Movie of the Game of the Movie
Every geek loves a good game and a good movie to rave about, but do we love it when the universes collide?
Movies and games have been their own separate marketing entities for generations, you go see a movie at the theatre and you go to the arcade to play games and that’s the way it just was. I swear my mum thought I was a robot when I was a kid, I asked for 50p so many times to go down to the video shop. They had an arcade cabinet there, which changed every so often. But this was like a Gentleman’s Club, you walked in there, you had to have money. If you didn’t have money, you had to watch from outside of ‘The Zone’ – If you were in the zone, you were taking part. You were queued up and hoping not to take an ass whooping from the guy that just beat the 2 people in front of you; them walking back in to the zone after briefly kicking the bottom of the cabinet.
This all changed when the advent of the home video game console invaded our tiny little brains and made all our dreams come true. An arcade game, on my telly! This fascination was brought to us and boy did it change the way we did things. So what made anyone want to put these video games into a movie? Arcades were for kids.
Hello Walt Disney. Hello Jeff Bridges, I can haz lightcycle too? TRON. I believe was the first big budget movie with a video game plot that started this whole thing off. Development of Tron began in 1976 when Lisberger became fascinated with Pong. Along with producer Donald Kushner, he set up an animation studio to develop Tron with the intention of making it an animated film. Fast forward to 1982 at Disney. There, backlit animation was combined with the computer animation and live-action. Tron was released on July 9, 1982.
At the end of the 80s, what some may recall as a glorified Nintendo Advert The Wizard was released. This was the tale of Jimmy, an emotionally withdrawn kid, due to seeing his sisters death. Him and his brother run away to California, and meet a girl who realises he has a crazy knack for video games, and calls him “The Wizard”. There just so happens to be a video game tournament that she knows about and they enter for the prize money, with Jimmy’s mad skills. The final game in the tournament was Super Mario Bros 3 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. At the time (1989) this game was only released in Japan. Making it a landmark in video game marketing outside of Japan, and possibly the only time ever where a real video game has made its debut in a movie before going on general release. The Wizard‘s Gross Revenue totalled over $14 million in the USA.
This lead to skint parents and wild eyed youngsters having the best of both worlds, the video game in the movie and getting to play the video game itself. Jimmy was a champion and we wanted to be just as good. Now they had the link between video games and movies firmly established, it was time to start looking for the next big video game movie.
Over the last 20 years, there is such a big list of video game movie failures, its almost like running into a wall continuously and wondering why you cannot go any further. Lets start with The Super Mario Bros Movie – This got hit HARD upon release because it deviated from the loving Nintendo vibe and was generally not all that good. Despite that, it grossed more than The Wizard at $20 million. If anyone can tell me why, I would love to know, thanks.
Fast forward to Street Fighter: The Movie. Jean Claude, Kylie, Raul Julia and that shockingly underwhelming final fight with Guile and M.Bison, including that kick. We were starting to see a trend of movies that were never going to live up to the hours of joy we spent at home playing these. But then the world shifted, the dead cried in their graves and wizards were shooting thunderbolts from the top of the mountains. Street Fighter: The Movie was made into a video game, mind bogglingly titled Street Fighter: The Movie. This featured digitized graphics of the movie’s stars and was way off base from what was expected from the animated Street Fighter game series.
And so it continued with cries of “Finish Him!” – ah, yes. Mortal Kombat. This tried to stick closely to the video game without being 90 minutes plot-less fighting. Well, I think it did a better job than Street Fighter, although it didn’t have the big budget and promotion, it made a more direct appeal to the gamer to showcase the video game elements. While we were all trying not to run out of clean underwear and ammo playing the Resident Evil series, Paul W.S. Anderson was penning the movie that would split opinions the world over. It’s hard to tell that this is based off any video game if you don’t know of the actual game. Well, we have a few left in the series as rumours are rife about 3 more sequels taking the movies up to 7. Rocky eat your heart out! ……Zombie Rocky anyone?
Fresh out of making a living from asking people if they can smell what he is cooking; I don’t think I ever found that out by the way. The Rock stars in what has to be probably the worst big budget video game movie, Doom. I got nothing to say apart from “what was that end sequence about?” Moving on to Tomb Raider, with the voluptuous Angelina Jolie and my subject of choice, conspiracy. High action from Jolie, when she is not jumping off a motorbike kicking people in the face, she is finding stuff. Just what Lara Croft from the video games does. This is a personal favourite, but from what has been availible, can you blame me? Honorable mentions to Silent Hill, Hitman and Jake Gyllenhaal’s chest. I mean Prince of Persia. Leading up to this release, every promotional shot just started with Jake’s chest.
Lets look to the future, yeah? Surely with more interesting and imaginative directors we can surely get the Holy Grail. A video game movie that has the popularity of films like Avatar. …What? Let’s see what is on the list of coming soon:
This has had some stops and starts for a few years now, but last I heard that this is still ‘a go’. Series designer Ken Levine has this to say: “I will say that it is still an active thing,” Levine tells DC radio station 106.7. “And it is something we are actively talking about and actively working on.”
Heavy Rain (2014)
David Milch of Deadwood fame will be working with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne on this movie once he’s finished the first season of HBO’s Luck.
The Sims (2012)
Not much is known about this, this was first reported back in 2007.
Zombies Ate My Neighbours (201-?)
Reported to be a comedy in the same light as Superbad, Zombieland and Home Alone. With the screenplay written by John Darko, this might be one to watch, with the current Zombie trend, this might be the one that doesn’t get panned.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (2013)
Following seasoned treasure hunter Nathan Drake, who believes he has learned the whereabouts of El Dorado from an old relic of a statue. Not hard to know what this will be like, see: Tomb Raider the movie, but funnier, possibly?
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (2011)
This, again, has had its share of stops and starts. Is it something to do with video game movies, that makes people uncomfortable? “…with plans to start shooting early in 2011” and “start date is TBD.”
Looking to the future, can we really hope to see that one video game movie that doesn’t irritate the geeks worldwide? As games get smarter and less predictable, we can but hope the movies follow suit. If they ever get off the ground, that is.
Would you like to win a little treat as a thanks for visiting? You’re in luck. I have up for grabs, an Xbox Live Arcade title; Prince of Persia Classic, thankfully not featuring Jake Gyllenhaal’s chest.
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