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

4. The Matrix trilogy

While the Wachowskis’ genre-changing Cyberpunk epic clearly lifted one hell of a lot from the aesthetic of video game combat, but in terms of its narrative, themes and general workings, The Matrix films take a hell of a lot more from the very interactive mechanics of video games. In fact they’re pretty much the internet’s “If real-life worked like games” meme stuck on a cinema screen. 

Regarding those fights though. The Matrix’s slow-motion punctuations to combat have been a fighting game trope ever since Street Fighter II, making gaming’s latter day obsession with bullet-time rather a case of things coming full circle rather than strict cinematic inspiration. And the Wachowskis’ repeated use of side-on camera angles during combat can be no coincidence either.

Similarly, any and all feats of gymnastic traversal, from wall runs to impossible jump trajectory, to leaping between cars on the freeway, are pure platformer territory. Also consider the main in-Matrix adversaries. Cops, security guards and Agents. All generic but visually distinct groups comprising no individual personalities (by narrative design in the Agents’ case), identity defined only by their visual tribalism and fighting styles. In form and function they’re action game enemies, simple as that.

Then throw in the fact that Neo partakes in a bunch of literal tutorial levels in the first film by way of the various training constructs he has to complete before re-entering the Matrix proper. And consider the fact that he levels up, and gains power-ups and new abilities on the fly. And that those upgrades often come via an omnipotent ‘Operator’, who has a wide view of the whole virtual world on a computer screen, being thusly analogous to a player. And the fact that the Matrix itself is, by its very concept, the ultimate MMO. This is a set of films not so much influenced by games as shamelessly and lovingly build out of their very raw materials.

Topics

film movies

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26 comments

  • NOGIRLSIWANNAJETPACK - November 13, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    Thank you for doing a traditional article for once. I really don't like the scrolling screenshot format.
  • fpavez - November 13, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    +1 For this Guy!
  • DynamicJul - November 13, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Agree completely. Thank you GamesRadar.
  • RonnyLive19881 - November 13, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Me too... the screen shot thing is annoying. Still, why can't you just make the whole article on one page?
  • darkvare - November 13, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    i got my sucker punch blu ray thanks to the lollipop chainsaw double pack that had it free
  • 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.
  • ColtPersonality - November 13, 2012 9:21 a.m.

    indeed, in my opinion, Scott Pilgrim is more "Game Fan Service: The Movie" than Sucker Punch could ever be. Video game references out the wazoo, and yes the story structure makes it feel like this is what life would be like if we were in a video game/comic book (Dat Onamonapia)
  • 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!
  • christopher-renfrow - November 13, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Er... not sure about this but how about Tron? Especially Tron Legacy...
  • cgriff63 - November 13, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    Not sure why scott pilgrim didn't make it on the list..
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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
  • wheresmymonkey - November 14, 2012 1:36 a.m.

    Good list. I would of Added Dredd, Old Boy and The Raid to the list.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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