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Video games are big business. Even bigger that movies (arguably). Yet no one has been able to really successfully combine the two.
The current movie video game crossover champion (in quantity only) is Resident Evil. Somehow this franchise keeps spewing out movie after movie with the only link to the game at this stage being the more they make, the worse they get. The Resident Evil movies are awful, mindless films that move from one nonsensical action set piece to another with little in the way of story to tie them in together. However it somehow has managed to gross nearly $900 Million worldwide and still get a cinema release instead of the straight to DVD status most game movies enjoy. I don't know if this is due to the alluring leading lady, the Resident Evil fanboys, mass hysteria or the desperation of gamers looking for a quality movie that they will embrace anything that is even half decent or not directed by Uwe Boll? This is followed by the two Tomb Raider movies, while by no stretch of the imagination good were not completely awful and did at least star Angelina Jolie.
Uwe Boll has been the harbinger of most of our video game movie disappointment with several awful films. He even made a film based on a rail shooter (House of the dead) which beggars belief. However while the worst (by far) he is not the only one. His movies were not even generally based on good games to start with but movies have been made based on quality games such as Silent Hill, Doom, May Payne, street fighter, Super Mario Brothers to name but a few. A listers such as Mark Wahlberg have died on their ares in these films and many of these title are amongst the worst movies ever made. Even upcoming movies based on games such as Halo, Bioshock and others generally get stuck in development hell and are never made or plow through writers and directors before ending up (at best) in a TV movie or your local bargain bin.
Why is that? Why is making a really good movie based on a game next to impossible? They have managed to do it with superheroes recently very successfully and their foibles and back story dwarfs even the largest RPG that has been created? In my opinion there are several issues. some which may change, others that probably will not.
Most video games have either a completely awful story or no story at all! Yes there are many games that do contain a compelling narrative but they are usually just a clever genre piece. Other games have too much story by far. While superheroes have a huge back story and canon their movies are able to link to a specific piece of it. they are all comic book characters and as such by definition their stories are told in episodic form. This lends well to movies. Many of the good games have either connected but separate stories or one major story line. Neither lend themselves well to movies. For martial arts movies the fights move the plot along or kill time, for fighting games the fighting is the plot. sure Tekken has some nonsensical back story but that would fill up about 10 minutes of a movie leaving a lot of time to fill with fight scenes. A game like Max Payne can get away with the references to the fact that it's a game and get away with it. the movie that was made from it took some of the aspects form the game that didn't work well in film and the result was a jumbled mess. It also took it'sself far too seriously!
It's incredibly rare for a computer game to have a truly compelling main character. Games like Half Life and Halo barely have a main character of note at all. Others are not as well fleshed out as the supporting characters while many are just action movie cliches. Don't get me wrong there are superb main characters in games but do they translate into film well. Look at GTA IV for example. Yes Nico was a good character but his story was generic. Could you imagine watching a movie about Nico? how would it be different from 100 other immigrant criminal climbs the ladder movies? The idea of the main character in many games is you insert yourself into their story. I still cannot understand why anyone thought it would be a good idea to base a movie on a scrolling platformer like Super Mario Brothers. In that case, as well as many others it's just using the name recognition to link to a completely unrelated story. Silent hill was also a good example of this. what happens is a mivie thats based on a game in name only.
3. Repetition and Grind
Most games are incredibly repetitive. when this repetition is taken out there's not much left. Even massive games such as Fallout or Elder Scrolls have you doing the same things over and over.
4. Added extras
Many games drip feed you details and back story over time with extras in the game. recordings or intel that flesh out the story and give you extra information. Dead Space and Bioshock amongst others did this extremely well. The recordings in Bioshock would be enough to fill a movie but what would actually happen is the intro will be rushed or important information will be left in the editing room to cut time and what you get is incoherent! this is generally what happens with "unfilmable" books. Yes films like the Lord of the Rings and Life of PI have proven to be extremely film-able but they had visionary people and massive budgets attached to make it so. We get Paul W.S. Anderson and Uwe Boll.
