Editorial – Why Do Video Game Movies Suck?

by Ninth Batter (You can find Ninth on his blog Nobody Like You. Where he works on a machinima of the same name. He is also a frequent contributor to Polygamerous)

super-mario-bros-movie Video game movies, why do they suck? Well we can’t blame the actors. Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Kingsley, and Raul Julia are all respected and award winning actors. I’d like to say we can blame the directors but Uwe Boll didn’t direct all of them. I’m fortunate enough to have an inside look on what really goes on when making a movie. Hopefully I can shed some light on why video game movies so far have sucked (and I’m not just talking about what Milla Jovovich does to the director of Resident Evil).

There are 4 basic steps when making a movie: get a director, get a script, get the funding, and film it. Well those are the steps towards making a good movie. For most of the video game movies that have been released the studio gets the funding then a script then the director. The problem with doing that is the director won’t have any influence on who the producers are and they will have a lesser understanding of the script. Also, the writer and director of the movie should have played the game and enjoyed it. Robert Zemeckis had read and loved Forrest Gump before he directed the movie.

Resident-Evil-Extinction-Alice-1085 Which brings me to my next point, for all the directors and studio executives out there you don’t need to have the movie be identical to the game it’s based on. To Kill a Mockingbird only covers a portion of the novel but is a great movie. I personally believe you should never compare a novel and a movie. They need to be treated as individual works(this should also imply to video game movies). The key is to preserve the essence of the characters and story that has been told. For example if I was to make a Bioshock movie I would keep the initial shock of seeing Rapture and the plasmids but I’d drop every character but Dr. Tenenbaum, Ryan, Atlas, and Jack(with a few supporting characters for plot progression). Bioshock is a horror/psychological thriller and shouldn’t be made into a hero or redemption film. Yes fan boys are going to be pissed that not every aspect is preserved but what makes a great game doesn’t make a great movie.

inthenameoftheking Finally, take your time with the movie. I know that while filming there is always a limited amount of time and money you can spend. What I’m talking about is take the time to write the script and cast the actors. Make a good movie, not a good movie based on a video game. But let’s face it no one that is in that position is going to read this (or are they?).

So back to the original question. Video game movies, why do they suck? They suck because studio executives don’t understand the media the movie is based on and think they know best. The producers will always be the strongest force behind the movie with the director guiding it along, so then studio executives need to trust them to do their jobs. The World of Warcraft movie is going to be a big make or break for video game movies. It is the first video game movie to not start casting while the script is being written and it has an experienced sci-fi/fantasy director and producer. So here’s hoping the next video game movies don’t suck because right now the most successful videogame is Professor Layton and that was a puzzle game.

About MikeH

Gamer/Podcaster/Blogger - Mike, who is also known as Fimlys in the WoW community, is the Author of Asleep at the WoW Blog ( http://aatwow.fimlys.com ) and Co-Host on the Twisted Nether Blogcast (http://www.twistednether.net ) and HotsCast a Podcast about Heroes of the Storm. He also produces Polygamerous and does the web maintenance. An avid gamer, he's played since his parents first bought him an Atari 2600.. Back in the stone-age...