Note: In researching this, I discover that no US theatrically released movie based on a video game has ever broken the 50% mark on Rotten Tomatoes.
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/professor_layton_and_the_eternal_diva/ - Running at 73% Audience rating
Professor Layton wasn't given a theatrical release, it was straight to DVD.
And we know that game movies are looked upon as "childish drivel"
An unprovable assertion of industry-wide bias is not a good enough excuse for the movies getting poor reviews. Anyway, they are childish drivel. Half-arsed tales of immortal ninjas and magic rings, sloppily told. Cardboard cut-out characters and paper-thin plots stolen from more talented story tellers.
That isn't true of all games (Professor Layton, for example is deliberately childish but in no way is it drivel) but it is the case with all the big Hollywood productions derived from games. And it's precisely because gamers will pay millions of dollars to go see movies that are inevitably going to be below average, simply for franchise name that this happens.
There's a few games that have elements which offer some movie potential. I would cite parts of Rockstar's cinematically inspired output as having the strongest characters and stories. While there have been a number of decent characters in gaming, the tendency for games to drift into only-you-can-save-the-world-from-the-alien-demon-terrorists territory undermines virtually every story they tell.
And we know that game movies are looked upon as "childish drivel"
An unprovable assertion of industry-wide bias is not a good enough excuse for the movies getting poor reviews.
I think I've given enough proof from the above reviews. DD got the worst overall percentage despite getting the highest aggregate score of the three films.
Cardboard cut-out characters and paper-thin plots stolen from more talented story tellers.
*cough* Avatar *cough* Transformers *cough* Expendables *cough*
While there have been a number of decent characters in gaming, the tendency for games to drift into only-you-can-save-the-world-from-the-alien-demon-terrorists territory undermines virtually every story they tell.
*coughing fit again*
We've already seen how Horror, Sci-Fi and Superhero films get snubbed to hell by the awards ceremonies. (The Dark Knight got zip all) Video game films are the bastard children of the bastards.
Resident Evil, Doom, Mortal Kombat are no worse shlock than 28 Days Later, Wanted or Time Cop but they get worse scores.
I'm not saying they're wonderful movies - but there's quite an obvious snootiness towards them - something I think is quite unfair.
I agree that you can't just copy something, but I don't think its about expanding and acting. Consider that the new Game of Thrones show succeeded because they understood not just what to cut, but to create new scenes that help do the same thing the books do but in a way that fits the medium it is in. for example, the difference between inner monologues to establish Theon's character and various interactions with various characters in different situations, and the use of his interaction with the prostitute (who was not in the book but was a fantastic character in her own right) at the beginning to establish the same thing in less time.
The first thing I have to say is that Rotten Tomatoes' percent scores tend to be more extreme than the (mathematical) mean review scores because they just weigh positive versus negative, so two stars out of five would be a big fat zero on that scale. It applies across the board but is probably most pronounced on low to medium scoring films.
OK, so this called for a little more research. I decided to pick a few game films that I knew enough about and see how they fared against what I would consider roughly equivalent films from the same year.
Starting with Dead or Alive, because I've actually seen it. It's daft fun. Not sure I'd want to sit through it twice but I quite enjoyed it. It's from 2006 and scored 34%.
Other films from that year include, The Da Vinci Code (25% despite an average of 4.8/10), Superman Returns (76%), Scary Movie 4 (37%), Mission Impossible III (70%) and Saw III (25%).
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was the highest rated on wiki's list at 43%.
2001 also brought us such joys as The Mummy Returns (47%), Pearl Harbour (25%), Planet of the Apes (45%), Cats & Dogs (54%), Atlantis - The Lost Empire (49%), Thirteen Ghosts (12%) and A Knight's Tale (58%).
In 1994, the likes of JCVD, Kylie and even Simon Callow couldn't save the stinker that was Street Fighter from a miserble 12%
It went up against: True Lies (72%), The Santa Clause(80% wait, what?), The Flintstones (22%), The Naked Gun 33 1/3: the Final Insult (53%), D2: The Mighty Ducks (15%) and, as you say, Timecop (44%).
