Why Movies Based On Video Games Are So Bad

By now, it’s common knowledge that (most) movies that are based on video games are, to say it nicely, not so good. A few examples would be Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Doom or Prince of Persia. Ok, not all of those are terrible, but they weren’t very good either to us gamers. Even though people outside of the gaming community saw some merit in it. The image to the right displays a couple of the review scores that movies based on video games got. Suffice to say that none of those are actually anywhere near other films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile or The Dark Knight.

But why exactly are they not as good as other movies that are based on books or real life? Well, for a couple of reasons actually.

50% is good for a movie based on video games ...

First of all, the producers are often so focused on making money that they forget to make the flick a real memorable one. Most of the budget that gets spent actually goes to advertisement rather than actual production of the movie.

Secondly, video games aren’t good material to make into a movie. Most genres of video games have certain characteristics that make it very hard to pour into a movie format. For example, platformers tend to not have enough plot within the games themselves, so the writers need to improvise. The average First-Person Shooter has a few minutes of narrative cinematics, but even the more cerebral examples of the genre will, by definition, feature hours of plot-free gunplay to rival the dumbest Summer Blockbuster. Fighting Games tend to have a similarly flimsy plot with Multiple Endings depending on the player’s character, and the writers have to mishmash these various plot threads into a coherent whole.

The only video game genres that pay much attention to plot — RPGs and Adventure Games — tend to have far too much plot to squeeze into a two-hour flick without leaving a ton out. Casey Hudson from BioWare recently mentioned that Hollywood was interested in making a movie out of their sci-fi epic Mass Effect. The only problem? Mass Effect is a 40-hour game. Open-ended RPGs allow us to explore worlds, to screw around, to do optional tasks that have nothing to do with the main storyline. It’s what makes those games so immersive and enjoyable. But replicating that immersiveness on-screen in any sort of short order is downright impossible. Could you tell Mass Effect’s story in two hours? Sure, but doing so strips the game of its strengths and leaves you, well, unsatisfied. Which is about par for the course for video game movies. Not to mention all the choices you get to make as Commander Shephard, would the Shepard in the movie be a good guy, a bad guy or somewhere in between?

Next to that, watching a movie based on a video game after actually playing the game is like watching someone else play. When it comes to pure action and excitement, video games are surpassing movies as the medium du jour. Why bother paying 10 dollars to see Jason Statham beat up dudes for a few minutes when you can spend ten times as long beating up the thugs yourself? You see, while a video game can do this and entertain for hours, non-stop action movies can get incredibly tedious (Shoot ‘Em Up) because you’re only watching someone else. Video game movies therefore typically end up either dull, action-devoid adaptations, or boring, action-packed fluff like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Either way, you’re better off playing the game.

Thirdly, and this is more or less a result of the fact that video games aren’t very good material to convert to a good movie. The protagonists of video games often have their very own typical behaviour style, clothing, accent and character development throughout a game, which is strengthened further by the player’s imagination, experiences and values. This in fact is extremely hard for any actor to portray. Clothing and accent can be done of course, but the movie will often lack the character development and the sense of recognition we gamers get when playing the game. The most prominent example I have of this would be Max Payne. The Max Payne in the game is a deeply cynical, sad but also highly determined man with a gloomy past following him around like a shadow. Mark Wahlberg tried his best to portray all this, but in the end he just came off as a weak derivative of our dearest of all our friends, Max Payne (see what I did there?!).

In my opinion, producers should really stick to CGI so they can keep the character (and voice actor) and do away with weak real life substitutes (ahem, Dragonball Evolution).

Now, before I come off as too demanding there really are some movies that are based on video games that I liked. For example, I really liked Hitman, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the first Resident Evil. The movie industry isn’t going to give a video game based movie an oscar any time soon, but there might be some hope for us left … maybe Peter Jackson will finally get his Halo movie going (even though I doubt it), maybe we’ll see a World Of Warcraft movie (it better be CGI or really good special effects), a possible Assassin’s Creed movie and last but not least there might be an upcoming Uncharted movie.

Also, BioWare and Blizzard should totally go into the movie business.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Let me know what you think about video game based movies or tell me why you think this or that movie was good/bad.

/Gamecultist

The Magic Of Harry Potter

With the upcoming conclusion to the Harry Potter movies I began thinking about the franchise as a whole. It strikes me that I grew up with it, and that it’s now coming to a (temporary) end. The main actors from the movies being the same age I am, it’s not only an end for them but also for me.

The seventh and last book

Back in 2001, when I read the first book  (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) it had already been released for a couple of years and received highly praising critics from The Scotsman, which said it had “all the makings of a classic”, and The Glasgow Herald, which called it “Magic stuff”. Soon the English newspapers joined in, with more than one comparing it to Roald Dahl’s work. The Mail on Sunday rated it as “the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl”, a view echoed by The Sunday Times (“comparisons to Dahl are, this time, justified”), while The Guardian called it “a richly textured novel given lift-off by an inventive wit”.

