MM Top 5: Video game movies


10410305_559956154112893_7235515021564324601_nBy Rob Stoakes.

For the nerds among you, it won’t be a surprise to learn that the video game industry has always had an inferiority complex and has been striving to become like the film industry for years, despite being far more successful. And now, with out-of-control production budgets, a mainstream industry constantly ripping their own customers off and the indie scene becoming dominated by crowd-funding and a lack of quality control, the video game industry has 100% succeeded.

However, now it seems that films want to be like video games. And why not; in comparison to video games, films just suck. There’s no film dealing with the emotional struggle of being an overweight Italian plumber who indulges in magic mushrooms and smashes bricks with his head to get coins, and the world is poorer for it. So cinema is attempting to get its game on, not that anyone appreciates it; Pixels has been very poorly received and early reviews of Hitman: Agent 47 don’t paint a better picture. So the question needs to ask; has Hollywood ever gotten our video games actually right?

#5) Tekken

Yep. That’s how bad video game movies are. This film is in the top five. Easily.

The Tekken games have essentially one very clever joke to them; the story is complete loony-bins, with demons and boxing kangaroos and Soviet robots with chainsaws for arms unconvincingly disguised as high school students, and every one of the characters takes it far more seriously than necessary and is consistently undermined by the rest of the plot refusing to be anything besides a festival of dumb. It’s outrageously funny because it’s both smart and stupid.

So, of course, all three of the various Tekken movies have made the same mistake of draining out all the humour trying to stay dour and super serious. All three are pretty bad; The Tekken Animated Movie is a classic example of bad 90’s anime and Tekken: Blood Vengeance is a classic example of bad modern anime, so that just leaves the only non-animated one, which mixes up the formula by being a classic example of a bad Running Man ripoff.

The only reason to watch Tekken is the fight scenes, which are decent enough, automatically making Tekken better than the Resident Evil or Mortal Kombat movies. And even if they are in completely unfamiliar locations and possessing unfamiliar personalities, most of the characters at least look the same, except Christie who, because casting black actresses is impossible apparently, became whiter than a custard cream.

#4) Street Fighter the Movie / Street Fighter: the Animated Movie

Urrrrrrrgh.

For all the differences in genre, style and country of origin, these two adaptations of the arcade classic Street Fighter 2 have one key thing in common; they both stink worse than old cheese in a sweaty sock, but both have one saving grace.

For the live action disaster that is Street Fighter The Movie, that saving grace is Raul Julia’s inspired performance as M. Bison. The rest of the film plays it fast and loose with the continuity and has a completely disjointed plot, and is completely boring, but Raul Julia is a wild fire.

He has an insanity masked by dignity and gravitas that is captivating to watch, and it’s just embarrassing for both him and Jean Claude Van Damme when the two are in the same room. Plus, his quotes are just killers; “For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. For me, it was Tuesday.” That is solid awesome right there.

The same can’t be said for M. Bison of the anime, who is boring and completely generic, like the rest of the film, but… well, it’s a film based on a fighting game. There’s one element you need to nail, and the anime nails it hard. The fights are amazing, every single one, with fluid animation and iconic cinematography. It’s just a shame that when all the kicking and punching’s done, you have a film with a pace that makes Stanley Kubrick look like Speedy Gonzales on meth.

#3) Voltage Fighter Gowcasier

This is the funniest film on this list. It’s just a shame that it’s not a comedy.

Director Masami Ōbari is amazingly terrible; so a bad director that the world of animated pornography was far too self-respecting to allow him to show his face for more than a few years. His designs are infamous, with men sporting giraffe-esque necks and the women having breasts the size of a head and the shape of a baby’s thumb, and everyone with cheeks like chipmunks and adorned in the most ridiculous and revealing garments one can imagine.

The art is by far the least of it, though; the setting makes absolutely no sense, and the plot is equally bonkers. Superfluous characters appear to open doors and show their genitals and then immediately leave or die in manners that are supposed to be tragic but end up being hilarious, the villain’s plan is never actually explained, and the structure is all over the map.

And oh dear god, the voice acting in this turkey. I actually would suggest Youtubing some of this anime just to hear Apollo Smile as Karin. I speak no hyperbole when I say that it is the worst performance I’ve ever heard in animation, and I’ve seen Korean chop-jobs that were made for less than $500. Voltage Fighter Gowcasier gets nothing right, and it is amazingly funny for it.

#2) DOA

DOA is probably the most faithful adaptation from one medium to another ever. Dead or Alive, as a game series, is a fighting game series where the main appeal is that about 70% of the characters are scantily clad lesbians with breasts as large as their love of volleyball, to the point where there is an entire spinoff series dedicated to the women playing beach volleyball while wearing what could only be called bits of string.

The movie, on the other hand, is a martial arts movie where the main appeal is that about 70% of the characters are scantily clad lesbians with breasts as large as their love of volleyball, to the point where there is an entire act dedicated to the women playing beach volleyball while wearing what could only be called bits of string. The plot and fights are just formalities to lead to cheesecake, with a near-admirable level of shamelessness that makes for an entertaining guilty pleasure.

#1) Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

Ok; not only is this the only movie on this list that is actually a good film, but in my opinion it’s one of the most visually impressive and fun animated films of all time.

Given that the Professor Layton games are puzzle games that are mostly story focused anyway, they’re one of the better choices for a movie adaptation given that there’s barely any gameplay to reference. The plot doesn’t need knowledge of the games’ story, though it helps, especially with knowing who the villain is. As for the plot itself, it’s an effective mystery story that remains gripping throughout, though suffers from Sherlock Holmes Syndrome; to actually guess the solution at the end, you’d have to be indulge in heavy substance abuse to get yourself to the proper level of madness for it to work. Still, the payoff is a surprise.

However, I’ve often felt that in film, tone is paramount over plot, and this movie is a perfect indicator of that. It’s a film that isn’t afraid to let the audience relax and just take in the scenery, breezy soundtrack and beautiful character design, which has a sort of Astro Boy meets Belleville Rendezvous look and is absolutely gorgeous, but knows when to ramp up the tension and drama. It is very dramatic, too, with the plot of a man defiantly trying to bring his daughter back to life paralleling with the titular Professor knowing that there is just something wrong with the ancient legend he’s investigating, his client and her supposedly immortal friend. It’s genuinely a great film.

Plus, if there’s one video game character I’d want to have a drink with, it’d be Professor Layton. He seems like he’d be a Worthington’s drinker. That’s why he’s the best.

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