The Rampage video game was an homage to King Kong and Godzilla, allowing players to control the giant gorilla and lizard destroying cities. There aren’t as many giant wolf movies, but the addition of Ralph allowed a third player to join in the fun.
The movie adaptation Rampage exists in a world where there are still ongoing King Kong and Godzilla franchises. So the creators of Rampage redesigned their creatures to make them look unique. For one, George the gorilla (performance capture by Jason Liles) is now an albino gorilla.
“It was a couple things,” director Brad Peyton told Bloody Disgusting. “One was the fact that we just wanted to separate ourselves from every other monster movie that had ever used a gorilla, King Kong obviously. The second thing was more of a character thing with Dwayne.”
Dwayne Johnson plays George’s trainer and friend David Okoye. Davis rescued George from poachers as a baby.
“How do you rationalize the connection they have?” Peyton continued. “If you’re Dwayne and you rescue George as a baby, why would you stay with that animal? It being a very rare albino gorilla helped rationalize why he stayed and raised that gorilla and where that friendship came from. It worked on a story level and character level, and also just aesthetically it seemed really unique and interesting.”
Lizzie is now a giant alligator, distinguishing her from the bipedal lizards of cinema history.
“It wasn’t licensing as much as it was about doing something unique, just creatively,” Peyton said. “I love all those movies and I could just watch those movies. If I’m going to make a movie that has monsters in it, I want to do something different. That was part of the reason why the whole thing took place in the day. I’ve never seen a monster movie where the whole thing takes place in the day, minus one little sequence. That’s pretty cool. If I wanted to do Godzilla, I would just ask if I could do a Godzilla movie, but this was a different opportunity.”
Johnson became hype man for Weta Digital’s latest creatures for Rampage.
“They’re so incredibly ambitious to raise the bar with these monsters,” Johnson said in a press conference. “They were beholden to a mythology but they knew they had room to expand. The flying wolf that also threw the very sharp pins. The alligator that was just monstrous, the size of a football field. Also what was very cool was these monsters throughout the movie, they don’t stay one size. They actually continue to grow. So by the end of the movie, if you look closely, the alligator is the size of a football field and a half.”
George, Lizzie, and Ralph the wolf all ingested the chemical weapon developed by Claire Wyden (Malin Ackerman). Peyton took the science seriously.
“We spent a lot of time with geneticists talking about the pathogen and what DNA would go into it, my production designer and whole creature design team,” Peyton said. “We actually broke out how the pathogen would work, what DNA would be in it and how that would then affect creatures. We did that research so that we could actually find a grounded path into character design and creature design so that nobody would look at anything else that came before.”
Peyton is a movie nerd too, by his own admission. If a new creature is just a mashup of old ones, he can call it out just like anyone.
“I’m big into science fiction and fantasy,” Peyton said. “When I see a movie and I know that alien design really came from three other movies, it fucking drives me crazy, man. I want to avoid that pitfall so we went into it like how do you really figure out how you design your own creature? We had decided: gorilla, wolf, crocodile. That’s an easy decision. Now how do you get them to the monster stage? We went through this whole process on our own and that was completely to get away from everything else and make sure there was no chance of being overinfluenced by anything that pre-existed and this was going to be unique to this movie.”
Johnson is a fan of monster movies too. He even referenced Kaiju, but what was important to him was that Rampage have more than just cool monsters.
“There’s been a lot of great ones in the past, your King Kongs, your Godzillas, even Jurassic Park I include,” Johnson said. “So we just wanted to try and raise the bar maybe just a little bit, and anchor it in the relationship. What’s going to anchor this movie in heart and soul? That’s going to be a relationship between myself and my best friend. My best friend is a rare, gigantic, as you guys know, albino gorilla. We felt like if we were going to be able to nail that anchor, then we have a shot at making a movie that people really want to go on the ride with, but also more importantly I think, we had a shot at making a movie that kind of stood the test of time.”
Rampage opens April 13.