by Alex Arnold
Video game movies (as in, movies that are based on original stories from video games) have been historically horrendous.
Many of them have high rankings in “worst movies of all time” lists.
I’m not saying that these adaptations are always bad, but they are definitely far lower than a .500 record. Some people might argue that if the game is good enough and the director is good enough, then a good movie can still be made. This is true, but even if both qualifications are made, the chances are still very low for multiple reasons.
First, most video game stories are designed around gameplay. The writers aren’t necessarily trying to create the most riveting story but are usually trying to create a story that gives the player sufficient motivation to keep playing and to add more context to what is happening.
There are exceptions to this, but the default video game story is sub-par. And that’s OK because it’s not the main source of entertainment. A game with strong gameplay and a bad story will still have a chance of maintaining its player base (even though a bad story does still hurt its chances) and holding a legacy, whereas a game with bad mechanics but a good story will lose its luster after the story has been played through once, maybe twice.
This applies to movie adaptations because it becomes increasingly more difficult to create a good movie (whose main source of entertainment is to tell a story) when you have a bad story to work with. The only reason these movies get made is because of fan excitement to see their favorite games made into movies, but as soon as they’re actually released everyone realizes why it was a mistake.
But what about video games with a good story? Even if they’re adapted by a component director and have a plot that’s good enough to rival a big-budget movie, they will almost always be inherently inferior to the actual game.
That’s mainly because if they keep the story the exact same then the viewer won’t have the personal interaction that a game gives you. Video games are a special medium because they actually make you feel like you’re a part of the character and are experiencing the story for yourself. The character is only victorious because you carry them to victory. In a movie format, even if the plot is kept the same, it’ll just feel…different.
Finally, if a game has a good story and the movie writers decide to change to plot to make it more digestible for a movie audience, then they run the risk of offending the fans of the original product and also of making a story that is plainly inferior to the original.
Simply put, although a very skilled team can do something really special every once in a while, cinema companies should generally avoid video games and attempt to make original movies.