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5 Reasons Videogame Movies are Terrible

I have been an avid gamer my whole life. Coming from a poorer family I was always one generation behind; got a Genesis when the PS1 came out etc... Because of this I actually started gaming on the Atari 2600. I have watched games progress and improve over 6 generations of gaming technology. What I haven't watched is movies based on games improve with time the same way.
Currently Hollywood can make books or even toys into watchable films, but they still fail to make compelling movies based off of games. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. They don't understand them

Making movies involves a lot of people in the creative process; directors, writers, producers, executives. These are people who are often older and not interested in games. They are interested in making movies and making money. They don't understand the source material and often don't even understand the culture surrounding games, because of this, terrible and nonsensical decisions get made.

In the movie adaptation of Street fighter there is a American soldier named Guile. All common sense would suggest that an American actor should be cast to portray him, but instead they decide to cast Belgium actor Jean Claude Van Damme to play the character. This is an actor who speaks with a very heavy accent.

In Mario Brothers the characters are supposed to be Italian brothers. In the movie instead the brothers are played by a British actor and a Colombian actor. Let's not even bring up the crazy choice to have Mario Bros set in the world of Blade Runner instead of cloud-bushes.

Further proof that the film industry doesn't understand nor really care about game adaptations are the times when obvious perfect decisions are turned down. The biggest one that has come to mind is David Hayter being turned down to write an adaptation of Metal Gear Solid. For those that have no idea who David Hayter is, he is the voice of Solid Snake from the games. No person in the world would be better qualified to write a story about Snake than the man himself. His writing credits include Xmen 1 and 2 and Watchmen.

2. Terrible directors helming them

Sometimes it goes beyond a simple lack of understanding by the filmmakers. A large percent of the worst game adaptations are helmed by one man, he who shall not be named. This man is responsible for terrible decisions like putting actual game footage into a game (House of the Dead), or casting Christian Slater in a lead in the 21st Century (Alone in the Dark). He is perfectly aware that everyone hates his movies, yet he keeps making them and he will beat the shit out of anyone who tries to stop him. There is something to say for his determination, I just wish that he was determined to make a good film.

Another prevalent game adaptation director is Paul W.S Anderson. He started off fairly decent. I consider both Mortal Kombat and the 1st Resident Evil to be guilty pleasures, not great movies but still very enjoyable. He doesn't seem to know when to quit though. He has released sequel after sequel to Resident Evil and the series lost its charm after the second installment.

3. The focus of the games

games are about either shooting or jumping for the most part. They are not about telling compelling stories. There are some recent games that have great stories such as Bioshock or Uncharted, but to date we haven't seen any of them in movie form. Instead we get movies based off games that their stories can be summed up in a sentence. Plumber fights to save a princess from a dinosaur. Or the countless movies based off fighting games (street fighter, DOA).

Movies are at the core about storytelling, they are meant to be watched. A game is interactive, it is about action and interacting with a world.

Games are paced in a way to make the experience last between 6 and 600 hours. Repetition plays into this a lot. To fill out the gaps between cutscenes and boss battles, we set about puzzle solving or fighting off hordes of bad guys. A movie is meant to last between 1.5hrs to 3hrs. That running time is focused on character development and a very linear A to B story arc. A person has a problem and by the end they find resolution.

4. Who they target

People seem to think that videogame movies need to be aimed at 14 year old boys. They lack story and deep characters and fill that void with stupidity. I can't think of a single videogame adaptation that could be called "smart". They are dumb popcorn movies, but they can't even get that right. Directors like Michael Bay make stupid popcorn movies but they know what their audience wants, apparently explosions and comic relief. Game adaptations seem to have no clear demographic that they cater to, they especially don't cater to gamers.

This has always seemed stupid to me. If you are making a movie you are putting a lot of money into it. You spend the money with the intention of making a product that will turn a profit. Most videogame movies don't turn a profit, instead they lose millions of dollars. The games that spawn the adaptations have an install base of millions of gamers. These are people you think the filmmakers would want to cater to. Instead they do things like make Mortal Kombat PG13 even though they know the audience flocked to the games for the uber-violence.

5. Games don't translate well

A plumber defeated little penis monsters by hopping on them and eats mushrooms to grow in size. As said in the title games don't translate well.

Between the worlds that they take place in, the enemies that are faced, the bosses that would be 10 stories high, and the weaponry used; games are unrealistic. A movie works by making the audience believe this could happen, or at least not be so out of the realm of possibility that it detracts from the experience. Games go out of their way to be crazy, they can get away with this by being interactive. Actually bouncing on a enemy to kill it seems more plausible than watching a film hero do the same.
Like all gamers I look towards the horizon eagerly awaiting the messiah, a game adaptation that will be truly good. That day has yet to come but the list of games out there that could serve as good source material has been on the incline. Maybe adaptations of games like Uncharted or Fallout will blow us away, or maybe they will just follow the trend of unwatchability of other game adaptations.

