Let’s face it: movies based on video games are usually horrendous. While a lot of it has to do with the scripts, directors, cast, etc., many of the problems can be boiled down to two core issues:
1.) The movie makes something from nothing (Super Mario Bros.)
2.) The movie ignores what is established to do its own thing (DOOM, Resident Evil)
With the Warcraft adaptation looming on the horizon, I'd like to propose ten games which would make for better flicks (provided the people involved are not Uwe Boll or Paul W.S. Anderson).
Ideal crew: Adam Wingard or Nicolas Winding Refn directing with a script penned by Simon Barrett
Hotline Miami is one of the most violent games in recent memory, and turned a number of heads with its pixelated carnage. The game is fast and furious with a no-holds barred approach to its gruesome content.
However, the game was more subversive and instead of simply being violence for violence sakes, it had a deeper meaning about players enjoying this horrific content. So how can a game with a subversive message about violence be made into a film?
First off, the aesthetic has been nailed in both Drive and The Guest. Both are hyper violent films and even have the thumping 80’s beats to accompany the visuals. Both movies, especially The Guest, manage to feel dreamlike and otherworldly, which is a key part to the game. For the script, just make it a subversive take on violence in film. The scene where Don Juan and Richard (horse and rooster respectively) speak to Jacket and ask, “Do you like hurting people?” could be slightly changed to address the viewer and hopefully raise some questions.
Ideal crew: Edgar Wright directing and co-writing the screenplay
I will just say it, Bayonetta is the best action (spectacle action, character action, whatever you call it) game made. It’s also one of my favorite games. A badass woman kicking all kinds of butt onscreen has been done before, so why couldn’t Bayonetta be adapted for the silver screen? The game is a series of ridiculous, over-the-top engagements with all sorts of bizarre creatures, strung together with even zanier cutscenes, backed by a nonsensical story you can’t help but love.Most action movies simply use a simplistic narrative as an excuse for whatever is happening onscreen anyway.
The hardest part of the movie would be Bayonetta herself. The movie would need to ensure she stays the strong character that is in control of her sexuality and not just a shell of a woman being sexy doing crazy things onscreen (because that has been done to death).
Edgar Wright has shown he has a knack for sumptuous visuals, eye-catching scenes, and awesome action with his work on the Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Bringing the extravagant spectacle of Bayonetta to life should be an easy task for the talented director. So have at it I say!
Ideal crew: The Thing era John Carpenter or Alien era Ridley Scott
Dead Space was inspired by films such as the Alien franchise, Event Horizon, The Thing, 2001: A Space Odyssey, among countless others. Since the game series was inspired by sci-fi horror films, why can’t the game series itself be made into a film? More so than any other entry on this list, the foundation for this has been laid several times and is shown to work and be successful.
Dark, brooding atmosphere set in a derelict space vessel? Check. A slow buildup of exploring the ship to find out what went wrong? Done. Grotesque monsters done with practical effects? Of course. This formula has been done countless times, but the Dead Space universe and mythos adds some elements many of the films have not had.
Both Ridley Scott and John Carpenter’s recent films have been lackluster when compared to their earlier classics. However, if either could tap into the creative spark used for The Thing or Alien and had a solid script to work from, this film would be one for the ages.
To The Moon
Ideal crew: The duo of Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would make for an excellent pairing.
To the Moon not only has one of the best narratives in gaming, it also has the most touching love story in the medium. The tale of two scientists trying to help fulfill a dying man’s last wish will affect you on levels few other stories can. This is one of only two games to ever make me cry; a feat no movie has ever accomplished. A true achievement as far as I’m concerned.
With the duo of Kauffman and Gondry at work, this movie should be a knockout. Eternal Sunshine already bears many similarities to To the Moon, being a love story with a sci-fi twist. So long as Kauffman doesn't go too far into typical Kauffman territory and the game's original soundtrack is used, the film could be a real winner.
