Ever since Cheshire Cat Studios released their review of the Netflix animated Castlevania series, I’ve been wondering whether or not there are video games that could work as movies despite the horrendous track record of Hollywood remakes of video games and anime. I especially ask this now considering that not only are we getting another Tomb Raider movie (which has had a rather unimpressive first trailer in my opinion…) but there are also 61 Video Game Movies in Development as of right now, including the upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie (which is to be directed by the director of Kong Skull Island) and – I am not making this up – a Call of Duty “Cinematic Universe”…. even though these kinds of movies tend to be a very taboo ground in terms of critical reception and financial success. Considering this, it’s really gotten me thinking about why so video game movies tend to fail as well as how the video game medium differs from film.
For one I think most video game movies tend to be corporate crash grabs that depend on name recognition alone all the while using a very cookie-cutter generic template for the movie. We see this all the time with the “Resident Evil” movies, the CGI Ratchet and Clank PIXAR-wanabe movie, and it almost happened with Castevania. Also I find that studios tend to chose what I would say are the wrong types of video games to adapt onto film; either they tend to choose very bare-bones video games for movies (cough Tetris cough) or games that contain way too much story content for a 2 hour long length while also having concepts that would be deemed unmarketable for big blockbuster. And while one could suggest more story-driven games such as Last of Us, and Heavy Rain, the honest truth of the matter is that a lot of the stories in those kinds of games are actually rather generic compared to what’s been done on film. Taking all these into consideration, it is quite obvious that unlike with books, one can not simply take any video game and easily turn it into a film. However I don’t think it’s entirely impossible.
There are a few video games that I think could work as movies.
1). Shadow of the Colossus – I know, I know, this game is held up as the definite example of video games as an art form, however I think this could work really well as a blockbuster. Looking at the story of Shadow of the Colossus, it’s actually pretty simple and is executed in a way that would make it quite easy to do on film. Granted this could likely very much bomb, unless it’s say advertised as an AVATAR-like event of a movie with groundbreaking visuals and technology. I could picture this film potentially working very well as a silent (well mostly silent with very little dialogue) action film with a heavy focus on visual storytelling. This I think would result in a blockbuster that would be easy to market to audiences as a big fantasy action movie all the while giving audiences an intriguing and memorable experience.
2). Metroid – this franchise itself was already heavily inspired by Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, so it could very much work as a reverse-ALIEN sci fi action horror thriller done in the vein of ALIENS and perhaps even take a similar approach to DREDD (2012).
3). Xenoblade Chronicles – this one would be a little tricky, however it could work if adapted into a trilogy of films done in a similar vein to LOTR. It has a unique fantasy-science fiction setting to distinguish itself from its contemporaries, has a structure that could be translated onto film, and the themes are subtle enough as to still be marketable to a wide audience. However, like in the case of Shadow of the Colossus, it would need to be advertised and treated as a groundbreaking-big event type of movie.
Of course these are just my silly little opinions, but I am very curious as to whether there are video games that y’all think would be able to work as solid movies. Just felt that this was a topic worth talking about in the wake of Hollywood’s coming attempts to try to make movies out of video games.
Another video game that I think could theoretically work as a movie is Panzer Dragoon Zwei (otherwise known as Panzer Dragoon 2). While the 2 does suggest that it’s a sequel to the original Panzer Dragoon rail shooter it is actually a prequel that takes place before the events of Panzer Dragoon 1 and Saga. There are several reasons why I think this could work as a movie:
1) The game itself can be completed in 2 or 3 hours – while a very worthwhile rail shooter Zwei is very short as a game, with a very basic but effective plot – which goes to the next reason
2) Basic plot that would be easy to adapt and market – The plot of Panzer Dragoon Zwei is pretty simple compared to Saga. It’s both a boy-and-his-dragon and a revenge plot that sets itself short and sweet enough to get the player enthralled in the action. That said, there are still some opportunities for world-building in a movie version of Zwei that would help keep the plot from seeming generic.
3) Very much action oriented
4) It could thus work as an effective $100 million budgeted movie
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