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GoatLord

Why do video game movies do so poorly?

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With Nintendo planning on a new Super Mario film, it's worth nothing that there have been 30+ video game adaptations since 1993, none of which become classics, or won Oscars. Beyond the obvious—clueless directors and studios, and Hollywood's dismissive attitude about the whole concept—there are other interesting factors worth considering.

 

Firstly, some games are so fundamentally lacking in plot, that numerous liberties must be taken to stretch the premise to at least the 90 minute mark. This is especially true in the Mario universe, where new releases are usually a reworking of the damsel in distress trope, and characters are so barebones as to only be distinguished by either their move set, or vague qualities such as "funny Italian accent" or "jumps higher than his brother."

 

Secondly, games that do have a more extensive plot are often amalgamations of well-established media, and therefore bring nothing new to the table. There's undoubtedly an interest in say, a GTA film, but considering Breaking BadGoodfellas, The SopranosRay Donovan, The GodfatherScarface and Pulp Fiction already exist, what could GTA possibly add? Plot-heavy games tend to be influenced so much by pre-existing franchises that they would fail to make an impact in cinematic form.

 

Finally, the transition from game to film results in a major loss: Control. You play a game, but you watch a movie. Much of any given game is spent performing actions, with cutscenes peppered throughout to advance plot. Very few people want to watch a mostly silent character engaged in action sequences they have no control over, while cutscenes—often awkward, overly expositional and blind to cinematic language—would look pretty unremarkable on film.

 

So we've got the problem of overly simple plots, plots that are dense but cliche, and removing any sense of control from the viewer. Can a solution be forged? I would like to think so. At the very least, I think there are untapped franchises that might be original enough to warrant a film, although the only one that comes to mind is BioShock.

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Posted (edited)

Lack of creative control especially. And I am betting most of these video game to movie adaptations that the executive producer(s), director(s) and other critical members haven't taken the time to look into their source material and play the games they're based on extensively. I can guess the latter here is why the Doom movie was a big fat piece of shit because it ended up just being too similar to Resident Evil and had no real depictions of hellscapes or possessed humans as seen in the games.

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Like you said, the main problem for me and I feel like this is true for many gamers, is that often the studios handling the film have no idea of what the game is actually about.

 

Take Silent Hill for example. It looks great and doom and gloom just like the games, but falls so hard on everything else. It's like they mixed the first three games into each other, which is a huge no-no for that franchise.

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7 hours ago, GoatLord said:

*hits blunt*
 

With Nintendo planning on a new Super Mario film, it's worth nothing that there have been 30+ video game adaptations since 1993, none of which become classics, or won Oscars. Beyond the obvious—clueless directors and studios, and Hollywood's dismissive attitude about the whole concept—there are other interesting factors worth considering.

 

Hahah... Great intro.

 

It's true. Video game movies are for whatever reason cursed. The first Silent Hill was solid, but what a rare exception to the rule. 

 

I like the (earlier) Resident Evil games about as much as I like Doom, and what a shame it was to see how that was translated to live-action movie format. The Resident Evil movies made the same mistake that the Doom movie did, they didn't take sufficient advantage of what the games themselves had to offer. The Silent Hill movie pulled this off well enough, but this is so rarely done.

 

I admit... I do have a soft spot for the first Mortal Kombat movie. Childhood nostalgia combined with being a fan boy back in MK's mid-1990s prime, I suppose. 

 

 

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I don't think "not being true to the source material" is a good argument because the Mortal Kombat movie changed a lot and it fucking rules. Street Fighter changed a lot and it's a great comedy. 

 

The problem as I see it, is that videogame characters rarely make for good movie characters. 

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A thought occurred to me while I was reading this; a company might do really well with a Metal Gear Solid series. Obviously Netflix is grabbing ridiculous series hand over fist and just pouring money in to them, why not MGS? I mean, you can't really do a Metal Gear movie, you'd have to do about 10 of them. But a series might work. And besides, whenever I play Metal Gear I feel like I'm playing a badly written TV show.

