- 12 November 2012
In theory, the video-game-to-movie transition should be smooth, seamless and awesome. Video games that become movies are usually plot-driven games, filled with kick-ass action sequences, mind-blowing kill moves and hot babes. Unfortunately, in practice, things don't go so well.
Missed the Mark
Games such as Prince of Persia, Max Payne and Doom are incredible to play, thought-provoking, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. The movies they turned into — to put it bluntly — sucked. They vaguely resembled their video-game roots and were filled mostly with boring exposition, lame action scenes and cheesy dialogue. Though a handful of games have been turned into box-office success stories (Hitman and the seemingly endless Resident Evil franchise come to mind), they rarely live up to fans' expectations.
Comic-book adaptations have been mostly successful. Watchmen, for example, was not only a box-office hit, it was a decent movie. So what does it take to turn video games into good movies? One tactic is to stay true to the game's origins. Read game reviews on a website like Gamefront.com, and you'll understand what makes these games so great. It's not always the gameplay or the graphics that make a great game; it's the back story and plot that add depth to the user experience, and that is what makes for a good adaptation.
Not Too Shabby
Tomb Raider is one adaptation that, for the most part, got it right. It definitely doesn't belong in any sort of hall of fame, but as far as video-game movies go, it did alright. The film didn't bother with a lot of heavy-handed explanation about what Lara Croft's purpose in life is, or how she came to be such an artifact-pilfering badass. It stuck fairly closely to the plot in the games, and there was plenty of game-based action sequences. And Angelina Jolie, who was perhaps created by a higher power to play Lara Croft.
Resident Evil is another adaptation that did some things well. The series may have gotten old after four installments —and counting — there are some things Hollywood should note for any and all future game movies. Although it is preferred that the original game plot is followed, Resident Evil is proof that isn't always the case. The series gets away with a new plot line by liberally sprinkling in game elements for fans, while creating an enjoyable action/sci-fi movie for the non-initiated.
Silent Hill is one of the better film adaptations. Though it's not as scary as the game itself, the movie kept a firm hold on the creepy, atmospheric, psychological-thriller aspects of the game. Silent Hill the game was already a very cinematic game, so the transition was less complicated.
Animated Can Work
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is another example on the list of the decent adaptations in regards to staying in-touch with the game's roots. Yes, it's animated, and yes, the premise is kind of corny, but for fans of the series, and even people who have never picked up a controller, the movie is not only really visually stimulating but genuinely enjoyable to watch. The dialogue and story line stay true to the game without descending into the realm of cheesy one-liners.
Some games out there could make truly incredible movies: Metal Gear Solid: the movie anyone? But the key is keeping true to the feel of the game and thinking of the fans first and other viewers second. Don't waste 20 minutes explaining why someone can shoot lasers out of their head, just show them blowing up a crate of dynamite with it.
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