It's long been fact that video game movies just don't work. Sure, there have been a few that managed to make enough money to launch a sequel or two, but there still isn't one that anyone could look to as a real proof of concept. Sure, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn was good, but it was released as a miniseries, and for the purpose of this article, we're looking at theatrical releases only.
With so much potential, huge fanbases, and near infinite universes available to so many of these franchises, why do they so consistently fail?
Think of it this way. You're at your house, chilling on the couch, playing some Grand Theft Auto. You've got $50 million, a new Bugatti, and more guns than a Man-O-War sticking out of your back pocket. Your friend comes over, hops on the couch, and says the words. "Hey, lemme have a go at this." Thirty minutes later, your character is standing outside the hospital with eight bullets (three of which are in your chest), a handgun, and a half-demolished Prius.
Every gamer has felt that frustration, and it actually contributes to their irritation with what's happening on the screen. Granted, no movie features a main character who makes spectacularly stupid decisions that result in their own death several dozen times (okay, Inception, you got me), but the idea is still the same. The character on screen isn't doing it the way the player would.
When you or I go to any other movie, we're seeing it as a movie. The characters do what they do, they won't respond to our feelings or ideas on how a situation should be approached. However, if a player has spent dozens or hundreds of hours on a game, they've generally developed a playing style, an MO. In their mind, whatever method they use is the way the game is supposed to be played. So, when they go in to a movie, they have an expectation that the character will act and do the same things they did.
Obviously, the disappointment about that specific factor is generally coupled with weak movies overall, but as a gamer, I've noticed that my friends who DON'T play the games often enjoy the films more than I do (Silent Hill is a good example).
So that's it, then! Gaming will never get its time. But wait! Who's that I hear? An acrobatic hero, ready to save the planet with his fists and strong ideals? A hero who can protect us from shadowy organizations attempting to control our very lives in the name of order, safety, and tyranny?
Oh, you thought it would be the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie? Well, actually, it is, but I wanted to remind those people who still say it can't be done that even superheroes had their awful time. That picture is from an actual movie, folks, as hard as it is to believe. The movie industry has a long history of trying to adapt things before it was really possible.
While I admire their inspiration, foresight, and dedication to the good ol' US Dollar, filmmakers pretty commonly make movies that they, their technology, and their audiences just aren't ready for. Comics long held a stigma that they were for kids, so no high-profile actors, directors, or studios would take on comic-related projects. Similarly, video games were (and sometimes still are) stigmatized as being for kids and somehow also definitely for adults only.
Once again, however, we've hit a point of possibility. Video games are pretty mainstream now, even many who don't consider themselves gamers generally pick up a controller every now and then. There are, of course, some holdouts on the "video games are evil" train, but their prominence has receded from that of Bowser down to a much more tolerable Goomba.
To top it all off, a fan favorite has stepped up to lead the next charge in to game-based filmmaking. Michael Fassbender is no stranger to "nerdier" films, with appearances in X-Men and Prometheus, and he's an all-around fantastic actor who really has a shot at breaking that seemingly impenetrable wall of doubt. If there's anyone who can get a gamer to watch a movie as a movie, and not as a player-minus-controller, it's him. After all, there are really only two rules in filmmaking. Nothing is true, and everything is permitted.