Video game movies are the bane of gamers. But as long as they continue to rake in heaps of cash, they won't be going away anytime soon. In fact, I dare say this trend of ruining incredible game franchises with poorly adapted films created by filmmakers who don't know anything about the series they're adapting is something that's only going to become more prominent.
By now, I'm sure most of us have had to watch in horror as one of our favorite video games got adapted into a film that, more often than not, didn't resemble the game at all. The series that's had the most success in Hollywood so far is Resident Evil, with films that have managed to make more money with each new installment. Unfortunately, with each new movie, the series also breaks further from what Resident Evil's all about. Despite borrowing heavily from Resident Evil 5, the latest flick, Afterlife, is more of a glorified music video than a movie.
In my opinion, the video game adaptation to get the closest to getting it right was 2006's Silent Hill. It borrowed Akira Yamaoka's excellent scores from the game series, used the uncomfortable camera angles also used prominently in the series, and the atmosphere was decidedly Silent Hill. The town itself looked great on the big screen, as did most of the monsters, especially Pyramid Head and the Nurses.
With films like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, it's easy to see the filmmakers' love for the game they're adapting. Then there are movies like Max Payne, Tomb Raider, Doom, Hitman, and so on, where that love is a little harder to find.
Especially anything made by Uwe Boll. Most gamers know his name because they've either had the misfortune of having to sit through one of his movies, or they've had one of their favorite games tarnished when he decided to craft an unwatchable movie based on it. I could dedicate an entire article on this man and the atrocities (or "films," as he undoubtedly calls them) but that rant's been pretty badly used up by now. Instead, I'll give you a highlight reel.
Mr. Boll has given us films like Alone in the Dark I and II, Bloodrayne I, II, and III—yes, they actually made three entire Bloodrayne movies—Postal, Far Cry, and a Dungeon Siege movie whose title is far too long. If you've ever suffered through a video game movie with no character development, poor acting, awful writing, and a made-for-TV budget, there's a very good chance it can be blamed on this man.
No matter how poorly a movie represents the game it's based on, a major problem with video game movies is that an overwhelming majority of video games weren't meant to be cinematic experiences. Most of what makes the games great gets lost in the translation to the silver screen, and the result is something that's usually borders on unwatchable or requires you to turn off your brain until the credits roll. How many of us like to watch other people play video games for the length of an average movie? I'm guessing that number isn't terribly high.
There's also the problem that some games are already on par with the best Hollywood has to offer, so there's little reason to turn them into movies. Games like Heavy Rain have the writing, acting, visuals, and storytelling that make them interactive experiences that are more than just video games. Games that straddle that line between both worlds are where the future should be, not with poorly constructed films that have few redeemable qualities other than being easy on the eyes. Also, Heavy Rain is being adapted into a movie. Come 2013, we'll see how Hollywood does with one of the most film-like games out there.
As video game movies like Prince of Persia and Resident Evil: Afterlife continue to make $200+ million at the box office, more film studios will jump on the video game movie bandwagon. There's no stopping it; this is something we'll all have to embrace. All we can hope for is that these movies are made by people who genuinely care about the virtual world they're bringing to the big screen.
Date: March 19, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*