Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Being Too "Real" is Destroying Video Game Movies

The video game movie business is an odd one. The latest Tomb Raider adaptation, which doesn't feature Angelina Jolie, is not close to getting a passing grade. Both audiences and critics are in the "meh" category with it. Understandably so, this movie looks like it's trying too hard to be super serious about a billionaire archeologist. Because they flipped the script! They took the original premise, some inspiration from the latest Tomb Raider games, and made this a more "hard-edge" Lara Croft. She's now a penniless student, rejecting her family's wealth as she tries to carve out her own path in life!

Someone should have informed Warner Bros. that this is not Tomb Raider. While the Jolie movies were over the top, the one thing they did right was they were stupidly action-oriented tomb raiding romps. That's what we wanted! That's what was in the games! They didn't change who Lara was. The script added new content on top of the existing stuff to flesh out the character. But Lara didn't change.

This new 'Tomb Raider' film has a different Lara that is out of context of the one so many of us grew up with.

Why did they make such an odd decision with this new film? Well if they had a director like the one for the 'Rampage' movie releasing this year, it's because people wouldn't sign on unless the project was "grounded" in realism. Yep. That's what director Brad Peyton said to Cinema Blend. He didn't want to be involved in something that wasn't "grounded." He dismissed the original game premise (there was a story, as small as it was) as too out there, and required a different plot in order to proceed. Because realism is a big deal when it comes to mutated giant apes and wolves, right?

Maybe this is the problem with the video game movies hitting theaters over the past 15 years. Assassin's Creed. Agent 47: Hitman. They try too hard to be "real" and "gritty" that they miss out on the the spirit of the games that captured our attention. We didn't play AssCreed for only the cool visuals. It had a really off-the-wall, wonky ass story that made us wonder why this was a thing. We didn't play Rampage to talk about the consequences of genetic mutation. We thrashed about cities as a big monster!

While the 'Mortal Kombat' movie was ridiculous, it was MK silly. That's why we went to see it. 'Super Mario Bros.' tried too much to be a "real" story that we could smell it failing from a mile away. Realism does not equate to better content.

Hollywood. It's easy to make a video game movie once you embrace the source material to it's fullest. It might be time for them to call it quits and let books take over. That medium is already doing a good job of retelling and adding content with some of the biggest IP's on the market.

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