Game Theory: Why Video Game Movies Suck!

Why Video Game Movies Suck!

Video game movies have historically been TERRIBLE. Yes, there are a few gems in the rough, but by and large, movies BASED ON GAMES fail both critically and with audiences. When your top rated video game movie is rocking a solid F, you know you're in trouble. But WHY?!? Why is making movies based on popular game franchises SO HARD? The reasons may surprise you...

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Well done, I'll be checking out the new show. Hope it gets here on The Escapist, the player here is allowed at work where Youtube is blocked.

Good luck.

I mostly agree, though I think it is not impossible to make a good movie adaptation just because of the lack of interactivity. There are enough let's-players who don't really talk and just show you the game as it is to prove that there are at least some games that can be enjoyed even if you don't hold the reins.

The real problem is more along the first answer: Movie studios just don't care. For them game IPs today are like comic IPs were in the 90s and early 2000s, something to cash in on using the popularity of the original product to sucker its fans into the cinemas, and if the movies fail they can blame the IP in front of the shareholders to divert attention from their own incompetence. Because of this they simply don't need to try, and some studios just don't put in any effort on principle. Case in point, we are living in the age of the high-quality block-buster comic adaptations, yet just last week we had Fant4stic on our hands for a throwback into the dark ages.

Good episode. I've always thought that the biggest reason that video games movies are such flops (Uwe Boll notwithstanding) is because instead of picking the games that would translate best to film, they pick the most well-known and popular IPs and make movies about them.

There are some exceptions. "Max Payne", for all intents and purposes, should have been insanely easy to translate to film. The original game is essentially one big movie. But for some reason they got a director who flat-out said he didn't like video games, and we got the complete mess of a movie that it was.

Despite it's reviews, I honestly thought that "Prince of Persia" was actually a decent movie (despite relying on too much CGI).

The original Mortal Kombat is actually a good adaptation. It's not a great movie by any means, but as far as translating the already cheesy material into a cheesy film, it works wonderfully. The sequels - not so much.

The first Resident Evil movie is one, too. It certainly drops a lot, if not everything, that made the games so memorable - but, then again, so did the games, eventually - yet it's got a decent charm to it, and some great over the top hamminess that the game series is known for.

I think that the best way to turn a video game into a movie would be to take a game with lots of lore or in game history (mech warrior, elderscrolls...) and use that to flesh out a story that has a few paragraphs in the game.

FleeingNevada:
The original Mortal Kombat is actually a good adaptation. It's not a great movie by any means, but as far as translating the already cheesy material into a cheesy film, it works wonderfully. The sequels - not so much.

My biggest problem with the Mortal Kombat movie was that they went for the PG-13 rating in a game that literally was famous almost entirely for excessive violence, and that they completely threw out the background stories for Sub-Zero and Scorpion. I know that Liu Kang and Johnny Cage are supposed to be the "heroes" of MK, but let's be honest: Scorpion and Sub-Zero are the faces of the franchise and have much more interesting backgrounds, it was ashame that they basically threw them into the movie just to be random mooks to fight.

FleeingNevada:
The original Mortal Kombat is actually a good adaptation. It's not a great movie by any means, but as far as translating the already cheesy material into a cheesy film, it works wonderfully. The sequels - not so much.

The first Resident Evil movie is one, too. It certainly drops a lot, if not everything, that made the games so memorable - but, then again, so did the games, eventually - yet it's got a decent charm to it, and some great over the top hamminess that the game series is known for.

I'd have to agree with the first RE movie being decent enough. For me it was the use of camera angles that reminded me of the original game. It didn't have it all the time, but there were enough callbacks for me to be satisfied. Also the soundtrack was quite well done, and I'm a little sad that Manson hasn't been brought back for other movies. His unique touch gave a lot of that movie atmosphere that was missing from the later films.

Idea:

Interactive Movies.

I know, clever, right? Anyway.

Film multiple scenes and allow audiences to, through some sort of device in their seats, choose what to do at certain points and have those decisions affect the plot/progression of the film. Essentially a "choose your own adventure" book, but in movie form.

You could have it be by majority, or have each individual get their own screen/audio set-up with their chair that shuts out other people's.

...What? It could be interesting. Stupidly expensive and impractical, but interesting.

While I'm not questioning the rest of what was said in the video, I will say they're wrong about the Super Mario Bros. movie. I saw that in theaters, as a kid. I didn't like things back then because of "hipster cred" or whatever other reasoning you might come up with. I genuinely liked that movie as a fan of Super Mario. I knew even back then there was no possible way to translate Super Mario into live action, so I knew what I was getting myself into (mostly). While I agree it wasn't the best movie in the world, it was so weird, imaginative and otherworldly. I have seen it recently and my opinion hasn't changed.

The two biggest reasons are simple.

1. To copy someone else on this thread: Movie studios just don't care. For them game IPs today are like comic IPs were in the 90s and early 2000s, something to cash in on using the popularity of the original product to sucker its fans into the cinemas, and if the movies fail they can blame the IP in front of the shareholders to divert attention from their own incompetence. Because of this they simply don't need to try, and some studios just don't put in any effort on principle. Case in point, we are living in the age of the high-quality block-buster comic adaptations, yet just last week we had Fant4stic on our hands for a throwback into the dark ages.

