Movies Born Of Games
Posted on Tuesday, July 21 @ 10:55:20 Eastern by Chris_HudakE-RANK FACEPLANTS: HELL HAS A GOOGLEPLEX (AND HERE'S WHAT ON THE MARQUEE)
In case you didn't know this was coming: The lower-quality, missed-opportunity and just flat-out bad movies are, in fact, the largest wedge of the games-to-movie pie graph. It's just the way things are. Let's steel ourselves and gaze into the abyss of some of the more notably-unfortunate outings:
Not even the most ardent breakdancer or Patrick Nagel collector loves everything about the 80s...and with good reason. In another splinter-universe frighteningly close to our own, the 1993 theatrical release of Super Mario Bros. might well have ended it all for would-be viewers of videogame movies—by setting such a disastrous creative and box-office precedent, despite the involvement of some inarguably talented actors. Even Bob “Eddie Valiant” Hoskins and Dennis “Don't You Fuckin' Look at Me” Hopper couldn't begin to save this action-dreckfest, which utterly failed to understand the marvelous, magical, mushroom-intensive world of Mario.
Another significant, unfortunate, eye-crossing kick squaw in the rocks to gamer-filmgoer society—if you accept the general consensus—was 1995's Street Fighter, which at least attempted to give fans of the game their beloved band of brawlers, injected with a little B-list star power. Jean Claude Van Damme as American badass Guile (with a suspiciously Belgian accent) was supposed to be a selling point...which should give the uninitiated their first indication of things going off the rails (the charming Ming-Na as Chun-Li almost made up for some of that...but alas, Street Fighter also represented Raul Julia's last major starring role, a fact that leaves the entire lackluster adaptation with rather an oily-pall stigma). Further, this movie about fighters and fighting, offers (even by mid-90s standards) some of the weakest fighting sequences imaginable. To borrow another handily-effective phrase: It's Just Wrong.
But wrongness—like passionate otaku crushes on carefully-marketed Japanese high-school 'idol-singers' who don't, technically, exist—comes in degrees... and degrees at least imply the existence of some of bordering absolutes. For the games-to-movies endeavor as an industry to go really wrong—we're talking truly, epically, Kathy-Griffin-as-phone-sex-worker wrong—you need more than just a mediocre movie or two. You need more than just a hack writer, or a tasteless producer, or an execreble director (any single one of which does not presuppose a terrible movie); no, you need a myth-figure of cinematic failure, a poster-boy for video-gamer disappointment...and, to surf an accepted Hollywood trope, there can be only one: Enter German director Uwe Boll.
Happily (for our purposes here at least), easily four of the absolute most barrel-bottom, most universally-panned video game movies of all time fall, clumped together, under Uwe Boll's single, convenient aegis. His directorial badness is so legendary at this point that the reader might be tempted to cry out “Oh come on, GR, try a little harder—he's such an obvious, easy target!” Clearer-minded thinkers will, of course, see the denuded forest for the tree-stumps: He's an obvious, easy target precisely because of his legendary directorial badness.
And he just happens to have a 'thing' for movies born of video games. So deal.
The videogamer hive-mind howls in much-documented internet outrage at such Uwe Boll productions as House of the Dead, BloodRayne and Postal, but the greatest blow to game-based movies was certainly Alone in the Dark (which has been labeled on Rotten Tomatoes as “scary for all the wrong reasons,” “bad in original ways,” and “inept on almost every level.”). The eerie polygon-fest PC game that spearheaded the 'survival horror' genre was not only emphatically cinematic, atmospheric and at points genuinely frightening, blocky visuals and all—it was also decidedly Lovecraftian in its tone and subject matter. In terms of movie-fodder, how could it fail?
By the evidence, Uwe Boll found a way—firstly by defenestrating the mannered-and-moody Lovecraftian aspects entirely, secondly by 'crafting' the production as an uninspired dumb-and-gun flick, and thirdly via the unlikely, erratic, casting-triangle of Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff. Widely, tragically adrift from its source material's story and intentions, Alone in the Dark is nevertheless notable as one of gaming cinema's Big Fish that got away.
FANTASY TRACKS: YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES
You show me a video gamer who hasn't used his/her idle mental-time (in line at the DMV, performing a humdrum routine coronary bypass, etc.) conjuring up the game-to-movie projects of their dreams, and I'll show you a liar, and possibly a pervert. Between runs to the liquor store and brainstorming sessions on new and interesting ways to break my laptop and other portable electronics while they're still under warranty, I admit it: I've drifted off into the land of Video Game Movies That Should Be more than a few thousand times, often right while I'm playing the games in question—it's practically a reflex at this point. This is a subject that could easily, easily turn into an article that dwarfs the one you're currently reading..but I'll just leave you with a few choice tidbits.
See you at the movies.
VIDEO GAMES THAT SHOULD BE MOVIES (NOTE: Not limited to franchises and directors still living. Some configurations may conflict with movies previously released or canceled in your local Ur. All Local Paradox Laws apply, and violators may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of existing and/or potential laws. All things serve the Tower.)
FATAL FRAME: Produced, written and directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi, the man who directed Kairo/”Pulse”—the original movie, not that beshitted Hollywood remake). Ghosts, cameras, scared sailor-suited Tokyo girls—and every screwed-up, hackle-raising bit of visual wrongness that modern Japanese survival-horror can serve up.
LEISURE SUIT LARRY: Directed and produced by Todd Phillips. Casting is key, of course, the soundtrack is Vegassed to Harrah's and back, cheesecake cameos run rampant...and if Larry actually manages to get laid in the film, it comes back to haunt him a hundredfold: This one time..? At band camp...?
ALONE IN THE DARK: Starring Ralph Fiennes as Carnby. Lovecraftian arcana required. No shitty heavy-metal music. Directed by Anybody But Uwe. I want my game-movie franchise back, dammit.
FLASHBACK: Yeah, yeah, I know—it's already a movie. Eat me.
ODDWORLD: ABE'S ODDYSEE: No live-action, please.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: Directed by Quentin Tarantino. All the radio stations from the game—I don't care what you have to do, just work 'em in there. Starring, in no particular order, Christian Bale, Samuel Jackson, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Russell Crowe, Chiaki Kuriyama, Joe Pantoliano, Lawrence Fishburne, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Peter Stormare, Steve Buscemi, and Daniel Craig.
SILENT HILL 2: As in, the actual plot of the Silent Hill 2 game. In fact, go ahead and make the various 'alternate endings' just like in the game—even the goofy dog and UFO endings--and just randomly seed 'em out to various theaters all around the country—that should mess some people up.
RED ALERT: It'll be Red Dawn done right, overblown nationalistic stereotypes on all sides, outrageous anachronistic war machines, and maybe a few results-of-time-travel snags that would make 12 Monkeys look like a fairly straightforward episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Harry Turtledove as alternate-history consultant—if we're going to mess with the timeline, let's get serious.
NEXT UP Just a boring, comprehensive list of all game-based movies ever >>