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5 Reasons Videogame Movies are Terrible

yellowgerbil | 324d ago
User blog

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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Chaostar  +   324d 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.
yellowgerbil  +   323d 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.
Chaostar  +   323d 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-1020  +   323d 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.
pyramidshead  +   323d 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.
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ZombieKiller  +   321d 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.
Picnic  +   317d 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.
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sweetSWAGGER  +   323d 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.
yellowgerbil  +   323d 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.
CrossingEden  +   323d ago
The problem also lies in the fact that video game storytelling is LEAGUES behind the film industry.
e-p-ayeaH  +   323d ago
A good script, direction and dedication can make good stuff happen.
yellowgerbil  +   323d 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.
Garethvk  +   323d 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-ayeaH  +   323d ago
The DOOM movie had alot of potential but it wasnt that bad.
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smashcrashbash  +   323d ago
Well the people who make game movies don't take them seriously.I mean I remember someone saying the Rock would make a good Kratos simply because he has a bald head. You see they think like ignorant gamers.If ask you most people what Kratos is they will claim that he is 'a savage person with anger management issues who rages for no reason at all.'However a smart person will see a leader,a father, a son of Zeus who was tormented, tortured, abandoned and in desperation to pay back the gods back for the wrongs the evil Gods committed against him. But they will go with the first one instead and make another CG fueled movie with some crappy actor swiping at CG monsters and vomiting up incoherent lines.And then people will claim 'See I knew it would suck'.

And I am certain if they did Uncharted they would make it more like a comedy because like the ignorant gamers they just think Drake is just a goofball who plays around in serious situations not a gifted,educated young man who has lost his parents, has been on the streets since he was young, always in dangerous situations enduring pain and suffering to find the ultimate treasure with his surrogate father.You see it's not necessarily that many games don't translate well.It's just that the people who make the movies don't bother to dig deep enough to find the things that will make it work. They just scratch the surface and go with that with no depth to be found.

Or they takes some mindless or low developed character and try to hard wire some sort of personality into them that makes no sense when they never had much of a personality in the first place.Sly Cooper and Ratchet have built up back stories and connections so they make sense.There is more then enough there to make an animated movie.Same thing with Mass Effect or Final Fantasy.But movie makers don't take game movies seriously.They just patch together something and hope that it takes off because it is based on a popular game.
s45gr32  +   323d ago
Prince of Persia was a good popcorn flick that captured the essence of the game. Silent Hill the first one was pretty damn good despite being based on a game. Sadly most games that try to bring excellent and amazing story lines either have little gameplay or is drown out by the spectacle or gameplay design of say games. Like Bioshock great story but it got drown out by the waves upon waves of enemies. To the moon great phenomenal story but very little game play. ......
Erudito87  +   323d ago
Reason 6- gearbox
Mouktouk  +   323d ago
I honestly can't understand why David Hayter can't have the right to do a video game movie while he-who-must-not-be-named can. I mean, his only existence pisses buckets of people off. He can't make any good video game adaptation, nor any good film.

How can anyone let him produce movies and not put him in jail for his crimes?

I remember when the Silent Hill movie released, gamers were saying it was a good adaptation, it was finally faithful to the original games, I can say it isn't. While it's maybe a good movie, has a good ambiance, the only presence of Pyramid Head is an aberration.

But still, the Silent Hill movie is still fairly enjoyable when you compare it to Silent Hill: Revelations........
DeadIIIRed  +   322d ago
I honestly think it's a tax-evasion scheme in Germany. He could care less about quality, just as long as they spend all the money "donated" to his company. Video games are easy targets because you have to pay for the license and the story is already mostly there.
MrChow666  +   319d ago
Silent hill was a succesful adaptation imo we need more vg movies with that quality level, or higher.
Also, Super Mario isnt the best example of videogames translating well or wrong into film, thats one of the most childish and bizarre-looking games, there are far more suitable games to be traslated to film, Mario would do well in a pixar style movie tho, just not live action...pls
_FantasmA_  +   318d ago
I agree and disagree with you Guile example. If character can look the part and speak with the correct accent, then using someone of the same race is not a problem. When it doesn't work (and this is the most common example of poor casting) is when a white person is chosen to play a Latino. Unless the actor speaks Spanish fluently and can fool Latinos with his looks, I don't understand why they can't hire a real Latino. I mean its not like there aren't tons of them LA and even more I'm sure there's tons of them looking for their big lead in LA.

Even though Scarface was a good movie, I feel Pacino was wrong for Tony Montana because his Spanish was horrible. The movie is supposed about a Cuban immigrant, not a Cuban American, and so therefore his Spanish should have been flawless. The white-spanish actor switch is the most common one. I mean an Asian actor couldn't pass of as Buffalo Bill in a movie. A black guy couldn't play Ghengis Khan either. Likewise, Harrison Ford should never play Che Guevara. Just hire a brown person, heck it would even be cheaper than paying some rich A list celeb to tan and speak butchered Spanish.

And yeah you're right about the old guys not understanding the games. But greedy developers give the okay to butcher the games by churning out whatever movie the director wants. Look at RE. Capcom got paid and didn't care about how crappy the movies were. I too prefer game movies to just be animated like the cutscenes in the games and to be made by the developers. They should hire some better writers though, because imagine a Gears of War movie made by Epic. It wouldn't be epic and instead it would like a lame 90s action straight to video home movie with Steven Seagall.
Picnic  +   317d ago
It might become the case in years to come that some major TV companies might make lavish television episodic programmes based on a few existing games when they know that both the audience is large enough to justify it (it arguably already is) and when they know that they can do justice to those games and to viewers in this format.
In this format, there will be more time to establish characters, build up drama and hope to build up TV figures regardless of whether the viewer was previously knowledgable of that game. I dare say they'd be most likely to choose games in which they can go for the 'crime' angle (or maybe the 'Western' angle). I can easily imagine Heavy Rain the TV series directed by someone like Sam Mendes but how dark it would be! (Dare I imagine Bioshock Infinite the movie directed by Terry Gilliam? Or Bioshock the movie directed by Ridley Scott. Perhaps some things are better left dreams- we already saw these things in as good a way as could be when we played the games and to do them sufficiently well would cost a huge amount of money with not enough time to savour the environments in a 2 hour film after all the storytelling).
#12 (Edited 317d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Tiqila  +   317d ago
the only reason movies based on games are bad is because half of them were made by Uwe Boll.

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