Video game movies are not an uncommon sight in Hollywood these days. Only last month we saw the release of Tomb Raider and the potential start of a new franchise. That said, Rampage feels somewhat different, and much of that likely stems from Dwayne Johnson's connection to the property. In fact, during a recent interview at the film's premiere, the wrestler-turned-actor opened up about his own relationship with the original Rampage game from his childhood and explained:
I was a very big fan of the video game growing up, I started playing it in Hawaii when I was 13 years old in a pool hall --- in a really dingy shithole pool hall I had no business being in, especially during school hours --- and I would drop quarters in the Rampage video game all the time.
Dwayne Johnson has seldom shied away from talking about his upbringing in Hawaii and how that shaped his life. Now it looks like Rampage played a more prominent role in those years than any of us ever realized. The muscle-bound action hero would apparently spend quite a bit of time playing the game in a pool hall (even during school hours), and that forged a connection with the property. Now, as one of the biggest stars in the world, he has the chance to bring the franchise to life on the big screen.
That's a heartwarming story, but it doesn't necessarily dive into the logistics of making a story like Rampage adequately come to life on the big screen. After all, Dwayne Johnson was in Doom, so he clearly knows what can happen when a video game movie doesn't work. On that note, Johnson continued in his discussion with Variety at the Rampage premiere and explained how Rampage's simplicity allowed the film to bring in a creative team that could construct a proper backstory for the monster action. Johnson said:
Rampage was one of those video games where one would think years later, it's not the most sought-after intellectual property to remake because the storyline isn't that complicated, so we brought in some great writers and everybody kind of galvanized together and created a backstory.
Ultimately, that might actually be the key to making this whole thing work. Rampage does not have a particularly dense story to adapt, so there's ample room to explore the property while also maintaining a sense of fidelity to what came before it. Compare this to a video game movie like Assassin's Creed (which largely failed to condense the massive mythology of the franchise into a single film), and it arguably becomes pretty clear that modern games with deeper stories have trouble making the transition to the silver screen.