From game screen to silver screen
There were two Snow White movies last year. Two. And neither was good. That's how creatively bankrupt Hollywood is right now--producers would rather double up on a fairy tale than greenlight an original movie. Problem is, they've run through most of the established books people care about (seriously, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters?) and burnt through nearly all the easy-pickin' reboots imaginable (*cough* Total Recall *cough*), so now producers are eying up a fairly untapped market for unimaginative films: video games.
Game movies are nothing new (the Super Mario Bros. movie came out nearly 20 years ago, after all) but it feels as though not a month goes by without a publisher revealing a deal to get the ball rolling on an adaptation of its upcoming game. Problem is, things that make for a good game don't necessarily make for a good movie, even if it seems, at face value, that the story would work perfectly on the big screen. Here are seven games that are currently being turned into movies--and, coincidentally, seven games that shouldn't be.
7. World of Warcraft
Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones is the latest in a long line to be handed the keys to Azeroth and tasked with bringing Blizzard's massive franchise to the silver screen. It makes sense, doesn't it? Fantasy movies are popular, World of Warcraft is popular, movies about popular things are popular--it's win-win! Problem is, while Warcraft itself might make for an interesting film (Warcraft III, in general, has a dramatic tale), World of Warcraft brings with it an incredible amount of baggage that would bog things down.
Warcraft's lore has gotten complicated over the years as Blizzard's designers cooked up strange reasons to add new content into its massively multiplayer world. Now, there are giant crashed spaceships full of purple demons, a peaceful race of brutally violent werewolf people, and an entire content full of kung-fu Pandas. It's gotten out of hand, and while it might have made for an interesting flick back in the day, trying to contain (and explain) it all after four expansions and dozens of content patches would be damn-near impossible.
6. Guitar Hero
A few years back, when Guitar Hero was topping the charts and Activision was swimming in a pool of peripheral-based money, director Brett Ratner expressed interest in making a movie based on the franchise. Though the publisher has since put the series (and, likely, any chance of a movie being made) on hold, we can't help but speculate as to how horrible it would have been.
Ratner's vision for the film was to make it about a "kid from a small town who dreams of being a rock star and he wins the Guitar Hero competition." So, in other words, it would be about a child with aspirations to become a musician wasting his time playing fake music instead of learning how to actually use the real guitar he begged his mom to buy him. That'd be like making a movie about someone who wants to be an astronaut but ends up dropping out of high school and sitting in his parents' basement getting stoned and watching Farscape all day. So, you know, a typical Judd Apatow movie.
5. God of War
While on the subject of game franchises Brett Ratner is actively trying to tarnish, we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the God of War movie that the Rush Hour director was in talks to handle. For years, different names have been attached to a big screen adaptation of Sony's god-killing epic, and while it initially sounds like it might make for a great film, it's actually not really motion picture material. Mainly because Kratos isn't actually an interesting hero outside of the context of video games.
Kratos is the perfect game character because he's the manifestation of hack-and-slash gameplay. Driven by rage and rage alone, he has torn the throats out of goat people, disemboweled ogres, slain hordes of soldiers, and murdered the gods themselves. And... well, that's it. He kills things. He's wanton murder incarnate, pushed forward by an analog stick instead of relatable motivation. The only way a movie based on God of War would work is if they turned Kratos into a likable character, and in changing that it's really no longer God of War at all.
4. Far Cry
While the original Far Cry was a masterful example of open-world shooting, it never really worked from a storytelling point of view. Including forgettable characters and an incredibly predictable story, the game... wait, seriously? They made a movie based on Far Cry? Dammit! So...
4. House of the Dead
House of the Dead is substanceless. There's absolutely no reason it should ever--ever--be turned into a... oh, come on! Uwe Boll made that too? Why the hell--
The classic Atari franchise has been rumored to be getting a film adaptation for several years now, with recent reports stating that a script had already been written and was in the process of being reworked. The most recent update is that a draft has been sent over to Jez Butterworth, writer of the 2010 movie Fair Game, to try to get it to a point where Universal Pictures would be happy. Our guess is that no matter what Butterworth comes up with it'll still be something that's better off never seeing the light of day.
Why? Because Asteroids, that's why. Asteroids is plotless even when held up against other 20-year-old Atari games; Missile Command has you defending a planet from incoming nuclear attacks, and Frogger has some sort of actual protagonist. In Asteroids you're in control of a triangle shooting at rocks, defending nothing from anything. At best, it would turn out to be a Battleship-style movie, where a seemingly unrelated film would be slightly rebranded to capture '80s nostalgia. That, or it'll be about a triangle firing squares at polygons.
3. Shadow of the Colossus
Of all of the currently in-development video game movies, Shadow of the Colossus might have the most talent attached to it. Josh Trank, director of the wonderful Chronicle, is scheduled to direct, and Hanna writer Seth Lochhead is currently hard at work on the script. The game, too, is worthy of attention, ranking as one of 100 best games of all time. Should be great, right? Well, no--not exactly.
Shadow of the Colossus doesn't really work outside of the context of the game--it's a series of boss battles separated by long expanses of adventuring, neither of which could carry an entire film. The bleak, empty, quiet world works because it's bleak, empty, and desolate, and adding noise besides the clop of hooves and the roar of colossi suddenly destroys the fragile fairy tale that the story is built on. If it's true to the game in any way, the film will be a disaster--and if it's not, there's no reason to even attach it to Shadow of the Colossus in the first place.
2. The Sims
For some reason, 20th Century Fox wants to make The Sims into a movie. We don't need to waste too much time explaining why this wouldn't work--in fact, it's difficult to even picture how anyone would think it could. Lucky for us, producer John Davis explained in 2008 exactly how it would play out, and it sounds exactly like what you'd expect an out-of-touch movie producer would want from a Sims movie.
Davis told Digital Spy that the story would involve a kid and his friend getting their hands on The Sims Infinity Pack only to realize "they can scan their world in, because this is the most life-like, real Sims game ever. As they are playing this, they are all of a sudden realising [that] what they are playing on the game is having an effect on the real world." So, in other words its Weird Science except The Sims. Because it's 2013, and that's something we totally need right now.
1. Metal Gear Solid
Hollywood loves a good spy story, so it's no wonder that Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear franchise is being given the big screen treatment. As recently as 2012, Konami has confirmed the project is underway, with Kurt Wimmer (writer of the previously mentioned Total Recall reboot) rumored to be working on a script. Metal Gear Solid is known for its lengthy cutscenes--its basically already a movie--so the adaptation makes sense, right?
Well, not exactly. Metal Gear is a convoluted web of an espionage story, with nonsensical plot lines and characters that spout unbelievable dialogue before cartwheeling naked offscreen. And that's why we love it. All of the complexities and weirdnesses would need to be stripped out to make it work, especially if Columbia Pictures is going to throw a few hundred million dollars at it. But once you cut the clones, the la li lu le lo, the guards crapping themselves, and the characters unrealistically hiding in cardboard boxes, what you have is a relatively tame political drama that simply doesn't feel like Metal Gear Solid anymore. Without the whimsy, Metal Gear is a Tom Clancy novel starring a guy with a mullet.
Let's all go to the lobby, and play some Buck Hunter
There are plenty of games that would make great movies, though, and some of them are currently being turned into films. Gears of War could essentially be Saving Private Ryan with Locusts, Assassin's Creed works as a National Treasure-style film (with occasional time travel, obviously), and Uncharted is essentially Indiana Jones already. What films are you looking forward to--and which do you hope never see the light of day?