The big changes the Rampage movie makes from the games
As of this writing, there hasn’t been a new Rampage video game in twelve years. Twelve! Rampage: Total Destruction was released on the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2006 and the franchise has laid dormant since. Even with that in mind, if you say the word “Rampage,” fans of the series immediately conjure very specific images in their head, and those images are not lost on the filmmakers of the upcoming feature film adaptation.
“We all think of the three creatures and the woman with the red dress who gets eaten,” director Brad Peyton tells us on the Atlanta set of the film.
Peyton goes on to tell us that the openness of the game’s “mythology,” or lack there of, is what further made him think that a movie version could really work.
“That’s what led me to eventually say yes, because when I initially got it, it wasn’t a type of movie that I would wanna do – it wasn’t very grounded. But then we developed it into a direction where there was more emotion, more grounding, but still maintaining all the fun of it, and it was something both Dwayne and I thought we could really kind of, with both his skill set and my skill set, could really make work.”
Peyton mentions to us how he himself is a huge gamer but that idea of taking on something like Call of Duty or an Assassin’s Creed seemed too daunting, given the rich backstories of all those games.
“There’s a lot pf pressure that comes with that, and sticking to those things, and for me, you’d have to be a real die-hard fan to have a shot at doing things right. So, for this, I was like, ‘Okay, there’s not a lot of mythology that everyone’s aware of.’”
And he’s right. Not many people would know that the reason the main three monsters exist in the original game is because of various tainted things from Scumlabs. There are a few big things that everyone remembers though – once you run out of health as the monsters, you turn back into a human.
“That was a solid no,” Peyton says of a version of the film featuring human protagonists that turned into the monsters. “Let’s just say I said no to ‘Rock-zilla’ [laughs]. It was presented in a room much like this and I was like, ‘That’s a hard pass from me.’ That sounds really not grounded at all. It’s like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit a little bit. I wanted to balance out some kind of grounding aspect with the fun.
Grounded aspect in mind, the Rampage movie takes the real-life science of CRISPR, a type of gene-editing technology that is being used across the world in attempts to cure diseases or revive long-extinct animals, and applies it to the monsters. So the big three are simply animals that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The science that we’re based on is factual,” producer Hiram Garcia says. “It’s how they’re bringing wooly mammoths back, it’s how they’re bringing carrier pigeons back, they’re successfully removing HIV from rats with this technology. So it’s a very real device that’s happening and at the end of every great discovery there is always has a scientist who is saying, ‘I also fear for how this can be used if it’s not used in a positive way.’”
The negative way that the technology is being used in the film is simple, and we’ll pose it to you in a hypothetical. If you wanted to weaponize an animal, what attributes from other animals would you put into its DNA? For the movie, a variety of aggressive and defensive traits have been taken and placed in special canisters, which are being experimented on in space. As luck would have it, they crash back on to earth in three places: San Francisco, where a curious gorilla named George finds one; the wilds of Wyoming where a wolf finds another; and finally, the Florida everglades where an alligator discovers the final one.
That’s right, George, Ralph, and Lizzie are all present from the game and will cause the titular rampage in the film. At first, the effects of the CRISPR technologies just makes the animals begin to crow, but as the movie progresses they mutate further, and to quote John Carpenter’s The Thing, they get weird and pissed off.
By the end of the film, Lizzie the alligator is 50” tall and four football fields long. Her alligator DNA blended with a host of others that include Pufferfish for poisonous spines on her tail, Chameleon for their gripping fingers, Sharks for their multiple rows of teeth, and other Fish for the ability to sail through the water with ease and to breath through gils.
Ralph manages to get even wilder by also having Shark DNA for his teeth, plus enhancements from Owls for his eyes, Cheetahs for the build of his body, Porcupines for their spikes, and Fox Bats for their ears and built in wings under his front legs. As The Rock says in the film, “Of course the wolf flies.”
George, on the other hand, doesn’t get any special enhancements other than being a giant gorilla. He is slightly different from his video game counterpart in two key areas: He’s an albino gorilla instead of a traditional looking one, and he’s secretly best friends with Dwayne Johnson. The visual distinction was chosen for the film as a way to differentiate him on the big screen form the likes of Kong: Skull island and the new Planet of the Apes series.
These are all a pretty big departure from how the animals are presented in the original video game where Lizzie is a Godzilla-stand in, Ralph is just a giant werewolf, and George is a clear King Kong homage, but it opens up the possibilities of the film (and potential sequels) with really exciting ideas. What else can you alter within animals? What other kind of animals can you further change? And what effects will it have on people?
“I think you always have a hope for… I don’t want to say creating a new universe, but being able to start a story and kind of world that you can go deeper into,” Garcia says. “So everything’s going great and we’re very thrilled with the stuff we’re getting, and ultimately, the reception and how it’s received always kind of dictates that next dance. Ultimately, our hopes are we’re setting a relationship up between (Dwayne’s character) and George that, hopefully, if things work out, I would love to see that go on.”
Producer John Rickards adds a footnote for eagle-eye’d viewers of the first movie saying, “And we have left room for other opportunities for other things to happen.”
Rampage storms theaters worldwide on April 13.