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Movie Game Adaptations – Yay or Nay?

What’s needed to make an excellent video game movie adaptation?

When a video game adaptation of any game is announced, it is often caught up in a whirlwind of sceptiscism and doubt. And with very good cause. For every Silent Hill and Tomb Raider, there is a slew of BloodRaynes and Alone in the Darks. While much of the blame can be laid at a certain director’s feet who it seems wont be satisfied until he’s ruined many of our beloved franchises, it can be difficult to pull it off correctly. But while Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne) seems uninterested in adapting faithful versions of our favourite games and has offered to literally fight his detractors, he isn’t the only one laying waste to game movies. But what should we expect from film adaptations?

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The King of Iron Fist Tournament is largely flaccid

Unlike comic adaptations, video game movies often have a difficult choice. Do you make it one hundred percent faithful to the game, with its story and set pieces, or does it take just enough bare-bones facts to get the fans in the seats? It often depends on the game genre and how cinematic the game it’s using is. Fighting games tend to get hit pretty hard, with games such as King of Fighters where characters are drastically changed, both ethnically and in terms of career and personality, or Dead or Alive where the culmination of the plot is an old man wearing magic kung-fu sunglasses.

Whereas comics or books have very rigid lore, characters and story, games are far more fluid due to their very nature. Because we shape the story through playing the game, it’s incredibly difficult to line up how the fans feel a film should go and how the director envisions it. It’s even worse in movies where there is no set protagonist, such as many entries in the beat-em-up genre.

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Grotesque additions to the material can be beneficial

Some handle the material respectfully and in the best cases, acknowledge the ridiculousness of the source material and have fun with it. Movies such as Doom and the original Street Fighter movie take the ludicrous premises and go wild, Doom referencing its first person roots and Street Fighter offering up one of Raul Julia’s most beloved performances as the maniacal M. Bison. However some try and go the serious route and it’s always a difficult line to walk. Game movies often have to try and appeal to the public in general in order to recoup their cash but at the same time always run the risk of alienating the game’s fanbase. Yet even with massive changes, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. The Mario movie was wildly removed from its source material, the bright cartoony world replaced with a gritty realism and yet, despite an incredibly critical reception, it maintains a slightly loving cult following.

Personally, I find they are often more miss than hit. They often have some elements that absolutely nail it, the Tekken movie for example was (with the exception of one inexplicable character white wash) visually great. Even the more oddball characters like the cyborg Brian Fury or robotic samurai Yoshimitsu were spot on. And yet the story and everything else in the movie underwhelmed. It is however nowhere near the worst fighting game movie: that accolade is probably better given to the Street Fighter spin-off, Legend of Chun Li. Many sequels to previously successful game movies plummet in quality. Take the Silent Hill movies for example; the first incarnation was a subtle and artistic approach, much like the games themselves. Its sequel however, while incredibly faithful in visual aspects, quickly descends into nothing but blatant fanservice which doesnt even make sense. The Resident Evil franchise took a brave move by introducing a completely new protagonist and building the films around her, with franchise favourites relegated to background furniture or worse, damsels in distress needing saving by the new super goddess protagonist.

 

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Terrible? Either way they can be dearly loved

As the line between movie and game becomes blurry, with games becoming more and more like interactive movies themselves – quick time events and lengthy cut scenes making them more and more like their silver screen counterparts – it gets hard to decide what to adapt and what to alter. A successful method is to take a page from Wreck It Ralph’s book. It was chock-full of cameos from beloved game characters and yet didn’t feel the need to hold them to the screen and go “Hey kids, look, it’s M. Bison and Zangief! From Street Fighter!” Those who got it, loved it and those who didn’t simply accepted a big muscly man being overly sensitive and appreciated the joke. For a medium that’s obsessed with visuals and extravagant set pieces, a little subtlety can do wonders.

With adaptations of the massively successful The Last of Us and the supposed “Final Chapter” of the Resident Evil franchise on the way along with many others, let us know in the comments your opinions of game movies. How do you feel they should evolve to survive; how far should they be altered to satiate Joe and Jane Public?

 

Image credit: 123wtf.me, leviathyn.com, wall.alphacoders, Discorestro

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