Video Game movies from plastic pad to silver screen. Great idea or hideous sacrilege?

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Posted by broskboy (7 posts) -

First off I will give a small run down on the lay out on any blog that handles such discussions in a self argumentative way. As the title would suggest I am here to make the case for and against the idea of our sacred and beloved art form becoming embraced by mainstream media. So should we encourage the development of movies inspired by popular video games? Even if we asked Hollywood to stop pilfering our loved hobby for quick and easy profit, its a fat chance they will listen. After all the games industry dwarfs the movie and music industry by quite a substantial amount. So why wouldn't movie producers want a bite?

The Against Argument

Here i will summarize exactly why the big screen needs to leave my games alone..for good.

Superior media

Lets get this straight video games aren't just art....they are the practically the result of ALL art. A fan of sketch work or painting? Well the developers probably hired a free hand artist to realize the concept of their world and characters before coding them. How about a lover of music? Its a certainty that probably the most original pieces in media these days are probably the soundtrack to some of the most popular video games. Is writing your bag? Well every game has to have a completely comprehensive original and engaging story bored. In fact these days it will probably have multiple endings, multiple beginnings and even reactive dialog paths depending on the players decisions. No matter what art form you favor, the games industry has probably used it somewhere along the line to realize their vision. This is precisely the problem with the conversion of a game to a movie. Your taking something that engages a person very interactively and turning it into a ride on a track. In a game the story is paced at YOUR leisure, the characters live or die by YOUR skill. In a film you have no control over what happens. Lets take a video game hero who has been adapted to film quite a lot, none other than the legend Lara croft. In a game like this there are puzzles and lots of them you have to actually use your brain to solve the problem or else nothing progresses, in the movie you simple watch Angelina Jolie read some Latin and push a button. As a story telling medium games are far superior in the sense that, you are inside the art interpreting it how you want to. Why then would you take something interactive,moving,reward based and turn it into a glorified museum tour of frames? I cant think why.

The examples

Street Fighter, Doom, Mortal Kombat Annihilation and of course the dreaded.. Super Mario Bros. So far there are very few occasions that get it right and far too many examples that get it hideously wrong such as the examples listed above. I am pretty confident i know the reason for this assault on the senses that these "films" are. Its all to do with seeing a marketable opportunity vs caring about the source material. Movie producers have understood for a while now that video games are money printers. These of course means that Hollywood would like to cash in on the prize cow. The problem is nobody seems to actually care about the games themselves. a perfect example is the Super mario Bros movie. First off why would you pick such a game to base a film on, there practically is no story to begin with. Don't get me wrong i love the games but its story isn't what attracts me. What attracts me is the Arcade like challenge of completing the well designed platform levels. The real reason this "film" was made is because Mario is probably one of the biggest money generators Nintendo has ever thrown in the gaming arena. If movie makers bothered to look at the critically acclaimed games instead of the most played popular ones we might have had better films to watch. The last of us, The uncharted series, The Witcher, Bioshock. These titles would make unbelievable movies infact Netflix seem to have picked up the slack where the Witcher is concerned. Valuing the source material and respecting the minds that created these characters and these worlds is far more valuable in the long run than these cash grab marketing schemes to grab onto the tail of the next gaming fad in hopes it will lead to profit.

Cultural growth

Right now there is a revolution going on in the geeky world. Lets face it video game freaks weren't exactly social butterflies in the early birth pains of the art form. But slowly and surely gaming has punched its way to the top of popular culture and even professional competition. Musicians are writing and producing songs for game soundtracks, celebrities are making cameos inside our favorite games with the awesome power of motion capture technology, Youtube creators are building entire lively hoods around the pass time and some games are so detailed that people are willing to give real currency for virtual items. The growth of the popularity of video games is staggering and with site like youtube and twitch shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

The For Argument

In this section of the argument i will be arguing for making video games into movies and all the pit falls that need to be carefully outmaneuvered for success.

Mainstream Variance.

Lets face it we love super hero movies but their are a few too many now. Holly wood seems to be starving for new and interesting stories to tell with the big screen. So much so that the only thing people seem to want to watch is Chris Hemsworth take his shirt off. Games could be the creative gold mine to reinvigorate cinema and bring about a new golden age of Hollywood. Talented directors are a dying breed Tarentino, Riddley Scott, Peter jackson The list barely goes on. New and interesting stories could give movies the jump start its needed since we all entered the super hero coma. Stories from games like Dishonoured, Metal gear solid and red dead redemption could bring back Weird fantasy action adventure, Spy movies, westerns! Old concepts done in new and interesting ways with the support of probably the most active consumer community on the planet.

Large Market

Now we have to talk about the dirty part. The money. Of course i kid, but seriously this could spread wealth around.. like a lot. With the Video games industry worth up to 90 billion u.s dollars there is potential to poor that success into making going to the cinema interesting again. The Market is already there waiting for the right director and production team to get it right for once. With the Movies access to the older audience of mainstream entertainment and the emerging success of the video game industry, we could be looking at two industries creating a thriving economy through support of one another which will in turn create work and opportunity for a lot of people.

Opportunity for new on screen talent

Lets face it Actors are recognizable they are actors after all. But the current talent is type cast and a little older these days. The new and interesting stories could be performed by new blood perhaps by people of the generation who actually care about giving dignity to the games they are acting out.

Final Verdict

The history of this en-devour is rife with failure. But and there is a big BUT! Under the right conditions and the right talent and guidance there are games that could be the making of a box office record smasher. This is an entire community begging Hollywood to listen to them so they can succeed and get it right! We want a last of us movie and by god we want a series of 40k war hammer movies preferably directed by Ridley Scott. To all aspiring movie makers who think it cant be done i say NAY i can be done but only if you seek a brilliant, loyal to the source MATERIAL!! product and not seek a big fat number on your check book...that will come later after you have created something worth being payed for.


