Video-Game Movies — Do they ACTUALLY suck?

KITATUS in Kitatus
Jul 13, 2016 · 3 min read

Have you ever seen a good video-game movie? This was a question I was posed with by a watcher of a Twitch stream I did once upon a time. This person ended up becoming a good friend, but at the time, he was so sure that a good video-game film didn’t exist that he wagered $50 on the table.

In an effort to win the wager, I put Prince of Persia on the table. The wagerer laughed it back at me. I then put Silent Hill (the first one, of course) on the table and he once again wiped it clean off. I then put forward the Japanese Phoenix Wright movie…

And then the donation alert sound, a collection of coins falling into my virtual wallet screamed out in joy. I had bested the wager and proved my point — Video-game movies don’t always suck!

Before we dive into the topic, and I explain to you why sometimes you could mistake a video-game movie for sucking, I first wanted to mention that everyone is going to have a different view on what they expect from a video-game movie.

Because of this, I’m going to try my best to withhold my personal opinions on what films I like and dislike to help keep the argument balanced and fair.

There is a common argument that some video-game films make decent films, yet terrible video-game adaptations, according to the fans of the series in question. The best way to describe the possible reason for this is to throw a scenario into the mix:

Say you’re a big fan of a musician and said musician teased a future track by giving you a sample at either a gig or via a live stream. You’ve been waiting for the track to release for years when all of a sudden, it finally releases.

Overjoyed, you head to your nearest virtual audio vendor and purchase the track. When you listen to it, it sounds very little like the original, almost as if it were a remix.

This is the basic principle behind many video-game films. Even though fans hope they stick as close to the source material as possible, writers and directors are usually against this idea. The most notable case of this the original Silent Hill movie.

The director went on record prior to the movies release to say that he was a big fan of the source material, but he had to alter the story in parts to ensure players of the game didn’t know what to expect and to ensure they didn’t get bored of the exact same story.

At this point, it’s easy to establish that it’s unclear if the director was correct with this method. To many, Silent Hill makes a great movie but a poor “Silent Hill” film. Had the director failed the fans of the series or had the fans of the series failed to understand the director’s vision? Let me know what you think!

The reason Phoenix Wright won the bet that I mentioned earlier was most likely due to the fact that the movie follows the source material as close as humanly possible.

This presents a divide against Hollywood and the gamers, it would seem that the hardcore gamers want the core, unedited story they were presented in the game on the big screen, but Hollywood has the idea that even though they say they want this, they don’t and that to reach the maximum movie-going audience possible, they have to alter various degrees of the source material to turn it into a “Hollywood movie”.

I don’t know who is right in this argument, but another point of contention is how Hollywood sees these movies. Some are created by genuine fans of the series whereas others are hired on to essentially create a movie-length advertisement to draw new people into the series of the source material.

Due to the fact this point isn’t talked about much, there doesn’t seem to be dedicated numbers to validate how successful this method is, however, Ubisoft recently admitted the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie was made for this advertisement angle, to introduce new people to series, so we perhaps might have said data begin to trickle in soon.

No matter what way you cut it, there’s a divide between Hollywood and the fans of the source material when it comes to video-game movies. What side are you on?

I personally think it’s only a matter of time before one side buckles, so it’ll be interesting to see where video-game movies go in a couple of years.


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A collection of game development related write-ups, break downs and a whole truckload of games industry analysis. There’s even tutorials and guides to help take your project to the next level!