The long-heralded, just around the corner coming of the video game movie renaissance had two shots this year to finally get off the ground. The first shot came last month with the Tomb Raider reboot starring Alicia Vikander. That film fared far better than most video game movies critically, but it still underwhelmed given the talent involved and failed to ignite the box office. The second video game movie comes this month in the form of Rampage starring Mr. Blockbuster, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Rampage is actually quite an interesting case of adaptation. If you look at video game properties that have been tapped for cinematic adaptation recently, they are titles that had a presence in the current zeitgeist. Tomb Raider was rebooted in 2013 and is receiving another entry later this year, Warcraft is always relevant and Assassin's Creed is a premier title almost annually. Rampage is uncommon in this regard, as it is not a current video game that enjoys a prominent position in today's gaming culture. It is for that reason that Rampage might be more poised for success than most video game adaptations. It is also the reason that a primer on the Rampage video game series is warranted.
I have to imagine that there is probably a sizable segment of the population that doesn't even know that this upcoming movie starring The Rock is based on a video game. Even those who do may be too young to have played the games or just aren't terribly familiar with them. So with that in mind, here is a rundown on everything you need to know about the Rampage video game franchise before seeing the movie.
The Rampage video game franchise made its debut in 1986 as an arcade game from developer Bally Midway. Like many popular arcade games in that era, Rampage also made its way to a slew of home consoles and platforms, including the Sega Master System, the NES and several Atari systems. It was actually this original Rampage game that Dwayne Johnson played in arcades as a kid and that fandom inspired him to be a part of the feature film adaptation. The Rampage franchise took a decade-long hiatus until 1997 when Rampage World Tour returned the series to arcades as well as home consoles. Bucking naming conventions as the third game in the series is Rampage 2: Universal Tour, which arrived in 1999. This was followed up with Rampage Through Time in 2000, Rampage Puzzle Attack in 2001 and finally Rampage: Total Destruction in 2006.
The interesting thing about this film adaptation and the reason that it is kind of a unique choice is that the last game in the series was released over a decade ago. I think this actually works in the movie's favor as the games are not current and though they have their fans, this is not a beloved title where faithfulness and authenticity will elicit strong emotions. It is also cool in that it wasn't picked out for adaptation because it is of the moment or trendy. Hopefully that means that it is being adapted because there was a good idea about how to do so.