is really going to surprise people in what it delivers. It’s going to be a lot more emotional, a lot scarier and a lot more real than you’d expect. So you look at that original concept about a lab that affects these animals and makes them rampage, and that’s the nugget. If they called me tomorrow to do Call of Duty, I wouldn’t want to play any of the Call of Duty games. I’d have to come up with something that deserves to be its own thing. That’s where a lot of these movies can go wrong.
I’m really excited about Rampage. It’s a monster film, so the stuff that I did on Incarnate, stretching my muscles in the horror space helped. This “small, character piece” with horror in it trained me to get ready for [Rampage]. Obviously, it’s a much bigger movie and it’s meant for a broader audience, but there still horror elements, there’s still a monster movie at the core. And I get to work with Dwayne [Johnson] again, I’m so excited about it.
Petyon and Johnson’s San Andreas aspired to be an “emotional and scary” thrill ride itself, but most critics and filmgoers seem to agree that it succeeds more as cheesy genre entertainment than anything else. The same may hold true for Rampage, given that the movie involves several of the same main players as San Andreas did, on both sides of the camera. This isn’t necessarily a problem either, as a goofy big-budget movie adventure where The Rock takes on a bunch of giant monsters should make for a couple of fun hours of escapism.
Tonally, this would also set Rampage apart from other upcoming tentpoles that involve humans battling larger-than-life creatures; among them being next year’s Kong: Skull Island and the sequel Pacific Rim: Maelstrom (the latter of which opens in theaters but a couple months before Rampage does). Peyton confirmed to WGTC that the Rampage movie will include the three classic beasts from the original games, before simply teasing that “you’ll have to stay tuned to find out where we’re going with this.”
This is a respect in which Rampage should have a relatively easy time succeeding too; after all, whereas recent video game movie such as Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed have faced the challenge of streamlining and adapting the dense mythologies of their source games, there’s not much lore that Rampage will be expected to maintain from the original games, outside of the three primary monsters and general concept. If Peyton, Johnson and their collaborators manage that task well then who knows: perhaps Rampage will prove to be one of the still-rare good video game-turned film adaptations.
Rampage opens in U.S. theaters on April 20th, 2018.