Back in the late 1980s, I sacrificed so many quarters to the Rampage arcade machine. There was nothing more delightful than having Lizzie the lizard monster (classic arcade games had many strong suits, but creative naming schemes were not one of them) punch her way across North America and then the world. Sure, Rampage and its follow-up games had a loose story, but who paid attention to such trivial details when there were building to raze and militaries to destroy?
Hollywood, that’s who.
Way back in 2015, New Line Cinema announced they were partnering with Dwayne Johnson (The Fate of the Furious) to turn Rampage into a film. Mind you, this was during the height of the “reboot all childhood properties” gold rush that included a now defunct attempt at Candyland starring Adam Sandler, a Monopoly movie still in development at Lionsgate, the recent Trolls film, and the upcoming Jumanji reboot, also starring Johnson. Should the latter do well half as well at the box office as Trolls, expect to see another round of vintage properties being snapped up left and right.
Now after several years of stalling out, it appears the gears on in motion again to bring Rampage the to big screen. Yesterday, Deadline reported that Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) has joined the cast. The rest of the ensemble currently includes Johnson, Naomie Harris (Skyfall), Malin Akerman (Billions), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike XXL), Jake Lacy (Girls), Marley Shelton (Planet Terror), PJ Byrne (Big Little Lies), Jack Quaid (Vinyl), Matt Gerald (Daredevil), and Breanne Hill (San Andreas). Morgan is set to play Agent Russell, a covert government agent working for a division known by the acronym OGA.
The film is currently set to release on April 20, 2018 and production has either just begun or is ramping up as Backstage sent out a casting call for extras to show up on April 17, 2017. Rampage is in need of extras with veterinary experience and folks who look like science lab employees, as well as typical federal agent and military background roles. Without a logline, it’s nearly impossible to discern what the plot of Rampage will be, but the casting of Morgan combined with the extras needed indicates screenwriters Ryan Engle, Ryan Condal, and Carlton Cuse are adhering to the game’s original plot.
And what plot might that be? That three ordinary humans, George, Ralph, and Lizzie, were each turned into monsters through science gone wrong. In the game, each character had their own origin: Ralph took a laced food additive, George was the victim of an experimental vitamin, and Lizzie fell into a radioactive lake. Each monster was created by Scumlabs Corporation, a name that doesn’t translate well to film, making it entirely possible OGA is the renamed Rampage antagonistic entity.
Faithful adherence to a plot created specifically to part kids with their quarters may not be the best way to break the video game curse. But who knows? Maybe Johnson will be the magic needed to finally free Hollywood of garbage game adaptations.