Video game movies seem to be coming back into the mainstream with the release of Hitman: Agent 47 and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft films as well as rumours of a The Last Of Us and Uncharted movie. It seems that once again Hollywood is having a go at video game adaptations.
Video game movies in the past have almost always been terrible and most would put this down to bad filmmaking. But while this is true a lot of the time, I think it’s less to do with just bad filmmaking and more to do with the challenge of translating all of the stuff that goes into a video game into a movie format.
The biggest problem is that a normal story driven game takes about twelve hours to complete while a movie usually can only go for about three hours before getting boring. It’s pretty obvious how much you’re going to have to cut out if you’re adapting the same narrative and plot from the game into a movie. In order to make it work you’d have to boil down the game to just its key cutscenes and story with maybe some action in between.
Most people would look at The Last Of Us and think it would be easy to turn into a movie, just cut out all of the long shooting parts and keep the great story. But the thing is, we will all always feel like we’re missing something. What I remember from The Last Of Us isn’t just the great story but finding diaries and notes from survivors and being able to explore their stories at my own pace. We’re with these characters for hours and seeing them develop over the course of the game helps us become even more attached to them.
Games like The Last Of Us, Bioshock and more have their stories tied to their gameplay, so if you take one element away the other will suffer. Sure, people who haven’t played the game and are just seeing the movie will be fine but those of us who have played the game will notice what the story has lost.
The reason why movies based on novels work so well is because they are adding a new element that people who’ve read the book haven’t experienced before. Which is having the story be visually represented on screen but with video games there’s nothing to add, all you’re doing is taking something we’ve already seen, making it in real life and taking away the element of control. That’s why I think video game movies will start to become more like superhero movies, where you have characters we all know and love and put them in a situation that hasn’t been done yet. Why would you have a Hitman movie with the same story as one of the Hitman games when you can just take the characters and essence from the game and make something new, which is essentially what they’ve done with the new movie from what I’ve seen of it.
Video games and movies are two very different things, so of course trying to turn one into the other is always going to be hard and challenging but that makes it even better when a movie finally gets it right.
This was originally published by me on IGN Blogs.