In the past twenty years there have been dozens of films based on video games. The sad fact is that not a single one of them has been a hit critically. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within sits as the highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes with a 44% rating. Today, we’re going to discuss the past, present, and future of video game films and what needs to happen for better adaptations.
Game Developers Need Bigger Involvement
In the past, some game developers have had little to no interest in the film adaptation. They license the rights and just take the money and run. From now on, these companies need to have a more vested interest in their intellectual property.
As we saw in the '00s, Uwe Boll built a career out of making video game films that were pretty abysmal, all of which scored less than 10 percent on RT. You’d think that once Uwe made five films that were bombs they’d stop letting him take the reigns. Unfortunately, he continued making video game films (mostly sequels to his previous adaptations), that made things worse. If only at some point an executive from any of these companies had looked at the products Boll crafted and said “No thank you” to future films.
Modern Games Have Stronger Narratives
In the 8-bit (and even 16-bit) era story wasn’t always the stronger point of a game. More often than not games were focused on being just a fun experience. Gaming has evolved to the point where many have such strong stories that non-gamers will watch Youtube "Let’s Plays" (we’ll talk about those at a later date) so they can enjoy the story without having to play the actual game. The Last of Us has been covered by multiple channels due to how emotionally engaging of a story the game has. There have been people who shed tears while playing this game. That is a perfect way to know a story is phenomenal.
These Franchises Need a Kevin Feige
Marvel Studios has become a force to be reckoned with at the box office in recent years. Producer Kevin Feige deserves a huge amount of credit for this success. Not only is he a smart businessman, he loves the source material with all his heart. Companies like Naughty Dog need a person who has an intimate knowledge of their video games to step up as a producer. That way they can have a stronger voice in the crafting of a script, casting of actors, and all major behind the scenes decisions. Odds are this will lead to films worth watching.
The Future is Already Brighter Than Ever!
2016 may hopefully become the turning point for video game films. Two major releases include Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed not to mention the recently announced movie adaptation of The Division. Both of these films have the potential to be great. With Warcraft not only does Blizzard Entertainment have a hand in the film they hired Duncan Jones to direct.
So far, Duncan Jones has proven himself to be a competent director with the superb Moon and criminally underrated Source Code. I highly doubt he’d sign up for a mediocre film.
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are both thespians that have built a career on brilliant films. Fassbender is even working as a producer on the film. That leads me to believe he wants to have a real hand in the making of Assassin’s Creed instead of just collecting a paycheck.
Will both/either of these films be a success? We’ll have to wait and see. So what are your thoughts on films based on video games? Have you enjoyed any of the previously made ones? I thought Need For Speed was dumb fun. Is there any game you’d like to see get the live-action treatment? Personally, if they figured out how to make Metal Gear Solid work I’d be at the theater with bells on.