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Chaostar873d ago

Nice read.

Are there any movies based on games that are watchable? Off the top of my head I think the Prince of Persia movie wasn't completely unbearable. Also, although I'm not a fan myself, the Resident Evil movies seem to have a following.

Let's face it; until the themes, characters, plot-line, voice acting and animation mature in games, we're never gonna see Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Assassins Creed :)

I'm still naively hopeful for a Watchdogs movie (I believe it's in the works) and Sly Cooper. Animated adaptations tend to do a better job in this regard, see Pokemon.

yellowgerbil873d ago

both the fist resident evil, and first mortal kombat are pretty watchable but are far from GOOD movies.
The best movie to involve game characters would be Wreck it Ralph but that isn't an adaptation.

Chaostar873d ago

Absolutely.

Tron (the original) was also a great movie, although not directly based on a specific game. I thought it was worth mentioning as it's a movie that actually inspired a number of video games too.

lex-1020873d ago

I actually rather enjoyed the Prince of Persia movie. It wasn't a fantastic movie, but I felt it captured the spirit of Prince of Persia well. The climbing parkour,the dagger rewinding time, the ridiculous assassins. While it wasn't a fantastic movie it did capture the essence at least.

pyramidshead872d ago (Edited 872d ago )

What I personally don't get is why Vidja game films are ALWAYS live action and never just a nice long 1h30min extended cut scene with the original voice actors.

This would could cut out A LOT of the problems a director faces; with recreating the game world + the characters and applying new voices, which all 3, would upset the original fans of the games they cover.

There's always that awkward CGI + live action blend that never really meshes well and it ruins the immersion making it look cheap.

Depending on the visual style of the game, I think all video game movies should be done in amazingly detailed CGI with original voice actors, it makes too much sense.

Exhibit A:

Take the Resident Evil live actions films, watch all of those, then google the animated ones(Regeneration & Damnation). I think there's only two of them, but you'll be surprised at which style of film comes off more convincing.

ZombieKiller871d ago

I agree with you 100%

Some of these cut scenes in games are amazing! I always said that if they just use the actors and animation techniques of the in game scenes, they could make an amazing movie.

Sometimes I even wish that developers would try to release the game and movie around the same time. That way they can use all the mocap equipment and stuff too.
God of War's movie could REALLY benefit from this since it will be hard to find a suitable voice actor for the role. I'd say Metal Gear but 1) Hayter KIND of looks like Snake. and 2.) Doesn't matter now because it's Keiffer.

Picnic867d ago (Edited 867d ago )

The first Silent Hill film is about as decent as could reasonably be hoped for. Pyramid Head looks like Pyramid Head, the nurses look like the nurses. The effects are decently done.

Just a shame that Silent Hill 3's intracacies in terms of atmosphere / variety of locations were barely scraped in the sequel.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 867d ago
sweetSWAGGER873d ago

I don't think a film has to be necessarily realistic, we see stylized films that exaggerate things all the time. Directors like Quantin Tarantino (Django) and Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim) have made the kind of movies that you'd be forgiven for thinking they came from a cartoon or comic book. Like you said, it is a matter of believability.

Secondly, the first point is where we find the root of the problem. According to Kevin Fiege, the head of Marvel Studios, he had to deal with the traditional creative process. For some reason I can't find the quote, but basically, he said that, with Ant-Man, you'd hear questions like "what is that, is he half ant or something?"

If it weren't for Marvel Studios, The Avengers (hell, Captain America alone) would NEVER have happened. Perhaps we need some kind of video game equivalent to Marvel.

yellowgerbil873d ago

I agree with them needing a "Marvel" and the producer of a lot of Marvel movies Avi something, is supposedly trying to do that, can't remember what upcoming projects he's involved with. For now it is just a dream we have of seeing our favorite games get a proper adaptation.
And I loved the Scott Pilgrim movie, if the comic never existed and was based on the game maybe this article wouldn't of had a point.

CrossingEden873d ago

The problem also lies in the fact that video game storytelling is LEAGUES behind the film industry.

e-p-ayeaH873d ago

A good script, direction and dedication can make good stuff happen.

yellowgerbil873d ago

that type of statement is the same as saying Books are better than movies, there are always stories that truely excess as telling a story in the confines of its medium.
Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are 2 examples or extremely well crafted stories.

Garethvk873d ago

I have met Dr. Boll a few times and have interviewed him often. He is a very smart man and his recent dramas have shown that he can make good films. He was telling me how many times they get the rights to the names and a few characters and that is it. Case in point, Far Cry. He was told it cannot be a tropical island, mutants cannot look like the do in the game or have the same name. Plot cannot be close to any current or pending game. So he gets title and two characters only. He said that he does films like that as they do very well overseas and on DVD and the money raised allows him to make his better received films like Assault on Wall Street, Stoic, Rampage, and The Biography of Max Schmelling.

e-p-ayeaH873d ago (Edited 873d ago )

The DOOM movie had alot of potential but it wasnt that bad.

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