Monday, 8 March 2010

Movie Adaptations of Video Games

It’s a well known fact that movies based on games have a tendency to suck; leaving gamers with a very bitter taste in their mouths. It’s often an exciting thought, wanting to see your favourite stories and designs on the big screen. It’s also a chance to show others who don’t play games a little bit of what they’re missing out on, but, unfortunately, it happens all too often that the idea is taken, butchered, slaughtered and torn apart. It leaves us pleading them to leave our medium alone, so why do they keep releasing them and how come they always seem to have difficulties translating games to the big screen? I happen to have a small collection of these films: Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, Final Fantasy, Doom and Hitman; most of which suffer from the same mistakes.

I excitedly ran out and bought the Doom movie after completing the game – I was for a short time, quite a big fan of the game, so I had to see more. Unfortunately, I’ve only watched it twice since its purchase; it is that bad! It did offer a little bit more insight into the story of Doom, for those (like me), who couldn’t be bothered to read the PDA constantly throughout the game, but that’s the only good thing I can say about it. It contains nothing but cheap action practically all the way through and most of it is that dark, it’s just one big fumble where you struggle to see what’s going on. Then it cuts off into the (badly animated) first person scene, which had been placed in there randomly for the fans; It feels incredibly out of place and contains more aliens than the rest of the film put together. Admittedly, the game never did really contain that much story and probably for that reason, wasn’t a very good choice for a film adaptation, however the main point of it was to be gruesome and frightening. The film on the other hand, is not scary one bit; not even trying to make you jump or catch you off guard. It’s not like most horror films have particularly great stories, but the edge of your seat thrill is the redeeming factor that makes them enjoyable to watch (for some of us at least.) Despite trying to appeal to the fans, it contains none of the essence for what made the game interesting in the first place.

Alone in the Dark is even worse than Doom in my opinion (then again it was directed by Uwe Boll who is quite well known for making bad adaptations.) It too suffers from a weakly told story caused by trying to cram as much action in as possible – oh and it wasn’t scary; I haven’t played that much of the game, but what I have seen was quite slow paced and suspenseful, which suggests to me that the film has failed to capture what it should have. If I had to say something good about this film, it would be to praise the end credit song (Nightwish – I Wish I had an Angel) that greets you when the experience is finally over.

Fortunately, some decent examples of adaptations do actually exist. I personally didn’t think they did a bad job on Tomb Raider, which at least tried to be appealing not just to a gaming audience; making a good attempt to tell an interesting story, (although giving Lara Croft bad taste in music.) The action was kept in moderation, to keep it exciting but not too much to the point where it would become boring again. I was also left impressed by Silent Hill. It too, actually tried to tell the story well, slowly providing clues towards the climax of the plot; keeping you wanting to watch more. It was also pretty well paced yet still stayed fairly true to the game, containing classic figures such as Pyramid head to entertain the fans. (Also contained Sean Bean, just thought I’d throw that in there :P.) The major two downsides to the film were the ambiguous ending which a lot of people wouldn’t understand and it also wasn’t scary (but unlike Doom it has enough positive points for this to not be a ruining factor.) I’ve been left eagerly waiting for Silent Hill 2 for a while now.

Recently I have been seeing trailers for the Tekken(straight to DVD release 2010) and Prince of Persia(Cinema release 28th May 2010) film, along with rumours of Mass Effect being a consideration – I can only hope that if it does happen they don’t massacre it. I think the major issue that adaptations suffer from is the fact that they are trying to make the films too much like the games they are based on, rather than sticking to what the medium can actually do. They are not built to support heavy action in the same way, and placing clips of the game in or random first person scenes just feels out of place. On the other hand, the film must also stay true to the game and provide the same feel and atmosphere intended for that particular brand. There are a number of games that I would actually like to see come to the cinema that I feel would translate well. For example, Eve, which has a really good back story –the book is well worth a read. I reckon with the right special effects it could look amazing, but only if they learn from their mistakes; otherwise, I think most of us would rather they would just keep their grubby fingers off our medium.

Related Link
List of films based on games

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