2. Often there's no way to translate certain things into live action, games are usually a lot slower paced than movies. Silent Hill is scary because that thing the distance could a lamp post or a monster, with the fog and weird monster designs, it's not easy to tell. Plus you, the player, have a hand in the protagonist's safety. When Harry Mason dies it's your fault.

Likewise, the shock of a certain infamous scene in Spec Ops: The Line comes from the fact you choose to go on, the entire point being that there's ultimately no justification for what you do. Whereas in Call Of Duty: Black Ops has no titular black ops and is about saving the world by shooting people Spec Ops: Line leaves you, the player, with no such excuse since you could have quit any time, but decided to follow Walker into what was clearly his descent into madness.

Neither of these would have the impact they do if they were movies, Silent Hill would go much faster to move the plot along, while Spec Ops: The Line might be a modern day Apocalypse Now, but it still wouldn't have the same impact.

OMG those ratings are surprising. None of the Video Game movies were great but some were decent. Tomb Raider I thought was pretty decent, but only a 19% makes it sound horrible. Personally I'd rank it in 60s, it's not great but sort of average. Pretty much all the game movies that I like fit in the 40-60 range on rankings. But highest one on the site is only 44% which is sad.

Well at least they weren't Fantastic Four (2015) at 9%. :)

Algernon:

ckretmsage:
Well done, I'll be checking out the new show. Hope it gets here on The Escapist, the player here is allowed at work where Youtube is blocked.

Good luck.

prx.proxyunblocker.org At the end of any url, including a youtube url and you're set.

OT: Good read. I'm sitting here buttocks clenched in prayer (it's how I do it, don't judge me!) that Hitman breaks the trend.

You are my new favorite person! :)

IMO, I thought the first Mortal Kombat, Prince of Persia, and the first Hitman were alright. Not cinematic gems, but fun ways to pass the time, like the games they were based on. Sure, they had to change and streamline a few things, but they had to fit the essence of their games in almost 2 hours. I can't think of Mortal Kombat without one-on-one fights (although they had to take out the blood to appeal to a wider audience) or Prince of Persia without the parkour or time-bending powers. Next year's Assassin's Creed movie is being made by people who LIKE the games and have oversight from Ubisoft, so it shouldn't suck.

Dr. McD:

Likewise, the shock of a certain infamous scene in Spec Ops: The Line comes from the fact you choose to go on, the entire point being that there's ultimately no justification for what you do. Whereas in Call Of Duty: Black Ops has no titular black ops and is about saving the world by shooting people Spec Ops: Line leaves you, the player, with no such excuse since you could have quit any time, but decided to follow Walker into what was clearly his descent into madness.

Neither of these would have the impact they do if they were movies, Silent Hill would go much faster to move the plot along, while Spec Ops: The Line might be a modern day Apocalypse Now, but it still wouldn't have the same impact.

Yeah, that's just what audiences want, a movie that hates you for watching it. It will be the nail in the coffin for video game movies when their viewers get so depressed, they start killing themselves. In other words, total Oscar bait.

One reason you forgot to mention is that 90% of videogames that even have a story are themselves heavily based off already existing movies.

Silent Hill is based on Jakob's Ladder/David Lynch movies. Mass Effect is Star Trek with a hint of Star Wars. Halo is Aliens. Uncharted is Indiana Jones/The Mummy/National Treasure. The Last of Us is The Road meets Children of Men.

The fact that they're like those movies, BUT we actually get to play them, is one of the biggest draws. You make that into a movie and it'll just feels like a flimsier version of a movie we've already seen.

There are a large number of Anime adaptions of games that prove large portions of this video to be blatantly false.

Japan has consistently put out quality anime adaptions of games in both series and films for decades. They've proven beyond doubt it can be done well.

It's just that western film studios can't figure out how. It's largely got to do with the inability to produce faithful adaptions.

They always alter things for the sake of bringing something to film. Doom's demons are in fact a virus, Koopas are dinosaurs, something is different because studios are under the misguided impression that people don't want the same thing they played on their gaming system.

That's exactly what people want. The exact same thing they played, or a continuation of it, but with much prettier visuals and action sequences that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to recreate in gameplay. Proof of that is in the only well received segment of the Doom movie. The first person sequence that most closely replicated the game environment. It was universally praised as the best segment of the film [but wasn't enough to save it either].

This is exactly what the most successful and well received anime adaptions do. They are as close to the game's designs, plot, and tone as they can possibly get most of the time.

Western studios haven't figured that simple fact out. It's why they repeatedly fail to create a successful game adaption. They're always looking for that new and different angle to draw audiences in when that's actually the exact opposite of what people want to see.

Sure, focus groups of people looking for stuff to complain about say otherwise, but those surveys are notoriously not trustworthy and easily skewed by how the questions are phrased.

People want the same shit they saw when they played the game, but more realistic looking and visually detailed. They want the same characters, the same plot or continuation or bridging of plot, and they want it to look better than it could with current gaming technology.

Once Hollywood figures this out, we'll have another genre boom on our hands just like the one we have now with comic book movies.

 

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