Why Do Video Game Movies Fail?
I can count the number of ‘good’ video game movies on one hand, but why is that? There are dozens of video games with rich backstories and interesting characters, so the backbone of a great story is already there. So why are these stories largely ignored?
If you’re a gamer you’re likely used to that look of disgust that crosses your coworker’s/friend’s face when he hears you talking about your favorite video game, along with quotes like ‘video games are for kids’. This mindset seems to shine through in movies like Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter, which are filled with cheesy one-liners that a kid might find funny. Most video game movies are made with kids in mind, with some of them even getting a PG-13 rating despite the video game’s adult content.
The Movies Aren’t Made for The Fans
Do you remember the awful American Death Note movie from 2017? While it isn’t a video game-based movie, it is the perfect example of a movie that didn’t respect the source material. While the changes made have been heavily criticized by fans (myself included), the average viewer may not have had an issue with the changes. I remember having a conversation with one of my former coworkers about the Netflix movie the day it was released. She wasn’t a fan of Death Note, so she had nothing to compare the movie to. I listened to her as she said how much she loved the movie, and that’s when it dawned on me, the movie wasn’t for us. The changes the director made to the source material were meant to appeal to a broader audience, like giving the role of Harry to Rose in Silent Hill. We can see evidence that this is still happening in the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie, where the character of Johnny Cage is removed in favor of a new character named Cole Young.
The Movies Are an Outlet for the Director’s Fantasy
My introduction to the Resident Evil series was through the movies. After watching the first movie, I decided that I wanted to check out the games. I was shocked when I did finally check out the games, only to realize that the movies barely resembled them. In the later movies, iconic sequences from the game are given to new characters or characters that are nothing like their in-game namesake. Many fans speculate that the director made the changes because he wanted to see his wife in an action movie.
Directors Don’t Take the Source Material Seriously
Whenever a video game movie is released, we’re treated to interviews where the director tells us how much he loved the video games and what he was trying to capture with his version. While this may be true in some cases, the movie ends up being a far cry from the story we’re used to. The director decides to make the story their own and remove key elements from the original story, and the result is a movie that no one wants to see.