Tag Archives: Movies

Intro to My 2014 Movies Countdown

(Update: Added 4 movies to the list).

The year is coming to a close if you weren’t aware. So, as is tradition, it’s now time to look back on the last twelve months of life, recalling the highlights, analyzing the good and bad points, and looking forward to the next year. That’s what New Year’s is all about.

Many websites and blogs of my register take this time to make lists of their favorite movies of the year. I am following suit, but I would prefer not to limit it to one post. That’s what I always do.

Unlike other sites and dedicated movie bloggers, I haven’t seen nearly as many films this year. Reviewers who do this for a living have lived in the theaters and wouldn’t be able to rank every single film of a given year. But I can and I will.

During the month of January I will be discussing every movie I’ve seen from worst to best. Each post will be a quick run-down of what the movie is and what I thought of it. While they won’t be full reviews, they will encapsulate my overall feelings on the film.

So far and for the purposes of this series of posts, I have seen 32 movies in 2014. They are as follows (in the relative order of which I watched them):

  • The Legend of Hercules
  • Ride Along
  • Robocop
  • Noah
  • 300: Rise of an Empire
  • Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Neighbors
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Maleficent
  • Divergent
  • Godzilla
  • Blended
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Lucy
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Heaven Is For Real
  • 22 Jumpstreet
  • The Single Mom’s Club
  • Transformers 4: Age of Ultron
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Into the Storm
  • Behaving Badly
  • The Maze Runner
  • Annabelle
  • Interstellar
  • Top Five
  • The Interview
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Big Hero 6
  • Book of Life

However, I may also consider placing additional films in the mix if I see them on time.

I will tackle each movie one by one in scattered times of January. Hopefully I’ll be finished by February. I hope you’ll join me as I rank each of these movies from a great year of movie releases. Feel free to discuss the movies with me as I go along.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

The film industry had a very busy and important year in 2014. Major deaths, major hackings, and major headaches a plenty. However, from a quality standpoint, 2014 pulled through. With 2014 being one of the greatest years for major releases, 2015 may seem to be hard to beat. However, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming year.

That’s why I’d like to share some of the movies I’m looking forward to most this year. These are in no particular order:

Continue reading My Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies (800 & 900 View Special)

(Update: The plans for the 900 View Special have changed since this was published. I will explain it in my weekly update this Sunday. Merry Christmas until then!)

Took me long enough to get this out, right?

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year if you ask me. I hold Christmas particularly dear, and therefore uphold many family Christmas traditions at my house. There’s the standard stuff like church service, Christmas dinner, and decorating. But one of my favorite part of holiday may be the movies and specials.

From November through December, the family comes together to watch some films and programs tailor made for the holiday season. After all, it only makes sense to see them once time of the year, so why not exploit them when and while we can?

That’s why I wish to commemorate my favorite Christmas movies and share them with you guys. You only hit 800 and 900 views once, so why not?

By the way, yes your eyes don’t deceive you. Instead of my usual Top 5, I now bump it up to Top 10. Why? Because it’s Christmas, that’s why! I have two lists to make today. No, not naughty and nice, but 800 View Special and 900 View Special. (Click here if you don’t follow). So let’s start with movies and later I’ll get to Christmas specials and episodes.

One last thing, this is not the top 5; it’s my top 5. Feel free to disagree.


#10: Four Christmases

This film follows a couple played by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. Every year since they met they have escaped spending time with their families convincing them they’re off doing charity work when in fact they go on vacation. One year they’re caught on the News before boarding a plane to Fiji. With the cat out of the bag, they are forced to spend time with all four of their families in one day.

It’s a standard movie that can be very funny at times. I’ll be honest in saying I’m surprised this is on the list, but I can’t deny that I have a soft spot for it and can’t avoid it during the holidays. Vaughn and Witherspoon are a good comedy duo and do well in playing such a peculiar yet content couple.

#9: Jingle All The Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a workaholic father much to the dismay of his son. After missing his karate tournament, he promises his son he’ll make an effort to put him first. To prove it, he also promises to get him his most wanted toy, a Turbo Man action figure, for Christmas. He procrastinates and forgets to get the doll. Now it’s Chrsitmas Eve, and he finds himself on a witch-hunt for the most wanted toy in America.

