Video Games: The Movie

Aug 29, 2005
Cody "The_Exorcist" Jackson
“I'd like one ticket to Halo and three for Doom, please”. No, you didn't misread that, and in fact, you yourself may be saying something similar far sooner than you think. Yes, these days such a plethora of our favorite video games are making their transition to the big screen. A deal is already close rumored to be in the works with Microsoft, Universal and Fox reportedly teaming up. Doom is coming to a theater near you in the fall. We game reviewers critique, nitpick, and examine so many games to keep the industry on their toes, did we forget to tell them to do a good job with the movies too?
Unfortunately, it is a growing trend for video game to movie crossovers to bomb on a scale near Gigli at the box office. Come to think of it, the movie to video game crossovers aren't all that hot either. The industries really seem to have no real connection to their counterparts to truly display these somewhat fine works of art in another form of media. Ok seriously, how many people have played Alone in the Dark from back in the day? Now, how many people went to see the movie, or for that matter even knew it was made into a movie?
Right about now you may be thinking, “Well, what about Tomb Raider?" Ok, this is one example where they almost got it right, and yes I said almost. If Angelina Jolie was not in it to add a little "spice" to Lara's already sexy reputation, would it really have been noteworthy? The first time I watched I loved it, but then I started to notice things like the fact that Lara seems to be protected by some surreal force-field, keeping her from ever having a bullet touch her. Fully automatic weapons were fired from near point-blank range, and not a single hit. Still, it was one of the better examples of this genre and unfortunately we must now go a little farther down the ladder.
It's interesting to note that while Hollywood loves to slam the plot of video games, most of the games these movies are based off of actually have better writing than their movie counterparts. Take Final Fantasy for example; the movie Spirits Within had a decent plot, but you were thrown right into the middle of the story. The characters in the games were so much more diverse than the movie characters. Heck, Barret had more diversity in his non-Gun arm the than the good Dr. Cid from Spirits had in his entire CGI structure. Don't get me wrong, the graphics were amazing and CGI is probably the safest route to go for a video game movie, but when you take away the game's story and take away our controller, there's not much left for a gamer to like, is there?
Seeing as how I'm not much of RPG buff, I won't dwell on Spirits Within. Instead I'll move on to other movie-games like Street Fighter and (forgive me for remembering) Super Mario Brothers. Street Fighter is quite possibly the best known fighting game next to Tekken. They decided to make a movie of it by throwing Jean-Claude Van Damme in, making Guile the main character, and then mixing a bunch of actors no one had heard of, plus poor Raul Julia got stuck playing M. Bison so the movie would have some legitimate acting talent. It was kind of cool to get a little background on some of the characters but the story was as dry as the Sahara. They also tried to add a little bit of comedy to make it more rich but they apparently forgot that comedy is supposed to make you laugh. Ok, if you were five or six when you watched it, Zangief blurting out,"Quick, change the channel!" was kind of funny. Now, however, it's just sad.
If I could bear any more I would, so I will only mention one more game-movie. It was my first one, and at the time it was so special to me...Super Mario Bros. I actually own this movie on VHS. With a cast that is decently well known and has moved on to better movies like Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo it should have been a pretty good movie. On the back of the cassette the best review quote the Lightmotive/Allied Filmmakers could come up with was....say it with me...."Eye-Popping special effects". Ok, this movie was halfway decent when I was a kid, but at the age I am now I would have hated it. You get really high hopes when you see a wind-up Bob-bomb. Oh, I was overjoyed! Then I found out Mario and Luigi would have had to been in the NBA to jump on the Goombas' heads, Bowser was human, the Princess's Dad is in it as a fungus. (One that almost made a seven-year-old cry.) If you haven't watched it, please read this before you do. Yoshi....cannot be.....ridden...in a Super Mario movie. WHO casts Yoshi as a 2-foot lizard in a MARIO movie!!!! Ok, I feel much better. But seriously, this represents game-movies at its worst. Some of our favorite characters in their one shot at big screen glory, and it ends up being one of the worst movies of all time.
Its really sad to see so many of our favorite characters come to the big screen with so little of the heart developers put into the games. These game-based movies are just big Hollywood studios' pathetic efforts to get a quick weekend score. In every case it seems they want to strip away all of the things that made these characters popular to gamers in order to “introduce them to a larger demographic”. They feel no attachment to the art these games and the characters within represent. Guys like Uwe Boll throw a movie together with some scatterbrained plot, sprinkle in some special effects and explosions, and then find whichever big name video game characters' movie rights are still up for sale, slap something like “Tetris: The Movie” on it, and call it day's work. They are merely interested in trying to hook optimistic fans for one opening weekend to receive a short burst of profit. It’s a sad and pathetic attempt to cover the fact they are completely out of new ideas.
So whats my advice to you consumers who have the money for upcoming game-movies? Wait a few weeks and read a review. Sure, it might not be in theaters any more by then, but you'll feel better knowing that by not going to see it you finally helped put Uwe Boll out of a job. If you want to play it real safe, just wait and rent it. If you must own it, get it off of Ebay. They have tried and tried and maybe eventually they will get it right, but as game developers get better at expressing the thematic elements on the small screen....how long will it be before Hollywood catches up with us? Doom has a shot at being decent seeing as how special effects will work well with a shoot 'em up game, and Doom didn't exactly have a plot. But...Halo? For the love of money, or whatever deity you Hollywood-types pray to these days, please get this right! I seriously hope they understand the burden of taking on this game and how important it is to so many fans. My advice for Universal and Fox would be a nice one-liner from Halo. Once more, guys, this time with feeling.

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