Tuesday, January 30, 2018

'Rampage' Movie and The Video Game Curse

Rampage, that game you probably played in the arcades in the 80's and then at home in the 90's, has a movie coming out this year. Starring The Rock, because of course it would. Director Brad Peyton (who also actioned up The Rock in 'San Andreas') thinks his flick will be the one to break the video game movie curse. So much so, that he wasn't aware that there was a curse until the film was near the end of it's shooting schedule. So...that means he has nothing to worry about?

In an interview with IGN, Peyton talks about how the film came to be and provides more details about the plot. Rampage, for the uninitiated, allows you to control one of 3 monsters and you are set lose to destroy a city. Buildings. Cars. Signs. You name it. The more you destroy in the time limit, the higher your score. If you beat the level's score, you can move to the next city. That's it! But it was a mindlessly fun arcade game that stuck with a lot of fans.

Since the plot is very basic in the game, it does lend itself to having a film adaptation that is open to interpretation. The only concern for the production team is making sure that the 3 monsters look and feel like they came from the game. That's it. The movie will have The Rock playing primatologist Davis Okoye. Through a set of circumstances, his best friend George, a gorilla, is mutated and turns into a beast that terrorizes cities. Okoye must try to save his friend, and stop the other monsters that have evolved. Some corporate baddies will try to stop him. Probably the police and military too.

It's still a very straight-forward plot. But this movie isn't trying to take itself too seriously, according to the interview. It's meant to be a fun, and scary kaiju film. They did take the time to think about how logical it would be to turn a gorilla into a giant, but it's still a kaiju movie at the end of the day.

And maybe that's what we need from our video game movies? Not heavy plot-driven narratives that we adapt to film. Instead, maybe these films need to be good ol-fashion summer action pics. We can throw down Max Payne, Dungeons & Dragons, and Prince of Persia as examples of what not to do with a game-based movie. But the reason those movies failed may be why 'Rampage' will succeed at the box office. A lot of video game movies try to adapt by going the serious route. Or the 'Resident Evil' route and ignoring everything the games did. In doing so, the content becomes convoluted and fans miss out on what made the game special. Hollywood needs to accept the fact that games are meant to be fun. They can be insightful, fulfilling, and meaningful too, but they are also games. Where physics doesn't matter. Where you can propel yourself in an arena of rocket cars to play soccer. Where a blue hedgehog can run at super speeds and do loop-d-loops in his sleep. Film needs to embrace the strangeness of video games in order to succeed in future ventures. I don't think 'Rampage' will be the one to break the curse, but it could be the silly action movie we need to get the conversation going.

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