Why we must keep trying with video game movies
COG considers: Hollywood must one day make video game movies successful
Video game movies usually get a bad rap, usually because they’re generally bad. But as I always say, “the first step to being good at something is to suck.” There are movie adaptations of all kinds of things; novels, legends and myths, comics, even real life events. Not all are good. The early adaptations are bad enough, but through trial and error and refining a craft, Hollywood has managed to produce some really good movies. Someday they might be able to do it with video games.
At the end of the month, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will debut in theaters. We are also anticipating the release of the movie Uncharted with Tom Holland. While these films aim to be the start of a series, they carry with them the legacy of all of the previous video game films, mostly bad ones.
These films deserve to be judged on their own merits, not on the reputation of those who came before them, right? Will we judge Captain America’s next movie on the 1979 one with the motorcycle helmet? Those early Lord of the Rings animated films were pretty awful, but they don’t take anything away from the Peter Jackson films.
Blockbuster movie adaptations like those found in the MCU, the Middle-earth series, and all the other movie franchises (original works or not) have something in common. They have people working there who really care about them. I think a studio that takes on a video game movie has to have someone like Kevin Feige; someone excited about the source material who will take the time to figure out what makes it special and how to translate it to the screen.
Money makes the world go round. Unhappy, but a simple fact of life. The goal of making a film is often to make money. People need to eat, pay rent, pay for their yacht, etc. “Will that bring in any money?” is the driving issue in all Hollywood decisions. The passion for the source material is not. Again, these studios need a special someone to strike that balance between making money and pleasing fans in order to make video game movies a profitable business.
“But how can a movie turn a 20 hour game into a 2 hour movie? Well, how does a movie adapt a 700 book into a movie? How do you take a 10 issue comic book bow and make it into a movie? How do you take Freddie Mercury’s career and make it into a movie? This is the whole challenge of an adaptation. Yeah, it’s gonna be tough. You may need to cut some characters. You may need to change some plot elements to fit a movie format. It might not be exactly the game you played.
Are long, story-rich video games better suited to be TV shows? Sure. The Last of Us, The Witcher, and Showtime’s Halo series are getting this treatment and hopefully it will work for them. Deciding what would make a good series and what would make a good movie is another challenge facing the industry.
Yes, Hollywood is bad enough at finding the important parts of a game and bringing them to the screen, but moviegoers also need to understand that they’re not watching a video game. What I’m saying is I have a choice to make with players who think they know what will make a good movie. Just casting an actor who looks like Leon Kennedy won’t make the Resident Evil movie any better. Dividing a game’s story into three parts will not bring viewers into a theater.
The bottom line is that if we intimidate filmmakers into making video game movies entirely, we’ll never see a good one. Much like a parent to a bad child, we have to nurture them and guide them in the right direction. Unfortunately, there is little that the average viewer like you or I can do to change or fix the above issues. We just have to hang on to them and hope that Hollywood one day succeeds.
What do you think of video game movies? Are the fans too harsh or do they really know better? Let us know in the comments below.