Don’t worry though, this is not my review of Silent Hill: Origins. I’ve only played it for, like, two hours. So I am not qualified for that. Plus, who gives a shit? I’m not Sushi X or Chris Bieniek or Zack Meston. I’ll let those dudes take care of that shit. (Yes. I know Video Games and Computer Entertainment folded… it’s just those are the names that popped into my head for some reason) I will say that the start looks promising and I can forgive the stiffness of the graphics due to the conversion not being all that great. And it’s nice that this time the character is a truck driver who uses his fists. The cheesiness of that is just irresistible.
But, starting to play a new Silent Hill game got me thinking about my big Hollywood pet peeve again. Namely, when are they going to finally learn to make these things properly? By “these things” I am referring of course to video game film adaptations. I can’t think of a single one that has worked. I really wanted to like Silent Hill. Especially with the talent involved. And for the first 45 minutes or so, I was really into it. But then, they decided to transform the movie into a giant fucking turd.
Why is it so hard? I’ve already cracked the formula. Listen up:
I – Trust The Source Material.
Is that really so hard? Why can’t they look at it the same way as adapting a book? For this, my favorite example is Resident Evil. I still remember how excited I was when I first heard they would make that and George A. Romero was involved. Eventually, all that was scrapped and they ended up making a stupid action movie starring Milla Jovovich. It trashed everything the game was about for the sake of using a popular brand name to sell tickets.
But Resident Evil has a good storyline. Just imagine the exact same story from beginning to end. The STARS team stumble into what appears to be a haunted house, they investigate, slowly they uncover the high-tech conspiracy behind the whole thing and discover that one of their own (a douchebag named Albert Wesker) is in on it… It starts out like a creepy, scary horror movie and slowly transforms into a sci-fi adventure. Wesker gets what he deserves and the big monster gets blown up by Chris Redfield and his rocket launcher.
Picture it. You use the game as a 3-D Storyboard and tweak the script using less Engrish and more wit. Put some decent actors in there and you would’ve had a solid and very entertaining B-Movie. Condense an 8 hour playing experience into 135 minutes.
Where’s the problem? It’s no different from taking 529 pages of John Grisham tripe and turning it into a 2 and a half hour movie where Gene Hackman spits toothpaste out of his mouth while Chris O’Donnell cries.
II – Think In Reverse.
But Erik, you say, that’s all well and good for new games. These things are practically interactive movies as it is. But what about some rat bastard piece of shit like Super Mario Brothers? Or Double Dragon? There’s no “plot” to speak of. A filmmaker has nothing to work with. What do you expect?
No plot? Depends on how you look at it. I see it like this. Think of video game adaptations of popular movies. Let’s look at Cliffhanger as an example. Cliffhanger was a pretty stupid video game based on the ’93 Stallone classic where John Lithgow screams in a British accent as his helicopter is blown to smithereens. (Still my favorite Final Boss death for any action film). The game distilled the already simplistic plot of the film and boiled down to a shitty-looking sprite representing Stallone kicking the shit out of other sprites representing terrorists in what seemed like the same snow-covered mountain backdrop again and again. The Sega CD version had an incredibly infuriating bonus stage that involved Stallone snowboarding down a mountain and dodging rocks… My nuts are still bruised from all the times I punched them in frustration.
My point is: 115 minutes of Renny Harlin action set pieces boil down to 8 repetitive levels of 16-Bit arcade shittiness.
So, you do it the other way around. A girl is kidnapped by a gang of assholes. They walk up to her on a street corner, punch her in the stomach and drag her away. Her boyfriend Jimmy is a kick-ass Kung Fu master. So he enlists the aid of his brother Billy (another kick-ass Kung Fu master) to go and get her back. They go all over the city looking for her and fighting bad guys all the while. There are action scenes that take place on the city streets, a factory, a forest, some mountains. All this shit eventually climaxes in a final showdown inside the enemy fortress – a weird temple full of booby traps – where the bad guy (a slick son of a bitch named Jeff, who wields a machine gun and is played by Michael Wincott) ends up impaled on some spikes.
Well… That’s Double Dragon. Not much plot. But I think I described something not unlike a Van Damme opus from the 80’s, or Ong Bak. (The coolest action movie I’ve seen with the dumbest fucking storyline I can imagine).
III – Anything Can Be A Movie
It’s true. It just takes imagination. Would that ridiculous Double Dragon movie I described be a good movie? Maybe. If given a good action director and actors that aren’t that bad. Keep Dacascos. Lose Scott Wolf. Would Resident Evil have been a better movie if they had adapted it faithfully? Same principle. In any case, I’m almost positive Silent Hill would have been. As an experiment, I tried playing through it again, recording all the cut scenes and watching it like a movie. Some iffy line deliveries and clunky writing aside, it was much more compelling than what Roger Avery and Christophe Gans came up with. And Silent Hill 2 was even better.
My point is, they need to stop looking at it like an assembly line and remember that the only reason that you should adapt a video game for the screen is because it has a good story to tell that could make for a good movie. Once they realize that, we might actually start getting some entertaining and worthwhile movies.
Until then, video games will continue to be seen as a popped hemorrhoid inside the assholes of art.
Now let me go see what else happens to Travis Grady and his overalls.
Silent Hill: Origins – The first video game that should come packaged with a case of Pabst.