Last one. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (35%).
2010. Alice in Wonderland (51%), The Karate Kid (67%), Tron Legacy (50%), Clash of the Titans (28%), Little Fockers (10%), Robin Hood (43%) and The Expendables (41%).
It's clearly a matter of opinion as to how those various movies should rank but I don't see the critical bias there. They're as likely to give a panning to The Flinstones, Clash of the Titans and Thiteen Ghosts as they are to Hitman and Resident Evil.
doom would have been a decent movie if not fore that stupid first person thing, but that's because doom took very little from the game other than its title and the fact that there are zombies and monsters, which gave the film room to create,
But there are tons of good book adaptations, brilliant ones even, and the fanboys for the respective books are not that relevant (for the same reason why the fans of Stalker/Roadside Picnic have nothing to do with the cult-like success of STALKER SoC). The fanboys matter only when they're very a very vocal group of nerds complaining about various changes (see: Superhero movie adaptations, Transformer movie adaptations, video game fans harassing developers because OMG GAY OPTION etc. etc.)
The actual reasons why video games don't work as movies are:
1. They're bad at actually telling a story. Gameplay for 99% of all games is not a method of interacting with a story, it's just a way of adding challenge for the players. There is no essential story value to the interactivity, not as much as you people imply.
Best example, Half Life. What exactly is there to be seen in the game that you can't reveal in a movie with a few shots? Misery and dust and sad people? Film them for a few seconds, point is made. Ravenholm being a scary town filled with what counts as zombies? Freeman being a weird mute with no personality but lots of friends and even a love interest?
Aside from a few, very distinct things that do add emotion (you have to shoot the Boss yourself), most of interactivity is just about GAME-PLAY, about setting challenges and story is just sprinkled flavor text in the whole thing.
2. Like most people said in here, no one bothers making video game adaptations good. I mean, games like Max Payne or Silent Hill basically write themselves up as movies (the later one especially, the camera movement reminds of cinematography shots a lot). There's nothing in Max Payne that can't essentially be adapted to film, especially since the game is actually influenced by noir and Honk Kong action movies a lot. In fact, you take something like Payback or Sin City and you essentially have your better Max Payne movies.
thanks for the article.
my personal favorite game is Dark Messiah!
its like a book. Only difference is that you can choose the ending.
They suck because they are 100% a grab for cash.
You all write so copiously and poignantly I am forced to skip the majority of you or else lose motivation and all day in reading your multiple dissertations. Or something.
I think you can distinctly qualify what these two mediums offer that the other does not. In video games you control the action, pace, and exploration of environment (important difference) whilst in movies you're given answers at the correct pace, view everything presented in the properly provocative way, and as mentioned above are allowed to skip minutiae. I suppose you could say that movies are packed strategically with different sized emotional moments, whilst in games for some part you have to make your own. It's a function of interactivity.
Now I mentioned exploration of the environment being important. When you're playing a game you (usually, should) have control of the camera. This means the game has to go out of it's way to control what you see. If something's about to jump out in ambush it better come from an inacessible hole in the ceiling or behind a secret door or teleport, if someone is going to pull a fast one with a knife they'd better have it in their pocket or disguised, or to do away with all the they'd better take camera (and character) control away lest we scout out these little surprises. In a movie, vital clues can be glossed with a quick pan of the camera, people can jump in from the middle of a desert as long as offscreen, you can be shown details like an ammo readout in a firefight with a quick cut.
I foresee a merging between the two mediums where the advantages of both are present. Give the view of these interactive cinemas some camera control. Let them pick up some more detail A/B paths. Perhaps tandem stories playing out in different places with the option to switch between viewed characters, a night vision meter or slo mo for big action sequences, some kind of ID scope, whatever the developers feel like putting in there. Interactive controls in a cinematic medium, instead of the other way around, which is where we've come to with some games today.