I believe it is safe to say that video game films… well… they suck. They suck hardcore. We want them to be great but it just never seems to completely make the transition. It’s not their fault. They never asked for this. A lot of them get really close to being that great film but something surrounding the film just seems to bring the level of quality down to zero. Very few, if any, get any of the source material right. Who do we have to blame? Do we blame the director? Do we blame the cast? The writers? Do we blame our complex needs when it comes to good films? Who do we point our unforgiving fingers at? I went back and watched a good amount of these dreaded films to see how I felt about them now. Let’s take a look into a couple of the more notable video game films to have graced any screen, American or foreign, and what makes them good or bad.
I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t they just take this series out back and put it down like Old Yeller. It has ran its course and now it just needs to stop. The story at this point, literally, feels as if they are just throwing darts at a dartboard filled with directions to take the story and different things to add to the film instead of sitting down and cranking out an enjoyable adaption to the extremely popular video game franchise. What is wrong with this? Adding a completely new character to a universe that has such interesting characters already with a completely uninteresting story. I will say that I enjoyed the first two Resident Evil movies. Not saying that they were the best movies but they did the job of giving me a fun, mindless experience. Maybe that is what continues to make Resident Evil such a profitable movie. People know what to expect out of a Resident Evil movie. Turn it on and let your brain take a nice vacation into la-la-land. Since the second movie they have added the characters from the games into the film. Even story elements from the fifth game make it into Afterlife and Retribution. Sadly though, it is not enough to save this bomb. I would recommend that you, my dear reader, go to the internet and find George A. Romero’s script for Resident Evil that was thrown out in place of what we have today. After reading that tell me which one you would have loved to see.
Man, I hate this movie. It screams everything wrong when it comes to butchering an intense video game series. I absolutely loved the first game and was first in line to buy the second. You can just imagine my face when Max Payne was going to have a chance on the big screen. I followed everything about the film until its release. The behind the scenes, interviews, tv spots, teasers and trailers were constantly watched by younger Jeffery. I believed the director when he stated that he played and loved the games and wanted to bring that story to a wider audience. I was on board. At least I was until the studio Fox announced that the film is going for a PG-13 rating. I knew from then on that this movie will tank, and fast. Many changes were made to this film and none of them being for the better. Taking away the main villain, Nicole Horne, from the video game to B.B. Hensley, a person that, also in the game, is killed by Max early on. Also the whole demons crap going on is completely wrong. The game references Norse mythology heavily. “Valkyr”, the drug that is the center of all problems is, of course, a play on Valkyries. Valkyries are female warriors, not demonic pigeons or whatever the director tried to show off. Something else that bothered me about this film? Bullet Time. This slow-motion gameplay mechanic was a monumental achievement for a video game and the first time we ever use something so unique. So why, in god’s name, are we only shown ONE moment of Bullet Time in the film and it is only him falling backwards shooting a couple of bullets from a shotgun into a henchman? The atmosphere for the movie was perfect. It looked and felt like a Max Payne movie but everything was a smack in the face with a dirty rag covered in glass shards. When it comes to casting I will only mention one name. CHRIS ‘LUDACRIS’ BRIDGES. Never in my days could I think of a worse casting option. “Hey guys lets hire an African American rapper to play an older, roughly 60’s -70’s Caucasian male.” I facepalmed so hard my face folded in half.
I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way. Postal was Uwe Boll’s only DECENT video game movie adaption. Why is it decent? Well, if you have played any of the Postal games then you would understand that the film still holds the absolute wackiness and downright offensive nature as the game. When the DVD was available for rent in America most companies pulled the DVD within two weeks because of the beginning sequence, a parody on the 9/11 plane hijackers. Some pulled the DVD, others put warning stickers on the rental box.
Now to other Uwe Boll matters. Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne series, Far Cry, and House of the Dead have all been, honestly, butchered by this man. All decent video game series turned into awful films. Like I can’t really even say anything nice about any of them. They are just that bad.
Of course I am not expecting you to feel the same but I would recommend a couple of video game films that I feel are, at least, a decent watch.
1. Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney)
2. Dead Space: Downfall
4. Silent Hill
5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
These films stand out as better than most video game movies released. That is not saying much but there is some fun to be had watching them. The best film out of them all is Gyakuten Saiban. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this movie. Coming from Takashi Miike, most would expect something bad or weird. This movie is just the opposite. The movie is visually awesome and the differences from the game’s story and the film’s story are not too drastic. There are differences but nothing that can just grab you out of the movie in anger. Dead Space: Downfall, on the other hand, doesn’t try to recreate the story of Dead Space. Instead it gives us insight to what happens before which makes this movie already interesting to those who play and love Dead Space. Gory, animated horror fun is basically what makes this movie great. The other movies just seem to capture what makes the games fun and is able to bring that same magic to film. Not saying all of them are masterpieces but better than watching Doom, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, or Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.
God of War, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell, and Uncharted are all going to be getting their chance, for Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat this will be a retry on the big screen. Time will tell if any of these movies will follow the path of crappy video game movies or will break the mold and become what we look for in video game adaptions. Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell are off to a good start considering Ubisoft’s Movie Studio handling everything in regards to getting the films off the ground and with Tomb Raider’s newest game becoming an origin tale that could span more than one game and take the video game series itself into new directions, that opens the ideas for a new film up to unknown places that can be really awesome.
Video game movies always had and always will have the potential to be absolutely amazing. The worlds created in video games are enough material to create such expansive and interesting stories. When you hear that a studio has picked up the rights to your favorite video game your mind fills with, well basically your fantasy league of actors and actresses to play the many characters from the game. I feel that studios just don’t understand what they have when they grab these rights. I don’t believe I will ever understand why it is so hard for a company to get book adaptions close to right and enjoyable but not video game adaptions. I envy adaptions like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings because of how wonderful they turn out to be. I may not enjoy Lord of the Rings as much as everyone else but I sure do respect them for what they are and what they mean to the people that read and enjoy those books. I just wish for the same when it comes to my video games. I cross my fingers for Uncharted, Splinter Cell, and God of War. “With great power, comes great responsibility!” PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY DO NOT F*** THIS UP!