Aren’t public holidays awesome? You wake up naked, and you just stay that way the whole day. Or maybe you live with other people, in which case you maybe put on some underwear. Unless of course you’re a free spirit such as myself.
So you’re sitting at your computer after a good sleep-in, munching on something unhealthy and browsing NAG Online (and nothing else). All this mouse clicking and angry commenting though is a bit too much like hard work for Worker’s Day (ironically a day in which no work gets done at all), and you decide to collapse onto the couch like a beached whale and watch a movie.
But what will you watch? You’re not in the mood for something overly complex, and it’s too early for a comedy. “Wait a minute,” you think to yourself, oblivious to your impending doom, “How about a sweet video game movie?”
Somewhere, far away, a young woman starts to cry. A baby throws his toy to the ground in disgust. A dog pees on a carpet. It’s a small disturbance in the universe, a ripple in the matrix, an unexplained feeling of repulsion and terror – and it happens everytime someone makes the decision to watch a video game adaptation.
Let me make one thing clear to you – video game movies suck. All of them. Seriously, there has literally never been a good one. There might have been one you liked, hell there are probably some I liked, but that doesn’t make them good.
I’m not just talking about the big turd Uwe Boll lays at the bottom shelf of the DVD store every year either – I’m talking about big, Hollywood movies that wanted to cash in on weak and pathetic souls such as you and I – and succeeded.
I have spent literally minutes scouring IMDB’s movie listings for a video game movie that actually performed well. I’m coming up pretty short here. The best score I can find for a video game movie is an astoundingly mediocre 6.6 for the original Resident Evil movie. And that is almost certainly because you see Milla Jovovich’s secret garden in the first ten minutes.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a bunch of windbag critics who hate any movie without subtitles either – these are our people, trawlers of the internet like you and I who walked out of that movie with nothing but the taste of regret and oversalted popcorn. Is 66% worth your money? Do you remember when you would get 66% on an exam? You’d feel okay about it, you’d barreled through a bucket of Red Bulls and achieved mediocrity, but you could’ve and should’ve done better. That sums up pretty much every video game movie ever.
But here’s the kicker – we keep bloody watching them. Why else would they keep making them? And I’m guilty too. This is as much a confession as it is a lecture; I’m standing at the pulpit with one hand on the bible and the other skimming off the top of the collection tray. I feel excited when a new video game movie is coming out – I’ll see it the day it opens and every single time there’s this part of me that expects to actually enjoy it. What the hell is wrong with me?
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with all of us. It’s the knowledge that these movies could be really, really good. We’ve all seen Chris Nolan’s Batman and Joss Whedon’s Avengers – that’s what we want for games. Instead we’re getting Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider and a Doom adaptation with The frikken Rock when he still thought acting was just trying to stand upright and not drool simulataneously. They’re all bad, and it’s because the people making them don’t know an Xbox controller from a vibrator.
Here’s the thing – movies are expensive. Really expensive. No one wants to take a big risk on a video game adaptation that might only appeal to fans of the game. They have to make them marketable; they have to make them easy to digest blockbusters with generic plots so they can pitch them to the masses. In short, they have to make them terrible.
Let’s discuss my biggest heartbreaker, Max Payne. I’d say it’s one of my top three games ever (if I can count every Half-Life game as a single entity), because it was a story-driven game. There was a compelling narrative and a plot I was invested in, and it seemed a perfect choice for a movie adaptation. But of course Hollywood decided to do away with all that depressing and overly complicated plot business and instead have Mark Wahlberg shoot bad buys in the face for 90 minutes.
Look at the Bioshock movie – it’s been shelved for years now, unable to get underway. Why is that? Because the people over at Irrational Games aren’t willing to relinquish control – either the movie is going to do the game justice or there isn’t going to be a movie. And it looks like it’s going to be the latter. I have the utmost respect for them for that – protect your brand, don’t just piss away the movie rights so The Rock or Mark Wahlberg can run around capping anonymous henchmen so you can collect a fat cheque and cry yourself to sleep.
This is all getting a bit bleak, so I’m going to try inject a ray of hope. Quite some time ago a video clip showed up on Youtube, without explanation. It was called Mortal Kombat Rebirth, and it showed an extremely impressive looking clip of a live-action Mortal Kombat movie. It blew my mind. It looked like exactly the kind of video game adaptation we need; it was gritty and it was dark and it was realistic, it looked like someone would do to Mortal Kombat what Nolan did to Batman. It turned out to be just an independent short film, but the guy was approached to turn it into a full length feature and I’m begging you Hollywood executives, please don’t ruin this one. It’s all I have left. If you haven’t seen it before, check it out (this is very much NSFW, but you’re not at work, are you? Awww yeah.)
The point of this barely-focused rant is this: stop rewarding Hollywood for making crap. Let’s take the Ken Levine approach – either it’s good, or it’s not happening.
P.S. Did you know they are making a f**king Angry Birds movie? I wish I was kidding. If any of you pay money for that, I will find you and I will do bad things to you. Or perhaps you’ll just get a strongly-worded letter, but I’m talking scathing. It won’t have any censor stars.