Should Video Game Movies Stick Closer To The Source Material?

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Posted on: August 30th, 2012

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Now as a gamer I can safely say that on the whole, Video game movies are nothing but a disappointment to all the fans who enjoyed the game. In fact, hearing that a game I enjoy is being made into a movie usually forces me to shake my head in despair. Which is exactly how I felt today when I heard that Metal Gear Solid was being adapted into a movie.


ryan reynolds blade

Oh Snake, I can’t bear to see them somehow miscast and ruin you. Why don’t they just cast Ryan Reynolds now and get it over with.


And it’s not just MGS that’s getting the big screen treatment either. Other video game movies currently in development include Assassin’s Creed, Deus Ex: Human Revolution etc. And let’s not forgot that there’s been rumours of movies for such games as Kane and Lynch (which might make a better movie than it did game), Halo, Gears of War, Uncharted etc.

Then there are the Video game adaptations that exist already which range from:

Better than expected: Silent Hill

Wasted opportunity: Max Payne, Hitman, Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia

Terrible, just terrible:  Super Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider 2, Mortal Kombat

So bad it’s great: This section is reserved for Street Fighter alone.


street fighter van damme

Though this may be down to the fact that the “Muscles from Brussels” has a USA tatoo on his arm for some reason.


*There’s many more that could go into these categories but please don’t make me remember any more. Please!

Now in most of these cases the movies don’t appeal to the fanbase of the games because they don’t include enough of what made the game great (Hell, I love Pyramid Head but I wasn’t pleased to see him in Silent Hill because he was no longer a physical representation of James Sunderland’s psychosexual desires, but seemed to have been downgraded to Silent Hill’s garbage man). In the Hitman series, Agent 47 is a silent assassin who excels at stealth kills. Exactly when did he decide that should he ever run into other Agents, like himself, it would be a good idea to have them all pull out katanas and attempt to skewer one another?


hitman agent 47: sword fight

Seriously, what the hell was this? It’s like a Right Said Fred convention gone awry!


You have to know (and ultimately love) the source material of what you’re making. You can’t fake the atmosphere of Silent Hill. You can’t make stealth based killers, mass murderers, just to have more action set pieces. You can’t turn a street fighting tournament into a warzone. You’ve got to give the fans what they want and if they’re fans of the games, then a film that captures the essence of the game is what they’re after. Don’t use the franchise at all if you’re not going to make something that showcases why it’s great.

However, I was recently thinking about the flip side to this argument. What if people made games that stuck so close to the games that they didn’t make sense. Games are ridiculous. You can heal from bullet wounds by standing still. You have to solve complex puzzles to proceed to the next areas. You can retry a mission over and over again just to get it perfect. Here’s some examples of how video game movies would look, if they were based entirely on the experiences of the person playing them (and we’ll all probably have found ourselves in one or all of these situations at one point or another in our gaming history).




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Solid Snake listens to the voices in his Codec. People are explaining things to him. He literally doesn’t move for about 20 minutes because people just keep blathering in his ear. Finally they shut the hell up and he sets about making his way into the facility that’s housing the…something. He stopped paying attention to the conversation pretty early on.

He sneaks up on a guard who has fallen asleep standing up and wonders if that’s even possible. He chokes him out and moves on. He hears an over dramatic “WAH” noise as another guard discovers the body. He hides and the guard who was startled seems to decide that everything is OK and he should just go right back to what he was doing a few minutes before.

Snake chokes him out and enters the facility. A strange and overly flamboyant Boss-like character gets a sexy intro and then starts to talk. And talk. And talk. Snake fades in and out of the conversation (It’s something to do with nano-machines) and wonders why he can’t just shoot this guy.

Finally the guy stops talking and the fight begins. Snakes runs away and really hopes that the bad guy has a pattern he follows which Snake can exploit again and again until he wins the battle. Snake thinks that it’s weird how often this tactic works.


Solid Snake

Thankfully he has eyes from the second game onwards which really helped him out.




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Max Payne walks down a corridor (every so often slipping into bullet time because he forgets the controls) into a room full of goons. He surveys the surroundings and fires a few rounds as he moves to cover. He notices that he has been shot and is bleeding out.

Thankfully he has one painkiller (not even a strong one) but upon taking it his wound starts to heal and he stops losing blood. After waiting there for a few minutes and checking where exactly everyone is, he then jumps out from behind the wall. The world slows around him. He desperately looks for someone to shoot but they’ve all taken cover and so he goes sailing through the air until he smashes head-first into a cabinet.

The enemies all appear as if they’ve been waiting for this exact moment to jump out and he is forced to start shooting from the ground before picking himself up and getting back into cover…to repeat the process again and again until everyone is dead.


max payne

It’s also a good idea to pull a constipated face when using slow motion…it adds a sense of urgency to proceedings.

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Author Info

Dan is just a guy who worked in a video store and took the compliment/insult that he was like “Randal” from “Clerks” a little too literally. Thankfully Bad Haven has given him the chance to blurt out his internal monologues on nerd culture. Proclaiming his love for the things he likes (which include books, movies, games, comics) and utterly destroying the things he doesn’t (pretty much everything else). Dan is an editor, reviewer and feature writer for Bad Haven.

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  • Facilalilaty

    Solid piece. My only take is that anyone casting anyone for any movie role has to go with availability, budget and the big picture which is “will they make money on that franchise”. Uwe Boll destroys video game franchises so I’m curious about Far Cry — but as soon as I know it’s Uwe Boll, I cringe about the maturity that goes into his “interpretations”. Grand Theft Auto had a great concept movie. I like to think that “Drive” with Ryan Gosling was “The Poor Man’s GTA” with the peppy 80s font and soundtrack, five minute mission timers, the protagonist costume change to evade police and brief plot movement between “missions”.