 

Seriously, sometimes I love them, but most of the time I just get pissed that I can't actually play the game for five damn minutes without a cutscene. But I do think there's money there. And we all know Konami loves money. 

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In all honesty I believe the modern Doom 2016 universe will make an excellent movie. There will have to be side characters doing the talking and observing the Doom Slayer through Cameras in their barricaded office but he will remain silent. Let his actions do the talking, just like in the game.

 

A scene with Doom Slayer releasing a bunny out of its cage and it cutely hops around the bad arse marine as he cinematic walks through the hallway will be hilarious. Such nods to the fanbase can offer great entertainment value to the general public. But should the Bunny die to create a berserk Doom arena scene? Hmm dunno.

 

I would also love a scene where the scientist view the Doom Slayer breaks out of his tomb or through a Door and he starts wrecking absolute havoc to the Demons as BFG Division plays. That would be a great introduction to the character. They could view through a camera and it zooms into the screen as it transitions into the scene itself.

 

And of course, moments where the cliche corrupted villain taunts Doom Slayer through a screen and he simply punches it, having no time for that.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jello said:

And we all know Konami loves money. 

 

The last thing I want to do is give Konami anymore money or attention. Fuck them. I'd rather they crash and burn and be forced to sell off their legendary IPs to someone that actually gives a shit.

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Games and movies are two different art forms with two different purposes.

 

Games present a challenge for the player to overcome. Every game from Pong and Tetris all the way to Doom 2016 have a challenge, success and failure conditions, and user interaction. Some games add a story and a cinematic element, but these are not necessary.

 

A movie, on the other hand, involves no user interaction. The ending is already decided from the beginning, and all the viewer has to do is watch to see how it ends. Therefore, movies have a much higher standard for things like story quality and cinematics.

 

The reason video game movies fail, IMO, is that the "action" in a movie is not the same as the "action" in a game. The action in a game is the basis of the game by itself. If you fail the action, you fail the game. If you succeed in the action, you win the game. However, in a movie, the action has to somehow progress the story. I think people who make game movies lose sight of this distinction, and think that people will watch the movie for the sake of the action. Maybe some people will, but the majority of people know the difference between a good movie and a bad movie.

 

To be real, a movie with too many pointless action scenes is not really much different than a musical with too many songs. :-\

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Why not make short films instead of movies? A ten minute thing can be really good if it's in the right hands, if the Papers, Please short is any indication.

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13 hours ago, Mr. Freeze said:

I don't think "not being true to the source material" is a good argument because the Mortal Kombat movie changed a lot and it fucking rules. Street Fighter changed a lot and it's a great comedy. 

 

The problem as I see it, is that videogame characters rarely make for good movie characters. 

 

The problem with that statement is that Street Fighter was not meant to be a comedy. It was supposed to be a serious action flick. Also, MK didn't change much of anything. There is still Outworld, all the game's characters are there, and it still follows the same story as laid out by the first game: A group of selected fighters are entered into a tournament to defend Earth. Liu Kang fights and beats Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat. You are right though that it is still pretty damn decent.

 

MK Annihilation on the other hand... xD

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I found the first MK movie pretty boring and lame. It really bugged me how they made Sub-Zero and Scorpion allies. That's about as stupid as Pyramid Head showing up in the SH movies. 

 

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is actually a lot more fun to watch just because it's so fucking terrible. It's a total train wreck from the moment it starts. Street Fighter is funny in spots, especially Van Damme's corny speech. And Raúl Juliá really did give it his all and actually made a pretty badass M. Bison, but overall I found that movie to be really boring too.

 

I remember the animated movie being a little better, but it has been years and years since I last saw it. That shitty MK show and that awful early CGI thing were both terrible though.

 

 

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11 hours ago, 42PercentHealth said:

Games and movies are two different art forms with two different purposes.

 

Games present a challenge for the player to overcome. Every game from Pong and Tetris all the way to Doom 2016 have a challenge, success and failure conditions, and user interaction. Some games add a story and a cinematic element, but these are not necessary.

