VIDEO: What does it take to make a good video game movie?

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Cecil talks about what it takes to make a solid video game movie adaptation!

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  • Muthsarah

    Wait….you covered Double Dragon….you mean you felt it was a GBF? C’mon, Cecil. Mortal Kombat I can kinda understand (not based on the movie, just on the fanbase), but there are limits.

    Kreuk is pronounced “Krook”, rhymes with “spook”. It’s Dutch. Which is her other genetic half.

    Need for Speed killed in China. I’m surprised I know that, but since China is our future overlord, we may still see sequels. Well, we may hear of them. They’ll prolly only be SEEN in China.

    Prince of Persia cost $200 million. I had no idea. I….kinda wanna see it now. I mean…the money went SOMEWHERE, right? Prolly looks nice. Right? No? ?

    “Don’t worry about making it something for everyone.”

    ####Number ####One#### problem with Hollywood. Everything is made with everyone in mind. Everyone wants to make another Avengers (or, for the modest/reactionary ones, a quaint “Titanic”). Which means everything is homogenized. It’s somewhat unique on the surface, but the basic plot structure is the same, the approach to casting is the same, the posters are the same (deja vu?), the artistic direction is the same, the trailers/commercials are the same. The best movies (box-office-wise) appealed to everyone, therefore OUR movie will appeal to everyone!

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Dead or Alive movie once. You were positively drooling over that one. …Which…may have been for other reasons, admittedly.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Oh Double Dragon was fun. It also fell into the “90s movies I give a pass”. Clearly, they just bought the rights and tried to figure out what to do on the backend.

      Really? Not doubting you but I’ve heard a few places call her “Cree-uck”. Oh well, mispronouning names seems to be my weakness.

      I guess China loves them some car movies. I wonder how Fast and Furious does over there.

      Too much time is spent trying to cover all the bases. “Do we have the
      single white mother demographic? How about the middle aged upper class
      Eskimo?” They worry about having a product appeal to everyone and then
      it is so bland it appeals to no one. This is why so many indie films
      resonate more. They are worried about making the film they want to make
      and not about who will like it.

      I do like the DOA movie
      (as well as a few other video game movies) but didn’t want to outright
      mention them because I just wanted to focus on the concept in general. I
      think there have been a few genuinely good game movies but overall,
      they have yet to hit the level of consistent quality of comic book and
      YA novel movies. Imagine a video game series turned into films with the
      production value (and effort) of the Harry Potter films!

      • Muthsarah

        I may be out of the loop regarding the state of modern gaming, but one game adaptation that could only go big or go home is the long-kvetched about Zelda movie. I can’t imagine them making a Zelda film series and NOT aping LotR. It wouldn’t lack for money, but we’d have to hope Nintendo keeps a close eye on the filmmakers.

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          After the Super Mario movie, Nintendo has been very gunshy about their games turning into movies. (also the whole fiasco with Zelda and the CDi, they are weary of 3rd parties with their property)

          I think a Zelda movie would be great if it was helmed by the right folks. It needs to have a more “fantasy-lite” feel, so going straight LotR would be too serious. I thinking more along the lines of Willow, at least in how it should feel.

          • Muthsarah

            That’d be sweet, but after LotR, Skyrim, and Game of Thrones, I think the whole medieval fantasy genre is locked in either grim, really grim, or grim with Jacksonian slapstick. They’d have to go in a whole new direction to keep it serious, but not super-bloody.

            They’d have crazy name-recognition and a massive built-in fanbase, so they shouldn’t lack for confidence in going for a distinctively Zelda style. But I have serious doubts if the industry would even let them try it.

  • Moppet

    I can’t think of anything here I disagree with. I like the idea presented here that suggests you don’t have to please everyone or follow a game’s story verbatim. It reminds me of why games based on movies, like Escape from Butcher Bay work so much better, in my mind at least. It didn’t need to follow Pitch Black or Chronicles story points moment for moment to be good. It took a look at another part of the universe without losing the feeling of that universe. Translating a game, to a movie, would seem to follow similar concepts. It’s not about being a carbon copy and you’ve already said it better than I could, why that is, the respect, knowledge and other elements required.

    Lovely episode.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Thank you!

      Butcher Bay was an awesome game.

  • Considering Uwe is effectively a very skilled money launderer, he would probably be a great executive producer, just so long as his creative contributions remain on the monetary side of things.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      So good in fact I’m surprised he hasn’t been hired by Paramount to pilfer money and then blame the drop in production on the movie.

  • $36060516

    David O. Russell’s last name isn’t “O’Russell,” like an Irishman. His middle name is “Owen.”

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      My derp moment of the day.

      • $36060516

        That’s okay! I have so many derp moments I don’t have time to put out videos… Let alone ones with excellent CGI title sequences.

  • TheRedWorm

    I’d love to see The Walking Dead, the game, the movie. Especially an ending where Clem shoots Lee…

  • Thomas Stockel

    11…fucking…movies. My mind boggles.

    Good analysis, Cecil. When you put it that way, it seems go freaking obvious. And sadly you’re right; with Need For Speed’s failure the execs are going to take the wrong message from it.

