All along the grand marketing campaign
By Dr. Cuddlebug
Games and movies have a very eclectic relationship people know and seem to understand to a certain extent. I remember Mad Magazine said it well with “I don’t know what’s worse. Movies based on video games or video games based on movies.” For this entry into Wax Poetic, I really don’t want to waste your time with a pointless discussion about why game play can’t be properly experienced in cinema. That is a discussion that goes so circular it’ll make your head spin. No, my beef is with people who don’t seem to understand films based on video games aren’t a good thing.
Something that always confuses me if I browse Youtube comments of a popular game like Skyrim or Mass Effect is there’s always someone who says. “Who thinks Skyrim should be a movie?” I’m assuming these people also believe Call of Duty’s 5 hour entirely scripted campaigns are a work of genius and that more linearity with less cohesion is a good idea. Skyrim, a game about the player being an epic hero as he wanders through the lands aimlessly would not make a good movie. I don’t even have to think about this for less then a few seconds to understand this, and we all shouldn’t have to.
Whenever a movie based on a game comes out, it’s extremely rare critics will like it. An example of this is the 2006 Doom movie which while fairly mediocre was always hated and reviled by pretty much everybody. From simple things, like how they changed demons to aliens (probably so that most religious fundamentalists wouldn’t be offended at the apparent Christian blasphemy Id and John Carmack didn’t give a fuck about). The original Doom’s story could basically be summed up in a single sentence. “Your base on Mars has been invaded by demons, are you a bad enough dude to stop ’em?” Even then people outright hated the film because it changed this extremely simple and frankly unoriginal premise. That and the fact it had the Rock in it.
Some of my favourite games in the meanwhile are strictly linear and would have elements that would transition great to the big screen. One of my favourite games is a top down action adventure game called “Legacy of Kain Blood Omen”. From it’s semi-linear overworld to the brilliant script and voice acting, it is simply a delight to play especially today. And I find it odd people don’t seem to understand why I’d never see a Blood Omen movie. It’s for the same reason I didn’t watch the Max Payne movies, or the Silent Hill movie. Filmmakers don’t care about the games they’re portraying. Mark Wahlberg clearly didn’t give a fuck about Max Payne when he said he never played any of the games and never would. The director of Silent Hill most likely was just as apathetic toward the source material when he made Harry Mason a woman and added Pyramid Head in there (who wasn’t even in the game the movie was based off). Filmmakers don’t care because filmmaking is a business. It’s the reason why games based on movies exist, it’s all a business to the production companies. All they see is an intellectual property to exploit the cattle that is the film going public with, and if they can get slightly more money from pushing out a mediocre film or title they’ll do it in a heartbeat. Especially if it’s an adaptation of something that sold a lot of copies like Max Payne or Silent Hill.
My only theory as to why consumers might think a movie based on a video game is a good idea is out of some child-like naiveté. The kind that made you go watch films like Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter and rage at just how bad they were. The kind that makes you wish you’re favourite memories could be replicated on screen by a talented director who shared those very same experiences. Unfortunately I have to say that’ll never happen. We might get a decent video game movie in the near future (read: decent) but I believe it’ll be exceptionally unlikely we’ll get a fanboy director like Peter Jackson who makes the films for the art. Even then I still wont see them, I don’t think video games should continue to compare themselves to films. That already implies you believe video games are always inferior to a 2 hour movie designed to appeal to specific groups of target audiences. People that play video games should see a film based on a video game as a novelty at best, because that’s really all it is. You should hope that there wont ever be a film that destroys your childhood dreams instead of praying one comes out that reinforces them.