I’m not someone who pre-judges a film based on the source material; I’ve seen an absolutely horrid adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, and a really fun movie based on the board game Clue. So why do I slowly back away from movies that are based on video games?
Well, for one thing, it’s the target audience; Teenagers with zero attention span, and even less taste. They will have a rabid attachment to the “story”, so there’s very little wiggle room to make the thing work for the medium at hand. These stories are often highly derivative of popuar movies, and most often fall into one of two categories: An ancient martial arts tournament, or a group of marines fighting aliens.
Some games, such as Uncharted and Red Dead Redemption, have a movie-like feel to them, but I don’t think would work as well outside of the medium that they’re made for. Uncharted puts you into a fun, Indiana Jones style adventure, but as a movie it would just seem like a Jones knockoff.
That being said, there are plenty of games that I think would make for fine films. Here’s a list of twenty that I’d like to see.
1. SUPER MARIO BROS – Let’s start with a fairly obvious one. And yes, I am aware that there was already a live-action movie made, starring Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper. But they really need to go animated with this. You’ve got such an expansive universe of fun, recognizable characters, from Donkey Kong to Waluigi. If successful, you could open the floodgates to a number of Nintendo properties as films: Metroid, Zelda, etc. Every generation needs a stoner film, and the kids of today are waiting for a movie about a couple of plumbers who fight evil turtles with magic mushrooms.
2. MANIAC MANSION – A fun, comical B-horror movie homage. It’s like Rocky Horror Picture Show, minus the fetish gear. Again, already adapted as a tv show, but the crazy Edison family has big screen potential. This, and it’s sequel Day Of The Tentacle, are a blast of creative energy. George Lucas’ best contribution to pop-culture in the last twenty years is his line of Lucasarts games, which in addition to adaptations of his films also include such classics as Loom, The Secret Of Monkey Island, The Dig and Grim Fandango. Any one of these would make a fantastic film (Actually, the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie is loosely adapted from the novel On Stranger Tides, which was the primary inspiration for the Monkey Island games).
3. BRUTAL LEGEND – Speaking of Lucasarts; This isn’t produced by them, but it is designed by one of their star creators, Tim Schafer. It has Jack Black as the world’s greatest roadie, stuck in a world made out of bits of Heavy Metal album covers. Brilliantly designed, hilarious. . . and a bit of a bore to play. But as a film, this would be great!
4. KINGDOM HEARTS – An epic quest story, featuring tons of Disney characters; From Jack Sparrow to Simba to Steamboat Mickey. This would be Disney’s response to The Avengers. An all star extravaganza.
5. A BOY AND HIS BLOB – The title says it all. A kid goes on an adventure with his pet Blob, a creature of many shapes (Such as a ladder), which vary depending on the color of jelly bean that is fed to it. Blob takes the boy back to his planet of Blobolonia, to help overthrow an evil emperor.
6. BLASTER MASTER – Young Jason falls into a hole in the ground, entering a world of crazy mutants and a monster known simply as The Plutonium Boss. His weapon of choice? Sophia The Third, a high tech tank. His mission? Find his pet frog, Fred. Yeah.
7. DEUS EX – Set in the mid-21st century, this cyberpunk dystopia casts you as an anti-terrorist agent in a world filled with anti-government forces. But wait; That’s not all. The more you play, the deeper the conspiracy goes, until you’re dealing with shit as far flung as Area 51 and the Illuminati.
8. GABRIEL KNIGHT – The idea of a supernatural detective is not exactly original: You’ve got the old tv show Kolchak, the Alan Moore character John Constantine, and Cal McDonald. But since they screwed up the Constantine movie, and McDonald is from a freaking Steve Niles comic, I would throw this character into the ring as a potential option. From Sierra, which also made such story rich games as King’s Quest and Space Quest.
9. ODDWORLD – A highly involved world of bizarre aliens, evil corporations, and mass exterminations. Perhaps a bit too strange for Hollywood, but in the right hands this could be a massive hit.
10. TRUE CRIME: STREETS OF LA – A fairly standard cop/action story, with the slightly unusual twist of having a Chinese-American as the protagonist. The reason that this has to be made into a film, is that in the middle of the story (Depending on which story path you take) you randomly fight a fucking dragon. No real explanation. Just criminal, criminal, dragon, criminal, criminal.
