Why We Need to Keep Trying with Video Game Movies

COG Considers: Hollywood Is Bound to Get Video Game Movies Right One Day

Video game movies usually get a bad rap, usually because they are generally bad. But as I always say, “the first step toward being good at something is sucking at it.” There are film adaptations of all sorts of things; novels, legends and myths, comic books, even real life events. Not all of them are good. The earliest adaptations are pretty bad, but through trial and error, and refining a craft, Hollywood has managed to churn out some pretty good movies. Someday, they might be able to do it with video games.

At the end of the month, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City will debut in theaters. We are also anticipating the release of the Uncharted movie with Tom Holland. Though these films aim to be the beginning of a series, they carry with them the legacy of all the other video game movies that came before, most of them bad.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

These movies deserve to be judged on their own merits, not the reputation of the ones that came before, right? Will we be judging the next Captain America movie on the 1979 one with the motorcycle helmet? Those first Lord of the Rings animated films were pretty awful, but they don’t detract from the Peter Jackson films.

Successful film adaptations like the ones found in the MCU, the Middle-Earth series, and all the other film franchises (original works or not) have something in common. They have people working on them that really care about them. I believe that a studio that is tackling a video game movie needs to have someone like a Kevin Feige; someone excited about the source material that will take the time to figure out what makes it special and how to translate it to the screen.

Money makes the world go ’round. Unfortunate, but a simple fact of life. The purpose of making a film is often to make money. People need to eat, pay rent, pay off their yacht, etc.. “Will this make money?” is the driving question in all of Hollywood’s decisions. Passion for the source material is not. Again, these studios need a special someone to find that balance of moneymaking and fan pleasing in order to make video game movies a profitable venture.

“But how can a film squeeze a 20 hour game into a 2 hour movie?” Well, how does a film adapt a 700 book into a movie? How does one take a 10-issue comic book arc and make a movie out of it? How do you take Freddie Mercury’s career and make a movie out of it? That’s the whole challenge of an adaptation. Yeah, it is going to be rough. You might have to cut some characters. You might have to change some plot elements to fit the format of a movie. It might not be exactly the game that you played.

The Witcher Season 2

Are long, story-rich video games better suited to be TV shows? Sure. The Last of Us, The Witcher, and Showtime’s Halo series are getting that treatment and I hope it works out for them. Deciding what would make a good show and what would make a good film is yet another challenge that the industry has to overcome.

Yes, Hollywood is pretty bad at finding the important parts of a game and putting them onscreen, but moviegoers also have to understand that they are not watching a video game. What I’m saying is, I have a bone to pick with gamers who think they know what will make a good movie. Just casting an actor that looks like Leon Kennedy will not make the Resident Evil movie better. Splitting a game’s story into three parts will not bring audience members into a theater.

The whole point of this is that if we bully filmmakers out of making video game movies entirely, we will never see a good one. Kind of like a parent to a child who is bad stuff, we need to nurture them and guide them in the right direction. Unfortunately, the average viewer like you or me cannot do much to change or fix the above problems. We just have to hang in their and hope Hollywood gets it right one day.

What are your thoughts on video game movies? Are fans too harsh or do they really know better? Let us know in the comments below.