I'm a massive Valve fan, as such, I will defend it's intellectual property with almost animalistic ferocity. Seriously, I'll bite you. Valve crafts some of the best gaming experiences possible, and it's all because they approach their work not as simple gaming cash-cows, but as pieces of art. It's with this in mind, that I suspiciously read the news that a Half-Life or Portal movie might be on the way.
The Film Stage has recently announced that Valve have expressed some tentative interest of working with moviemaking-man-of-the-hour . At the 2013 DICE Summit, Abrams and Valve boss Gabe Newell, both Gods in their respective mediums, got together to discuss storytelling. While most of their chat stuck on topic, there was the inevitable mention of a Valve movie, as well as a Abrams produced game. He said:
There’s an idea we have for a game that we’d like to work with Valve on.
We’re super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie.
This initial news might just sound like friendly banter, the kind of stuff that will never go onto something serious. But there's more. In an update by Polygon, Abrams revealed:
It's as real as anything in Hollywood ever gets. Which is that we are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas.
Newell also explained the DICE talk was really a public presentation of talks they had already had in private, explaining:
What we are actually doing here, we are recapitulating a series of conversations going on. We reached the point that we decided to do more than talk.
Honestly, this news makes me uneasy. Video game movies are almost universally awful. Often, the best a video game adaptation can hope for is to be considered 'not absolutely terrible', and it's extremely rare that they ever even reach these less-than-lofty heights. Any Valve inspired movie needs to be brilliant, because that is what the company deserves.
Half-Life and Portal both suffer from the same problems. They feature silent protagonists and an expansive meta-universe that would be difficult to condense into even a 3-hour movie. Explaining the entire story would clog up any film, while failing to do so would abandon the very thing which makes the Half-Life universe so special.
Personally, I could much better perceive a Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead 1 or 2 movie. They feature speaking characters as well as equally well developed, but less convoluted worlds. Valve's in-house developed Meet The Team shorts were purportedly experiments to see if the video game company could develop movies themselves. They certainly proved Valve could make great animated shorts, but a full length movie? That's something else. A great video game and a great movie are not necessarily made of the same building blocks.
The one redeeming feature in all this, is that it's J.J. Abrams. The Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens director has certainly delivered some great movies, while this recent acquisition of the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises suggests he can be trusted with sacred stories. I can at least give a small sigh of relief when he explains he's a big fan of Valve's games, telling Newell: "I love the experience of playing your games."
What do you guys think? This one has really got me stuck in a dilemma. Do you want to see Half-Life or Portal given the cinematic make-over? Get discussing below.