Sounds corny, doesn’t it? Believe me, it’s not that bad. This is one of those movies that immediately puts me in the Christmas mood. It most certainly alludes to a situation we all come across at least once when shopping for presents- all the Tickle Me Elmo stories we know too well.

#8: The Santa Clause

Tima Allen is a divorced, workaholic father (déjà-vu) who has his son over for Christmas. That night they hear someone on the roof and go to investigate. Allen startles the intruder who falls off the roof (hint-hint: it’s Santa) When inspecting the body, a card in the coat pocket says to put on the suit and proceed to the sleigh. Allen arrives at the North Pole where he is told that he’s the new Santa, much to his dismay. A year passes by as Allen starts to change into a much fatter, jollier man than he once was.

I’m sure many have seen this movie already, but it bears repeating that this is one of the great ones. It’s an interesting take on the Santa story, and a warm-hearted tale for the holidays.

#7: The Polar Express

Hope you like Tom Hanks, because he’s all over this movie.

A young boy is having a dilemma. He is having trouble believing that Santa Clause is real. On Christmas Eve night, he hears and sees an express train coming down the street. He is greeted by a conductor who tells him this train will take him to the North Pole.

This is a mandatory movie for the holidays for me. You know it’s Christmas when this movie is playing. If you haven’t seen it yet, know that the animation is beautiful, the story is enthralling (especially considering it’s based off a 20 page children’s book), and the acting is great (since many of the characters are played by Hanks).

#6: Elf

Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human who was accidentally stolen by Santa as a baby and taken in by the elves. He finds out he is human as an adult, and searches for his father “in a magical land called New York City”. His father is a workaholic (who would’ve figured), but it’s up to Buddy to put his dad in the Christmas mood.

Thanks to Will Ferrell, this movie is a laugh riot. Many of the best jokes go over kids’ heads, so I think it’s best appreciated by adults and teens. With the film’s unique character acting as a foil for the blunt, drab world around him, it’s definitely worth looking at.

#5: Arthur Christmas

In the North Pole, Santa is getting up there in age, and has two sons: Steven and Arthur. Steven is the head of what is now a technological operation delivering toys on Christmas Eve, while Arthur is resides in the mail room answering and organizing children’s letters to Santa. One year, the operation accounted for all children except for one. News of this hits Arthur hard, so he and his grandfather (the former Santa) go to deliver the last present before the night ends.

This is a new age classic for sure. For one, you’ve got to love Arthur and his clumsy, kind-hearted, bumbly, and optimistic self. You also have to admire this take on Santa’s mythos. Sure a technological Santa operation has been done before, but I like the dynamic of old vs new which isn’t often covered. Plus, the narrative hit every note it attempts to perfectly, being a charming, funny, and climactic experience throughout.

#4: Rise of the Guardians

The story follows Jack Frost, a being with the power to cause ice and snow at a whim. He roams the earth for 300 years unable to be seen or heard because he’s not believed in. One day he is selected to be the newest Guardian. Guardians consist of all the holiday icons (Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Sandman) that work to protect the children of the world. Jack is called to help the Guardians fight off the Boogey Man who tries to instill fear into the world instead of good.

I’ve seen this movie a few times before, but it wasn’t until recently I fully appreciated how great this movie really is. I guess it technically isn’t a Christmas movie since it takes place around Easter, but it employs Christmas elements and has Santa. I think this is one of the smartest Christmas movies to come out in recent years. It houses a pretty heavy and detailed story and creates a mythos all its own. Certainly a watch for anyone this or any time of the year.

#3: Die Hard

Bruce Willis is a police officer who is visiting his divorced family for the holidays. His first stop is his ex-wife’s work. While he is there, the place is taken over by a group of terrorists lead by Alan Rickman. It’s up to him to stop this attack from the inside while getting some help from the outside with a fellow cop.