Ideal crew: Ralph Bakshi or Don Bluth animating and directing
Ah, Brutal Legend, what a unique title! The adventures of Eddie Riggs in the heavy metal inspired world were fun to play and behold. With scenery ripped straight from the metal album covers of old, imaginative enemies, and a very metal soundtrack, the game was a treat for metalheads everywhere. While it had issues, it was one of the most imaginative and unique games players could get their hands on.
Metal has already inspired animated films such as Heavy Metal, so an adaptation of Brutal Legend would not necessarily need to be live action. In fact, an animated feature might be able to more accurately portray the visuals of the game. Simply bring the entire cast from the game to do the voice work! DECAPITATIONNNNN!
Ideal crew: Gareth Evans directing
The Ninja Gaiden series is known for its relentless difficulty, in-depth combat systems, and bloody action. Any game in the series would be an excellent fit, but the reboot of the series for the original Xbox and sequel for the 360, might make for the best material. Since the series has a nonsensical story which makes Bayonetta look coherent and logical, the focus of the game has always been on the action. So the film should do the same. Have a story as a backdrop to set up the action and then have Ryu Hayabusa go to town on some nasty demons.
Gareth Evans has shown he is one of the best action directors around with The Raid series and Merantu, and he is capable of committing astounding scenes to film. Given the violent nature of the game and his films, he should be a great fit for this bloodbath of an action flick.
God of War
Ideal crew: Zack Synder or Tarsem Singh directing
The atrocities of Kratos the Spartan would be a great fit for the big screen. The games have the format and flow of a feature film already; so an adaptation would not be too hard to accomplish. Just keep the story and characters and bring them to life.
I realize this project is in the works, but the names attached to the film so far are not inspiring confidence. Zack Snyder’s surprise hit 300 showed the world he had a knack for visuals and directing memorable battle scenes.
Tarsem Singh delivered a feat for the eyes with Immortals, even if the story was rather dull. Either of these men at the helm could bring Kratos to the screen in all of his blood-soaked glory.
Ideal crew: Guillermo del Toro writing and directing
Sanitarium is a classic of the horror and adventure genres. The game follows an amnesiac (cliché, but it works here) who seeks to find his identity and why the events happening to him are occurring. Players play through various creepy and skin-crawling scenarios in their search for answers. It’s brilliant stuff.
Guillermo del Toro has shown to be splendid with creating fantastical worlds with a dark edge along with great practical effects, monsters designs, and skin-crawling atmosphere. With his imagination at the helm of this production, nothing but good things could be the result.
Ideal crew: Jennifer Kent directing and writing
Jane Jensen’s classic adventure game of a struggling, New Orleans-based horror writer discovering his heritage is a fan favorite and regarded as legendary in the gaming world. With a dark story, a great setting with the town of New Orleans, and stellar writing, the game has cemented its place in gaming history for a good reason.
The success of this one would heavily hinge on the visuals and how true the script stays to the source material. Jennifer Kent did wonders with her directorial work on The Babadook, giving the audience a sense of claustrophobia and an unshakable sense of dread even when film moved out into the sun. Given how deftly she handled the atmosphere in The Babadook, I think she’d be a strong candidate to direct.
No More Heroes
Ideal crew: Takashi Miike directing
I wrote not long ago about the great villains of the game. How could you read that or play the game and not want to see it on the big screen? Besides Killer 7, the game is arguably Suda 51 at his best with the ridiculousness on display. An otaku and former wrestler who comes in possession of a beam katana and sets out to become the world’s greatest assassin? Forget the Bioshock movie, make this!!!
Takashi Miike is probably the most prolific director working in Japan, having worked on nearly every type and genre of films. He has shown he is proficient in directing fantastic action films such as 13 Assassins and well as madcap, absurd antics with Ichi the Killer. He was born to make this movie.
There you have it! Ten games which are candidates for great movies! Agree with my list? Disagree? Can you think of some games I overlooked? Sound off in the comments below!
At the very least, these would make for better movies than Super Mario Bros was!