Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Revised Stance on Video Game Movies

I think Disney have the right idea on what to do with a gaming movie. Make an original story that has 0 ties to a game. (Ok there is a game, but it's based off the movie. I'm talking about a movie based off the game.)


Wreck It Ralph will be coming out this holiday season, following the life of a villain who doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. So he breaks out of his game and tries to find a new life for himself. In it there are cameo’s from our kiddy gaming past, QBert, M. Bison, Bowser, and I’m sure a few Tetris pieces.

It’s cute and family fun oriented, but I also feel that it has a lot of potential to really open up the “video game” genre to the movie world. Now I haven’t seen it yet, in fact I probably won’t get a chance to see it until it’s released (reviewing buddy isn’t able to get too many advance passes). However, I feel there is a lot to look forward to.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Ace Attorney movie that I laud for being the awesome self that it really is. It made the game come to life in a way that I never imagined, by sticking to the campy aspects that make AA so flippin’ fun.

Those are two extremes of the video game movie “genre”. Unfortunately, that’s it. Those are my two examples. The rest fall in the middle and haven’t been able to hold up to the ideals we, as gamers, expect from our gaming movies.

My reasoning behind this is pretty simple: Hollywood doesn’t know what we want, nor do they understand what is the best way to transform a video game into a movie.

My best example of this is with books. There are a lot of book movies, and you know what? They still can’t get those right. There are the exceptions like your Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Twilight (commercial success and a lot of people have been enjoying the films, no matter what your opinion may be). But for every Harry Potter movie, there are thousands of others that are just, well, crap, for lack of a better term. Pick a movie this past year. Any movie. John Carter. That was a book called The Princess of Mars and John Carter of Mars. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? That horrible Cameron Diaz movie, yeah that’s a book too.

Originality in the business is pretty low. At least 90% of movies released today are from other sources. Life of Pi, the critics are clamoring over this one recently, also a book.

While there are good movies based off of books, this has been a process that has taken decades to perfect. Even going back so far as the 1920’s with Shakespeare, tweaking and fine-tuning we’re finally at a point where movies based on books are finally coming into their own. It just took a really long time. Transforming a book into a movie is a difficult task. Obviously, you can’t convert a book directly into a film. Not many people are willing to sit through 20 hour films. Even LoTR had to cut out much of the books in order to accommodate the screen. There’s a way to finesse it so that the intent of the book remains without diluting it by mainstream Hollywood.

Video game movies are going through that same process. We’re going to see a lot of crappy movies based on some really good games. It’s going to suck and a lot of us will complain. But they will get better, eventually.

Resident Evil, the darling child of hits that we didn’t expect is nothing like the games. When you don’t think about them in relationship to the games, the movies aren’t bad. Zombie fightin’ apocalypse, what’s not to enjoy? However when you try to interweave them into the RE game franchise there are obviously a lot of differences. A lot a lot. Like, make you want to tear you brain out and throw it out the window “what the hell were they thinking?’ type of differences. Enjoy the separately, not together else you’ll be asking for headaches.

(I realize that I unintentionally bash on the RE movies a lot. I still find them enjoyable for what they are, but they are not Resident Evil movies by any stretch of the imagination. Alice can shoot and walk, that’s the first problem.)

The Tomb Raider movies were ok, if you didn’t think about the games. The same could be said about Prince of Persia-not a bad film for what it was, but totally not Prince of Persia, the game. Or Doom. Well Doom just sucked. They tried too hard to make it too much like the game with the way it was filmed and edited, but then not like the game with the story, dialogue, and characters. It was a bad hybrid.

I feel that in order for video game movies of the future to stand a chance, they need to take one of the extremes and roll with it, instead of trying this hybrid maneuver they have been doing since Street Fighter (i.e. by trying to be styled like the game but with a story that has no relationship to the game(s).) Or Super Mario Bros. Oh Bob H and Dennis H. How did they ever convince you two to be in that mess?

But think about it for a moment. Almost every video game movie that has been produced, up to this point, has gone for the mix: wanting to look like the game but a different story then what we, the gamers, are accustomed to. Super Mario Bros. Street Fighter. Mortal Kombat. Double Dragon. Wing Commander. BloodRayne, Hitman, Max Payne. Need I say more? There is a way to tell a story of a game without dismissing the entire plot. If AA can do it, anyone can.

I’m curious to see the outcome of Wreck It Ralph. I have a strong feeling that it will do well, not because it’s Disney, but because of the premise. It’s a video game movie, but not the hybrid we’re use to experiencing. If it garners the same reaction as us gamers have had towards the Ace Attorney movie, then we might have an answer to our problems.

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