Monday, 24 September 2007

Video Lame

With Halo in development hell and Resident Evil winging its way to the U.K. very soon (at number one in the U.S. as I write this) I think yet another Video game to film blog should be made.

Video games are evolving. Colleges are advertising degrees video games and computer science, gaming magazines are full of adverts of company's looking for designers and technology is evolving to an extremely immense state. The games are becoming more realistic in looks, the storylines are getting deeper and the argument on games as art has reached an advanced stage.

While many still consider them a menace, there is reason for that. This is because, of course games are becoming more involving. They are becoming more than 2D Sprites jumping on mushrooms and becoming worlds of their own. I remember how big Super Metroid was when I first played it...compared that to Mass Effect and you'll see how far the industry as grown.

1. They depart away from the actual material

There used to be a time when American children recognized Mario easier than Mickey Mouse (I'm guessing now it would be Master Chief). Mario was the real deal all over the world during the 80's and 90's. How many kids have those games imprinted in their head? Fuck you can now go on youtube and check out speedruns. People love Mario*, so why deviate from the original storyline? The film was shit. Real shit. It was like Bob Hoskins was in a terrible sequel to Brazil....but without the awesome visuals and ideas. The tone of the film was way out for it's target audience and everyone else was asking "what the fuck?"

The same goes for most of the VG adaptations. Double Dragon any one? Who hard is it to fuck up a game with such a straightforward story? Few things would need to be padded out but seriously, better films have been made with less of a description.

Doom? Event Horizon has a closer plot line to the original game than Doom does.
Final Fantasy? What the hell? And it was MADE BY THE COMPANY WHO MADE THE BLOODY GAME! Cold, clinical and light years away from what made the games interesting.
Stick to the material and all would be well....or maybe....

2. They stick TOO close to the material.

Silent Hill Film is very faithful to the games. From the plot to the visuals and characters. It's almost like your following a character in the game. Problem is it's like watching someone else play the game. Silent Hill is famed for it's puzzles as well as it's horror and the film shows far too much of Radha Mitchell wandering around searching for clues, not talking to anyone and shoddy explanation near the end of the film. The film itself is actually not bad but these small moments detach the viewer keeps them at a distance. We as fickle viewers/gamers want the film to engage us as well as be faithful. Bastards aren't we?

3 Uwe Boll.

With his unique way of funding and Ed Wood-esque zeal. Boll is on a mission to make as many video game adaptations as possible. However from what I've watched of his output, you see that Boll is trying to make game adaptations as badly as possible. Boll's films are cobbled together as quickly as possible and no quality checks seem to be made on the script or the rushes. From what I've seen, his films are bad, almost so bad they're good. Boll himself comes off as an arrogant twat. Beating up his detractors for publicity, throwing his toys out of the pram when criticised. The more I read about him the more he comes off like one of those asshole message boarders he hates.

I don't want to say too much about this guy. Watch the movies, see for yourself....and he's the guy making the most video game adaptations.

And yes even though there are flashes of the game throughout that shot, that's pretty much the only thing that links the film to the game (that and the name).

4. Lazy Casting

I must admit Jolie as Lara Croft makes sense but Tara Reid (Alone in the dark)? Clint Howard (House of the dead)? The Bunch of wannabe nobodies in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation? Maybe if they got the right people for the right parts then the films may fair better. But this could be because...

5. The filmmakers usually don't give a shit about the project.

Comic books had to die a cinematic death before people realised that if you give the material to writers and directors that are interested in bringing about the vision of the original material to life then good things can come of it. Spiderman, Batman Begins, Sin City, the writers and directors have a certain respect for the people they are making the film for. Superman returns didn't make the splash that people want but Bryan Singer still managed to give an interesting story about a hero who has lost is place in his own world (Singer loves that idea of finding identity). Paul W.S Anderson (not Magnolia) is hated by most video game fans. But at least he tries to give fans what they want. Mortal Kombat was very close to the game, and Resident Evil has it's bashers it is much closer to the games than people give it credit for. If you still don't believe me then fine but the final moments of the first film have more passion about the games than ALL of that Super Mario Bros film. Those fuckers didn't even get Yoshi right. Pricks. Anyway. Peter Jackson gets hold of the Halo project and seems to have a basic understanding of how Halo should be and what happens? Oh no....too expensive. The fact that people got hyped over THAT toy movie and went in droves to watch it tells me that Halo would do just fine about now.

6. Critics just don't understand.

Now I'm not a critic basher per say. In fact I enjoy reading reviews (most of the time). But many reviewers like Roger Ebert have clearly never played a recent game before and never will. In fact I could swear most serious reviewers hate video games in general. I feel many of the films never have a chance in the first place. The video game movie is at times reminiscent of the modern horror film. It has an uphill struggle before it even starts to run. Reviewers like to talk a good game (no bad pun intended) about bias but many of course their reviews tell a different story. Their talk of sensible plots and in depth characters can seem silly to true game fans who just want to see the right incarnation of the material.

7. Fans are fickle

Lets not beat around the bush guys. We are wankers when it comes to crap like this. Look at the list I've written. We want too much. The perfect video game for me would be flexible enough to give the story and characters room to breathe but still have enough time to kick loads of ass. The director and scriptwriter must be die hard fans of the material but understand that you can't just make it exactly like the game...etc. Well we want it perfect don't we. To be honest, I feel Paul W.S Anderson did well with the original Mortal Kombat and did ok with Resident Evil. I also Feel Christopher Gans produced an uneven but creepy looking Silent Hill (ash snow visuals + assorted FUCKED up creatures = awesome). Fact is many are looking for this fantastic adaptation of their favorite games which they spent hours completing when they could be playing them again.

So there we have it folks. The reasons why Video Games "aren't right" in my opinion. Despite my dislike for the shoddy treatment of Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros, Alone in the Dark, Doom, House of the dead, Resident Evil 2....etc. You know that I'll be like 700th in line for Gears of War or something and I'll still have something to bitch about. With this said, think about what I said before. The games are evolving. The stories are becoming more involved than their Hollywood counterparts. Halo's religious overtones, intense fire fights and epic scale, wipe the floor with such "great" ideas such as...fuck it do I have state some? Take your pick.

*Expect for my grinchy mate Richie. Who claims he likes games....but hates Nintendo