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#1 Posted by joshyjess (51 posts) -

Until they actually get it right, it's hard to be supportive of the trash that they have presented us so far. I totally agree that the possibility of a great movie is there, but that they aren't willing to put the effort in to make it. For the most part they simply get some big star to promote theses types of movies, and hope to make some quick money.

I'm trying to think of some (an) example of a game that was successfully turned into a movie, and I'm having trouble thinking of one. Probably the best movie that is based on a video game is Wreck it Ralph, and that technically isn't really based on a video game, rather a bunch generic like old games (with a few actual classic games thrown in).

I think the worst video game movie I've ever seen has to be Doom. Again, they grabbed a famous star - the Rock, stuck him in a movie based on a popular game, and went for the quick money grab. That movie was so bad it hurts just thinking about it. So, unless they stop with these quick money grabbing projects, and put some actual time and work into such a movie, I just don't have any high hopes for the future of these kinds of movies.

Would I like to seem some good movies based on popular games - sure. Do I think it's going to happen? - not so much.

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#2 Edited by Jackamomo (2156 posts) -

I like Mario Bros 3 because it has good animatronics and performances. Here is the doco. It's probably the best video game to movie ever made in terms of working as a film as a separate entity in it's own right.

The source material of games is thin at best so the movies will be thin without inventing a load of new stuff around the central characters and environments.

Games are about bouncing around and shooting so don't usually make good stories. If there is a story (kind of) like Uncharted, you are painted into a corner by the lazy writing of Lazy Dog where your main character is primarily a haircut.

Do not make a film based on a game unless that game has a compelling narrative to begin with. Square Enix games are a no no. Haircuts and attitudes a compelling narrative, do not make.

The Warcraft film by Peter Jackson was it? The effort just wasn't there. You need talented script writers to create something bold and new because you know the story already and to be entertained you need to be surprised.

The Longest Journey and Syberia are way more interesting themes for films. But films usually don't take lesser know games as they would not add any value over a more well known game that might just be Doom or something for familiarity with your audience.

The Mortal Kombat movie was always going to be dumb. The game was clearly based on Game of Death but gone full circle so to make the film based on the game based on the film is just too many steps of abstraction.

I mean they could use Need For Speed games as a backdrop for a Fast and Furious movie, but that idea didn't need a game for a setting. It's just about stealing cars, but would have worked as NFS movies.

Street Fighter films, based on games, then games based on films all just seem completely pointless and lack meaningful direction.

The writing in The Witcher and The Last of Us is poor. When you try to make a game based on a game which already has literary pretentions you are only going to be stunted in where you can go with it by having to stick to the thin characters and stories you had to begin with unless you have the bravery or agency to take the plot in new directions.

I think a game like Golden Axe successfully takes influence from movies like Conan because a film has the freedom to create a new story which can be inspirational and serve as a starting point for creativity in other mediums. Likewise other pure storytelling mediums such as comics can spawn work in other mediums like games.

Alot of games are taken from comics or animation successfully and I'm thinking about Quartet on the Master System, for some reason.

A game shouldn't be based on a movie too specifically as you could just get something churned out like the 16 bit Bram Stokers Dracula games where the developers are not inspired by the material and are just going through the motions.

The Space Chimps game on PS2 is an example of a game being better than the movie but as a game, you need the freedom to ignore the movie and understand you are a game and a movie based on a game would need the same freedom to stray from the plot to work as a movie.

Alien 3 (Genesis) shows how a game can be successful in itself and convey atmosphere and include gameplay based on a film but it takes serious liberties with the source material to achieve it in this case.

In short, a crossover in either direction is far more difficult than just making a film or game from scratch without having to conform to limitations that may not initially suit that medium.

TLDR: what the previous poster said.

But I think games like new Tomb Raider and Uncharted need to stay away from turning into movies, with linear progression and scripted events that take control away from you.

Games need to tell their story through your interaction with it's world and when you try to combine watching a set piece with something you are supposed to be controlling, you get 'movie games' which fall short of being good movies or games.

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#3 Posted by joshyjess (51 posts) -

On a side note, I give Netflix credit for trying something different in the Black Mirror movie / series (I guess it's based on the Black Mirror games??). Being able actually make choices in the movie is definitely taking the genre in a different direction, unfortunately, I just didn't care for the actual story they came up with (I do think I like the idea though).

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#4 Posted by Jackamomo (2156 posts) -

@joshyjess: If it's Charlie Brooker I disapprove. That man cannot write fiction. He is only capable of being sarcastic and cynical. I grew out of him. Also Chris Morris.

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#5 Edited by Jackamomo (2156 posts) -

joshyjess On a side note, I give Netflix credit for trying something different in the Black Mirror movie / series (I guess it's based on the Black Mirror games??)

I think you mean Mirror's Edge game and no, the Charlie Brooker miniseries about little people trapped in computers is called Black Mirror has nothing to do with Mirrors Edge the game.

Being able actually make choices in the movie is definitely taking the genre in a different direction, unfortunately, I just didn't care for the actual story they came up with (I do think I like the idea though).

Charlie Brooker, who wrote Black Mirror started his career as a games journalist and also presented a gamer review program for a bit in his inimitable wry style. Charlie Brooker's Game Wipe.

He wrote on comedian Chis Morris's satirical news sketch program The Day Today as well as appeared in Brass Eye although he can't act.

So it would make sense he would try to combine the two genres. How did it work? Was it using the tv remote?

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#6 Posted by Raining51 (1145 posts) -

Sar sacrilege because of how badly they are done...

I don't know about the future though, you never know.

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#7 Posted by LinvuS (8 posts) -

Kinda yes