Oh video games, who doesn’t love them?
From the early days of Snake on your Nokia phone to the Pokémon GO craze that gripped the nation, everyone has at some point devoted time and effort to besting their score on a pixelated screen.
As with anything popular, video games have been translated to the silver screen many times over the years.
But for avid gamers who had eagerly waited for their favourites to turn into an amazing movie, they have been left disappointed with thin plots, lethargic characters, and excessive CGI, with every bad movie chalked off as being under the “Curse of the Video Game Movie”.
Let’s take a look at the not-so-illustrious history of video game movies.
Wall Of Shame
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Ah, the very first video game movie that started it all.
If you’ve never played the Mario games before, this 1983 platform game features Mario and Luigi, two plumbers who investigate the sewers of New York after strange creatures have been appearing from below. As the player, you then basically spend your time defeating the monsters on every level. Though short on story, the game more than makes up for it with its engaging gameplay and quirky visuals.
Then they decided to turn it into the first video game movie.
While fans may like seeing in-game scenery replicated in the movie, the comical, almost farcical tone of the movie was totally incompatible with the scenic styling, which had attempted to display an edgier, grittier side to the underbelly of New York.
Coupled with sparse character development and plot, the movie came out a box office and critical bomb, garnering only 15% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing only $20 million from a $48 million budget.
Check out the Honest Trailer for the film that Screen Junkies put up recently:
If you should like to make your own judgement on the movie, here is the full video up on YouTube:
Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
The Hitman series is special.
Not only did it have one failed movie in 2007, the franchise decided to reboot the movies and came out with another movie that was equally, if not even worse, than the first one.
In the games, you play as Agent 47, and you the player are required to plan and carry out a series of intricate assassinations. With solid storylines that anchor the nine games that came out between 2000 and 2016, you would have thought the movie executives could at least pick out one good story for the movies.
Instead, they chose to focus on violence, and… not much else.
With scenes after scenes of mass slaughter, blatant product placement, copious amounts of CGI, and tepid performances, it turned the critics off rapidly, and their responses said it all:
“It’s all as pointless as the asthma inhaler with which one character treats his advanced lung cancer.” – Kyle Smith, New York Post, 1/4 stars
“Hitman: Agent 47 can’t even justify its existence:” – Jesse Hassenger, A.V. Club, D+
“Don’t expect this reboot of the Hitman franchise starring Zachary Quinto and Rupert Friend to break the curse of bad movies made out of hit video games.” – Inkoo Kang, The Wrap
Angry Birds Movie (2016)
A reminder, Angry Birds is a mobile game.
Where you send birds flying into fortresses guarded by pigs. And that’s basically it. So why does this exist?
Getting big-named talents to voice the movie did not do it much good at all, which was ultimately dragged down by its plot and dialogue, stuffed full of bland pop culture catchphrases and unfunny jokes about body humour.
In one scene, two characters realise that the water they have spitting at each other’s face were actually… urine. A somehow apt summarisation of us audiences who paid to watch this movie.
This was supposed to be the one movie that can break the curse.
Produced with Blizzard Entertainment, the company who originated World of Warcraft, the movie spent years in development finding the right script, found a director who was the game’s fan, and is powered by constantly, dazzling publicity befitting of any blockbuster. So what went wrong?
Going overboard with the CGI, the movie presents far too many characters and worlds, stopping at them briefly before throwing new information at the audience again.
As a result, the audience barely has any investment in the people and story, and thus, yet another movie falls to the curse.
Perhaps the world of Warcraft is simply too big for the movie. Being an MMO game, the story on offer in-game is never meant to be linear. The movie is as though the player just blazed through the main storyline without sampling what is to on offer in the world, and that is just a waste of the game’s lore and potential.
Upcoming Video Game-Turned-Movie To Judge
Assassin’s Creed (December 2016)
Every gamer is sure to have heard of this series at some point. Remember? The game that lets you go back in history via a machine called the Animus, and be part of a cult of Assassins that stab people in necks with tiny wrist swords?
If you did not know there’s a movie coming, here is a trailer for you:
Based on the trailer, a lot action is going to take place in the present… Why?? That is what everyone DISLIKES!
The mass appeal of the Assassin’s Creed series lies in the historical action, with all the present day sequences in the games have been roundly bombarded with criticism ever since the first game came out.
Here is how the recent animus looks like in-game:
And, take a look at what the movie calls an Animus:
If you are still interested, the movie comes out in theatres 21st December 2016, and stars young Magneto Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the main roles. Let’s hope these two high-calibre actors can prove me wrong.
So Why Do Movies Based On Video Games Not Work?
Games are an interactive medium. Every time you play, the choices you make, the experience you get, they are all intrinsically personal for you. No movie can replicate that for you.
With every experience different, the moviemakers have a hard time trying to determine what game details and plot should and should not be kept in, and regardless how their decision, it will not be well received universally.
Nonetheless, video games movies are notorious big grossers in the movie industry, and as long as someone is willing to splash the cash, there will be such movies coming out regularly. And thus we will continue to buy tickets to these movies, in the hopes that one day, one of them will live up to the game we played and loved.
What’s your opinion on video game movies? Yay or Nay? Share with us below!