Why Video Game Movie Adaptations Dont Work, And Why They Will In The Near Future.
Most people should know about video game movies. They are notoriously bad. It seems that nobody has been able to break the code that is adapting a video game into a feature film. But the question is why?
Let’s start with the flaws of the current ones. The most prominent video game franchise that has become it’s own movie franchise is Resident Evil. It’s a series of action/horror films that revolve around Alice, a character created specifically for the movies, who does some things and then there’s an outbreak of a virus which, in each consecutive film, becomes more widespread until it is a global pandemic. I’ve watched two and a half Resident Evil films if that tells you anything. They just aren’t that great. For one, they are directed by notoriously lame action director Paul W.S Anderson, not to be confused with the sublime Paul Thomas Anderson of Boogie Nights fame. W.S loves his slo-mo action sequences, and for the most part they are fine, but the films plots are silly, and the reason for this is they are trying to incorporate the games characters in it too much. In each film, they add a new character or two from the game, so fans of the game will come to the film. The characters aren’t much like they are in the video game franchise. They are basically names planted onto already written characters. The main problem with this film series is that people are paying to see it for some reason and that allows the director to continually churn out a new installment every two years. It’s the same with Transformers and Fast and Furious (but I have heard that they are picking up good reviews now days. That being said, the sequel to 2013’s Fast and Furious 6 is releasing one year later, a short period of time to make a film, and will probably be evident in the final product). They earn the dough, and make a sequel to earn more dough. These films I don’t like to call films because they are more about the money than the film itself. Anyway, back on topic, Resident Evil fails because its churning out generic action sequels that don’t do any justice to the games, which are critical darlings.
Another more recent effort with a lot more mainstream buzz was Prince of Persia. Now, I didn’t mind Prince of Persia, but it wasn’t something I was eager to watch again. Gemma Arterton’s voice in that was the worst accent I’d ever heard and that basically ruined the film for me (Jake Gyllenhaal had a decent british accent for his role as the Prince). Basically it follows the Prince of Persia as he travels somewhere and finds the dagger of time (I think), which can basically reverse time as long as there is enough sand in the glass hilt. The problem that this film faced was that it was trying to replicate the moments in the game franchise. Many of the action shots were just moves straight from the video game. What didn’t help was the plot was a bit off as well. What I believe is the problem is that screenwriters feel obliged to make all these references to the game in there for fanfare but it ends up detracting from the overall product.
I could go on and list all the video game movies like Doom, Silent Hill, Mortal Kombat, and don’t get me started on Super Mario Brothers. I won’t because that doesn’t help anyone.
This will all change. Why is that? For one thing, Michael Fassbender. Michael Fassbender is adapting the acclaimed franchise Assassin’s Creed. He is producing as well as starrring. So why is his involvement going to make video game series good? Well, if you lookat his track record from 2011 onwards you will understand. He has been picking the best roles since his breakthrough into Hollywood in Xmen: First Class and the critical appraisal he garnered for the best role he’s ever done in Shame. So for one thing we’ll know that the acting in the film will be great. I hope that since he has been picking great roles this will be good. Only time will tell.
That isn’t the main reason why video game films will become great. It is because people are learning from the past 10 years of shit ones. C. Robert Cargill, the screenwriter for the upcoming Deus Ex adaptation is constantly making fans aware that he is aware of the trappings of the videogame film, and that he is writing a film based in a Cyberpunk world, rather than an adaptation of the game. The world of Deus Ex i so iconic that writing your own story in that universe will encompass itself as an adaptiation of the franchise.
The other thing is that Video game plots are becoming so much better. The Last of Us has a plot that is so moving and so real that it would be prime for a movie adaptation and in my opinion could potentially be part of the awards race if it was made. Other series like Uncharted are so cinematic themselves that a movie adaptation would be so fitting. Most video game films do not follow the story of a specific game, but rather make a story based on that world. With such good stories being produced in games right now, it seems that the videogame adaptation that will be the first to succeed will be one that uses the story of the game rather than create their own story. In terms of Deus Ex, he’s trying to make a Cyberpunk film rather than a video game film, so I think that is a reasonable exception, but I think the only way the video game movies will be good is if they keep to the source material.
Next up in videogame films, Need for Speed hits theatres in February and stars the hot actor of the moment Aaron Paul with a supporting cast of Imogen Poots (watch her in antyhing, she is awesome), Kid Cudi (from Tv’s How To Make It in America, not just rapper), Dominic Cooper (Captain America), Dakota Johnson (50 shades of… yeah, thats a shame) and the rebooting Michael Keaton, who will also be in Robocop coming out at about the same time.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention Duncan Jones, director of Moon and Source Code, is directing Warcraft. Could be good, could be bad, but one things for sure, it will make money. I’m confident it will do well.