Monday, 28 March 2016

Video Game Movies Don't Work

So I'm pretty sure this is a point I've made before, but with news of the Warcraft movie on the horizon it's something I feel like I should repeat.  Video game movies do not work, they have never worked and I feel that until I'm proven otherwise, will never work.

Now, does this mean that you can't look at something like the trailer for the Warcraft movie and not be excited?  Well no, if you're a normal punter then you have every right in the world to be excited, I mean their making a movie of fucking Warcraft for God's sake, just expect all that excitement and wonder to fade away once you actually get in the cinema.

What I'm not going to say is that video game movies don't work because of a lack of talent.  Unless you're Uwe Boll, chances are your going to hire some semi decent actors and have a director that has his head screwed on straight, it's just that these kind of movies are doomed from the get go.  This is because video games and movies are two VERY DIFFERENT ways of delivering entertainment and they don't really translate well from one to the other.

Silent Hill is a great example of this because it's a series that I hold so close to my heart that I can easily point out things that are wrong or things that don't work when it's done within a movie.  You see, Silent Hill games are legitimately scary because the effect of the horror when delivered through the game is two fold.  On one level you're scared by things like the sound design, the visual design, the monster design, things in the game that are designed to generate that feeling of fear.  However you're also getting the sense of fear on another level because those things are happening directly to you in a way.  From a game play standpoint you're terrified because you're managing health, ammo or you might be worried about losing progress.  What Team Silent did with the original games is marry those two ideas to create a truly frightening experience.

When you put this into a movie you lose some of what makes Silent Hill special.  Sure, there's freaky shit happening on the screen but you're nothing but a passive observer.  The story must go on because there's still run time in the movie so you essentially lose half of the fear factor.  Silent Hill is sort of a bad example in one respect because the writers idea of "horror" for the movie was a load of crap but I'm sure you see where I'm coming from.

Not only this, but you have to condense a game, which will usually run for 8-10 hours on a first play through in a movie run time of about 2 hours.  I'm sure it's no easy task to adapt something of that length and as a result people who know these games games backwards and front are left disappointing and angry because things were changed and adapted in order to suit the run time of a film.

The same is true for Warcraft, if you just want to see a movies about orcs and humans bashing each other with swords then I'm sure you'll have a good time but all the people who are invested in that series, which is a well fleshed out series, will be left wanting and probably upset.  I'd love them to focus on just a small part of the series and do it really well but even then you'd upset people by not having the same scope that the game series has built up over the years.  The movie is titled Warcraft, not Warcraft: <insert major story event here>.  Even with the title alone you've set the scope too wide and are setting yourself up for failure. 

The same is also true the other way round, video game movies generally suck ass because recreating that experience into a 10 hour game that feels world £40 is really hard.  Not only that but they pretty much have to be made while interest for said movie is high, which means that development is usually rushed and the games suffer mechanically as a result.  It might have been a little easier back in the day with things like Batman because all you had to do was make a platformer with a couple of nods to the movie that you were basing it on but now it's much harder and as a result video game movies are usually regarded with some kind of scorn or are just flat out ignored.

One day I hope I'm wrong about all this and they make an awesome video game movie or vice versa but to me it feels like the mediums are just too different from each other and when you factor in time, cost, manpower and a bunch of other stuff it almost seems futile to try.  All these adaptations suck but I admire peoples willingness to try

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