It seems that some things never change - broken PC ports, war, and terrible movies based on video games, for example. But while Arkham Knight has shown that we PC gamers still occasionally have to endure some mockery from our console cousins, and Fallout 4 continues to lament War’s unchanging nature, the recent Warcraft trailer has given people hope that we may soon see the end of atrocious Hollywood interpretations of video games.
Yes, movies based on video games have had a long and, at times, frankly horrific history. If you ignore the animated entries, what titles would be in a top five? In my mind, the original Mortal Kombat is still the best the genre has to offer, so that would leave (very arguably) Silent Hill, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider and the first Resident Evil; not exactly stellar stuff. Things get much, much worse when you look at the worst examples - Dead or Alive, Double Dragon, House of the Dead, Postal, and, of course, Alone the Dark, a movie that resulted in the 'lord of all that is balls,’ aka Uwe Boll, being charged with crimes against humanity (probably). It took poor Christian Slater 10 years to get his career back on track - thanks to ‘Mr. Robot’ - after this total bilge almost ruined him.
But back to the matter in hand; seeing as Warcraft does actually look like it will be pretty good, and assuming this trend will continue, what video games should also get the Hollywood treatment? Here’s a list of some titles that would make the transfer seamlessly – unless Uwe gets his grubby hands on them and produces another turd. There are also some suggestions as to who should play the heroes and villains from the games.
7. Life is Strange
Seeing how Life is Strange is pretty much an interactive movie anyway, adapting it for the big screen shouldn’t be much of a challenge for those involved. This amazing game may be a teenage-girl-with-time-altering-powers simulator, but it can be enjoyed by anyone and is one of the best games around to play with non-gaming partners.
While the movie version should stick close to the plot, it might not be a good idea to adhere too close - as anyone who has played the series will know what big reveals to expect. In all likelihood, this would be one of those movies from video games that are ‘loosely’ based on the source material, much like Max Payne, but hopefully not as vomit-inducingly bad.
Protagonist: She’s the right age and can play geeky as well as she plays sassy - Chloe Moretz would be a popular choice for Max Caulfield
Antagonist: Impossible to go into too much detail here without ruining the game for anyone who hasn’t played it. Let’s just say that Ryan Gosling would be my choice.
The Silent Hill movie is generally regarded as one of the better movies based on video games, but it’s still pretty divisive. Maybe now’s the time to give another horror game the Hollywood treatment? And few are more worthy than the brilliantly terrifying Outlast.
If you’re the kind of person who reads all the notes/audio files in these kind of games, you’ll know that Outlast has a deeper plot than most horror titles. Covering stuff such as CIA mind control experiments, Nazi scientists, and some ever-popular body horror themes, the game has the potential to become an excellent modern horror movie. Throw in some of Outlast’s night-vision POV elements, jump scares, and torture porn - and get Eli Roth to direct it - and you’ve got yourself a real horror movie.
Protagonist: As you never see investigative reporter Miles Upshur’s face, anyone could play him. I think Josh Brolin would do a good job, lending a sense of gravitas alongside his freakishly square face.
Antagonist: There are a fair few bad guys in the game, but the psychopathic Doctor Richard Trager is one of the most memorable. It’s definitely a role that Marty McFly’s Dad, Crispin Glover, could play – once he shaved his head and stuck on a load of latex.
A movie adaptation of Bioshock very nearly came into existence (the image above is concept art from the project) but after several attempts to finalize a deal with Universal, creator Ken Levine pulled the plug. Part of the reason was the poor reception suffered by Watchmen; Universal wanted a hard R-rated Bioshock, and after the failure of Zack Snyder’s superhero movie the studio decided to drop the allocated budget from $200 million to £80 million.
This didn’t sit well with director Gore Verbinski, who subsequently quit the project. Levine wasn’t happy with the replacement director, and so the Bioshock movie was cast into limbo.
After all this, Verbinski went on to direct the $225 million The Lone Ranger. Turns out even a massive budget, a famed director and Johnny Depp can’t save some things.
In all fairness, Bioshock would likely be a very difficult movie to make. Verbinski was right about it needing a massive budget, and the movie version would require some good writing to incorporate the themes of choice, religion, socialism, class, etc in order to make it appealing enough to the masses without diluting the essence of what the game is about. But maybe one day all these different production elements will come together and we’ll get the Bioshock movie that fans deserve.
Protagonist: Assuming it’s based on Infinite’s Booker DeWitt, it’s got to be Mad Men’s Jon Hamm. The actor looks so much like DeWitt you would think the game designers used him as reference material.
Antagonist: Going with Infinite's Zachary Hale Comstock, I would choose General Zod himself: Michael Shannon. Tall, imposing and with the kind of voice you feel compelled to obey; give Shannon a beard and he’d make a perfect leader of the founders.