11. EARTHWORM JIM – An epic space adventure, following ordinary worm Jim’s quest (Following his transformation via Cyber Suit), to rescue Princess What’s-Her-Name from the evil machinations of her sister, Queen Slug-For-A-Butt. If Mario becomes the stoner movie of the generation, this will be the acid film.
12. AMERICA’S ARMY – A free shooter game, created as a recruitment and training tool for the US army. It features an intense and detailed boot camp, that must be played before beginning the game, and a level of realism not often seen in these type of games; Take a couple of bullets, and you’re dead. Why would this make a good movie, you ask? The plot, such that it is, involves the US Army fighting a terrorist organization, and you would play this online against other people. The thing is, you can only play as the US Army. How does this work? Well, let’s say that your unit is ordered to rescue a hostage from the terrorists. The other team will see you as the terrorists, and themselves as the US soldiers protecting a political prisoner. I don’t know how exactly, but I feel like there’s a story in that.
13. THE BOUNCER – I used to work as a bouncer, so I have a soft-spot for this goofy premise; Three bouncers team up to save their collective girlfriend from an evil company that specializes in solar-powered technology. It gets way more bonkers from there. You’ve got ninjas, secret agents, and a Muay Thai trained, scythe-wielding android. Bring on the crazy.
14. ECCO THE DOLPHIN: DEFENDER OF THE FUTURE – Speaking of crazy. . . The Ecco games, on the surface (Hah!), seem like fun “Oh, look at the cute dolphin!” games, but there’s all sorts of sci-fi insanity going on here. Defender Of The Future, scripted by David Brin (?!?!!), involves a future in which Dolphin and Man live side by side in harmony, until an alien race fucks up time and space, making it so that humans and dolphins don’t get to build their interstellar utopian society together. It’s up to Ecco to travel back in time and save the day. Hey Hollywood; I’m thinking that Eco-Conscious movies will be popular in the near future. Just a guess.
15. KILLER 7 – Two demi-gods wage a never ending war with each other through the ages. In the modern day, one of these gods is currently an old man in a wheelchair. But, this man has seven distinct, separate personalities. . . and each personality has it’s own body. In a world where Japan is poised to take over the world, he must use all seven of these personalities in order to stop the terrorist organization known as Heaven Smile.
16. TWISTED METAL – Ever since the Car Wars game, I’ve wanted to see a good vehicular destruction story brought to the big screen. Cartoonish characters, deranged storylines; this is Mortal Kombat on wheels. Of all the games listed on here, I think that this would be the most commercial.
17. KATAMARI DAMACY – The King Of The Cosmos gets shit-faced, and accidently destroys all of the stars and planets, with the exception of Earth. The King sends his son to Earth with a “katamari”, a tiny ball that anything will stick to. The Prince is charged with collecting enough raw material to recreate the cosmos. As the ball is rolled, it starts by collecting small things, but the ball becomes larger and larger, eventually containing whole cities and mountains. A side story involves the family of an astronaut, who can no longer go to the moon, because it doesn’t exist. Clearly, the way to tell this story would be by getting to the real, gritty roots of it, so there’s only one man for the job; Christopher Nolan. Wait; He’s already made it?! And it’s called Inception?
18. XIII – Ok, technically this is based on a Belgian comic book from the 80’s, but most people are familiar with the characters through this game. A man wakes up in Brighton Beach with amnesia, a tattoo of XIII on his shoulder, and a warrant for his arrest. . . He’s a suspect for assassinating the President of the United States. The game had a unique (for the time) cell-shaded look, which would be cool to reference in film form. The story also ends on a cliffhanger, so the filmmakers could pretty much go where ever they want with it.
19. 50 CENT: BLOOD ON THE SAND – So, 50 Cent and G-Unit perform at a show in Generic Middle Eastern Country, and their payment for said performance is a diamond encrusted human skull. The skull is stolen by thugs. 50 Cent and crew destroy half the country in their efforts to get it back. If you don’t want to see this movie after that plot synopsis, I don’t know what to do with you.
20. MUTANT LEAGUE FOOTBALL – It’s like your traditional kind of sports movie. With mutants. And instead of your usual trick plays, these mutants leave land mines on the field, and strap explosives to their footballs for fake hail marys. Make it happen, John Lee Hancock.