Sbox Soapbox: The Future of Video Game Movies

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It is abundantly clear that video games and films are phenomenal on their own, but horrible together. Between the mindless Resident Evil movies, the dull Alone in the Dark movie, and just the Super Mario Bros movie in general, these types of adaptions don’t have a good track record. Every now and then you get a decent or good one, like Mortal Kombat or Pokemon, but they aren’t too common.

But that doesn’t stop Hollywood from trying anyway, with a slew of game-to-movie adaptions on the way for years to come. To our surprise though, these movies are actually starting to look and sound good. Even if we don’t have much of an idea of how it will be, we still get excited for these movies just in the hope that it will be decent.

There are currently 21 planned productions of video game films. These include reboots of already-existing films like Mortal Kombat, Agent 47 and Tomb Raider, CG animated films like Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper, live-action films like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed, and oddball choices like Angry Birds and Minecraft.

Can these movies be good? Is the world finally ready for video game films to be great? Is it even possible to have a great movie based on a game?

Well one thing to consider is what makes these films bad to begin with. The two most common complaints of these movies are that it failed to be a good movie or that it failed to represent the game. There are films like Tekken (which I actually like) and Resident Evil that took liberties with the source material to the point where it was unfavorable to fans, but could please some movie-goers. Then there are films like DOA: Dead or Alive and Bloodrayne that failed because the film itself was bad.

I think that hope for game movies were restored by Wreck-It Ralph. It was a big movie with a big name like Disney, featured actual video game characters, and captured the essence of what makes video games great while also telling a good story. What that film did right was understanding gaming, treating it with respect, and being general. It’s a great movie that got a lot of gamers gain hope once again for these adaptions.

But what’s different now from back then? Why have hope for these projects when so many others failed?

Well I believe that the change in attitude coincides with a change in gaming. Let’s compare Super Mario Bros with Assassin’s Creed. Not the actual games, but more the time both games were introduced. Games have come a long way from 1985 to 2007. For one, the way games tell stories takes a more cinematic approach now that wasn’t that common in the 80’s and even early 90’s. Super Mario Bros for example has a very weak story of two plumbers fighting a koopa to save a princess. There wasn’t much potential from the get-go. With Assassin’s Creed, you have a deep storyline told through easily recreatable cutscenes. There is a bunch more hope in one project from the other.

I’m not saying you can never make a game like Mario into a good movie. Japan already beat us to that with The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach, and there were a whole bunch more reasons our Mario movie was terrible. However, you can’t deny that games nowadays have more cinematic potential.

Not to say that these movies are guaranteed successes though. Max Payne, Hitman and Silent Hill also came from games with good stories that ended up bad movies. However, I’ll refer back to Wreck-It Ralph and say that the way filmmakers view video game movies can be forever changed. With that film’s success and popularity they can see what works and apply it to their projects. We are already seeing with the trailers for Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank that they are already taking lessons. So far it looks like those films will take their source more seriously.

But there is one other issue that may be difficult to tackle. Like I said, video games are taking more cinematic approaches to story-telling. How are these movies going to top these stories that are already renowned as they are? You have projects like The Last of Us and Metal Gear Solid that are considered the some of the best stories in gaming. On their own they can be films. It’ll be interesting to see how Hollywood attempts to build on these already existing stories when they are already well-told as they are.

Overall, I think that there is reason to have hope for movies based on video games. With how games are now, we are probably on the cusp of the first great game movie, but there is still reason for concern. We’ve been wrong about this before. Who knows where it’ll go from here, but we can only hope that direction is up.

What do you guys think? Are game movies just bound to be terrible no matter what, or is there a ray of hope somewhere that film and games can be one? Are you excited for any upcoming video game movie?

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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