The Top 7... Geek movies that should never become games

If there were a list of Rules for Videogames, the #1 rule would have to be, “Always make cutscenes skippable.” But the number two rule may very well be, “Don't play games based on movies.” It's a truth that's been self-evident rarely without exception ever since ET stunk up the Atari 2600.

Above: A painful lesson indeed

But Rule #2's been in for some revision lately, as GoldenEye-shaped aberrations and Butcher Bay-escaping anomalies defy the “movie games are crap” truism. Maybe the way to make a non-terrible adaptation is to hold off until you're sure you have a classic property on your hands. Given movie games’ review history, the simple act of getting them to a stage where people say they’re “well-executed” or “worth the price” is a pretty big step.

Above: “Accurate” and “fairly expansive,” we effused halfheartedly 

With positive examples like Godfather, Scarface, GoldenEye and King Kong, should we just open the classic-film floodgates? Every gamer has a wish-list of movies they're sure could be the next crossover hit, but the simple fact is that many geeks like movies that should never, ever become games. If you see something in this list and go “oh, that would make a great game!” please walk to your DVD shelf, pull that movie out, think about what it means to you, and then picture what happens to 99% of all movie games. Yes, please, let’s leave these guys alone.

7 - The Dark Knight

Hailed as “the best comic-book movie ever” by people who haven't seen Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die!, Christopher Nolan's grim superhero fable did its level best to treat concepts like “Man dresses as animal to avenge parents” and “Crazy person paints face like crazy clown, is crazy” in such a way that grown adults weren't embarrassed to ask for a ticket. It was a massive success, which is testament both to Nolan's skill as a storyteller and the difficulty of embarrassing grown adults nowadays.

Above: The first Batman movie was great, but uh, didn’t really sell the drama 

Seems like a great idea because: It's got everything a blockbuster game needs: powerful characters who are both human and larger-than-life; a fast-moving story, with high-stakes dilemmas resolved by punishing action sequences. The movie's success isn't in presenting the gravelly pathos of a God/Gears of War minus the silly bits –  it's in treating those silly bits with enough respect that they work onscreen.

Above: The Batman Begins game. Were you really crying out for another? 

But actually: EA worked on a Dark Knight videogame, seeking to improve on the lackluster Batman Begins adaptation by contracting Mercenaries developers Pandemic Studios. The game never happened; The Dark Knight joined Casino Royale, The Bourne Identity and Collateral under the banner of action movies that were taken more seriously because there wasn't a videogame version.

Instead, try: Duh, Batman: Arkham Asylum. A less obvious second choice would be IO Interactive's Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. The connection? Both were strongly influenced by Michael Mann's crime epic Heat, a lineage proudly acknowledged by their creators and clearly visible onscreen.

6 - Hackers

Dateline 1995: Enjoying an economic boomtime, Americans turned their attention to planting the seeds of what would become internet culture. After going through the dictionary and adding the prefix “Cyber-” to everything, the logical next step was to make a movie in which the act of sitting at a keyboard and forgetting to shower was turned into a hot-n-sexy aspirational lifestyle. Hackers was born!

Above: How cool are Hackers? So cool they wear sunglasses, in a darkened room, at night, to look at a computer screen 

Seems like a great idea because: Listed as a “guilty pleasure” by many people who should feel guiltier about using the phrase “guilty pleasure” in the first place, Hackers provides neon-lit thrills with a side of irony broad enough that even your aunty knows not to take it seriously. Having turned out plenty of what-is-reality head-scratchers in its time, surely mid-90s cyber-culture (sorry) is ready to have a bit of a laugh at itself with a Hackers videogame?

Above: Another hacker (you can tell from the shades) 

But actually: Just as The Craft inspired Tori Amos-listening girls to pursue the secrets of witchery until they realized that the movie had grossly oversold the glamor of such a lifestyle, so young boys in their droves saw Hackers, donned yellow glasses and took to computer terminals in search of adventure and Angelina Jolie. They quickly realized that real hacking is dull, painstaking and ridiculously time-consuming... at which point they abandoned it to play Quake. And we don't need a game about an unrewarding time-sink that gets ditched for Quake, because there is already Daikatana.


Instead, try: Rez, whose storyline (such as there is one) revolves around hacking a supercomputer to save a malfunctioning super-AI, personified as a polygonal naked chick. Ticking the boxes, so they are.


Top 7

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  • Clovin64 - November 25, 2010 8:50 p.m.

    Despite never watching Firefly, I saw Serenity when it first came out and I loved it. I only saw it that one time, and that was years ago. I need to watch it again sometime.
  • Cadavra41 - November 25, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    Couldn't it be said that Wet would have been just as good or better of a replacement for Kill Bill than Red Steel is.
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  • Tomgoulter - November 24, 2010 7:47 a.m.

    Unfortunately, the list of games influenced by Twin Peaks must remain incomplete for reasons of limited space, and a recommendation that readers try Deadly Premonition for themselves must not be provided for reasons of good conscience.
  • FinderKeeper - November 24, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    Tom Goulter is fail... several other posts have mentioned the omission of "Deadly Premonition" as the logical adaptation of "Twin Peaks". Such an omission, kind sirs, is an offense to geek sensibilities. Can we haz corekshun to artikul nau plz?
  • SausageLozenge - November 24, 2010 12:48 a.m.

    How about Million Dollar Baby?
  • Radagast107 - November 23, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    IDK Serenity could be a good game if made by the right people. Firefly was great! But this is just your opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinion!
  • Skykid - November 23, 2010 10:27 p.m.

  • GreatMuerte - November 23, 2010 10:13 p.m.

    none more so than geeks and stoners. Go stoners woooo
  • scsmith1 - November 23, 2010 7:54 p.m.

    While not directly related to "The Princess Bride," the classic Xbox game "The Bards Tale" is enjoyable and also features Cary Elwes in the title role.
  • infernox - November 23, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    dude was that an image of shadowrunner the game? hacker with glasses im refering to.
  • atomicsandman - November 23, 2010 5:52 p.m.

    "If you listen to Peter Molyneux" people still listen to Peter Molyneux? lol. Also, @CH3BURASHKA Dark City FTW. One of my favorite movies of all time, a game would fail but I wish they'd make a sequel.
  • philipshaw - November 23, 2010 5:37 p.m.

    These sort of of top 7's is why I love GR so much
  • bass88 - November 23, 2010 3:53 p.m.

    Anybody remember Die Hard Trilogy? Still the best movie to video game I've ever played. And yes, that does include the bland, dull and almost lifeless GoldenEye. Not trying to start a fight about GoldenEye. Just expressed my opinion about the so-called greatest movie to video game adaptation.
  • jmcgrotty - November 23, 2010 8:27 a.m.

    As someone else pointed out, the enemeis in Kill Bill are the Crazy 88s not Crazy Eights. As for a comparison in games, if only in that scene, I think of madworld for the Revolution.
  • Satu - November 23, 2010 7:21 a.m.

    The movie Stardust is actually based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Also, first! (If you choose newest first for order comments and no one else has commented yet.)
  • JohnDagger - November 23, 2010 6:24 a.m.

    Twin Peaks has already been done. It's called Deadly Premonition.
  • wind869 - November 23, 2010 5:20 a.m.

    i guess am not that much of a geek cause this has the most boring top 7 so far,
  • ChipTheExecutioner - November 23, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    I was expecting "Akira" and "Neon Genesis Evangelion" to make the list but hey, you put on the princess bride so I have no complaints ReCAPTCHA: wearat season? what the hell are wearats?
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 23, 2010 3:45 a.m.