5. It's a niche market still.
I understand that i said gaming was arguably bigger then movies and no i'm saying it's not! Not exactly. GAMING is big business but A GAME is not. Look at how many blockbuster films came out this last year and how many games came out. Gaming is making more money because it's far more expensive and there is a massive quantity of games that come out. Not even the biggest movie franchises can bring out a new game every year like COD, FIFA etc. However very few games sell the amount of units that the big films sell. So while COD BO2 got to $1billion 2 days faster than Avatar it was between 2 and 4 times more expensive and that's a massive AAA title. So yes it's still a niche market. films need bums on seats at $15 a ticket on average. Also the tripe that's come previously can't be helping. Lets not forget the whiny fanboy who will butch and moan if Nathan drake is not played by Nathan Fillon (for an example). Gamers can be too hard to please when making games never mind movies!
6. What's the point.
A really good video game is like a movie you control (or an actual movie with some game play thrown in like MGS 4). It's the CONTROL aspect that is the reason gaming is so popular. We can get past the one (at best) dimensional Kratos because it's fun to CONTROL him. We can ignore the plot holes and the rubbish dialogue because it rarely affects the enjoyment of the gaming experience. Can anyone even remember what the plot line of House of the Dead or Time Crisis was? No! But i still enjoyed playing them in the arcade. For games like Bioshock and Skyrim you spent the time to uncover the history and the story but it took you dozens of hours of gameplay to get it all. so why would you want to watch a movie of a game and not be able to enjoy the best part of the game?
So i say save the money on your Del Torros and your Fassbenders and tell the same (but better and extended) story in a new game. Better still invest in some decent movie to game crossovers (not the other way around) so we can interact with the stories and characters from movies that we love in the same way we love to do with Gordon Freeman, Master Chief and the rest!
This is my first blog so bear with me!
There has been a lot of talk about the role violent video games play in modern life. There was an ill conceived articleabout the slippery slope modern games are on into some kind of moral abyss. It's all rubbish, the entire premise can be disproved in one simple sentence. The Call of duty and Halo franchises have alone sold a couple of hundred million units around the world. there are not a couple of hundred million people going on killing sprees. That's it case closed. However some people think that its not as cut and dried as that (it is, but let's humour them for a while) and that modern video games with their realistic graphics are de-sensitizing people to violence.
I'll deal with this in a couple of ways. firstly i'd like to see these games with their realistic graphics, i must have missed those ones somehow. Secondly and most importantly these games, and movies, only tend to de-sensitize beople to FAKE violence. Violence has been around for millenia, the most violent piece of literature hands down is the Old Testament. If they tried to make that into a film today it would make Hostel look like the Little mermaid. Violence and violent death did not spring up around games or movies. the two most destructive wars in history happened before TV was even around. The vietnam war was a turning point in violence on Tv. that was real violence and it was confronting and shocking.
Put 100 people in a room playing splatterhouse or some other insanely violent video game. Then walk them, across a road where they witness someone being hit by a car and killed. Not chopped up by a machette or ripped apart by dos just struck by a car. Every person out of that 100 will be seriously affected by it. Many will throw up. Many will relive that scene in thir head for weeks afterwards. Because it's real and our incredibly complex massive brains CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS REAL AND WHAT IS NOT! We know that GTA is cartoon violence and that we can't steal cars with impunity and beat up hookers for money while carrying 7 or 8 different weapons around. We know when we get killed in real life we don't wake up in a hospital short a few dollars. We know we can't score a scorpion kick against Brazil in the world cup final.
So what it really comes down to is triggers. People say these games, or rock music or whatever are triggers. In order for something to be a tirgger there needs to be an issue with the person to begin with. Remove the video game trigger and something else takes it's place. In the case of Son of Sam it was his neighbours dog. whatever the ethical opposition to violence in video games they are not the cause of the ills of modern society. Games properly regulated and sold to appropriate people are just that, games. You don't let you 12 year old watch Saw (at least you shouldn't) you shouldn't let them play GTA. But i'm a grown man and i find video games, violent and non violent relaxing and an enjoyable way of passing the time and i've never shot or stabbed someone or felt an urge to do so while playing them.
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