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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Matt_W's Avatar
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    Is it possible to make a good game-to-film adaptation?

    It's an open question. Super Mario Bros. came out in 1993, and counting the upcoming Warcraft, there have been 33 films in the intervening years that have attempted to mine video games for film material. (They made a Far Cry film?) The highest RT rating of any of those films is 44% (for Final Fantasy: Spirits Within) -- they are universally awful (though not universally unsuccessful), even if you ignore the Uwe Boll films. And I hold out no hope for Assassin's Creed or next year's Uncharted movie.

    So, are games just un-adaptable? Does the way in which video games supply narrative content (when they do) just not translate well to a linear, passive medium like film. Is it just that the wrong games have been attempted, by the wrong people? That games mine and dilute movie tropes already, so moving them back to film is like making a copy of a copy?

  2. #2
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    Flip answer: no.

    Serious answer: there is no evidence to suggest that it is.

    Philosophical answer: in theory, of course it is! It just hasn't happened yet.

    Fuck me though if Duncan Jones can't do it...

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Games would probably be better suited to short length serial tv shows.

    I see the problem with turning a game into a movie as one of the following two.

    1) The story of the game is actually pretty poor and doesn't hold up without the gameplay to go with it. There's no gameplay in movies and you can only watch so much scenery between plot points (which we've already established are minimum at best).

    2) The story of the game is told over a period of double digit hours. And that's just the main story, not the side stories or the lore you find scattered around. They've to try compress that into a sub 3 hour movie. So it ends up feeling rushed or confusing.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Matt_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    I see the problem with turning a game into a movie as one of the following two.
    I agree with both of those, but you'd think someone would have thought of this: either use the game for setting and high-level plot then fill in a bunch of detail or use a game with a strong narrative. I think the former has been tried a bunch of times (Resident Evil is probably the best example), while the latter is problematic because of the point I made above: games with strong narratives often take their narrative cues from film, so while Red Dead Redemption would probably make a decent film; tragic westerns have been done before, and in fact the game already pays unironic homage to the genre. I think it would be hard for such a film to distinguish itself.

    I feel like to break the losing streak, you need something really radical: a small indie film based on one of the narrative vingettes from Sunless Sea or a Raid-like movie based on Mirror's Edge with an utterly stripped down plot that focused on the action and aesthetic of the game, or a Charlie Kaufman film based on The Unfinished Swan. Something like that.

  5. #5
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    Probably not. Here's how a video game movie is produced: Some big multimedia conglomerate buys the rights to a video game franchise, probably in bulk. The video game publishers are all too willing to sell. And why not, it's not like less people are going to buy even if it sucks. It's basically an ad that makes money for you. The conglomerates are all too willing to buy because even a little known IP is better than any new property.
    Most of the time, nothing happens after that. Making a film pretty expensive and you need the right people in the right place. So, these conglomerates also have a lot of unused scripts lying around so what they do is they graft these scripts onto a licensed property, rewrite it a little to make it fit and that's how the average video game movie is made. This is how you end up with abominations like the Super Mario Bros. Movie.
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  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed Wreck It Ralph. But of course that was a film that used the culture of video games as a springboard, rather than being a literal adaptation of Donkey Kong.

    Most video games don't really give a film maker much to work with if you're going the literal adaptation route. Some don't have any story at all (not that this stopped Battleship), and in the games that do have a script (i.e. most JRPGs), the story and writing is truly awful, and something best skipped.

    There are exceptions. There's enough material in, say, The Grim Fandango to make a pretty decent movie. Hell, given that the game was best played with an open walkthrough, it was practically a non-interactive experience already, and memorable despite that.

    However, I think Anthile's analysis of the actual sausage making process is spot-on. Unless you've got some weirdo who is making the film out of a labor of love, it's going to be drek. And even when you do get a labor of love, odds are you'll still get Wing Commander.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Of course it is. Go watch Miike Takashi's work on Ryu Ga Gotoku (Yakuza) and Phoenix Wright... of course, those are kind of outlying examples, given Miike's so ridiculously prolific and generally profitable (at the very least he gets good publicity) he's practically given license to do whatever crazy thing he wants. A doggedly literal big-screen version of a best-selling third-person action game, for example - complete with every ridiculous "videogame-y" trope from the source material - probably didn't raise too many eyebrows. Still brilliant, though.

