Will Game To Movie Adaptations Ever Work?

Written by Luke Riley

“There have been valiant attempts (Mortal Kombat, Hitman) and there are upcoming releases that should do the trick (Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed) but the inherent problem is translating an interactive medium to a passive one. What makes games fun is playing them not just watching them. A ‘Gears of War’ movie would rock though…”

Carlos Ferro

Carlos Ferro

I was fortunate enough to be able to contact Carlos Ferro – voice of Dom from ‘Gears of War’ and Da Vinci from ‘Assassin’s Creed’ – who raised a very good point. He highlights the obvious thing that Hollywood seems to forget. The objective is for two different mediums to tell the same story or evoke the same feelings to remind you why you’re a fan.

The easy example – for it is one of the very few good examples – is ‘Mortal Kombat’. Released in 1995, this wasn’t made to be a fighting video game with real actors but a fighting movie based on a video game. As an eight year old in 1995, this movie was the dream. Endless fighting, four armed warriors and a final fight above a floor of spikes. Also let us not forget the amazing theme tune, which is the perfect accompaniment to any gym session. If we’re counting animated movies then ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ and ‘Final Fantasy: Advent Children’ can also be counted among the well made adaptions from video games.

What these movies have done well was to be a movie, not just a video game thrown onto the silver screen. Not to discredit video games, as I am a huge fan of gaming, but certain things quite simply don’t translate effectively. Video games are notorious for badly scripted dialogue, cliche male characters and female characters who don’t represent women very well. Actually, a lot of movies, particularly action movies, do these things as well, but there’s a reason games have the reputation they do. ‘Lara Croft’ was originally little more than a 90s pin-up, sprawled over countless magazines in various poses. She wasn’t the strong survivor of the recent ‘Tomb Raider’ video game reboots. This is the reason we get movies like ‘Resident Evil’, another series of bad adaptions. A movie franchise in which the female lead is very often scantily-clad and objectified is a clear sign that Hollywood presumed that their target audience was teenage virgins who live in their parents basement who’ve never seen a woman in real life.

This article is discussing why video games have rarely enjoyed successful adaptions into films, and the answer is simple; it’s because the creators have not understood or respected their audience. I have played video games for nearly 30 years now, and while the confused teen-in-denial version of myself may have enjoyed Angelina Jolie as ‘Lara Croft’, the adult me does not. It’s just a poorly made film, and if you count the even more dreadful sequel, then you have a double whammy of awful game to film translations. The reason is almost solely down to misunderstanding the audience. We have played the games, we know them, so what we want is a faithful adaption of that.

‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’, while these were adaptions of books, they were movies adapted from another medium and are evidence of just how successful and accomplished an adaptation can be. Video games deserve that same talent and passion behind their silver screen counterparts.

However, all is not lost, and to quote Gandalf, “Hope is kindled”. This being in the form of the upcoming ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Warcraft’ films. With stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard at the fore – actors who seem to attach themselves exclusively to movies of merit – ‘Assassin’s Creed’ should be a success. It’s also written by Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, who have previously worked on ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’.

This humble writer enjoyed ‘Exodus’ quite a lot, and these writers seem like a good fit for me. Justin Kurzel is the director of the critically acclaimed ‘Macbeth’, which also stars Fassbender and Cotillard, so with this collaboration there seems to be a level of trust and all things point to a positive movie going experience. There is also news that the film will rely more on practical effects rather than CGI, which will give ‘Assassin’s Creed’ a level of authenticity rarely seen in historically-based movies.

a-creed-warcraft

Then there is ‘Warcraft’, a movie that looks as epic as the video game and it seems nothing is being held back in order to recreate this. Duncan Jones is directing, and with credits including ‘Source Code’ and ‘Moon’, we know he understands action and more importantly characters. While the movie is CGI-laden, it looks like it will be character focused and give meaning behind their motives. It also looks like an adaption of a video game, which is the most important thing. As previously said, it’s not just a video game thrown onto the silver screen. Check out the trailer for ‘Warcraft’ here.

The future looks good for video game adaptions, but we’ll have to see how ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Warcraft’ fare. It feels like all hope hinges on these two adaptions of beloved franchises. Can anyone unlock the secret to successfully adapting a video game onto the big screen? Only time will tell…

Charlize Theron Takes Brad Pitt Role

Angelina Jolie must be pretty ticked off right now. Charlize Theron has not only swooped in to take a role originally lined up for Brad Pitt, but may also have beaten Angelina herself to the role too. The ‘Mad Max’ star is in talks to take the lead role from the previously much fancied candidate Brad Pitt in ‘The Gray Man’. This film is about a male CIA operative turned assassin who has to protect his children that he never knew existed. But here’s where it gets confusing, especially for script wizard Mark Greaney, who wrote the original ‘Gray Man’ series of books and has now been tasked with coming up with the screen adaptation for Sony Pictures. Good luck with the re-write Greaney, because the title ‘The Gray Man’ may be pretty redundant now. Will ‘The Gray Woman’ cut it? 

