Ask a Dork: Video Game Movies VS Movie Video Games

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“Do you think we’ll see a higher quality output in video game-movies or movies based on video games first? Why?”

I think there are a few very specific reasons as to why movie based video games tend to be terrible. For instance, there are usually short development timelines to be met and a narrative that is already set in stone by a different party. Just saying, there isn’t a ton of creative freedom for the developers of games based on movies. And that hurts the inevitable cash in. Which isn’t to say that all movie games suffer (The LEGO Movie is excellent top to bottom), but most just don’t have a chance.

It’s a different story for movies based on video games. Generally speaking, when these beasts suck out loud it isn’t because the timelines are too strict or there isn’t any freedom to work with. Rather, there may be too much freedom. I suggest that a number of film studios don’t understand the games they base their movies on. In the cases of Street Fighter (1994), Resident Evil, Silent Hill, House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, Alone in the Dark, Super Mario Bros., and Wing Commander, the problem across the board was that there was a disconnect with the source material. These projects ventured so far, narratively, from what the games did that they were nigh unrecognizable.  That hurt everything from the motivation of the characters to the quality of the dialogue.

I think we’re entering an age were more video game publishers are taking their IPs seriously. I’m sure in the case of the Assassin’s Creed movie Ubisoft wants to ensure that the core story being communicated falls in line with what the series has already established. The same could have been said about the film based on Bioshock, which was – again – shelved because they studio didn’t feel they could deliver on presentation without having an infeasible large budget. That’s important. You can’t compromise an IP’s traits and expect to deliver a satisfying movie.

Thankfully, we’re also heading towards a future in which film studios and special effects are capable of doing much more with smaller budgets. Technology just progresses that way. To that point, I believe that we may someday see many excellent movies based on already excellent games. I can’t say the same for video games based on movies, though. Sadly.

Trent Seely

I'm not that crazy about me either.

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