Anyone who has played SOMA will probably be surprised to find that - considering it’s from the team behind Amnesia - the first few hours aren't overly scary. Eventually, you meet the first horrific, shambling monstrosity THAT YOU CAN’T OUTRUN and you end up assuring your dry cleaners that the marks on your pants aren’t what they look like.
So yeah, SOMA can be a terrifying game, and one that doesn’t rely on too many jump scares in the way Outlast often does. There’s an ever-present sense of dread when playing SOMA, made all the worse by the sense of isolation it instills in the player by being set at the bottom of the ocean.
Other than the fact it’s a very scary game, SOMA's examination of questions such as ‘what makes us human?’ and ‘is there such thing as a soul?’ could help it become an excellent horror movie that looks beyond the monsters, much like Jacob’s Ladder does.
Due to the fact it’s impossible to talk too much about certain aspects of the game without giving away major spoilers, I’ll leave off the antagonist/protagonist section for this one.
3. Dead Space
Even though there have been two rather good animated movies, Dead Space is ripe for the live-action treatment. In fact, the horror maestro himself and a big fan of the franchise, John Carpenter, has expressed an interest in getting involved in the project.
A movie adaptation has the potential to be a real stomach-churner, provided it contains the same amount of blood, violence and body horror seen in the game. Carpenter talking the helm would be a great sign - as the man who directed The Thing, he knows plenty about creating scares using horribly mutated monsters.
Dead Space’s Church of Unitology plot would certainly work well in a movie adaptation, much like it does in the animations. And while it could be based on any (or all) of the games, the USG Ishimura-set first entry would likely be the best option, invoking the same sense of isolation and dread that the original Alien movie managed to do so well.
Antagonist: There are a few antagonists in the Dead Space series, but if we’re sticking with the first one then I’d pick True Lies bad guy Art Malik for the role of Dr. Challus Mercer
There have been a number of previous attempts made at getting the ball rolling on a Fallout movie, including one promising project that was ultimately cancelled. The fact that Bethesda holds a ‘Statement of use’ Fallout movie trademark covering “motion picture films about a post-nuclear apocalyptic world” does give hope that we may one day hear the words “War. War never changes” on the big screen.
A movie incarnation could use Fallout canon taken from the entire series of games. Post-apocalyptic movies are nearly always popular, and with Mad Max becoming a lot of people's ‘movie of the year,’ as well as Fallout 4’s recent release, Hollywood would do well to ride the momentum and get a Fallout movie into theaters asap.
For inspiration, 'Fallout the movie' should look toward Denzel Washington’s awesome The Book of Eli, which shows exactly how to create a post-nuclear world. Of course, it would need to add in the game's famed advanced technology (power armor!), and having some deathclaws and mini-nuke launchers wouldn’t go amiss either.
Protagonist: Pretty much anyone, really. Well, I don’t think Jim Parsons would fit the role, so maybe not anyone.
Do not cast this man!
Antagonist: Again, it all depends on what lore the movie uses. Although I always thought Neal McDonough (Arrow’s Damien Darhk) would make a great Caesar from New Vegas.
1. Dragon Age
There has already been a Dragon Age animated movie, a YouTube mini-series, and a web series featuring the lovely Felicia Day, but surely now, in an age where Game of Thrones has made it acceptable to talk about dragons and wizards, we deserve a big budget Dragon Age feature.
A movie adaptation doesn’t need to copy directly from any of the games, but it should feature some of the core elements such as Darkspawn, dragons (duh!), mages, the Chantry, and the Templars. Adding some GoT-style intertwined political storylines would definitely benefit the movie version (we wouldn’t want it to be another Dungeons and Dragons *shudder*), although it would probably do well to ease off on the incest.
Giving it an R-rating would definitely be the difference between making a Dragon Age that does justice to the source material and creating a cheesy, child-friendly pile of crap. The games are brutal in sections and deal with adult subjects such as racism, class, and duty. Plus, of course, there’s a ton of blood, death and general viscera across the entire series.
Give this project to a good writer and director, allocate an enormous budget, and you’ve got yourself one of the best video game movies ever made. Should Warcraft do as well as many people expect, don’t be surprised if talk of a live-action Dragon Age feature starts to surface once again.
Protagonist: As the main character is customizable, it doesn’t need to be a specific actor. Gerard Butler proved in 300 that few people do swordplay, beards, and muscles better than him, so maybe he should get the role.
In case you were wondering, there are quite a few video game movies in various stages of productions right now, hence why they weren’t included on this list. Bear in mind that a few are in the very early stage of pre-production but still 'officially' being worked on. Here’s a list of some of them:
- Metal Gear Solid
- Mass Effect
- Deus Ex
- Watch Dogs
- Dead Island
- The Witcher
- Assasins creed
- The Last of Us
What do you think of our list? What other games do you think deserve a spot on here? Let me know in the comments!