Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Attack on Video Game Based Movies

Video Games are a popular media and as such some of the most popular franchises have been made into movies. Movies based on other media are quite effective in broadening the fanbase. A good example being comic book based movies. People who don't read comics still go to movies based on them. The same can be said for video game movies; however to a lesser extent. Because, frankly, most video game based movies never hold up to the standards of their original. Now as I previously stated in my Attack on Metal Gear Solid The Novel, if the audience just wanted a word for word copy of the game, they would just play the game, and filmmakers know this, however, sometimes they go too far away from the original to where its not enjoyable to the fans.

Take for instance the Resident Evil Trilogy. While based on the Biohazard (Resident Evil) franchise, the movies actually had little to do with the story of the games. My biggest problem being the first movie. While the filmmakers did incorporate some elements of the game's story (more so with the second and third movie) it didn't really seem like Resident Evil to me. None of the characters of the game were present, almost none of the monsters were present, and it took place in an entirely different location. Granted, the "Hive" is located beneath Raccoon City and the entrance is in the mansion from the game; and granted, it delves into the corruption of the Umbrella Corporation; but as I said, none of the characters appear. The director of the movie explained that the movie is actually a prequel to the game and not a treatment of it, but why? Wouldn't a treatment of the game's story been an awesome movie? Why make a prequel, and introduce characters that are not in any of the games. Plus the movie doesn't show an accurate telling of the outbreak, and it does not show Tyrant - the biggest boss of the game.(not in size mind you - the giant plant takes that - which is also not in the movie) The movie sets up the character of Alice, to be a kick-ass secret Umbrella operative. Ok... Who's Alice? I know she's the main character in all three movies but who is she in the Biohazard franchise? Her character does not appear at all in any of the stories. The second movie is my favorite because it actually delves into the story of the games somewhat. It includes Jill Valentine - one of the main characters from the first game; STARS; and Nemesis! Ok they don't show Tyrant in the first movie, but they have one Nemesis in the second. One thing, there were multiple Nemesi in the game, and another, they weren't impossible to kill - just difficult. It takes place in Raccoon City, and seems like a real zombie movie. The third one is my least favorite for a number of reasons, which are spoilers so I wont discuss them. But one thing is ok about it but should have been in the first one. For those who have seen it, you know what I mean; for those who haven't you'll see. 

Another horror game developed into a movie was Doom. While it was based on the premise of the game, it added in characters whose faults became their downfall. Like most games of its generation, the original game didn't really have a story. It was a first person shooter where you shot at monsters and demons on mars. The movie added a plot and we follow our heroes as they attempt to kill the demons. It was ok, but not great. The coolest thing about this movie is a sequence that harkens back to the old FPS game. 

One video game movie which is ok but not great is the Street Fighter Movie. It had a fairly reasonable story which made sense and wasn't just an hour and a half of fight scenes, which it could have been since that's all the game is. It had almost all of the characters and each were close approximations to how I would imagine them. But really, it was basically a generic action movie with villainous dictators, rough heros, and comic relief where the characters were from Street Fighter. You could have had the exact same movie with the characters having different names and it wouldn't have changed it at all. 

Now we come to a video game movie that took the game and said "listen, you!" It is one that many people have said to be a terrible game based movie, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. I'm talking about Super Mario Bros. I love this movie. Many people would disagree with me. Why? Because its not like the game? Super Mario Bros was a side-scrolling, monster stomping, technicolor, princess saving nightmare. You really want that in your movie? If they were to make a direct movie like that it would be a cheesy children's movie. True, the movie could have been better, with Bowser/Koopa actually being a giant spiky turtle. That would have been awesome, but other than that, I think the movie is one of the better video game movies out there.

My all time favorite video game based movie is of course actually the best video game based movie so far. And that is of course Mortal Kombat. Never has their been a more accurate treatment of a video game on the big screen. So far at least. I'm hoping the ones to come will give it a run for its money. But it had all that it needed and then some. First off, the cast was great, secondly they music made you just want to get up and punch somebody, and third they movie was just awesome. A martial arts tournament with the future of the planet in the balance, intriguing characters, and it all made sense. A video game based movie that expanded on the story and actually made sense! of course it didn't last. 

Now I must discuss the absolute worst video game movie (i've seen) I cringe just thinking about the epic fail that is Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. It was awful. Ok the acting wasn't bad, and the story itself was ok, but come on. It is supposed to take place right after the first one. I mean immediately after. Sonya is all-of-a-sudden a different actress with short hair and a different outfit, Raiden is different, Shao Khan is not all that cool, and Johnny Cage... if you've seen it you know. I do like that they had more characters, but it lacked the punch of the first. It seemed like it tried to thrive on novelty alone, just cramming in as many characters as they could with a story that didn't really make sense in the MK universe. Its been soo long since I've watched it, so it might not be as bad as I remember, but I doubt it.

I know I haven't talked about every video game movie. That's because I haven't seen them all. I actually haven't seen all of Uwe Bol's movies. I've heard from other sources their quality. And don't really want to see them. I will say this though. Why is it so hard to make a good video game movie? The filmmakers probably don't go to the game creators beforehand or during to see if their on track. I can only hope that this changes. I would really like to see a good video game movie in the future. 

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