So The Wolfenstein Movie’s A Thing Again

By Nathan Grayson on November 3rd, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

Honestly, I don't understand why every World War II movie doesn't end this way.

It’s been interesting to watch Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph get showered with acclaim for being “the best videogame movie ever.” I say that because, well, “best videogame movie ever” doesn’t really mean anything. Heck, most announced films based heavily around games have yet to even reach a point where they could safely be called “existent” – let alone “good.” World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, Deus Ex, and, er, Asteroids are all buried somewhere in Hollywood’s screeching bowels, but will they ever see the light of day? Who knows. And now Wolfenstein‘s rejoining that venerable roster – with the co-writer of Pulp Fiction (the one who wasn’t Quentin Tarantino) attached, no less. I vote for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Mecha Hitler.

Eurogamer brings word that it’ll be both written and directed by Roger Avary, who – in addition to Pulp Fiction – did the honors on the first Silent Hill movie (the not-completely-awful one) as well. Production, meanwhile, is being handled by Samuel Hadida and Panorama Media, who describe Wolfenstein as, well, an action-adventure film along the lines of Captain America and Inglorious Basterds. Hadida explained:

“With Roger at the helm, we expect everyone will join us for a wild and fun cinematic ride that will grab contemporary film audiences with the same irreverent, hip, over the top approach that Roger brought to Pulp Fiction and the other films he has either written or directed.”

“The film involves a classic assault on the bad guys, who are nominally Nazis, more evocative of Inglorious Basterds than the actual World War 2. It is a vaguely futuristic retro world as fun as Captain America, which has recently been reintroduced to the world audience with great success.”

More promisingly, Avary cited Wolfenstein as a longtime favorite of his and even credited some of his writing sensibilities to the FPS grandpappy’s brand of grim zaniness. The plot he’s written, meanwhile, centers around two main characters -  a young US army captain and a British special agent – who must battle paranormal Nazis and whatever “secret weapon” Hitler’s packing. Fortunately, in an interview with Forbes Hadida added that a castle and B.J. Blazkowicz will definitely be involved. In other words, phew.

Still though, “Captain America rip-off” isn’t exactly what springs to mind when I think of a Wolfenstein movie, and did Hadida and co even watch Inglorious Basterds? Because if so, I don’t think he’s remembering it right. But hey, maybe it’ll be decent when taken on its own terms. Or maybe it’ll just get sidelined like it did the first time they tried this – although that required a Writer’s Guild strike and, er, vehicular manslaughter charges. Neither of those are particularly good things, so I’m just going to hope the movie comes out alright, I think.

 

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65 Comments »

  1. GallonOfAlan says:

    A less camp ‘Captain America’ I hope.

    • Jackablade says:

      Or more camp. Either of these options would be acceptable.

      • UmmonTL says:

        I think he’s talking about the golden age comics of captain america? At least I think there were some where he’s happily punching nazis and/or Hitler in the face. And I guess if you make the Movie that Inglorious Basterds was marketed as you’d get something that could resemble the game. I’m picturing an 80s Style Action Film where Mecha-Hitler would be entirely possible. But I have no idea if it can be any good.

  2. MrNash says:

    Is it really a thing or just more thing-like? Sounds like it could just as well wallow away in pre-production purgatory for years on end before receding into the mists once more like so many would be movies based on video games before it that somehow managed to get a few names attached to them. In any case, I shall dawn my peril sensitive glasses and what to see what happens with this.

  3. Jahkaivah says:

    So what do you reckon the chances of Laika animating a Psychonauts film would be? Because I can’t help but feel that would be a match made in heaven.

    • sinister agent says:

      Animated films of a game make so much more sense than live action ones. I am surprised by how few there are, especially considering how face-humpingly awful absolutely every film based on a game has been so far.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        Most games strive to depict their characters in a realistic way. Animated movies that try to do just that slide down the uncanny valley never to be remembered again (Polar Express, Beowulf, Advent Children). An animated Psychonauts movie would work because the visual style of the game is cartoony anyways, but Uncharted or Mass Effect? No bloody way.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Depends what you mean by “animated”. I mean, the games themselves are. Or look at Final Fantasy: Spirits Within.

