After this article about Missile Command and Centipede movies and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft, and Tomb Raider, it’s clear the hope for a decent movie based on a video game will never die.
But it’s a struggle to get it right. Nobody seems to have grasped the way to make it work. Even though most games have a narrative of their own, a direct translation doesn’t seem to ever be on the cards, they have to find a way to involve more plot than was present in the game, or even something entirely new, and unfortunately sometimes completely unrelated.
Most plots of games are simple, just macguffins to push the character this way or that, so they explore the environments and engage in frequent combat. That’s too simple to carry a movie, which needs 90 minutes of character development and storyline to engage a passively consuming audience. As soon as you add in elements to make it work as a movie, it makes it different enough from the game as to now be its own beast, and by then it’s too late, it strays further and further away as the new story takes hold and wends itself this way or that.
We have to accept that instead of expecting the movie to be just like the game, it’s going to be its own thing. We all get a different experience from video games, some enjoy the adventure, some the characters, some the story, some the gameplay mechanics, some the action, some the environments and graphics. Personally I like exploration and puzzle solving, and am not a fan of combat, but it’s hard to find a decent game that has only puzzles and is still an engaging experience. Combat, even of a simple kind, inevitably slips in.
So if we all get something different from a game, how can we successfully translate that to a movie? Most of my favourite elements wouldn’t work, movies are not walking simulators or puzzles to solve, so I will never get the same experience. I miss out.
I accept that. And I look forward to see what they come up with.