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6 movies that look and feel exactly like video games (but aren't actually based on games)

A quick look at gaming's increasingly cinematic AAA blockbusters makes it abundantly clear that mainstream games are trying harder to emulate movies all the time. But the thing is, they needn't bother. Because as games become an ever more mainstream medium, films are increasingly taking cues from them.

While the results of these muddied media waters are a very mixed bunch indeed, the creeping influence of games upon the medium they often try to ape is a mighty interesting thing to note. Check out these six for starters.

1. Sucker Punch

The one that inspired this article. And ye gods, where do you even start? Sucker Punch is basically “Video Game Fan Service: The Movie”. The central concept (aesthetically at least) is little more than “Hot chicks in short skirts vs. Nazi steampunk robot samurai dragons”, but even going beyond the obvious visual design (which is like watching a cutting room floor megamix of Final Fantasy cut scenes that were dropped for being too long and sexist), the entire structure of the film is very, very gamey indeed.

Each of the extended action set-pieces which make up the bulk of the film takes the form of a hallucination sequence. Each has the narrative purpose of shielding the lead characters from the grim reality of their real-life situation, but is also infused with subconscious elements of the real world to some degree. The form of our protagonists' real-life plight? Being imprisoned in a stylised Victorian-looking asylum.  If you're thinking that the above set-up sounds like an unofficial adaptation of American McGee's Alice at this point, you certaibly wouldn't be the first.

Not only that, but while each hallucination loosely follows on from the last in terms of overarching narrative, they remain utterly self-contained at the same time. With radical jumps of location and visual style between each one, the resulting film is built around something almost identical to traditional video game level structure. Given that the girls are on an overall quest (imparted by an unidentified 'Wise Man) to secure five special items (a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a fifth secret one), this thing might as well have been called The Legend of Zelda: T&A Edition.

Oh, and speaking of that gratuitously exposed ladyflesh, make no mistake. In terms of sexual objectification and borderline misogyny in the field of presenting female action protagonists, Sucker Punch is video games all the way. And don’t get us started on the subtextual stuff. That rant goes on for hours and isn’t very fun.

Topics

film movies

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26 comments

  • LEGOMatrix - November 17, 2012 8:09 p.m.

    OMFG, it's Chev! Chev Chelios! As in "F**k you Chev Chelios" repeated multiple times throughout both films! -10 man points, Hooters! Death Race 2000 was Carmageddon before Carmageddon. Run Lola Run is like replaying levels differently each time. Shaolin Soccer. Just... Shaolin Soccer.
  • OICJC - November 17, 2012 11:09 a.m.

    Nintendo365 got it right, but the article gets it wrong; the character in Crank is named Chev, not Chet.
  • n00b - November 14, 2012 6:13 p.m.

    why you game journalist always get up tight about skimpy outfits? I think the outfits in sucker punch look cool and fit well the visual style and universe.
  • Apastron - November 14, 2012 2:34 p.m.

    Cloverfield is my favourite movie, a lot of that due to the first-person view which seduced me the same way Half-Life 2 did. District 9 and Battle Los Angeles were recommended to me off the back of this; the former was the worst movie I have ever seen, the latter wasn't a lot better. I think there's a movie called Super8 which is apparently quite game-like too. Don't know if I dare watch it having been burnt twice by this similarity.
  • winner2 - November 14, 2012 6:13 a.m.

    Sucker Punch was freakin' awesome. Especially that soundtrack, holy shit.
  • wheresmymonkey - November 14, 2012 1:36 a.m.

    Good list. I would of Added Dredd, Old Boy and The Raid to the list.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - November 14, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    Old Boy very nearly made it, just for that side-scrolling sequence.
  • Peguin - November 13, 2012 8:34 p.m.

    That article was a long time coming (i remember you discussing it on a podcast way back) but a very enjoyable read. Good work
  • FuzzyDeath - November 13, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    When I first saw the trailer for Sucker Punch, I was ZOMG! Went to watch it in the cinema, and I wanted to walk out after thirty minutes of bullshit. -_- Movie sucked so bad. I hated it.
  • alex-roy-bristol - November 13, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    Dude, that movie was literally one of the best thinking movies I have ever seen, or even HEARD of... Where you just going to see boobies?
  • christoffer-karlof - November 13, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Children of men, very much inspired by half life 2, and the whole movie is basically about level progression. Also one of the best damn movies in a decade
  • nintendo365 - November 13, 2012 11:46 a.m.

    Crank was unexpected, but PERFECT. It is exactly like a GTA/Saints Row Crossover. And plus Chev Chelios is a Niko Bellic looking mofo.
  • RedHarlow - November 13, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    I loved the girls and the Steampunk World War I scene in Sucker Punch. I could do without everything else.
  • Fuzunga - November 13, 2012 10:53 a.m.

    Speed Racer, man. All I could think when watching that movie was "I want to play this".
  • BladeBlur - November 13, 2012 11:54 a.m.

    Words. Of. Truth.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - November 13, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    Re: Scott Pilgrim, Tron, Gamer etc. They were deliberately left off because they referece gaming too explicitly, or are directly built around it as a plot point. The point of this list is to discuss films that are just influenced by the aesthetic or structure of games without games being their primary theme or subject matter. Same reason things like Wreck-It Ralph and The Last Starfighter aren't applicable.
  • cgriff63 - November 13, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    Not sure why scott pilgrim didn't make it on the list..
  • christopher-renfrow - November 13, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Er... not sure about this but how about Tron? Especially Tron Legacy...
  • Exiled Reaper - November 13, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    Loved Sucker Punch, all the action was brilliant despite the semi-rubbish plot. Surprised not to see a couple others on here, like Terminator or Cameron's Avatar. Also very, very surprised not to see the 2009 movie Gamer on here. A good article overall though!
  • b-dog1991 - November 13, 2012 7:50 a.m.

    I'll chime in with the obligatory Scott Pilgrim mention, although to be fair, the film takes its cues more from the source material rather than videogames themselves. Still, a lot of shots in that film are framed in the side-on Street Fighter stance and it's story structure couldn't be more gamey if it tried.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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