Since then, J.K. Rowling’s creations have travelled across the globe with translations in as much as 17 languages, capturing the attention of millions of people all around the world. Fans of the series camped outside of bookstores for days to get their eager hands on a copy of a new Harry Potter book. Certainly a rare occurrence to see a character that was first created during a train ride can bring about such amazing things like this.

The events following the hysteria around the books, commonly featuring mock sorting, games, face painting, and other live entertainment have achieved popularity with Potter fans and have been highly successful in attracting fans and selling books with nearly nine million of the 10.8 million initial print copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sold in the first 24 hours. The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became the fastest selling book in history, moving 11 million units in the first twenty-four hours of release . The series has also gathered adult fans, leading to the release of two editions of each Harry Potter book, identical in text but with one edition’s cover artwork aimed at children and the other aimed at adults. Besides meeting online through blogs, podcasts, and fansites, Harry Potter super-fans can also meet at Harry Potter symposia.

The word Muggle has spread beyond its Harry Potter origins, becoming one of few pop culture words to land in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Harry Potter fandom has embraced podcasts as a regular, often weekly, insight to the latest discussion in the fandom. Both MuggleCast and PotterCast have reached the top spot of iTunes podcast rankings and have been polled one of the top 50 favourite podcasts.

The ‘Harry Potter’ main cast

Now, why exactly do we like Harry Potter so much? Let’s look at what’s causing this ‘Pottermania’.

First of all, relatability. The character Harry Potter is easy to sympathize with. Take the Dursleys for example, they are so awful that you’ll automatically like anyone they do not and vice versa. Next, through his difficult circumstances. Harry gets into trouble, is hunted by Voldemort and revered by others. As story starts to develop around him this effect only fortifies. In all the early books, Harry is such a decent hero that he is hard not to like; and all the people around him generally fit into the pattern of being either people the reader likes as well (the Weasleys, Dumbledore, Luna) or else people we enjoy disliking (Malfoy, Snape).

Harry’s day-to-day experiences are also very relatable. Throughout the series Harry is occupied with school, exams, sports practice, friends and eventually girlfriends. We all had similar experiences making it all the more relatable. The overarching story is more of the same. During the course of Harry’s teenage years we go from the happy, cheerful and young Harry to the adult Harry where he learns to deal with death and all the responsibilities that come with adulthood and his legacy.

Next, accessibility. The world of wizard is much like ours, but with a magical and humorous tone to it. The staircases move, clocks talk and cooking happens with the flick of a wand. But it’s still very recognizable and not all that hard to fathom as a result of that. Tolkien’s Middle Earth wasn’t even near this accessible to people as there was a whole new world with new races, languages and creatures to discover. Diving deeper into the humorous tone I mentioned before. Rowling’s humour is … unique. Firecrackers that spell out POO and exams called O.W.Ls and N.E.W.T are just a small fragment of the rich humorous sections in the books. Nothing makes a reader chuckle like a good joke.

Moving on … complexity. In the books, things never are like they seem and seldom simple, which is much like real life. James Potter was an arrogant S.O.B during his childhood, contrary to what Harry thinks. Voldemort had an unhappy childhood, Snape protected Harry because he loved Lily and Dumbledore wanted to rule over Muggles. The line between good and evil is very clear, but every character on both sides are various shades of gray. it’s not something I often see in books (correct me if I’m wrong).

Next up: Mystery. Seven books, the keys to the climax of the seventh laid in the first, a mystery in each book feeding into the mystery of the whole. Clues and references in every book that y

 
J.K. Rowling

ou’ll only get when you finished all 7. Plot twists that you’ll never expect. Rowling manages to tell an incredible story without every giving away a word more than she wants to reader to know at that very moment in the story.

Escapism. In a good way mind you. The Harry Potter franchise offers us a way to escape our day-to-day lives and jump in to a book, a story, a world. Even though the world is much like our own, it’s imaginative and fresh enough to offer relaxation and a way to escape all our worries about work, money, war, terrorism, …

Community. Harry Potter was published right at the beginning of the dot.com boom when everyone was getting acquainted with the internet, making websites and joining chat rooms. As the books went on, the community of fans grew and lots of them wanted to speculate on what would happen next or discuss the events in past books. Us readers got to know other people around the world and we all further reinforced the place that the Harry Potter series has in our current culture.

Books often get labelled ‘The next Harry Potter’, but I honestly doubt any series of books will EVER be the next Harry Potter in much the same way as there is no series that can be called ‘The next Lord Of The Rings’. Truly, Harry Potter is a name that will be right up there with Alice, Frodo and Sherlock Holmes and it’s definitely a title I’d want my kids to read some day. Now that the movies are coming to an end, so does an age in which a lot of us grew up and it’ll be quite some time until we get to see something of this magnitude again.

Even though Rowling said there will be no new book, The Boy-Who-Lived will continue to live on for decades to come.

/Gamecultist

PS: Watch the trailer for the last movie below (Caution! high amounts of ‘NYEAHHHHHHHHHHHHhh’):

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Movie In The Making

 Yes indeed folks, after more than a decade Rurouni Kenshin or Samurai X in English is making a comeback although it’s not the one many of us would like to see.

