How do you make a big-budget video game movie that doesn’t suck? That question is on our minds as both Rampage and Tomb Raider make their way to theaters within the next month, and Dwayne Johnson – who’s already lived through the experience of starring in the not-so-beloved movie adaptation of Doom and is bold enough to try again – thinks he’s discovered the answer.
In an interview with our sister publication Total Film magazine (you can pick up the full issue starting on Friday, or subscribe now for future issues), Johnson got real about his experiences with the – insert ghost-story whisper here – video game curse.
“I lived the video game curse, because I made Doom,” Johnson said, laughing. “And Doom was a movie based off a very popular video game and was incredibly unsuccessful. So I lived the curse, and I experienced it.” Forearmed with that knowledge (also huge, muscular forearms, but that’s beside the point), Johnson’s first step in warding off the curse was unsurprising: make sure everything’s “buttoned up” on the monster movie side with a good script and earth-shaking giant creatures designed by Weta.
The next step in casting the video-game-curse-denying circle? “Also making sure that there was a winking charm and humour in Rampage that, for me personally, was not in Doom,” Johnson said. It’s no coincidence that the best part of the 2005 Doom movie was the bit where it abandons all cinematic pretense and goes into an unapologetic, first-person shooting (and chainsawing) homage to its source material.
In terms of living up to fan expectations where others have failed, director Brad Peyton thinks his film has another thing going for it: Rampage never had much story beyond “these people got transformed into giant animals and started wrecking up the place.” That leaves the film with less chance of alienating fans and a lot more wiggle room (admittedly, it already dropped the mutated people angle in favor of giant animal hybrids).
“[Fans of the game] get all the things that you remember about it and you can smile about,” Peyton explained. “But then there’s all this room to do things and build a story and build characters and do what I wanted. That allows us to exceed expectations and have a lot of fun and just deliver in a way that a good movie needs to deliver.”
You see how the plan is shaking out so far in these exclusive new Rampage images showing the Rock and the rest of the cast in action. And for more on Rampage’s grand scheme to be a video game movie that isn’t terrible, you should pick up the latest issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Friday. And make sure you subscribe to Total Film to get all the best inside movie news in one place, not to mention lovely subscriber-only covers like the one at the bottom of this page.
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