Good game, bad film

16 May 2011


There are some questions in life we are unlikely to ever find out the answer to. What is the meaning of life? Is there a word that rhymes with ‘orange’? And why are all video game to cinema adaptations so very poor?

Angelina Jolie couldn’t save Tomb Raider from being a bit of a turkey…

While life’s deeper meaning and difficult rhyming words may be the subject of constant discussion, we seem resigned to being put through awful big screen versions of our favourite beat ‘em ups and RPGs.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Pokemon: The First Movie are among the highest grossing adaptations of all-time. But their relative success at the box office has come despite a wave of flak from the critics.

Other PlayStation and Xbox games like Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill and Resident Evil have also been given the Hollywood treatment but fell way short of A-list.

I cannot name a single video game that has been made into a good film. Can you?

Why don’t they work?

The problem is Hollywood tends to look on games as a quick buck. People already know the main characters and general storyline, while there’s a loyal fanbase already out there to spend money on cinema tickets, merchandise and DVDs...

It all begins to go wrong at the scriptwriting stage. Then it gets worse from there. Games where the action comes thick and fast are fun because we’re the ones bashing the Xbox 360 controller.

But without a considered plot behind it, constant action scenes in cinema seem a bit cheap. Even if the casting is perfect – see Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider – we the audience tend to feel a bit short-changed.

So what next?

The threat of more cinema adaptations of our favourite games continues to hang over us. How long before a weak version of Call of Duty or World of Warcraft is shunted into production with a sub-standard script and begins to sully the game’s good name?

One gaming classic which just can’t escape the attention of film studios is Tekken. In the wake of last year’s poor live action adaptation of the fighting game, a 3D animation called Tekken: Blood Vengeance is to arrive in cinemas this summer. I’ll reserve judgement for now, but let’s just say I’m not hopeful…

It makes you wonder what gaming favourites could end up in the cinema, despite cringeworthy plots.

Will we one day be treated to Tetris: The Movie? It’d be like Armageddon, only Bruce Willis will attempt to neatly slot the asteroid into Earth, rather than trying to blow it up.

What classic games do you think would make for terrible movies? Tweet @dixonsintheknow using the hashtag #goodgamebadfilm