          Doesn’t have to be traditional 2D, or Pixar-esque “hide the limitations of 3D by making it all out of goofy plasticine”.

          • Bhazor says:

            “Goofy plasticine”
            Thems be fighting words sir.
            Pixar are capable of photo realism just look at Finding Nemo or the scenary in Brave. They just know better than to use it.

            Thats why the characters in The Incredibles still look lovely and the characters in Heavy Rain and LA Noire already look ridiculous.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Well, yes, that’s kind of the point. Ever since Toy Story they’ve been careful to step back from the edge and hide all the limitations behind setting and style. Plastic skin? They’re toys! Slightly iffy mo-cap? Action figures! Even in Ratatouille and WALL-E they’re still animating cartoon people, not realistic people, masking imperfection with exaggeration. That’s just being pragmatic, and making something that looks good with what you’ve got.

            (As do their imitators, hence the -esque. Whether their imitators quite get the why, or pull it off as well, is a long discussion for someone and somewhere else.)

            But I’d say we’ve got modern games that are showing that this isn’t so necessary any more. Realistic animation and rendering are really getting damn impressive now, and even the aging Spirits Within did a pretty damn good job for an attempt at a pre-rendered non-cartoony film.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            I gave you examples of movies that tried that. They ALL failed.

            Enough said. People were creeped out by the young CGI Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy for crying out loud. The truth is, as ANYONE even remotely acquainted with 3D modelling will tell you, we are light years away from creating photorealistic faces. Exploding spaceships is one thing, but real people – a league of its own. Just accept the facts.

            And no, Pixar can’t do it either. I should know, I know people from Pixar.

          • LionsPhil says:

            No, not enough said. You are very pointedly ignoring that we are talking about films of games. Unless we’ve regressed to the FMV era, these games are already populated with animated characters.

            Oh, right. You post “enough said”, then edit in more after it, claiming you Know a Guy. OK then.

            (Christ, look at this guy go. Welcome to the block club, mate.)

          • Xardas Kane says:

            No, we are talking about MOVIES. Emphasis is on the MOVIES part. And for a MOVIE to work some things need to change. You do realize a movie isn’t a game with all the interactive bits cut out, right? The games are populated with animated characters, BUT MOVIES ARE NOT. I suggest you read up a bit and stop acting like a douche: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

            We aren’t talking about theories here. There are probably a dozen films that tried exactly what you describe and failed both commercially and financially with one single exception (Polar Express was a commercial success). Square Enix tried EXACTLY what you describe and the fruit of their labor was one of the biggest box office bombs of the early 2000s. It does not work. I am not doing any guess work here, I am stating a fact.

            EDIT: And yes, I do know a guy or two, waddya know. About 1200 people work at Pixar, I happen to know two of them from way back, shoot me. And we’ve even talked about this, you know what they said? Doing cool scenery is infinitely easier than a human face. And in this case forgive me if I believe them and not you.

          • Jahkaivah says:

            sinister agent does have a point in that there are a lot of cartooney video games out there which would have benefited much better from an animated adaption yet got a horrid live action one instead.

            Xardas Kane has a point in that there is a definite challenge in trying to bring a lot of popular video games with realistically done characters to an industry that seems to struggle with animating realistic characters in CGI, you sure as hell don’t need to know anybody from Pixar to be aware of that.

            And LionsPhil does have a point in that it can be somewhat questionable whether we should be looking at the animated film industry when judging humanities ability to animate realistic characters in CGI when the video game industry are the ones who seem to have much more experience doing it. I do find it funny when people talk about the uncanny valley being this inevitable obstacle at any attempt to do this when I can’t help but feel it got cracked some while ago.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            @ Phil: While this thread is getting a bit silly, I’d like to just say: Pixar do NOT make “cartoony” films because their technology isn’t up to photorealism. That’s like saying I write fiction because I can’t write true stories. It’s utter nonsense and it’s an insult to the artists. Please don’t say or think that ever again. K thx

      • mispelledyouth says:

        The awfulness of face-humping is entirely dependent upon the circumstances.

