Did you catch all the video game references in Rampage? You'd be forgiven for missing some given that, while Dwayne Johnson's latest may be an adaptation of the 1986 arcade game that saw players take on the role of a giant monster destroying cities across America, it certainly takes some liberties with the source material.
This may send off alarm bells because of the trend of video game movies being poor adaptations, but here it's for the better. While many of us love watching big things smash into bigger things on the silver screen, a film requires plot and characters and what not to actually, well, be a film – things the arcade original is a bit scant on. If Warner Bros. had made the film follow the game, the ending would be the creatures leveling the US and the credits rolling – not exactly the most uplifting note for a summer romp to finish on.
Read More: Our Rampage Movie Review
Instead, they developed a screenplay that pays homage to the Midway-developed classic while taking liberties to create a big playground for a possible franchise, sends a meaningful message about caring for the environment and makes room for a marketable leading man to lead the charge. And really, this a role made for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. One of the most bankable stars in Hollywood right now, the former professional wrestler playing a wildlife expert who helps his giant ape friend fight a massive alligator and wolf who've been genetically enraged is the kind of madcap escapism the star thrives on. He gets to work some drama muscles in the tender parts before becoming the one-man army his physique and following as a global superstar yearn for. It's the perfect match!
With all that said, here's a look at the ways the film does, and doesn't, honor its namesake.
What Rampage Changed From The Video Game
Aside from the distinct lack of rampaging until the second half of the picture, the biggest change Rampage the movie makes is how and why the monsters exist. In the game, each animal is the result of a different set of circumstances – one's radioactivity, the other an experimental vitamin, the other a mutagenic foot vitamin. In the film, this is all collated into a genetic alteration program called CRISPR (named after a bacterial DNA sequence). UN-sanctioned at first, experiments using CRISPR were eventually outlawed due to the danger they posed as possible weapons of mass destruction. In the movie's opening, a space station housing top secret CRISPR research is destroyed by a rogue specimen, causing containers of the gene-altering substances that were being worked on to hurtle down to different parts of Earth. Each of the three lands by one of the game's animals, beginning their transformations into the giant beasties.
CRISPR is used as a catch-all for everything to do with the monsters. New abilities and behaviors are explained away by different animals' DNA that's now surging through the creatures on a cellular level. The principal development, and deviation from the game, is that the three monstrosities are drawn to Chicago because of a signal, rather than a need to make a big mess together. Claire Wyden, CEO of the research company looking into CRISPR, had an aggro-triggering low-frequency signal embedded into the genetic sequencing of the test subjects, meaning that by emitting this frequency from the roof of her high-rise office base, she draws the animals in as they seek to destroy the aggravating noise.
The creatures moving towards a populated area leads to military intervention, creating the race against time for Dwayne Johnson's Davis Okoye, Naomie Harris' Dr. Kate Caldwell and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Harvey Russell to get to Chicago to stop the path of carnage before the city is bombed. With Okoye, we also get another big change: good monsters. Johnson is a primatologist (monkey expert) whose favorite gorilla George is transformed and later helps him fight off Ralph the wolf and Lizzie the crocodile.
- Rampage (2018) release date: Apr 13, 2018