Okay there’s always someone who will argue that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie. I beg to differ. Any film taking place on Christmas is a Christmas film by default. That’s why I put one of the greatest 80’s action films of all-time on this list. The reason this isn’t higher, though, is because I tend to watch it other times of the year as well. In terms of Christmas movies, this isn’t as restricted as others on this list.

#2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

In a snowflake exists little being called Whos, who love the Christmas holiday more than anything. To the north of Whoville lives the Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, who despises Christmas with all of his being. He hates it so much that he attempts to steal it away. So he dresses up as Santa and steals every whos’ presents.

But you already knew that didn’t you? One of Dr. Seuss’ finest stories turned into a live action movie. Sounds like an awful idea initially. While I know some who hat this movie, I don’t. This is another must-see for me on Christmas. While it may be a little too risqué in comparison to the original book, I personally don’t mind the changes. I think it’s funny and entertaining for what it is, and should at least be seen once if you somehow haven’t yet.

#1: Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin, an 8-year old boy in a big family taking a Christmas vacation to Paris. The morning of the trip, the whole house sleeps in, leaving Kevin at home by mistake. Kevin must now fend for himself until his parents return. It won’t be easy though, because two burglars are attempting to rob the house while Kevin is in it. Can Kevin survive being on his own while fending off the “wet bandits”?

When I think of a Christmas classic movie, this comes to mind immediately. What’s not to like about Home Alone? It’s funny, well-acted, clever, and has Joe Pesci trying to censor himself during the famous house trap scenes. Recommended without reservation!


These are ten of my favorite Christmas movies. If you get a chance this holiday season, try to catch these when they come on. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite Christmas films. I love to hear recommendations, so fire away!

Click here for My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Specials and Episodes.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

SBox Recommends: Pikmin Short Movies

The movie industry nowadays is filled to the brim with adaptations, remakes, and sequels. Hollywood has left not a single stone unturned when it comes to potential adaptation sources. For the most part these movies based on books, TV shows, cartoons, comics, and toys have been incredibly successful. However, it’s been an unfortunate habit of movies based on video games not turning out all that well.

Even though some are able to reach financial success, rarely do they achieve critical success. Negative critical reception quickly becomes word of mouth, and word of mouth discourages moviegoers to see the film, which often causes these movies to be flops. Even Nintendo with a name as huge as Mario couldn’t translate to the big screen.

They say if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Perhaps this phrase could be applied to Pikmin Short Movies.

Release via the Nintendo eShop on 3DS and Wii U, Pikmin Short Movies is a collection of CG animated shorts lasting a grand total of 22 minutes. It was distributed by Toho Cinemas and animated by Nintendo, with Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Pikmin) as executive producer. There are two versions of this collection: a 3D version for the 3DS and a HD version for the Wii U.

This $5 collection contains 3 short films based on one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. Sounds like an incredible deal, but is it truly worth the investment?


Synopsis

There are 3 shorts to this collection. I will not tell you the entirety of what happens within each short in case you want to watch these for yourself.

The first is called “The Night Juicer” and is a little under 2 minutes long. It starts off with a title sequence and then shows three pikmin (one blue, one red, and one yellow) walking in on Olimar, who is blending a mysterious red beverage. Although, the red pikmin begins to wonder what exactly is in that shake.

The second is called “Treasure in a Bottle” and clocks in at 8 minutes long. Here we see a red pikmin walking around until it finds a big bottle. Inside the bottle is a mysterious blue orb. Curious, it finds a way into the bottle where he accidentally gets stuck. It’s up to three passerby pikmin to help their friend get out of the bottle.

The third and last in the collection is called “Occupational Hazards”, lasting 12 minutes. Here Olimar is directing the Pikmin as they repair a broken excavator. While trying to find parts, the pikmin awaken a fiery blowhog and soon a bulborb. Will they survive to see the sun shine on this cloudy day?

That’s really it in terms of story. Again, these are shorts, so there isn’t much of a cohesive narrative.