        The awfulness of video game based cinematic enjoyment is, unfortunately, not.

  4. RakeShark says:

    It kinda reminds of one of the Top Gun games that came out a couple of years back (the one that didn’t even have an “exit game” option at launch). One of things that was touted in the bullet points was that one of the original writers of Top Gun the movie was penning the story and dialogue for the game. What was actually turned out was ear-splittingly horrible dialogue and a terrible story.

    I suspect that writer was the one who wrote the volleyball scene.

  5. MOKKA says:

    I wonder, if us German people are finally ‘allowed’ to play the game when this film gets made.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Who cares, you can play DooM now! It was officially uncensored last year, just 17 years after the game came out o.O.

      Thank God I don’t live in Germany anymore. Uhm… no offense.

    • bill says:

      From reading about Inglourious Basterds on wikipedia I learned that swastikas are not banned in germany from “works of art”.

      So, frankly, I think it’s time for german gamers to kick up a fuss about why movies are classed as works of art but games aren’t. The wolfenstein movie will be allowed to show swatikas, but the game still won’t.

  6. Rikard Peterson says:

    I only played the first chapter of Wolfenstein, so I’ve never encountered that screenshot in the actual game, but doesn’t it look a lot like a Lego character?

  7. SpaceAkers says:

    Hitler In a Mech Suit is the best videogame boss of all time.

    • cptgone says:

      and doesn’t he look dandy!
      :melts:
      is that a gun under his bonnet?

    • Vandelay says:

      Think I’m still going to go with the pope in Ass Creed 2.

      • B1A4 says:

        But i have also fought Diva in No One Lives Forever! It was Magic…

        • neolith says:

          The bosses in NOLF were great! Oh, how I long for a new NOLF game…

          • Geen says:

            MGS3 disagrees with you. Except for the Pain and the Fear. They were just retarded.
            I’M COVERED IN BEES *boom*
            ARGLEBLARGSPAZZWEIRDSHIT *boom*
            But The End, The Fury, The Sorrow, and The Boss were all unique, atmospheric, and had a shitton of depth to them.

    • Crazy Horse says:

      He will reign supreme over video game bosses until they make an Attack of the 50 foot Jesus Boss. Then all your combos will fail and your strafing will come to naught.

  8. mspicko says:

    And then. there’s “Nazis at the center of the Earth” movie, featuring robo-Hitler.

    http://www.thegameeffect.com/contentMedia/images/users/Nschneider/vlcsnap-2012-05-30-16h39m13s205-9-24-2012.png

  9. SuperNashwanPower says:

    A Wolfenstein movie?

    I totally did Nazi that coming.

  10. Xardas Kane says:

    Honestly, I feel like I’ve already seen this movie and it was meh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lJAw_BtM2g

    It wins points for putting Nazis on the moon though.

  11. Inigo says:

    I thought The Rock had dropped the whole Hollywood thing to resume focus on WWE – or am I several years behind events again?

    • Xardas Kane says:

      He is back on WWE, but that doesn’t stop him from acting. He is going to star in such masterpieces as GI Joke: Retaliation and Fast Six. He’s quite booked in fact.

  12. Rich says:

    Best movie of a video game ever? Forward Unto Dawn. No question.

    …but then it isn’t actually a movie.

  13. Shadowcat says:

    I remember seeing Killing Zoe, and concluding that perhaps Roger Avary needed a partner (whether Tarantino or otherwise). I’m sure Roger was responsible for lots of good stuff in Pulp Fiction, but I’m also pretty sure that without Tarantino it would have been horrible. Has he improved in the meantime?

  14. Gap Gen says:

    I remember Tim Edwards arguing on the PC Gamer Forum that Children of Men is basically an FPS in the way it handles the camera in the major scenes.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I don’t know who Tim Edwards is, but that has got to be the stupidest thing I have heard all month. Long takes turn a movie into a FPS? So basically most contemporary Mexican filmmakers are video-game designers?!

