Video games have a long, tragic history of being made into terrible movies- Street Fighter, anyone? Jake Gyllenhaal with an English accent in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? So it’s with great trepidation that I follow reports of new video game film adaptations.
Why are they always so bad? My guess is that studios see video games as only worth making into B-movies, and so they only get their junkiest directors and writers on the case. The games themselves might be creative masterworks with sophisticated storytelling, but the biz sees them nonetheless as too “lowbrow” to attach Oscar-bait filmmakers (the one exception being Donnie Brasco director Mike Newell, who made Prince of Persia- figure that one out…)
My hope is that video games will gain more respect from the film industry as source material, as graphic novels have gotten in recent years (see A History of Violence or Ghost World).
Anyway I’m judging these upcoming video game movie adaptations based not on if I like the games (some of them I’ve never even played), but instead on if I think the movie versions will be any good. A lot of this, of course, depends on if the filmmakers working on them are any good…or if, as usual, they’re the stinkiest ones around.
Here goes, fingers crossed:
Eight Video Game Movies I Can’t Wait To See
8. Dead Space
Pretty-good director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) is most likely directing this, so I have moderately high hopes. Let’s just hope he doesn’t bring along his usual leading man, Shia LaBeouf.
7. Lost Planet
Ace screenwriter David Hayter (the first two X-Men films; NOT the third) is writing this, so I’m looking forward to very good things.
6. Mass Effect
Legendary Pictures is making Mass Effect and, quite simply, they know how to make good movies (The Dark Knight and The Town, for starters). No word on who’s attached to write and direct yet, so we’ll all have to hope and pray.
The producers of the Halo movie definitely missed their chance to strike while the iron was hot. But maybe that’s a good thing, since now they might not feel so forced to make a movie that panders to the lowest common denominator of the Halo fan base. And with Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and director Neil Blomkamp (District 9) all involved in some way or another, it’s bound to fall into the hands of someone good.
4. Shattered Union
This is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that shouldn’t deter you this time- the script is being penned by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, so it’ll have plenty of smarts behind it. We can even forgive Straczynski for Ninja Assassin.
I have never played World of Warcraft, and when I heard they were making a movie based on it, I actually laughed. But it looks like Legendary Pictures is betting the farm on the movie, and Oscar winner Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) is writing the script. To top it off, director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) has been circling around it too.
2. Heavy Rain
Why? Because David Milch (writer/producer of Deadwood and NYPD Blue) is writing the screenplay. Milch definitely understands “dark,” and his Heavy Rain looks like a winner all the way. I’ll even forgive Milch for John from Cincinnati (and for being George W. Bush’s frat brother at Yale- no joke!)
I jizzed in my pants (sorry, ladies and gentler gentlemen) when I heard David O. Russell was directing this. He is one of my absolute favorite current directors (Three Kings, Flirting with Disaster, I Heart Huckabees) who finally got mainstream appreciation and acclaim- and an Oscar nomination!- for directing The Fighter. I cannot wait to see how he applies his visual flair and off-kilter wit to this project. It’ll take a little mental adjustment I must admit, but I can see his regular leading man “Marky” Mark Wahlberg chewing up the jungle scenery as Nathan Drake (maybe Drake can have a lovable junkie brother played by Christian Bale?) Mark your calendars already to go see this film.
Five Video Game Movies I Think Will End Up Sucking
Who knows? It might end up being good. But Marvel is infamous (ha ha) at making shitty movies (both new versions of The Incredible Hulk, anyone?) They are especially bad at developing their “B” properties (think Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck, or worse yet Elektra with Jennifer Garner), and I’m pretty sure Marvel would slot InFamous into this second-tier category. I may be pleasantly surprised with this one, but I doubt it.
4. Kane & Lynch
I want this to be good, I really do. But titular costars Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx have a particular nose for picking shitty movies, and this one could be double strength. Throw in the producer of the atrocious Hitman, and you have a threesome no one would want to join.
3. God of War
Sorry, world. You wanted a great God of War movie, and you’re not going to get one. Why? Well, you might need to see your Rabbi to answer that one. But why specifically? One name: Brett Ratner, a producer/director who never saw something good that he couldn’t ruin. Did you see X-Men: The Last Stand? I wish I hadn’t, either. This should be a shitstorm of disappointment and awfulness. Think Prince of Persia crappy.
2. Just Cause
This movie has so much poop attached to it, it looks like it’ll float in water. The producer of Hamlet 2 + the writer of Turistas = I probably wouldn’t see this movie even if it was on a plane.
What nut thought Asteroids should be turned into a movie? Whoever owns Asteroids‘s rights must have been jumping for joy to learn they’re actually going to make movie money off their primitive late-70’s arcade game that, might I remind you, has NO CHARACTERS!! None! Even Pac-Man at least was a circle with a mouth that ate things. I suppose they wanted to capitalize on its huge built-in fan base of…middle-aged geeks (with long memories). I’m now looking forward to the announcement of Pong: The Movie, starring Brad Pitt as the left paddle and Johnny Depp as the right paddle.
And, Finally: A Category of Sheer Unbelievable Crappiness Entirely Unto Itself
In the Name of the King 2
2008’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale got a whopping 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic described it as being “worse than a high school production of Lord of the Rings and as incoherent as a Miss Teen USA contestant.” Ouch. Why on earth then would they make a sequel? Legendarily awful German filmmaker Uwe Boll, the Ed Wood of our day, somehow keeps getting funding to make movies, so we as audience members will keep on getting subjected to his crap.
Fortunately, I’ve never played In the Name of the King, so I don’t really care. But for anyone who is a fan of that game, or who doesn’t want to spend two hours of their lives watching one of the worst movies they’ve ever seen, I would avoid seeing In the Name of the King 2 like the plague. Or at very least, please get really, really drunk (then it might be funny).