Video game movies have sucked, LusiFrames. This is no strong statement. This is no revelation. There have been some financially successful video game movies and there have been some video game movies that have not been complete pieces of shit, sure. But in terms of successfully capturing the tone, wonder, and depth of our favourite hobby, LusiProjectors, movies have flopped face-first into a steaming pile of platypus manure.
Therefore my question is this: Should there even be video game movies? Is it a futile effort? Or should we be more interested in accurately celebrating the culture instead of “porting” a franchise over to the big screen?
From purely anecdotal evidence, it appears as though Hollywood often misses the point. The thought process seems to be along the lines of “well, people pay lots of money for video games and those same people usually pay money for movies, how about we combine the two?” Therefore, franchise names are slapped on a generic action movie with little thought on how to truly capture what people enjoy about the games.
However, while it appears as though Hollywood is doing a shitty job of understanding gaming culture, I wonder if even a “good” video game movie would fall flat.
Mario platformers are generally excellent games, but their strengths are not story. It seems as though a “good” Mario movie would have to abandon what makes Mario games what they are.
Zelda games include a lot of figuring out puzzles and exploration of the world. A Zelda movie would not let the viewer explore the world at their own pace or talk to whomever they would like to talk to.
So much of what makes Shadow of the Colossus great is the desolate lonely feel. This is accomplished by great stretches of time when nothing happens at all. It works in a game because the player herself is discovering the world, but it sounds like a shitty movie to me.
Perhaps the answer is complete creative control. Advent Children is the most successful video game to movie transition I can think of, and perhaps that only worked because it was built ground-up for the small screen. No Hollywood marketing people to twist it with their dirty hands. Just look at Spirits Within. I mean, I never saw it, but I have not talked to anybody who said it was not garbage. Complete trash.
There is a new development, however. Perhaps most of you have already seen the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph. It is based on a fake video game and breaks a lot of the real rules of the world as a cartoon is wont to do. But there is something different about this movie compared to trailers for Sands of Time or Tomb Raider. There appears to be a genuine understanding of gaming culture. Of course, this is just a trailer, but there are signs.
First, there’s the fake Wreck-It Ralph game within the movie. It is obviously nodding to Rampage and the original Donkey Kong but it does so with respect. It is a case of imitation as flattery. From what I can tell, the fake games in the movie are exaggerated parodies of real games; I see Mario Kart and Call of Duty off the bat. And although I am sure that the games’ rules will take many liberties to accommodate the means of the plot, it appears to be clear that the filmmakers are not trying to cash in on the lucrative gaming industry, but are rather genuine fans.
This, to me, seems like a much better approach to video game movies. The mediums are compared a lot, but I actually think they transition very poorly to one another. Instead, why not celebrate the greatness of video games with film instead of trying – and failing – to recreate said greatness. Indie Game: The Movie appears to be another great example of this. I have yet to see it, but it has received extremely positive reviews from gamers and cinemaphiles alike. That appears to be because it is a well-made documentary about the independent development scene. It is not trying to shove a square peg into a circle hole. It is finding a way to consolidate the worlds.
What do you think, LusiScenes? Am I too pessimistic about video game movies? Do you just think that the right one has not been made yet and we just have to wait another generation? Or maybe you think Wreck-It Ralph looks like shit and you loved Spirits Within. Sound off below!