Playing video games has always been a pleasurable experience for me, at least because I’ve yet to play a really bad game. Even as a child I try to make sense and come up with a story for old and simple arcade games like Pleiads, Phoenix, Galaxian, and Exerion. But now, RPGs aside, most games have interesting stories of their own, complete with cut-scenes that when put together can make up an epic movie.
Translating games to film remains a daunting task, despite these games having an actual plot to work with. Fortunately, failure after failure hasn’t stopped Hollywood from trying. It’s amazing the makers of Assassins Creed still failed despite the popularity of the series and the game having an actual plot. Now, Rampage is one of those simple arcade games that involve giant monster animals destroying entire neighborhoods for points. There’s really not much of a story there, but the producers actually made something out of it and may have broken the video game to film curse.
The reason Hollywood hasn’t stopped making video game films is that many of them actually succeed at the box office despite heavy criticism. Resident Evil managed to make it this long despite one bad sequel after another because we continue paying for it. It’s highly unfortunate that we were given a terrible ending with the final installment. Rampage, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may have actually broken the trend with its commercial and critical success. Johnson is actually making a trend of starring in good films beginning with F8 and then Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Hopes weren’t high for the film being based on a videogame and another generic Dwayne-starrer but it turned out to be an accidental blockbuster like Deadpool. Even The Rock acknowledges that his previous video game outing Doom was terrible. Jumanji doesn’t count not being based on an actual videogame.
As mentioned, the premise for the original arcade game isn’t much. It’s about three giant monsters that were originally human that were took super vitamins. The film’s take is a bit different. Instead of humans, the monsters were originally animals. The animals were victims of accidental genetic editing from an experiment gone wrong as shown in the trailers. The monsters are the same in the game; a giant gorilla, a giant wolf, and a giant reptilian. The film followed the source material closely in naming the gorilla George, which is the best candidate for a giant protagonist. The giant wolf is named Ralph in the game while the giant crocodile is based on the humanoid reptilian Lizzie.
As for the film itself, it wasn’t totally mindless, wanton destruction for the sake of following the game. The film did take some liberties with the source material to great effect as the whole film wasn’t limited to being set in a city. The plot was good in managing to integrate the game’s destructive premise. It didn’t seem like the film was trying so hard to fit the game in. The events had a logical progression, and the action was nicely distributed.
The film also explored the love/trust relationship between The Rock’s zookeeper character Davis Okoye and George the gorilla. George is as much a character in this movie as the humans around him which is good, since the game’s primary characters are the monsters themselves. Ralph and Lizzie don’t get to act out but were portrayed as the terrifying mindless monsters they were created to be. Like a good monster movie, we don’t get to see the final forms of the monsters ‘til midway into the film.
The visual effects were amazing enough to make you forget that much of the action involving the monsters is done with CGI. Lizzie was just amazing as her size is almost Godzilla-like. Come to think of it, we may have just watched King Kong vs. Godzilla, round one. Yes, minor spoiler, George fights Lizzie.
Now about the characters, it was easy enough to deduce that Davis had a military background. It’s hard to imagine a zookeeper looking so ripped and being able to fly a helicopter or even brave enough to face such dangers. It’s just kind of similar to his other roles in the past. It’s just a nitpick as The Rock played his role so nicely.
Speaking of sounding generic, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (check out our classic interview with him) had the same demeanor as Negan in The Walking Dead. He simply traded his leather jacket for a suit and tie. As far as the role is concerned, it’s simply interchangeable. The film’s true villains, the Wydens were also generic sociopathic corporate weapons-dealers found in most monster films. Overall, the film turned out great. It had lots of action and suspense. If you’re looking for simple entertainment with a little heart, go watch Rampage. It may be just another giant monster film, but the takeaway here is that it may be the best video game film in recent years since the first Mortal Kombat.