Writing

But for what it’s worth, I really do enjoy the writing. There is no dialogue throughout the shorts, yet the delivery and cartoony wit of these characters speaks much louder than words ever could. I really do like the Pikmin. They’re not just cute little things with buds on their heads as you nay think. The red pikmin are curious, blue are kind of slow, yellow are extreme, white have huge tempers, and purple… well I guess they’re just big. Olimar lacks much personality, but he serves his purpose as the captain. (I do realize in the games he has more personality).

Every situation in the shorts was enjoyable. While the first film can be seen as too short, made even worse by the fact that most of it was shown in the trailer, I feel on its own merit it was funny. Clever how they start making Olimar seem to be blending Pikmin. The second one was also good. While I still don’t know what that blue orb thing was, it was fun to see how he got in the bottle. I also admired the means of communication presented in these shorts. The third to me was the main selling point of the collection. Because it was longer and resembled the games much closer, it shines that much brighter. Plenty of good gags in there to make you smirk a bit, too.

Animation/Effects

But what stands out the most with these films is how beautiful they are. The animation is incredible, especially in HD. I believe that the vibrant colors, shadings, and real-to-life lighting effects rivals the likes of Dreamworks and Pixar. Frames of animation are also incredibly smooth.

While I realize Pikmin doesn’t take place on Earth, the forested features look close enough to actually walking through part of a rain forest. The amount of detail in the scenery is something to be admired.

The least I can say to praise the animation is that it looks just like how a Pikmin game should look.

Music for these shorts are also very pleasing to the ear. Again, just like a Pikmin game. The score consists mostly of piano, drums and brass instruments mixed with soft synthesized sounds. The music plays a heavy task of setting the mood in place of the mute characters, and it accomplishes that well. It’s orchestrated in such a way that it practically acts like the shorts’ storyteller.

Overall

All in all, Pikmin Short Movies is a fantastic collection which I believe is worth anyone’s time, especially if you’re a fan of the Pikmin series. It’s perfectly entertaining with its fun, lighthearted storytelling and beautiful visuals. Just being able to see this on an HD screen is worth the price alone.

Well done Nintendo. If you wanted to, you’d make a great animation company in the future.

Recommendations

This comes highly recommended if you have the means. If you have a Wii U or 3DS and have at least minimal knowledge of what Pikmin is about, you should check this out. This will probably be best appreciated by fans of the Pikmin games. This will also do fine for most children between 4 and 10. Animation enthusiasts will definitely find something to love about these shorts. To any others, it’s still worth a shot if you stumble upon it. It probably won’t blow your mind if you don’t know anything about Pikmin.

Verdict: 8/10


Of course, perhaps you’ve already seen the Pikmin Short Movies. Did you like these shorts as much as I did? Is there anything I left out? Leave a comment letting me know  so we can discuss this together. Also let me know if you enjoyed this review and what I can do to improve future ones.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

My Top 5 Favorite Movies (500 View Special)

For almost a century, the motion picture has become a powerhouse of the entertainment industry. For all, a movie is an extremely popular and respected form of art. For some, watching a movie is a fun little pastime. For others, a film is an experience. For others still, its an activity they do every so often to pass the time. For me, it’s much more.

People watch their first movie in near instants after we exit the hospital from birth. What starts out as an enigma in a big black box that we can stare into would become a go-to activity for me. In my family, gathering around and watching a movie is our version of family bonding time. It’s always common to see movies where we are. Hell, we have 3 large bookshelves filled to the brim with DVD’s, Blu-Rays and VHS’s. It’s never exactly been just a hobby with us or for me. It’s the glue that brings us together. That’s why I have such a passion for film and owe a lot to the artform.

I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time. So many films of so many genres, eras, and qualities. And that’s why I want to count down my personal top 5 favorite films of all-time. This will be in commemoration of my 500th view which occurred Sunday afternoon. This will be a hard list to make, but I’ll try. So sit back and enjoy as I list them off. Continue reading My Top 5 Favorite Movies (500 View Special)

SBox Recommends: Behaving Badly

Welcome to the my first WordPress review!

Foreword: (Skip to the review below the line)

I’ve been reviewing movies, games, books, and just about anything else for several years on several sites. It was always called “SBox Recommends”. I haven’t reviewed anything for almost a year now, but I believe now is the time to resurrect that aspect of my on-life. So I give you my review segment.