In 2012, fans of the manga and/or animated series can look forward to a live action adaptation of Himurai Kenshin’s story. Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga/anime is turning into a feature film with Takeru Sato and will be directed by Keishi Otomo.

As far as Sato goes, he’s no stranger to movie adaptations of manga. He had a small part in Goemon (which was an ok movie) and last year’s Beck.

Rurouni Kenshin‘s original manga ran from 1994 to 1999 over 28 volumes and was later animated over 95 episodes and a couple of OVA’s. The series followed a highly-skilled assassin who decides to wander Japan helping the helpless as penance for his violent past.

The source material is certainly of a high quality, let’s just hope the movie adaptation will stay true to it. We all know it might just as easily become another Dragonball Evolution, and I’m not done trying to forget about that one yet …

/Gamecultist

So Why No Megan Fox In Transformers 3?

Yes, there’s another Transformers movie. Let’ s get one thing clear, I really dislike the Transformers movies. There’s no decent story, cheesy one-liners and mediocre acting across the board. The only thing going for this movie are the pretty fancy special effects. So yeah, there’s my review of the upcoming movie. Let’s hope I’m wrong …

People who have been paying attention to the movie and watched the trailer have already noticed a distinct lack of Megan Fox’s pretty face. The reason for that you wonder? Well, it seems like Steven Spielberg had her fired after she compared director Michael Bay with Hitler.

She herself said that she had other projects waiting for her attention and that she left the Transformers: Dark of the Moon set to attend to those projects. However, Michael Bay revealed the true reason for her departure. Fox had compared Michael Bay with Hitler in a magazine. The jewish producer Steven Spielberg is understandbly agitated by this and had her fired. Bay wasn’t hurt by Fox’s comparison by Steven Spielberg is very sensitive on the subject. After he directed Schindler’s List (go see that movie, it’s awesome) he created the ‘Survivors of the Shoah Visual Hisyory’ foundation, that strives to keep the memory of the holocaust during the second World War intact.

Megan Fox owes a great deal of her fame to the first 2 Transformer movies (and Jeniffer’s Body). She has since been replaced by model Rosie Huntingdon-Withley. Fox’s carreer might be just about over, while Huntingdon-Withley’s might be getting a kickstart.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be released on 29 June 2011. Watch the trailer below.

/Gamecultist

100 Greatest Movie Badasses

Hey guys, thought I’d share a little video I found. The 100 Greatest Movie Badasses Of All Time. I do, however, have a few remarks to make before you watch the video.

First of all, the F word is extremely popular in this video. Secondly, this list isn’t complete or even representative to my own experiences. For instance, there is no Darth Vader (unless I missed it) and Steven Seagal is at the top with a pretty week one-liner.

Anyway, enjoy the video and scroll down for a complete list of all the movies referenced in the video.

And here’s the list:

100 Greatest Movie Badasses

/Niels

Stages Of Movie Geek Evolution

Hey there guys, this is just a small post in between the work on my thesis and traineeship during the day. I came across this ‘infographic’ on another website that gave me a giggle or two. You should really read this if you’re into movies at all. Basically, you can use this as a test to see in which stage of evolution you belong. After looking at it myself I realise I’m a pretty lightweight movie fanatic, who knew … I’m a Sundancicus Robustus with a bit of leftover Blockbustericus. Anyway, enough talk … enjoy!

Six Stages Of Movie Geeks

/Niels

Papercraft – The Newest Level of Geekiness

I’m sure you’ve heard of the latest ‘fashion’ in the geek-o-sphere. Papercraft, the art of making just about anything out of paper. I’ve known about it for quite a while but I only recently got more interested in it and I’m considering giving it a try and see how it works out.

When I say papercraft I literally mean anything you can think of made out of paper. Just about anything popular in the video game, movie, comic or anime world has been made out of paper. Models I’ve seen range from Star Wars, comic characters, life-size Master Chiefs, Yamaha bikes and small cube-shaped characters from various themes.

What’s even more is that you don’t require a lot of material to start papercrafting yourself. You just need a hobby knife, glue, paper (Duh) and opposable thumbs.

I decided to share some of the most impressive designs that I’ve come across. I’d seriously pay good money to own one of these. I think making one will prove quite difficult for a novice like me! Anyway, enjoy the selection I’ve made and have a look around on the internet if I spiked your interest.

First of all, these come from a website called Cubeecraft. These are papercraft models made up of cube shapes, as the name suggests. There are quite a lot of designs on the website, and easy to build.

Leonard H. "Bones" McCoyGordon FreemanAstro BoyWolverineMarcus FenixHellboy

Next up is an awesome life-size Link.

The next picture is from the Star Wars Universe. I wonder if these could be made life-sized

Always wanted Goku in your room? Well, here’s your chance!

I think I’ll stop here. Let it be clear that these models are for advanced papercrafters. I’d suggest starting out with the ones from Cubeecraft. If you’re looking for more papercraft models and downloads check out the link below.

This website has some awesome models. It sort of serves as a collection of various papercraft websites and blog around the internet, just have a look around for yourself. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go find out if I’m up to the challenge of making one of these awesome models.

/Niels