McGinnis: What games might actually make good movies?Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With an inexplicable sequel to “Silent Hill” descending upon theaters Oct. 26 and Disney’s new gaming-centric animated film “Wreck-It Ralph” coming out the following week, it does not appear that Hollywood’s obsession with video-game-based-film franchises will be stopping any time soon.
This is typically a bad deal for both film fans and gamers alike. With a few exceptions, most movies based on games have been pretty horrible. From the bizarre post-apocalyptic take on “Super Mario Bros.” to the utterly uninspired Mars action of “Doom,” moviegoers have been force-fed utter garbage in the form of their favorite gaming experiences “brought to life” on the silver screen.
Still, there remain a few franchises that have yet to be touched by Hollywood’s rampant lack of imagination. And as standards for the modern blockbuster go up, surely someone will be able to craft a movie that can satisfy both the multiplex hordes and gamers alike? Perhaps. Here are a few games that still have yet to feel the sting of adaptation — games that, in the right hands, could actually make damn fine motion pictures.
“God of War,” released 2005.
The Concept: A bad-ass Spartan warrior wages a one-man crusade of vengeance against (surprise!) the God of War and, eventually, Olympus itself.
The Pitch: “It’s ‘Clash of the Titans’ meets ‘Rambo!’ Hopefully with a way better story!”
Changes for the Big Screen: Lead character Kratos is a violent psychopath, driven insane by his own ambition and the manipulation of the gods. The story would have to balance the spectacles the game presents with quieter moments to spotlight the character’s struggle. An emphasis on his background before he began his crusade, particularly the history of his family, would go a long way to accomplish this.
Dream Casting: Game director David Jaffe has expressed that “Blood Diamond”‘s Djimon Hounsou would be perfect for the role of Kratos, and it’s hard to disagree. Barring him, a physically imposing action star like Dwayne Johnson would work very well.
Will It Happen?: There have been designs on doing a GoW film ever since the first game was released. For a while “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner was attached, but he’s since departed the project. The project seemed dead for a long time, but in July, Sony announced that writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan were working on the project. The pair had previously penned some of the “Saw” movies and “Piranha 3DD.”
Would It Be Any Good?: That pedigree from its writing staff does not inspire confidence, and this is the definition of a franchise that would need to walk a fine line to succeed. The games’ stories would need embellishment without diluting the core spectacle that makes it what it is, and the games are famously over-the-top in sexuality and gore. It’s a tough sell for moviegoers at large, but considering the success of “300,” who knows?
“InFAMOUS,” released 2009.
The Concept: A bike messenger suddenly gains electricity-based superpowers, and attempts to inspire (or intimidate) his city from descending into chaos, all while unraveling the mystery around his fate.
The Pitch: “It’s ‘Spider-Man’ meets that guy with the lampshade from ‘Big Trouble in Little China!’”
Changes for the Big Screen: The basic premise and story actually need very little alteration, as it’s filled with enough drama and surprises to transfer beautifully. Cutting down on some of the side plots and beefing up the central character’s moral dilemma would help a bit.
Dream Casting: “Breaking Bad” Emmy winner Aaron Paul is not only the spitting image of protagonist Cole, but clearly has the ability to portray both the power and vulnerability the role needs.
Will It Happen?: A film version of the first game was announced shortly after its release, but three years, a sequel and a vampire-based DLC spin-off later, there has been little other word.
Would It Be Any Good?: But if it happened, it could be marvelous. The games like to present moral quandaries to their players, letting them choose whether to be heroic or villainous. This is the kind of ground loads of popular movies love to mine, and the fact that it’s a superpower story is just icing on the cake.
“Metal Gear Solid,” released 1998.
The Concept: A legendary soldier is pressed back into service to stop a rogue military force from unleashing mechanized armageddon.
The Pitch: “It’s ‘Die Hard’ meets Tom Clancy meets ‘Escape from New York’ meets giant metal battle tanks!”
Changes for the Big Screen: The MGS series features a sprawling and complex (some argue overly so) narrative with multiple characters and plot twists, as well as extensive dialogue-laden cut scenes. Some streamlining of the story would be in order, as well as (here’s a first) a reduction in sheer amount of the game’s dialogue.
Dream Casting: Fans have debated candidates for the lead role of Solid Snake for as long as the game has existed. My current choice: Jeremy Renner, Oscar nominee for “The Hurt Locker” and Hawkeye in “The Avengers.”
Will It Happen?: After years of rumor and aborted attempts, a movie adaptation was officially announced by Columbia Pictures in August. Avi Arad, founder of Marvel Studios, is set to produce.
Would It Be Any Good?: This is a tough one to call. The basic plot of any one of the games is so complex that to condense it into two hours seems a goal to daunt Sisyphus. But Arad has spun straw into gold a few times before.
Tags: Jeff McGinnis