      And they said Roger Ebert was out of line.

      • AndrewC says:

        Long takes from a specific POV. Compare the long takes in Children Of Men to the ‘story bits’ of Call Of Duty and they vary only in Children Of Men being any good. Tim Edwards is a fine man, even if he was pushing it juuuuuust a little bit with that assertion.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          That’s an understatement. Especially considering there isn’t a single first-person sequence in the entire movie, what’s left for shooting sequences from a FP perspective (AFAIK, haven’t seen in it in 3 years). Or that one is a stylistic decision and the other a game genre. Or that Hitchcock made in 1948, decades before anyone had even begun to grasp the concept of video-gaming, an entire full-length movie in such a way that it plays out like one long take. I beg to differ that Hitchcock, Cuaron, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michelangelo Antonioni or anyone else fond of long takes is making shooters.

          Eddwards might be a fine game journalist, but he was pushing it big time. In my country we have a saying “Every frog should knows its water hole”. Hence the Ebert comparison.

          He should’ve used Crank, I would’ve given him that one though. It has an actual FP sequence, hands waving madly in front of the camera and everything.

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  16. LintMan says:

    “More promisingly, Avary cited Wolfenstein as a longtime favorite of his and even credited some of his writing sensibilities to the FPS grandpappy’s brand of grim zaniness”

    Did Wolfenstein 3D actually have any writing to pick up sensibilities from? Seriously, I can’t recall any “writing” at all in that game beyond maybe a paragraph at the end of the game.

    • RobinHood says:

      Writing in video games goes far beyond just dialogue… it also includes scripting of events (not scripting as in code but scripting as in on screen actions taken by characters), visual ques, the overall story arch, etc. Video game writing is more about telling a visual story than it is about the text and audio players see and hear.

      Game writers are storytellers and storytelling involves more than just dialogue.

      • sinister agent says:

        Oh come on. Wolfenstein was as simple as they come. That’s not a criticism of it, but it’s hardly a storytelling masterclass.

        • RobinHood says:

          I think you misunderstood my point… that was more of a broader correction on LintMan’s misperception of what is involved in game writing. Wolfenstein still doesn’t have a plot and I’m not arguing that it does.

  17. somnolentsurfer says:

    Inglorious Basterds was basically Wolfenstein the movie anyway, wasn’t it?

    • SpaceAkers says:

      Hmm I dunno. Wolfenstein had a bit more dialogue and a lot less action.

      I’d say Inglorious Basterds was sort of a dumbed-down, Michael Bay’d-up version of Wolfenstein 3D for the console kiddies.

      • Venkman says:

        Gamers are pretty delusional in general about how games compare artistically to film and other media, but your comment may take the cake. You basically just said that Wolfenstein 3D is a better and more intelligent work of art than Inglourious Basterds. Wow.

        Unless your comment was satirical. In that case – brilliant.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          My bet is sarcasm really. If so, a brilliant display of it indeed

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            More true than intended, I think. Mythic WW2 settings, used for authorial power fantasies that revel in their respective medium. Because if Tarantino was going to have a bloody fight through hoards of Nazis and kill Hitler, he’d do it with cinema.

          • SpaceAkers says:

            somnolentsurfer’s comment confused me, so I decided to make it even more confusing.

  18. RobinHood says:

    Roger Avary? Awesome. (He also helped write Resevoir Dogs–though not as much as he helped write Pulp Fiction [which he and Tarantino got an Oscar for]–along with writing the recent Beowulf movie and directing The Rules of Attraction [which, IMO, is a fantastic film].) He may not be the very best choice for a Wolfenstein movie but he’s a solid director and writer that knows how to do the type of movie Wolfenstein needs to be (which would be Tarantino-esque). My interest is piqued.

  19. pilouuuu says:

    Movies based on games are bad. And games based on movies are bad too. Why do they keep making them?