  • Sean Tadsen

    I think this is probably why I like the first Resident Evil movie the most – it’s not trying to directly adapt any of the games, but it still respects the material (I assume. I’m not really a fan of the games).

    I also noticed that you flashed one of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games briefly. I think that would be a bit redundant, though, because those games are already based on the Russian movie Stalker, which is a quasi-adaptation of the novel Roadside Picnic. So making a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. movie would be pointless for the same reasons as making a Grand Theft Auto movie.

  • otokufreak

    I thought Japan did a good job with Yakuza(Ryu ga Gotoku), and the Ace Attorney movies.

  • nejiblue

    Yeah, I don’t agree. Mostly with your “stick to the source” bullshit. Kubrick basically tossed stephen king’s the shining in the dumpster, my parents still hate the movie to this day for that “crime”, I’ve never read the book, but the movie is one of the best horror movies ever made. On the flipside, the thing from another world(which I’ve never seen) did the same thing, most people like, and carpenter with the thing went the route of being more faithful to the source material, creating another horror classic which is as well remebered in a different way. You see, you make it sound way, WAY too simple. What really matters is if it’s a good movie or not, period. If it can actual make the transition from one medium to the other without you having to have any knowledge of its source beforehand to enjoy it. I do agree mortal kombat 1 was able to do that. street fighter 1, honestly, was a bad movie, but was enjoyable cheese unlike it’s sequel. resident evil, I never cared for, but I understand the appeal and think it was able to do this as well. The holy “stick to the source material” is basically a modern internet geek thing, which destroys creative. If it’s that important to you, stick to the source yourself and give it’s movie a chance to actual find a audience. You have every right to hate it for any reason, but this crap that “if it right one’s get made, it will create a magic formula where only perfect video game movies get made” is bullshit. The “cash-in” element will follow, and continue to follow no matter what. As it does, frankly, with comic book movies to this day. People just aren’t sick of them yet.

    I am also alone in finding the modern marvel superhero movies to be boring as fuck. Spawn would have sucked no matter what it was rated. The problem is most games are, well, games. It’s a different creative medium. The interactive element makes them very different. It means, in a lot of them, the story doesn’t matter. Not all, and those are the ones that would be the best choice for movies, but say super mario bros? It never should have been turned into a movie. Which doesn’t mean its a bad game, it’s actually a classic of the medium. You don’t want grand theft auto because it rips off various movie and tv show sources. And….. castlevania doesn’t? Hell, that’s probably my big issue with warcraft(coming from someone who’s been a big fan of that franchise from day one.) Yes, the cutscenes look great. Blizzard’s classic cutscene’s were always well done. But sorry, that doesn’t translate to a automatic good movie. Warcraft always cripped from various fantasy sources(most notable lord of the rings.) Starcraft, which you showed briefly, has the same issue. Mass effect, I love and probably would have the best shot at making a great movie. However, I would have to leave my fanboyism at the door(or try to) if the director wanted to make any changes. In the end, I got the games. I honestly wouldn’t care if the movie was never made, but if it is, I just want it to be good.

    Oh, and yeah, uwe boll’s movies sucked because he himself is a hack. It happens.

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    Maybe it is, because I didn’t play the Street Fighter Game nor watched the first movie – but “Legend of Chun-Li” didn’t look that bad to me. I could enjoy it, but again, maybe that is, because I didn’t care for the original that much.

    Concerning other Video Game movies: Tomb Raider I and II was an enjoyable experience, Mario Brothers was not my cup of tea, I enjoyed Wing Commander but… Autobahnraser (the german “Need of Speed”) which had premiered in 2004 was… erm… yeah – let’s not talk about this.

    It was relatively dull and if you wanted to know, how much worse the original “Fast and the Furious” could have been, if you stumble upon “Autobahnraser” you have to watch it. It is bad – and that’s coming from the guy, who likes Birds of Prey (the series) and thinks that “Die another day” is a decent flick, so – you have been warned.

    Problem is – and nejiblue already pointed it out – sometimes a movie is a movie and a game is a game, that means: two different media.

    Take e.g. one of the supposed worst movies out there: Super Mario Bros.
    And now think: How can we make a movie out of this?
    The story of Super Mario Bros. 1, 3, and all the other versions of that (not counting 2, because that was originally another game) is basically the same. Peach (or sometimes: Toadstool) gets kidnapped and the player needs to go through the land, jump on goombas and turtles in order to save the Princess.
    How do you make this into a movie?
    Answer: You cannot. At least not completely.
    So what the Mario Bros. movie did, was actually grabbing that, what could work and weave a story around it.
    Mario and Luigi are saving Luigis girlfriend in a parallel dimension.
    What else could they have done with it?
    How do you adapt the concept about a plumber, that for whatever reason knows a princess and needs to rescue her every time?

  • mofs

    Duncan Jones (Warcraft) and Michael Fassbender (Assassin’s Creed) look like solid bets to finally break through the glass ceiling and bring video game movies to the main stream. I have to admit though a David Hayter scripted Metal Gear Solid movie would totally tick all the boxes.