Films Based on Video Games: Are They a Good Idea?

Hollywood’s long-standing interest in adapting video games into movies began since the father of video games: Mario. Notwithstanding their persistence in the video game adaptation market, has it been worth while or to say the least, profitable? To the latter question, I would say yes. The top grossing video game turned into a movie was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but for most the reason behind that was the attached mega-star Angelina Jolie. Video game adaptations tend to be on a whole a crowd gatherer, but on the other hand, only a few have received even fair reviews. The adaptations of the past that hold up in my opinion are Silent Hill, and Final Fantasy. Some may put Resident Evil and Tomb Raider in that list, but I beg to differ. They didn’t capture the video game’s essence, but created their own beast. So out of countless releases, there are only two that received even reasonable reviews from critics. What does that mean for the future?
Based on schedule releases for 2008-2009 and beyond, there is a faint glimmer of hope for the video game adaptation industry. Here are the games that may change the plagued genre for the better, depending on the attached names and the overall storyline of the game.

Max Payne
The game had an ultra pulpy film-noir type story with heavy doses of cynical narration and comic like framing. It is tentatively scheduled to be released sometime in 2009. Mark Wahlberg is attached to play Max and Mila Kunis to play his lover/wife. The director, John Moore is better than most directors in the genre, having directed The Omen remake and Behind Enemy Lines. If Moore keeps the style of the game intact and pushes the game’s great non-linear story, than there’s hope.

Prince of Persia: The Sand of Times
The entire Prince of Persia series is a rare entry in the video game industry that makes for a good film. It has adventure, story, characters, history, and of course a unique setting unlike most films. As long as they don’t turn it into a copycat Mummy or The Scorpion King, than it should succeed. I am excited to see that Jerry Bruckheimer hired the creator of the Prince of Persia series to write it. You never know, it could end up being the new Pirates series.

Splinter Cell
This game adaptation is the one I am most excited for, having loved the game play, characters, and fairly open storyline. Originally the project was picked up by Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights. That sounded promising, but then the project was postponed and is now stalled, because it changed hands through the studios. Hopefully this one gets put in the right hands and gets made. I would pick Ridley Scott or Phillip Noyce, but I doubt either would do it.

Metal Gear Solid
Under lock and key, this Japanese game franchise has not leaked much about the future of its film adaptation. I think it would be a great game, because since its inception the games have been story intense and involving characters that could create characters with a back story and depth. The secrecy and tight-hold the creators have might turn out to be a good thing, since they know the games so well.

Gears of War
Behind the capable hands of writer, Stuart Beattie, who wrote Collateral and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, I feel confident that this film will be an outstanding war film. I have also enjoyed most of New Line Cinema’s films who understand war by their Lord of the Rings films. Len Wiseman was going to direct, but now it is up in the air. 2009 is the release time.

The most anticipated video game adaptation by far is Halo. The game itself broke hundreds of selling records and the movie so far might be the best installment in the genre to date. Peter Jackson is the executive producer and Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later is on board to write. I have high hopes for this one, so don’t let me down Peter.

Other films to look out for are Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, Spy Hunter, Castelvania, and Devil May Cry. Stay away from Far Cry and anything by Uwe Bowell. All in all things are looking up for the next two years. Maybe its because game designers are starting to create games that are more story oriented, or maybe its the filmmakers who are taking them seriously, but one thing is for sure not all games make good movies.

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