July 10, 2017

Cinema Rant: 5 Reasons Why Video Games Can Make Great Films

Let's be honest with ourselves and admit that we have never seen a good film adaptation of a video game. There have been okay ones like Mortal Kombat and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but adaptations just never live up to the video games. With future filmmakers looking toward the video game world for inspiration, there's no better moment to talk about why video games can make great films.

1. Originality

Film adaptations of games are highly criticized for being unoriginal. Critics make their points based not just on the story of the film, but also on the bias that the film comes from the video game. Many audiences haven't played the likes of Half-Life or Gears of War, so it would only be right to transfer the video game stories over to the big screen. This isn't laziness, it's smarts. When you go back and look at all the adaptations that have been made, few use their source material's story and few have been successful. Maybe it's time to smarten up. It works for books, why not for games?

Tomb Raider (2018), Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2. Video Game Characters Are Relatable

Criticisms sometimes overreach the film and crossover into the source material. Video game characters as unrelatable is one criticism that should be stopped. More than often video games will provide a main character as a vessel for the player. When a video game is adapted to film, it is then the filmmaker's job to develop the character. Usually character development is lost in the process of filmmaking, because the studios think that everyone wants to see big action. If main characters are unrelatable it is not the video game's fault. There are a lot of great video game characters than can be relatable and show emotion: Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil), Nathan Drake (Uncharted), and Joel and Ellie (Last of Us).

Castlevania, Courtesy of Netflix

3. All Video Games Have Deep Mythologies For Reference

When creating a film from a video game, there is a smorgasbord of information to pick and choose from. Franchises like Halo and Legend of Zelda have endless content to rummage through. Filmmakers usually choose to have stories not focused on any already published story line from a game. We saw this in the Resident Evil franchise. But, if a film focuses on the main character of the video game franchise, then it becomes a case of having to narrow that mythology down or risking ruining a film just to expand on the mythology. The beauty of the creation is in the deep mythology. At first, the films should tease this mythology and slowly build it to create a cinematic universe.

Resident Evil, Courtesy of Sony Pictures

4.  Film Adaptations of Video Games Create Franchises

When done right these adaptations will not be a one-and-done type thing. If a video game becomes a hit a franchise will be made. While I am not a big fan of sequel after sequel in a franchise, Hollywood is. In the very near future, video games will be the go-to source for franchises. Cinematic universes are popping up every year and it will soon be time for video games to dominate the silver screen. This is a plus for studios who want money and audiences who want some new material.

Assassin's Creed, Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

5.  All About The Director

The final argument comes down to the creative genius behind the camera. Unfortunately, most adaptations are horrible because the studios let in horrible directors. The big two are Paul W.S. Anderson and Uwe Boll. They have both worked endlessly to ruin film adaptations of video games. Anderson, being the larger of the two names, producing the worst damage with the Resident Evil series, Mortal Kombat series, and soon the Monster Hunter series. At the end of the day it will come down to the person behind the camera. If studios pick a reliable director then there may be a shot at video games having a future as films. It was quite sad to see Duncan Jones's Warcraft handled so poorly, but hope is not lost for the director to have creative control.

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