    • Jackablade says:

      As someone who’s developed a few rubbish movie tie-ins, I can tell you that those things sell… or at least they used to. Market has kinda changed in the last few years, but time was, you could put out any old drivel with a movie title on it and make a decent bit of cash out of it.

      I’d assume movies about games are much the same. The fact of the matter is that most people aren’t really all that savvy. We sit here on the internet and know within minutes when something happens, if something is good or bad, etc, but a lot of folks will happily throw money down for a movie that’s been critically panned by everyone from here to Guatemala, simply because they don’t know any better. And lord knows they’re probably happier people for it.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      The difference between movies based on games and games based on movies is that the movies might NOT suck. The reason movie tie-ins are so bad is due to time constraints – production can’t start before the script is finalized and the cast – established. Unfortunately from that point on it takes about an year-year and a half to get a movie done, hardly enough for a good video-game.

      A movie based on a game has none of the problems. There are several reasons why they suck.

      1. Many video-games can not actually support a movie (Mario Bros? Castlevania? Come on…)
      2. Game adaptations would cost A LOT due to the fact that most of them are set in fantastical worlds, which would bubble up the budget for a movie immensely. This is IMO the biggest problem, it’s a huge investment in a niche nobody knows how big.
      3. There is no established relationship between game publishers and movie studios. Nobody really knows what the other one wants, both want ALL the creative control and how to get to the point where cooperation doesn’t seem impossible is the question of the month.
      4. There were no directors or actors who actually GOT video-games. That’s the most important part actually. If you don’t have a passionate bunch of people who know what it makes a video-game special, the movie adaptation will undoubtedly suck, simple as that. We didn’t get good comic book movies until the generation that grew up with them came around – the Sam Raimis and Tim Burtons of today.

      We have just never got a game adaptation that managed to overcome these obstacles, whether it’s Super Mario (all 4), Prince of Persia (3 and 4) or Resident Evil (1, 3 and 4) etc. But I assure you a great game adaptation will come out one day. It would have already happened if it weren’t for Microsoft’s corporate greed (Halo, which had 1,2 and 4 covered, but not 3).

      • bill says:

        You are right, but I think the main problem is that most games work best on lightly sketched narrative and stereotypes that can convey story in short scenes, which doesn’t usually translate well to movies.
        Translating books to movies is much more natural as both tend to feature detailed characters, dialog and narrative.

        There’s also the point that most games are indirectly based on movies (usually Aliens…). A lot of video game adaptations would end up being similar to the movies that inspired the games in the first place.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Absolutely agree, that was number 1. Most games do indeed feature an incredibly simplistic narrative and even celebrated so called story-driven games usually offer plotlines that would be considered as merely passable in another storytelling medium.

          But there ARE games that actually have a deeper narrative and could be made into movies. There are also games that have the potential for a deeper narrative, which is enough for a good writer.

      • Jackablade says:

        I agree with you on most points, but I don’t see why Castlevania couldn’t be adapted into a fun B-movie. It has just enough story to build upon and from there it’s pretty much just a pastiche of different monster movie references and tropes. Van Helsing is pretty much Castlevania already, but the door is still open for a similar movie that doesn’t, you know, suck.

  20. Xaromir says:

    There aren’t much movies about games. There have been films such as Resident Evil, but they aren’t really about the game, but adapting it’s story, in that sense Wreck-It-Ralph is almost unique, but i wish it wouldn’t be from Disney, they are pure evil. Well, i guess i’ll just re-watch Brainscan or something.

    Well, i think a Wolfenstein film would be kind of cool, and because Films are considered art in Germany (unlike games) they even can use swastikas. *cry* Sad world, but somewhat awkward that it was a judgement about Wolfenstein3D that demoted games to not being art.

  21. bill says:

    Better than Tron? Better than Last Starfighter? I somehow doubt it!

  22. rasssmus says:

    Actually, there is one good movie based on a game: Takashi Miike’s Ace Attorney. True fact. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20xsntIVokk

  23. Andrew says:

    I *LOVED* Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Make that please.

    Please.

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