 

A movie, on the other hand, involves no user interaction. The ending is already decided from the beginning, and all the viewer has to do is watch to see how it ends. Therefore, movies have a much higher standard for things like story quality and cinematics.

 

The reason video game movies fail, IMO, is that the "action" in a movie is not the same as the "action" in a game. The action in a game is the basis of the game by itself. If you fail the action, you fail the game. If you succeed in the action, you win the game. However, in a movie, the action has to somehow progress the story. I think people who make game movies lose sight of this distinction, and think that people will watch the movie for the sake of the action. Maybe some people will, but the majority of people know the difference between a good movie and a bad movie.

 

To be real, a movie with too many pointless action scenes is not really much different than a musical with too many songs. :-\

 

And then there's also the plot itself to consider, which isn't translated nearly as well in movies.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, CARRiON said:

I found the first MK movie pretty boring and lame. It really bugged me how they made Sub-Zero and Scorpion allies. That's about as stupid as Pyramid Head showing up in the SH movies. 

 

 

But it's kind of true.

 

It seems like they also foreshadowed MK3 slightly.

 

Well, at least until MK4 where this is apparently ret-conned...

Edited by R4L

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4 minutes ago, R4L said:

 

But it's kind of true.

 

Well, at least until MK4 where this is apparently ret-conned...

 

Yes, in the second game Scorpion becomes neutral to Kuai Liang once he realizes Bi-Han is still dead as shit by his hand, but he still has his own motivations and still beats the shit out of him to win the competition. In the movies, both warriors are brainwashed by Shang Tsung to fight for him. It just comes off as corny and lazy and honestly feels like a really strange and unwarranted change. Reptile's depiction was also kinda lame and his "CGI" form aged like garbage. Christopher Lambert as Raiden was shockingly bad and Goro looks... well... just look at him...

 

mortal-kombat-hero.jpg

 

I will say that I enjoyed Kano's portrayal, Johnny Cage too. And the fight scenes are mostly decent. But Liu Kang and Shang Tsung were as bland as sand paper and Sonya was really pouty and annoying. Kitana barely does anything and I forget she's even in the movie at all. And all in all, the movie being PG-13 really, really hurt this movie. Because lets face it, the thing everyone loves about Mortal Kombat is the gratuitous gore and brutality. It's honestly hilarious to me that director Paul Anderson would go on to make Event Horizon after this film, a movie that had to cut 20 whole minutes (iirc) because of the disturbing imagery and gore being too much for test audiences.

 

I'm a nerd for this shit, so detailed lore like this probably doesn't mean much to the average person who saw this. But for me it sticks out like a sore thumb.

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18 hours ago, Ex Oblivione said:

I think I enjoy the Johnny Cage vs Scorpion fight the most.

 

As horrible as the movie is that scene is badass.

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that assassin's creed movie made me realize that I found the people trapped in a facility undergoing aggressive research all to help slimeball suits piece back together an Illuminatus! Trilogy-style power myth to be the compelling part of the story and as soon as the eagle sample plays and we dive back a squillion years in time I couldn't care less. probably why I thought AC 4 was so dumb. of course the main way to extract actual cinema out of that premise is show fairly lengthy scenes involving the trapped characters talking and dealing with their pain in different ways, which didn't happen cos it was a video game movie designed to showcase visual effects and hook a demographic but it could potentially have been a nice thing.

 

the Prince of Persia movie is probably the best game adaptation I've seen because I liked how teh two main characters reacted to each other... the wit was actually well done, too, it wasn't cheesy like a Bond film. it still had a video game plot though, probably the second main downfall of all films like these - the characters don't have complex motivations, only stuff they absolutely have to do

 

let's face it I just think swashbuckling movies are dumb now. I wanna see characters get time to be characters, call me roger ebert or what have you

 

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My writing skills aren't that good for writing wall of texts, but the topic title makes for a reverse question, why do some games fail to imitate movies properly?

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