Note that despite the title “SBox Recommends“, I will not necessarily be recommending everything I review. “Recommends” is a blanket term for review. However, I do believe that everything can mean anything to anybody. So I guess that recommends is a fitting title. Just not in the context that you’d immediately think.

For more information on this segment of my blog, click here. Now, onto the review.


 

When I decided to start reviewing again there were two ways to go about this. Either I start reviewing something heavily known and popular or something rather obscure and weird. I decided that the only way I’m watching this movie is to review it. It certainly wouldn’t be from word of mouth, let me tell you.

Never heard of Behaving Badly? You’re in good company. This movie was released in August 2014 with a limited theatricality release and an immediate online release. It’s also based on the famous book While I’m Dead, Feed the Dog. This movie’s biggest call to fame is for it’s 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (To make matters worse, Rotten Tomatoes is known to have a 1% margin of error).

It’s pretty clear that people aren’t very fond of this movie. But is all this hate warranted? Let’s take a look.

Synopsis

This movie follows a dysfunctional teenage boy named Rick Stevens (Nat Wolff) as he looks back on his two week descent into a living hell. It all started with a bet he made with the son of a notorious mob boss. For $1,000 he must ask out his high school crush, Nina Pennington (Selena Gomez), and have sex with her. To do this, he must receive help from a guardian angel who looks like his mother (Mary-Louise Parker), get intertwined with the local mafia, blackmail a couple people, run a strip club in his house, end up in jail a couple times, and have sex with his best friend’s mother (Elisabeth Shue) on the side.

If you think that synopsis is weird, trust me. The movie is even weirder. I want you to imagine the exact equilibrium between a normal dream and a night-terror; that unexplainable, nonsensical, unpleasant thought. That’s most of the movie.

A more fitting comparison is with Grown Ups 2. Both movies have an unrealistic, dysfunctional, cartoony tone with jokes usually pertaining to sex, drugs, or barf. Where these two break their similarity is in direction. Grown Ups 2 has direction and Behaving Badly does not.

Writing

It’s hard to put this movie into a genre, because it seems lost as to what it’s trying to be. The best bet is a dark comedy, but the movie is constantly walking the line between comedic and straight-forward. So, you really can’t tell what your watching.

Let’s assume for the time being that this is a dark comedy like the book it’s based on.

You’ll find that the movie can be funny at times. When they playback a scene with different dialogue to represent Rick’s train of thought, that’s clever. Even some of its actual jokes can get a laugh. Unfortunately, most of the jokes come off more disturbing than funny. Unless you’re into the kind of humor where a pervert likes the feeling of his genitals being crushed by Elizabeth Shue, the movie can be a bit too much at times.

The movie isn’t necessarily unfunny. It’s just a bit much even for people who like that kind of humor. Since the movie is very light on subtlety for the first two-thirds you’re just constantly hammered with gags that are likely to scare you off.

Don’t get me wrong. I can handle dark humor and toilet humor. South Park is one of my favorite shows. Even for me, the movie can be a bit too uncomfortable… at least at first.

What I found surprising was the final 20 minutes of the movie. The final act brings us back to present day. Rick has hit rock bottom and is deciding where he goes from there. He tries to correct his wrongs and better himself in the process. It is almost a different movie from that point on. That loud and disturbing film suddenly becomes more somber, subtle and intimate.

It’s like you were drunk for the first two acts and sobered up in the third. I really do wish the movie had a tone similar to the climax onward. What the ending did right was maintain its nonsensical atmosphere and portion it (By the way, I’m not talking about the VERY end).

The best way to say it is that the ending had charm. That’s what the rest of the movie lacked in my opinion. With these very uncomfortable, passe themes and jokes you should have a bit of charm to pull the audience in and make them want to stay. Too bad it took them an hour to do so.

Acting

The acting is a bright spot for the film. Say all you want about what was said or done in the movie, but the actors make the movie.