But it gets even more convoluted and crazy – Angelina Jolie was rumoured to be on the short list of actresses that just might pull this gender switch off. Jolie has a bunch of experience in that area, if you think back to her CIA stealth and twists movie ‘Salt’ which was originally written with a male protagonist in the lead role – none other than Tom Cruise. 

So what does all this mean? For women in Hollywood it’s great news. Because, as Sandra Bullock recently pointed out at the Toronto film festival, there are very few decent parts for strong female characters. Bullock takes the lead in ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’, which was produced by George Clooney and originally planned to star Clooney but guess what? That got gender inverted too. The bad news though, is that ‘Mad Max’ and Theron fans will have to accept that we ain’t gonna see Furiosa return any time soon.

Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz

Watch This Space: October 12 – 18 [ladies week]

Welcome to a special edition of your weekly go-to film guide. This week, WatchThisSpace is celebrating women in film, so read on and enjoy Molly’s recommendations of some great female performances in the cinema, on the TV and a few of her all time favourites.

IN THE CINEMA

The Women’s Rights movement materialises in ‘Suffragette’, the latest offering from British director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady). The female-heavy cast and crew is headed by Carey Mulligan, while the film intertwines wrenching personal and political tales of female solidarity and strength. ‘Suffragette’ is in cinemas from Monday 12th October.

Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain star alongside Tom Hiddleston in this thriller-come-romantic story from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Paying homage to gothic romance, ‘Crimson Peak’ is another British must-see, in cinemas from Friday 16th October.

ON THE TV

MONDAY 21:00 GMT: Renée Zellweger stars as the famed awkward, honest and self-conscious titular character in ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, the first installment of this romantic comedy series. With a third movie currently in the works, now is the time to switch to ITV2 and catch the original.

WEDNESDAY 18:20 GMT: A screen adaptation of the Jane Austen novel set in 18th century rural England, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sees Keira Knightly lead as Elizabeth Bennet in a typical British romance film on Film4.

SATURDAY 22:45 GMT: Carey Mulligan returns to our recommendations with a star performance in ‘Drive’, that saw her nominated for a BAFTA back in 2012. See this thrilling offering from Nicholas Winding-Refn on BBC2.

SUNDAY 18:50 GMT: Feminist campaigner, Angelina Jolie, stars as adventurer Lara Croft in this film adaptation of the video game Tomb Raider. Get into the action with ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ on Syfy this Sunday evening.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Thelma & Louise: An original girl-power film, ‘Thelma & Louise’ was branded controversial upon release, apparently due to the discomfort felt by many male viewers (un-fucking-believable). Geena Davis and Susan Surandon are cast perfectly as two women with a new found drive, confidence and zest for life that serves as a perfect example for females everywhere. What doesn’t serve as such a good influence are many of their impulsive choices – but they make for great viewing nonetheless! Ridley Scott directs the first screenplay from Academy Award-winning Callie Khouri, which would inspire Tori Amos’ famous and chilling tune ‘Me And A Gun’.

Girl, Interrupted: A challenge to observe; ‘Girl, Interrupted’ offers a chilling insight into mental health amongst various female characters with varying mental disorders. Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie and Brittany Murphy all offer standout performances in their own, unique way. The roles of strong and submissive women blur, with seemingly powerful sociopathic Jolie unravelling as the movie progresses, meanwhile protagonist Ryder offers a character that you can never quite decipher. Based on Susanna Keysen’s memoir, the idea that this on-screen depiction has some truth at the root of it makes it all the more fascinating.

Bridesmaids: Not only does ‘Bridesmaids’ signify a funny and successful female comedy, it stands against the best comedies regardless of gender. Kristin Wiig is genius as lead character Annie, a woman still trying to find her way and generally refusing to become the responsible woman that she is expected to be. Alongside best friend and bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph), the duo offer a hilarious take on this major life event, with crude humour catering to both genders and leaving viewers (okay, me) yearning for more.

Erin Brockovich: Where would the list of powerful, shit-hot women in film be without Erin Brockovich? Not only does Julia Roberts provide an inspiring on-screen in character, but we must offer a huge THANK YOU to the real life Erin Brockovich for her phenomenal achievements as a legal clerk and activist, and offering us a woman to aspire to. The true story centres on a legal case against energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company, accused of water contamination in the American town of Hinkley, California. The film covers personal tales, legal struggles and a whole load of stick-it-to-the-man drama.

This week’s special ladies week edition of WatchThisSpace was compiled by Molly Dolan

Captain Marvel Rumours

Marvel Studios are set to make Carol Danvers – AKA Captain Marvel – their first female led heroine movie, with an expected release date of 6 July 2018. Angelina Jolie is top of the wanted list when it comes to directing the ‘Captain Marvel’ project, but with only two features under her belt, can Jolie deliver the goods? Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, and the woman of the moment Bryce Dallas Howard (of ‘Jurassic World’ fame) are all rumoured to be under consideration for the main role. 

Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz