March 17, 2014

Why is it so Hard to Make a Decent Videogame Adaptation?

I think this is a question everyone keeps asking and yet nobody has got it right yet. With Need for Speed getting poor reviews across the board, perhaps it’s time to question why do they keep trying to adapt video games into movies and failing so miserably?

The thing about Need for Speed is that the game itself didn’t really have a plot; it was just about racing cars fast so the idea of a film based on it is rather pointless. There are many other video games which have great characters and stories which could make potentially fantastic movies. Dead Space, Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid and more have some pretty iconic characters and if handled well, they could make some of the most spectacular movies of all time.

I think the biggest problem is the film-makers aren’t that familiar with the source material and just try to make a film aimed purely at kids. They veer too far away from the stories and characters that makes fans love them.

Today’s video games are truly cinematic and have Hollywood actors providing their voices and likenesses to so many characters that it shouldn’t be difficult to translate it on to the big screen. You just pay attention to what the story is and make it suitable for a movie. The storylines are also quite adult in places so they shouldn’t be afraid of making the odd R Rated movie too.

Games pretty much are movies these days with cut scenes and complex storylines giving us characters that we care about; so the plot is right there for the taking. I know there’s no pleasing everyone and people will complain about some aspect of the adaptation but with a movie like ‘Doom’, having a few POV shots does not make a decent adaptation. I actually consider that one of the better adaptations with the JCVD clunker Street Fighter among the very worst.

The trick is to maintain the characters and stories but don’t try cheesy references and terrible dialogue.

I think The King of Fighters is universally bad because they had a decent cast (Maggie Q, Will Yun Lee & Ray Park) and an awful script. Fans were outraged because they made a second tier (Mai) character the protagonist. The film looks cheap, is poorly acted and is incredibly boring; surely a film called The King of Fighters should have y’know, some decent fights and disappointingly what fights we got were flat and forgettable. It does pick up a bit in the last 20 minutes but by then you won’t care.

Tomb Raider 1 & 2 got one thing right with the casting of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft who looked and acted the part but once again, she was let down by a poor script and a dull story. All you need to do is make an Indiana Jones story with a female lead but instead we get an opening scene with Lara vs. a CGI robot; it’s a fun scene but it’s not really what you want to see. You want to see Lara in caverns and tombs, exploring jungles and to a point we got that. I hope we get a reboot soon and maybe this time they can get it right.

I think the best adaptation thus far has been the successful Web Series of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. It keeps the characters but also has excellent action scenes, minus the cheese… mostly.

There is also a new Street Fighter Web Series coming which has fans excited as all signs point to it being rather awesome.

So are Web Series the way to go for our favourite video game characters? Perhaps so; they tend to be made by fans of the games who know what other fans want to see.

The biggest problem with the video game adaptation is also this: the interaction. In a game the player is in control and feels like they are genuinely involved in that world. They get to play online with literally hundreds of other people at once. With a movie they are simply sitting watching what is going on and is less immersive.

Will we ever get a big budget adaptation that can give fans and non-fans a truly awesome experience or are we doomed for many more what-could-have-beens?

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.

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