In the last 20 years dozens of Hollywood filmmakers tried to make movies based on video games that would be well-received by the audiences. Unfortunately, only a couple have managed to bring something decent to the world cinemas -- there is a feeling that movies based on video games are cursed.
The very first game character that was brought to life on a blue screen was Super Mario in 1993. The latest one was Assassin’s Creed, which failed both domestically and globally. On the other hand, there is an entire community of amateur filmmakers that make their own short films of video games -- and it is way more successful than you may think.
This selection offers some of the best examples made in the last five years, including fan-made films based on GTA, Watch Dogs, Fallout, The Legend of Zelda, and many, many others. You can watch them all right here without the need to visit the cinemas.
Grand Theft Auto: RISE
There isn’t much story wise in RISE, but the chase scene that takes the two thirds of the film is more than impressive. Gevorg Karensky, the writer and director, created a style that combines both live and video game footage.
The film was so well accepted by the community that it was immediately snatched for the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Sam Gibs from Gizmodo UK said the following about GTA: RISE:
"It blows every other fan-made project I've ever laid eyes on completely out of the water."
Shadow Of Mordor
This little movie was made in 2014 by Sam and Niko from Corridor Digital with financial support of Warner Bros. Games. The film shows an episode from the story of ranger Talion, who is being chased by a bunch of orcs.
It features high standards of production, including top-notch make-up, excellent acting, fighting choreography, and some very well-done CGI. The only drawback is the main character’s synthetic wig that looks really cheap, but other than that it’s totally worth a watch.
Ubisoft has in plans of releasing a feature film based on Watch Dogs, but after the flop of the Assassin’s Creed movie, we should all expect more delays and rewrites. There is hope if the production team tries to really ground everything down, instead of imitating the unrealistic approach that works only in video games.
The good example is the short film presented here that received tons of positive reviews from the community. It was created by Infectious Designer right after the release of the first game, which even spawned several sequels.
Red Dead Redemption: Seth's Gold
Seth’s Gold is a true fan-film made with the money gathered on IndieGoGo from 87 backers that managed to bring in over 8,000 Euro. Although it is based on the RDR video game, the shooting style was inspired by the old westerns, such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.
The people behind the film are two young Spanish filmmakers -- Guillermo de Oliveira and Javier Esteban. They have a few other cool shorts on their YouTube channel, so check them out.
Fallout: Nuka Break
The original short film based on Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas became so popular that the team behind the project decided to turn it into a full-fledged web-series. The first season got huge online very quickly and the Kickstarter campaign was launched to finance Season 2.
Not only fans were amazed by the quality of the original film and the series, but the representatives of Bethesda themselves gave them two thumbs-up. Later on the Nuka Breaker weapon has been released through a DLC, which was a direct homage to this fan-film.
The Last of Us: No Escape
Pocketsquare has made two short films based on The Last of Us thus far, and it looks like it’s not their last one, especially with the announcement of the sequel to TLOU video game.
The 13-minute long film captures the atmosphere of the game incredibly well. Some of the scenes are gripping and convey a true sense of despair. The sound design plays a huge role in it, and it is clear how much attention the creators paid to the ambience -- these people know what they do.
BioShock: The Brothers Rapture
BioShock series is a perfect candidate for being turned into a few high-budget Hollywood blockbusters with some nice plot. At one point such a movie was greenlit, but due to financial problems and artistic differences it was put on a halt indefinitely.
Fortunately, there are some really cool short films based on the iconic game. One of them is The Brothers Rapture created by film students from Canada. It tells the story of two brothers who work in the Rapture City and how their experiments lead to some horrific results.
The Splinter Cell
Ubisoft has two tactical shooters that should make their way into the big cinema sooner or later -- Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. None of them have been actually seriously considered yet, but this fan film made by Atomic Productions is simply staggering.
The cinematography in the film is mind-blowing and at times even trumps those big Hollywood flicks.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Human Revolution is not a usual fan-made short film -- it’s got a relatively huge budget, it took two years to film... and it looks impressive. The slick design of the game is preserved to a T and the action sequences are perfectly choreographed.
The actor who plays Adam Jensen, the main protagonist, also served as the editor, writer, and director of the film -- his name is Moe Charif. He is currently working on his full feature film “Exile” that should be out sometime this year.
Tomb Raider: Croft
The story of Lara Croft is not only one of the longest-running video game series, but also a movie franchise that spawned two features with Angelina Jolie in the main role and the upcoming reboot with Alicia Vikander.
Although not a massive undertaking as the above-mentioned Hollywood blockbusters, this fan film is nothing short of amazing. It was inspired by the game that was released in 2013 and incorporates all the stylistic features of it, such as the new look of the main heroine, grim atmosphere, bow and arrows as the main weapon, etc.
Portal: No Escape
No Escape simply cannot show all the aspects of the original game from Valve, but it does tell a short story from a life of a female prisoner who finds the miraculous handheld portal device.
It is a very well made short movie, which isn’t surprising, since the creator of the film is Dan Trachtenberg -- the same guy who directed 10 Cloverfield Lane from last year. If you want to see how he came up with his own style of filmmaking, then definitely check out his Portal film.
Super Mario: Underworld
Super Mario in a horror movie? How is this possible? Well, Nukazooka made it possible! It’s a tale with morale that warns all the young kids about the dangers of missing a jump in Super Mario Bros. game, because if that happens, then Mario will go to the most terrifying place -- the Nintendo underworld.
Anyhow, it’s a really cool concept, it is actually so good that could spawn an entire fan-made video game, but we all know too well that Nintendo will never allow that... but we can always dream, right?
Sonic the Hedgehog
Instead of letting a real actor play the part of Sonic, the creators of this fan film decided to go with a full animated character, and probably for the best. The animation looks neat and it blends naturally into the live setting of planet Mobius.
The film doesn’t try to take a Sonic into some new direction, but shows it the way this character is meant to be -- fast and funny, if even silly at times. However, the danger is real and the stakes are high, so there is more to the story than it seems at first.
Metroid: The Sky Calls
The Sky Calls is the true successor of such great sci-fi films like Alien and Space Odyssey. It has that undeniable aesthetics of the grim, open space that is as dangerous as it can get.
There is a lot of CGI in the film, but it’s done very well, and the special saturation effect that resembles the Kodak film strip used in the 70s and 80s makes everything look extra cool.
If you are a fan of oldschool sci-fi movies, then definitely watch Metroid: The Sky Calls.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Shadow
Here’s another dark re-telling of the familiar story. This time Link meets his dark twin -- the Link’s shadow. The film’s got a few bloody scenes and the whole theme suggests that the bright world of Zelda is not that bright after all.
It was made by the same team that shot Shadow of Mordor, so there is a certain style to their work -- lots of action in a fantasy-based world. We hope they do more of this stuff in the future ‘cause it does look great.
Hell of a DayZ
People that play DayZ know that the worst enemies in the game are not zombies roaming the wastelands, but the humans, or simply other players. This is also the main plot point of the short film based on DayZ that tells a story of two companions.
The film clearly shows what usually happens in the world devoid of any honor and conscience, which is probably the best lesson one can get.
On that note, let's wait and see what else 2017 will bring in terms of video game fan-films, so expect another selection later this year.