    I mean, Kotaku were saying the Warcraft film badly needed more humour given it's coming from a franchise stuffed full of daft in-jokes and gags for the fans - I instantly thought of Yakuza. (The scene where Kiryu and his rival both down energy drinks (power-ups) and burst into glowing blue flame in an almost direct lift from the games had me practically crippled, I was laughing so hard.) So it's certainly possible. Is a more serious adaptation equally feasible? I'm not sure... I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be. But you can definitely make something amazing by knowing when to treat your inspiration with kid gloves and when to send it up.
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  8. #8
    Network Hub gordianblot's Avatar
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    I thought this was a pretty good read.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    It is possible but it'll never happen. Like most IP films they get done by committee or with lots of fan service planned in or with some plan involved other than plot (cramming in references to future movies for instance).

    I suppose the Marvel heroes franchise is an example of when it does actually work. They tend not to take particular comic stories too literally though and have made their own thing with the material. If someone did that with some gaming it could definitely work. No one will though

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Mortal Kombat movie was amazing B class action flick in 90s. I absolutely loved.

    also the soundtrack is still as awesome as it was back in the day.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Mortal Kombat is awesome.

    IMHO, most of the games that have enough narrative to work as a movie are usually heavily inspired by movies... which means when you translate them back into movie form you end up with something generic, or something that's a lesser version of an existing movie.
    (Eg: Max Payne is inspired by loads of movies, but specifically John Woo movies... make a movie of it and you end up with a lesser version of a Chow Yun Fat movie. Every sci-fi game is too inspired by Aliens, etc...)

    Even if you adapted video game classics like System Shock (which might work) you'd likely end up with something pretty generic sci-fi / fantasy.
    Other classics like GTA are basically about being in a mixup of movie inspired situations in a real-world setting. Make it into a movie and you end up with any old crime movie.

    That said, I think the rise of 3d animated movies, in the Pixar/Disney style opens up the possibility of some adaptions of non-human character video games. Eg: Zelda, Kerbal, etc..

    Thief is the only game franchise I think would really be able to stand as it's own thing as a movie.
    Last edited by BillButNotBen; 26-05-2016 at 09:02 AM.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    in the Pixar/Disney style opens up the possibility of some adaptions of non-human character video games. Eg: Zelda, Kerbal, etc..
    I think Disney/Pixar would make a very bad Zelda.

    Thief is the only game franchise I think would really be able to stand as it's own thing as a movie.
    Meh, there's a lot more.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Mortal Kombat is awesome.
    it though? :) MK's SOUNDTRACK is indisputably fucking unstoppably awesome. The movie itself? Ehhhh.

    *Starts hummming MORTAL KOMBAT! theme*

    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    I think Disney/Pixar would make a very bad Zelda.
    THE WORST. It would burn our souls.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    I think it's possible, if the director and writing team of the movie approach it with the right mindset: that the movie should be a decent product in it's own right and not just a lazy cash-in that uses the game's reputation to sell movie tickets. I see no reason why the universe of a game like Thief or Assassin's Creed couldn't be used as a backdrop for an interesting movie or series.
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  15. #15
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    Of course you can, but it's not easy. You would need decent budget, good script and director that would have a free hand without some bunch of CEOs sticking thier noses into every part of production just to make sure they will make the most bland and cliched blockbuster that will appeal to everyone.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think the best you would get is inspired by the game to be honest. For example I would make a game inspired by the Legend Of Zelda, maybe with a lot of the characters and world but it wouldn't be a direct adaptation of Ocarina or anything. I think thats the best your going to get to be honest.

    Ive always wanted to do something inspired by Majoras Mask myself though.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Yeah but anyone who attempts to literally transpose from one medium to another is generally a fucking idiot; see Zack Snyder's entire career.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Did a Rachet and Clank movie just come out???

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Did a Rachet and Clank movie just come out???
    Yep. It also left some places too.
    "Halo is designed to make the player think "I look like that, I am macho sitting in my undies with my xbox""

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  20. #20
    Network Hub Syt's Avatar
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    Not a game adaptation, but a movie that captured the feeling of (many) games (i.e. try, die, try again) was Edge of Tomorrow. Had the setting been dark fantasy, it could have been Dark Souls - the Movie. Of course not many games will be able to use the Groundhog Day gimmick without wearing out its relative novelty.

    The first problem with movie vs. game is the interactivity. Even the most linear games will allow the player some freedom to interact with the mechanics in their own way and customizing the experience, and this is an inherent strength of the medium - something that movies, obviously, lack (and it's also a reason I cringe when developers want to capture the feel of a movie in a game - "cinematic experience" and all that). Most games allow me to linger and examine a part of it, whereas movie plots need to always move forward. If you have branching stories or multiple story paths you will have to decide on a canon. Or tell a new story, based on the game's setting.

    Additionally, video game mechanics and abstractions often don't translate well to real environments - see countless spoof videos or video game logic memes. A movie should unshackle itself from the game oncventions where they wouldn't work in the real world, but retain the *feel* of the game.

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