The problem with video game movies

The problem with video game moviesToday, I become a trailblazer for all. What I’m about to do is a first that the world has never seen. I’m going to talk about video games on the internet. My knowledge of video games and rating those is the exact opposite of my knowledge of movies. The most I know about game critique is the fact I’ve watched Zero Punctuation for the last six years. However, I do still play games like NBA2K, Mortal Kombat, Hitman, and Animal Crossing. I enjoy these games, but I recognize that a lot of people don’t. It’s hard for me to defend my position as I don’t know a whole lot on the subject.

But I do know things about movies, and boy does Hollywood try to merge the two a lot! I, as of writing, have seen roughly two dozen video game movies, which range from 4 ½ stars to less than a half star, and I haven’t even seen the really bad ones (Alone in the Dark, Ratchet and Clank, DOA). Upon my research, looking at critic and audience scores, video games are better now than they ever have been before. So why do they still suck so much? Well, I decided to look at three examples of video game movies (The Best, The Worst, and the Blandest) to determine what makes video game movies so awful.

So, to start off, let’s look at my favorite video game movie, which- fun fact, has a single digit Rotten Tomatoes score. Hitman: Agent 47 came out in 2015 to an awful reception. Nine percent on RT and a Metacritic score of 28. It made countless worst films of the year list, and was very quickly forgotten. However, I love it, so let’s look at what this film adaptation does that others on this list don’t.

The first and foremost aspect of it is that it manages to really bring the biggest part of the games to the screen, the action. I rewatched the opening scene to the film recently, and it’s still pretty awesome. It manages to be sleek, cool, and most importantly, captures the murder part of the games quite well. With Agent 47 donning various costumes to start killing folks in a variety of captivating manners, the film captures the spirit of the games and makes it into a really fun movie. Although, I’ll admit that the story of the film is not great. However, the action does make up for it.

Sonic the hedgehog

© Paramount Pictures

Now, I could go on for all the other video game movies I like, but that would only be about three of them. Sonic the Hedgehog, Rampage, and Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge are all much worse than Agent 47, but they manage to be fun and entertaining. Let’s talk about the crappy adaptations, or at least the ones that show problems with it. 2018’s Tomb Raider is the perfect example when it comes to talking about the problems with many video game movies.

While I have yet to see Jolie’s version from 2003, the biggest problem with the 2018 version is that it takes itself much too serious. At heart, it’s a treasure hunting movie, which can really only work when they’re lighthearted like the Indiana Jones films. 2018’s Tomb Raider is a no-fun affair, as we get scenes of zombies, Saw-esque scenes of bodily harm, and a post-World’s End Nick Frost, who… I mean, he can be hilarious in the Cornetto Trilogy and Paul, but he needs a better agent as of late. Anyway, Tomb Raider has one other big problem I want to talk about, and it’s the story.

Tomb Raider movie

© Warner Bros. Entertainment

Tomb Raider takes nearly it’s entire storyline from one of it’s recent games. This makes it so the writers have to condense twelve to fifteen hours of story into 118 minutes. Going back to Agent 47, they were smart enough to do a semi original (Well, original to the franchise anyways)  story so they could have effective pacing. If they tried to fit the twenty hours of Hitman: Absolution into a two hour movie, it would have been an absolute mess. Overall, Tomb Raider is a pretty bad movie, but when it comes to video game movies, it’s honestly one of the better ones.

Now, Tomb Raider may be bad, but it still gets a few things right. It manages to have some decent set design, which is honestly pretty important, as video games usually have a very scenic world, and Tomb Raider manages to get that right. There is one video game movie, nay, franchise, that gets everything wrong at at least one point, and that’s the Resident Evil franchise. Six movies over almost my entire lifespan, these films have grossed over one billion dollars worldwide. And they’re all terrible. That might be a little mean. Afterlife and Retribution are entertaining on a so bad it’s good level. However, a majority of these films are atrocious and embody everything that a video game movie can get wrong. They have an extremely convoluted story, terrible visual effects, and some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’m talking Taken 3 jumping a fence levels of bad.

The Resident Evil movies also fail in bringing a major component of the games into the movies, and that’s the fact that these games are for the most part, puzzles. These games are about solving problems and thinking ahead with how you use your ammo. Not giant helicopter fights in reverse. All in all, this franchise managed to get every single thing wrong at one point, which makes it the perfect video game movie.

So, that really sums up video game movies well. A franchise of terrible, some blandness, and one good one that people hate for the most part. I’ve yet to see many of the ones frequently regarded as the worst, such as Street Fighter 2, Dead or Alive, or anything that has Uwe Boll attached to it. Overall, I think Video Game movies can be good. They just always seem to run into one of the problems listed above like condensing plots, bad CG, and a lack of trying. The studios feel that they’ll turn a profit because the fans will pay to see their favorite characters on screen… Wait a minute! Bad editing, poor visual effects, rushed storylines and character arcs. I’ve figured out why video game movies always suck.

This is the same problem superhero films had in the late nineties! Films like Batman and Robin rushed the development of characters like Poison Ivy and Bane, one of the many reasons that the movie is terrible, or Superman IV: Quest for Peace and it’s awful visual effects. The plights video game movies are going through now are almost exactly like what comic book films used to go through before their current golden era. So how did they get out of it? Well, they just needed a film that showed them what they could be. X-Men is a movie which may not have aged well, but at the time showed the world that comic book movies could be good. So all we need is the Video Game X-Men, and it may come soon. Maybe it will be 2021’s Mortal Kombat, let me just pull up the cast list, oh… never mind.

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