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Friday, September 29, 2006

Beating Down Game Movie Flops

Not satisfied with simply cutting down one movie at a time, The Olympian takes on Stay Alive, Silent Hill, and Grandma's Boy all at the same time, commenting that if they "had the power to give negative stars", they would.

Why is it so hard to translate games into film? We've certainly seen enough literature arise from games that we shouldn't assume a decent storyline can't be derived from games (see Battletech or Halo). Here's a couple of guesses:

Culture Clash
Movies like Doom show that in general - Hollywood doesn't get games. Largely they're just interested in the brand name and a few key factors (BFG! CARMACK!) rather than earnestly looking at the game as a narrative in its own right.

B-Movie Syndrome
Game movies have not yet had their Spider-Man ... a summer blockbuster which sells so well that studios will greenlight nearly any budget for any license. Science fiction and fantasy are a lot easier to create and control on a VGA monitor than they are on the big screen. Wing Commander showed that when you took the pithy bitmapped Kilrathi and turned them into latex Halloween masks - the only real villain remaining is the movie itself.

Weak Game Writing
Let's accept the fact that largely - game writing sucks. It's generally an afterthought behind sound assets and marketing material. There are discernable exceptions of course - but Doom wasn't doing itself much good when it's most iconic character is a nameless space marine. Note that the common trend of a "tabula rasa" main character does nothing to help this fact.

Uwe Boll
Oh yeah, I'm singling him out. The man has done more to set game movie production back than anyone else on the planet. He's given studios a vehicle to schlock cheaply produced films to fans while showing virtually no regard for anything like ... well, quality. I would box Uwe Boll in a heartbeat if he promised to choose a new profession.

Right now I'd say our shining beacon of hope is easily Peter Jackson's Halo. Jackson is a very astute producer and known for being faithful to source material. Bungie loves a well-developed backstory and while the Master Chief is a bit of a blank slate, he's got some personality. And there's always Cortana for character. If Halo can be a done well and sells well - game movies might just get the tournaround they need.

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Thomas said...

Oddly enough, I've been watching House of the Dead 2 in small chunks and it's not completely terrible.

But it manages a lot of that by having roughly nothing to do with the video game, other than a few inside references ("Guess I'm alone again... Alone in the Dark," mutters the House of 1000 Corpses ripoff character.)

Josh said...

It would figure that a USA TV movie would be better than a Uwe Boll feature film. I considered viewing it, but the first was still scarred onto the retina of my left eye.

It hurts when I blink.