It Should Be a Two Minute Parody, But Instead It's a Two Hour Flick
We all know that video game movies are a tricky thing to get right. No one liked silver screen adaptations of Doom, Resident Evil, or Tekken. Not even Angelina Jolie could save Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from abysmal reviews.
Of course, that doesn’t stop those film executives. There’s nothing more appearing to producers than a built in audience. Unfortunately that means dozens of adaptations of pop literature, 70’s television shows, and video games. I can’t blame some people for wanting video game movies when so many games try so hard to be cinematic. Most of these games have some sort of a plot, or at least mildly developed characters.
But that silly notion—basing a script on a story of some kind is what makes it an adaptation—no longer matters in Hollywood. No, we don’t just get Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time. We get something so much better—Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Missile Command (by Warner Brothers, Universal, and Fox, respectively).
These games don’t have any sort of mythology or plot. In fact, the studios admit they’re creating the plots from scratch. So I want to know, what’s the point?
The idea of an adapted screenplay is that you take a piece of art or news and turn it into a screenplay. Typically you work from one primary source—at least Twilight the movie follows Twilight the book pretty closely, or so I hear. But with arcade games, there’s nothing to base the plot on. In Asteroids you’re a ship blowing up asteroids—the game was obviously named accurately—and that’s about it. While maybe that will pass as a movie in an experimental film class, it sure doesn’t fly in Hollywood. So why go to the trouble of buying the rights to these games when the film versions aren’t going to have a single thing to do with the original content?
If you want to see a great adaptation of video games, watch the Raiders of the Lost Arcade vignette in the Futurama episode Anthology of Interest II. It’s only 10 minutes long, and you can even hear a solid ten seconds of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” in there.
And then you can wonder when Universal will announce they’re developing a film adaptation of Rock Band. I hope it’s soon—they really aren’t enough concert films around. There are only 163 pages of concert film listings on Wikipedia.
Of course for all you “table top gamers” out there, Candy Land and Battle Ship are both currently in production. Now when do I get to see the big screen rendition of Settlers of Catan because that would rock the socks off the Rock Band movie.