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September 29, 2023

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Video game movies put genre on new track

For decades, filmmakers have tried to adapt well-known and beloved video game properties to the big screen and failed. They claimed faithfulness to the source material and that it was made for the fans but never really captured what made the games great to begin with.

Even video game movies that fans rated favorably, like 2006’s “Silent Hill,” still miss their mark on being a faithful and truly satisfying video game movie. To many fans, there are no good video game movies, but video game movies that are less awful than others.

There are several key reasons why this happens.

Some video games have 40+ hours of story in them, which can be hard to adapt into an hour-and-a-half or two-hour movie.

Then, there are video games like “Super Mario Bros.” or “Angry Birds” that are pretty light on story, so there’s not that much to work with in terms of plot or characters.

If it’s live action it can be difficult to recreate the visual aesthetics of the game depending on the budget available to the filmmakers.

Also, since movies are not interactive in the way that video games are, watching a video game movie is almost equivalent to watching a Let’s Play on YouTube.

As a side note, hiring Uwe Boll to direct is practically guaranteeing the film’s failure, given his track record as a director

However, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” happened last year. Not only was it a box office success, grossing $433 million worldwide on a $150 million budget, but it also got a 69% critic score and 79% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. That might not seem impressive, but when compared to “good” video game movies like 1995’s “Mortal Kombat” with a 47% critic score and 58% audience score, this is a major step up.

This year, “Sonic The Hedgehog” came along, opening with $58 million domestically on an $85 million budget, and getting a 64% critic score and 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

With these two video movies being both critical and financial successes, are video game movies on the rise?

It seems that film studios are certainly learning from past mistakes.

What needs to happen is for filmmakers to focus on making a good, entertaining movie rather than trying to match the game. Some filmmakers try to be almost too faithful, and as I said before, part of the reason video game movies have failed is because they are not interactive.

If people wanted to watch the story of the game, they would just play the game. Essentially, what filmmakers need to do is treat video game movies the same way comic book movies are done. Adapt the basic elements from the source material like the lore and characters, but do something different while still having those familiar things in it. 

It’s most likely going to be a while before video game movies are held to a high standard in film but long as they continue at the rate they’re going now, they’ll be on the right track. 


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