The Assassin Creed movie intrigues me, although I’m not a fan of the franchise. Ubisoft seems to have so much faith in it that they’re willing to, temporarily at least, take a break from the annualized game release schedule. While I agree taking a break from such a conveyor-belt schedule is great for the series, I sometimes wonder about the outcome. What if the movie fails? What if it succeeds? Will it become the first unanimously celebrated video game movie, or will it be reduced to fodder for YouTube critics to devour over a period of twenty minutes like cats playing with their prey?
As I mentioned before, I don’t know a whole lot about the franchise besides beginning the first two games and eventually selling them back to Gamestop, so instead I’ve decided to read up on film adaptations of games and figure out what makes most of them so bad. Here are some of the few problems that the Assassin’s Creed movie can (hopefully) avoid.
Did Gamers Ever Care About the Story?
Yeah, this one is a bit obvious. I think video games writing has come a long way, but I suppose that could be me just being blinded by the fact that most games, even the walking simulators, actively make me feel like I’m part of the story. But in some cases, there are games in which many never care about the story. Take Fallout 4 , for instance: some people report pouring hundreds of hours into the game without actually touching the main storyline. So, if Hollywood ever decided it was time to make a Fallout movie, then what parts would it take? If it’s Fallout 3 , are they just going to focus on the storyline about finding a father? Ok, but does that mean the character is going to be a hero or anti-hero? Also, could they just going to gloss over the factions and overall freedom? That seems to be what really draws players to Bethesda’s games.
Most Video Game Stories Are Already Afterthoughts
As MatPat pointed out in this informative episode of Game Theory , only a few studios like BioWare hire actual writers. Mechanics and graphics take priority over story, because publishers aren’t convinced that a story is going to be the driving force behind sales figures. The cool things you can do in the game are much bigger selling points. This leaves someone else from the team, often not not a trained writer, left to write the script. And even games that do tell good stories, like the Silent Hill games, rely on the player immersing him or herself into the game without an audience, taking on the role as Harry Mason; otherwise, you just have another supernatural story. Thankfully, Assassin Creed doesn’t seem to have this problem, as from what little I do remember, the story was its strong suit.
Video Games Are Freakishly Long and Adapting Them to Film Risks Losing What Makes Them Special
Despite being delayed from 2015 to 2016 (oh hey, that’s this year), Ratchet and Clank gives me hope, because it truly looks, sounds, and, if I could play it, feels like the source material. I wish I could say the same for the 2005 DOOM movie, which really doesn’t seem related to the classic until the first few minutes of first-person action, which ends with the protagonist destroying a wheelchair-bound humanoid. Note, said humanoid is not a demon. The movie is essentially a generic story about space marines stuck fighting the unknown. What happened?
Apart from baffling creative differences, scriptwriters are tasked with adapting an 8 to 100 hour game into a 90 to 120 minute film. To do so while remaining completely faithful to the source material is a daunting task. Both Moviebob and Kotaku recommend evaluating what makes a game special and creating a movie that is supplemental to the franchise. The challenge is making a movie that isn’t too esoteric for general movie-goers, but if done correctly then both they and gamers could be satisfied.
We Don’t Have the Right People Working in Hollywood
A thought came to me earlier this week while reading about the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie: comic book nerds eventually took over the reins in Hollywood, leading to faithful – damned good, even – adaptations. As Moviebob pointed out in Extra Credits , every story, no matter which medium began it, has the potential to be adapted into something else, so what gives? Probably the executives not giving a damn, and directors, producers, and anyone else involved in production being unsure with what to do with the material. This actually give me hope; video games are still a relatively new medium, and, now that they’re a major force in the entertainment industry, then perhaps the next generation of filmmakers will be gamers and know what to do with the films? Heck, this low-budget, feature-length, fan-made Mega Man movie shows the potential of what a passionate film maker could possibly achieve, should he ever have the proper budget. And on a professional scale, well, look at Wreck-It Ralph ! Sure, it’s an original idea not based on a singular franchise, but the people behind the movie clearly get what made classical games appealing.
These are just some a few problems video game movies have to deal with. What are your thoughts on the subject?