I don’t think it’s an especially unique observation to note that most movies based off video games don’t actually turn out so good. Just look at the long history of duds we have laid out before us: Doom, Super Mario Brothers, House of the Dead, Postal, Afraid of the Dark, Pixels (I’m counting that), Hitman, World of Warcraft, Angry Birds, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill, Street Fighter, Need for Speed, Dead Or Alive, BloodRayne, Far Cry, Tekken…
…and our future movies don’t look too promising, either. We have, what, the Tetris movie? Sonic the Hedgehog is getting a movie and that sounds like it could be a disaster. Ready Player One is more about the book and looks to be every bit as… mixed. And is the Uncharted movie still in the works? I dunno.
It’s grim, is what I’m saying, especially when you consider the list of GOOD video game movies is short enough to fit onto one hand: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (solid meh), Wreck-It Ralph, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World if you want to call that a video game movie, and maybe two movies in the Resident Evil franchise were okay enough to be on the list.
…Okay and Tron, if you want to be like that.
Anyway. Despite the less-than-impressive track record and no signs of much improvement in the dozens of years Hollywood has tried, I’m still one of those people who looks forward to these kinda things. So will I go see that spotty-looking Sonic the Hedgehog movie? You betcha. Will I go see the next World of Warcraft movie even though the first one may have literally put me to sleep? Sure, sure. Will I give the Tetris movie a shot? No, because even I have standards. But you get what I’m getting at, right?
Anyway. Hollywood’s going to keep trying to make movies off of these things as long as there’s money to be made, so the way I see it, there’s no point in fighting it. With that said, there are a few games I would very much like to see Hollywood try to make a movie out of… less due to confidence that they’d do a good job and more out of curiosity over how they would attempt it in the first place. Let’s go over some of that list, shall we?
1) Super Mario Brothers
I know Mario was already turned into a live-action movie, and I know the rumors circulating on the ol’ net that Nintendo’s biggest mascot would return to the silver screen as an animated film headed by Sony, a company with a terrible, terrible track record with making good animated movies (they made the Smurfs movie, never forget), but shucks, with 20+ extra years of foresight and a whole new world of CG at their disposal, I’d like to see how a big-budget Hollywood executive would tackle the issue of another live-action Super Mario movie, because for the life of me I can’t imagine any way to make it work well.
I mean, it has more character than Tetris blocks, and its own actual world and something resembling a ‘plot’, but that might actually work against it. Tetris, for whatever else, is enough of a blank slate that you can write just about any move and figure out some way to apply “Tetris” to it. Mario is a blank slate, sure, his only real quality is “brave and nice”, but since there are so many years that have gone into establishing the Mario “setting” and “tone”, well, you can’t just ignore that. And the Mushroom kingdom is a hell of an abstract place to try to explain in a live-action movie.
So that would be pretty cool, I think. Plus, if you could make some Zelda movies, Kirby moves, Metroid movies, etc., you’d already have a name for the inevitable cross-movie crossover: Super Smash Brothers. That’d be something, right?
2) Grand Theft Auto
I’m genuinely surprised this isn’t a thing.
If you think about it, it really should be by now: often times video game movies take the route of stealing the name, and a few basic tonal or plot elements from a game, but then otherwise creating their own movie. Grand Theft Auto fits that mold perfectly: It’s a crime game, so the movie is about gangs and crimes, and all you really have to do is make sure it uses GTA’s signature sense of humor, maybe set it in one of their many fictional cities, and you have a functioning GTA movie. You don’t even have to follow the plot of any of the games, just make sure that carjacking plays a prominent role and the word “f@#k” is tossed around, and it’ll be aces in most people’s books.
Dwelling on it, I suspect more than a few movie studios have approached Rockstar with that very same pitch, only for Rockstar to be the one to turn them down. The company has always been more interested in the ‘game’ aspects of games, in stark contrast to many in the gaming world (there’s a reason Neko could be a total pounce in GTA 4, even if it clashed with his ‘character’) and probably saw no value in risking their brand identity in slapping the name on something they had no control over.
Still. Who knows?
3) The Elder Scrolls
The world loves high-fantasy these days, and since we’ve gotten movies and shows based on the worlds of Narnia, Middle Earth, and of course Westeros, it seems like The Elder Scrolls would be a perfect fit for the silver screen. We’ve got a huge, detailed, richly-lore filled world, dozens of moments in its history to focus a movie on, and legions of fans foaming at the mouth for more games in the franchise. Seems like a sure-fire hit, to be certain, but…
…you notice something about Bethesda games? They’re really confident about their lore. This is a thing that’s true for both Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, but if they introduce a term or a person or an organization, they just throw it out there and trust that the player will do the necessary investigation to figure out who or what that person or thing is. All the info is there, in books and side-chats and what have you, but they never, or rather, they infrequently frontload it.
A movie couldn’t really get away with that because there’s no way for the audience to do that sort of investigation. That’s great for the games: a story as lore-rich as the Elder Scrolls would be way, way too much to try to cram down your throat. And movies that try that (see: Warcraft) never, ever do it well. So seeing how they balance necessary exposition with their lore confidence would be quite the juggling act. Worth 15 bucks and a soda, if you ask me.
This isn’t just a case of fanboy love: quite the opposite. You might be surprised to hear I’d only be interested in an “Undertale” movie in so far that it would provide me a fascinating, likely hilariously bad insight into the mind of a Hollywood executive. Undertale, of course, works exclusively as a game because it relies heavily on an understanding of gameplay mechanics as a central premise for its novelty (a movie where a child goes around and DOESN’T kill anyone isn’t exactly new in the realm of movies: it’s pretty much the plot of every episode of Sesame Street) but also because the game relies so heavily on player choice, which of course, wouldn’t be present. And taken for its plot alone, Undertale isn’t really that good, so the only reason Hollywood would make such a movie would be to capitalize on its popularity, and seeing them struggle with capturing WHAT made it popular (other than the puns) would be a source of cynical entertainment for generations to come. Or at least, however many generations it takes for people to forget Undertale.
Plus, I’ll admit, seeing Papyrus on the big screen would make me cheer. Every single time it happens. No exceptions.
Why not? We’ve got a Tetris movie, an Emoji movie, a fidget spinner movie… sure, I’d pay to see how they take the simplest game in the gaming world and transform it into a feature-length movie. Would it be about two rival ping-pong champions trapped in a virtual reality by strange alien overlords? Would it be about two warring nations bouncing the same nuclear warhead back and forth in an effort to stave off their own destruction and rush their enemies end? Would it be about a magic racquetball player who not only beats his foes but the wall in front of him? There are literally endless possibilities, all of them stupid. Maybe not 15 bucks and a bucket of popcorn stupid, but 1 dollar Redbox stupid? Sure. Sign me up.
Anyway. Some of these will likely come to pass. Most of them won’t. We’ll have to see what the future holds…