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Opinion: Only certain kinds of video games can inspire great movies

by Jenni Lada on Jul 2, 2009 at 07:58 AM

Fans have a love-hate relationship with movie adaptations of popular video games. For every successful transition, for example Silent Hill, there’s an In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale or Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Chances are, the movie isn’t going to live up to the game.

There’s a pattern though, found among the more successful video game movie adaptations. Look at the Resident Evil, Tomb Raider or Silent Hill movies. What do all three of these movies have in common? Not female protagonists, though that is a common tie. All three movies or movie series don’t strictly follow the game. Instead, they follow the spirit of the games.

Silent Hill is loosely adapted from the original Silent Hill movie, throwing in an occasional element from Silent Hill II as well. Tomb Raider possesses the same character and premise, but doesn’t try to exactly mimick any specific Tomb Raider games. The Resident Evil series of movies contains scenarios and characters from the games, but doesn’t try to portray them in the exact same way. These examples prove that video game movies tend to be successful when they follow the spirit of the game, rather than going by the exact letter and script.

So, if we follow this idea, that successful video game movies feature similar locations, series hallmarks and characters, rather than the exact storyline of video game, we can then determine what video games, and what kinds of video games, could make a big-screen transition. A game would either have to have a strict story to follow, like the original Silent Hill, or have an extremely open universe.

There are quite a few games whose storylines that could be altered and adapted to be more straightforward and streamlined. Square Enix’s Parasite Eve or The World Ends with You could work, as each game follows a somewhat linear path. Fatal Frame 2 and Siren could follow in Silent Hill‘s footsteps, showing Mio’s adventures as she struggles to find Mayu in the hidden village or a group of unsuspecting innocents tries to escape from shibuto in Hanuda. Portal, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus could inspire wonderful indepedent or art-house style movies.

Or, a studio could be smart and go with a totally new story based on an established series. I’m sure original Legend of Zelda, Metroid or Grand Theft Auto stories could be created and turned into movie scripts. Maybe follow along the lines of Resident Evil or Tomb Raider and maintain certain series’ staples while constructing a new environment and adventure. Even a simple title like Space Invaders could end up inspiring an Independence Day-esque sci-fi epic.

An argument could be made that, with enough effort and a well written script, any video game could receive a successful video game adaptation. If you look at past endeavors, however, it is still far safer to say that video game movies that choose to follow a more streamlined version of a game’s original story or contain an original story with notable moments from a game will prove more successful and be more widely accepted by fans.

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Comments
  • Jessica Moen from Chicago, IL said:
    Avatar for Jessica Moen

    remember that Super Mario Bros game? I loved that movie, but it was completly wrong in many ways!

  • turtlemonster said:

    Good luck making a movie of Droplitz!  Great game, probably not a great movie.
    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/puzzle-gameplay-droplitz/52272

  • Jessica Moen from Chicago, IL said:
    Avatar for Jessica Moen

    they usually don’t make movies out of puzzle games, though “Tetris the movie” would be awesome!

  • Page 1 of 1 Comment Pages
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