First you have Nat Wolff, who you may know best from Nickelodeon. Irony aside he is probably the best fit for this character. At first glance the performance seems wooden and lifeless, but I think that’s the point. Rick is supposed to be a desensitized character brought up by a crappy series of events. He is really good at showing just the right amount of emotion that makes sense for the character. That said, he is completely able to portray emotions like shock, happiness, and even sadness. Toward the end, you see Rick showing the first real signs of emotion, and it makes sense for that time in the narrative.

Unless the character was supposed to be livelier or emotional. In which case, I guess he didn’t do a good job, but did supply a decent alternative.

Then there’s Selena Gomez. She is completely fine in terms of performance. The problem is the character she’s portraying. Nina is the only character who is actually sane but overly so. She’s the pretty, religious, down-to-earth, nice girl who’s purpose is merely to be a contrast to the world around her and the center of the entire plot. The character is just uninteresting. Had the character had a bit more personality, then Gomez would have more to work with. But she does good with what she’s given.

Mary Louise-Parker also does a good job. I’m not familiar with her work and have nothing to base it on, but I do know that for both the role of Rick’s drunkard mother and guardian angel, she does a great job.

I am also not too familiar with Elisabeth Shue’s work, but she plays a really big part in this movie and does well in it. She plays Rick’s mother’s best friend who also happens to be the mother of his best friend. And she has a thing for Nat Wolff. Such an odd role to play, and she really owns the role. As insane of a human being the character is, she is memorable.

The supporting cast also does a good job in their respective roles. The friend does a good job, so does the mob boss’s son, the priest, the sister, the brother, the principal, etc. You will notice quite a few actors who you may know from other roles. Even Justin Beiber makes a cameo in the movie that lasts four seconds.

Cinematography

You can also commend the cinematography. Nothing about the movie looks choppy or cheap.

The camera work captures everything it has to. You get these really good shots of the town they are in. For example, the movie starts off speeding down the neighborhood where Rick lives, and that looks nice. The camera work is also commendable in scenes where the world freezes around Rick. You have very smooth and natural motions as Rick surveys the scene.

The editing is quick but not too quick. It knows when to let a scene breathe, but it will go fast and cut quickly when its time for something comedic. The cutaways between an event to his fantasy of Nina is one example. The editing actually does make some scenes funnier than they would otherwise be.

The music is mostly pop and some rock songs. There’s not much to note here in terms of a score, though.

Overall, it has traditional fair-budgeted production value throughout.

Overall

This is most certainly a bad movie. No doubt about it. However is it really worth that 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

I wouldn’t go that far. If the movie was really worth a 0% not only would it have given me a horrific parasite which would painfully haunt the rest of my days, but it would also have no redeeming factors. That’s just not true.

This movie has decent production value, good performances and decent humor in some places. Given that much worse movies like The Last Airbender have a 6% on RT, I feel the 0% is over-exaggerated. However the movie is quite awful.

The movie’s greatest sin is being a bad comedy. It tries so hard to be a smart, hard-R laugh riot- way too hard. What probably would be a clever dark comedy like the book it’s based on turns into an uncomfortable, unpleasant experience. Even if you love that fresh and disgusting humor, the jokes presented lack the charm to be impactful. The most accurate adjective for the film is “uncomfortable”.

To its credit it eventually gets it right towards the end. But by that time a good bunch of the audience has probably turned the movie off.

Recommendations

This movie is probably suitable to some people with some very twisted senses of humor and a higher tolerance for the more disturbing aspects of this movie. I have seen that some people actually like the movie okay, though they are the minority.

To fans of the original book, don’t expect an accurate representation of the source material. Writer of While I’m Dead, Feed the Dog Ric Browde has publicly denounced the movie for faithlessness to his book. Even though I haven’t read the book, I have read his site’s content. Check it out, because it is very funny.

If you are in any way interested in the synopsis, curiosity can be a good motivation to see it. It’s not the worst comedy ever, but it is pretty bad. See it only if you absolutely need to know. Even low expectations can’t guarantee enjoyment, though.

Verdict: 3/10


 

Thank you all for reading my first WordPress review. I must say, it’s good to be back. Let me know what you thought of the review so that I can improve future ones. And if you saw the movie, what did you think about it?

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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!