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Why Are Video Game Movies So Awful? 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-just-uwe dept.
An article at CNN discusses why big screen interpretations of video games, even successful ones, often fail to succeed at the box office. Quoting: "The problem with successfully adapting video games into hit Hollywood spin-offs may lie in the way in which stories for both mediums are designed and implemented. Game makers chasing the dream of playing George Lucas or Steven Spielberg will always strive to coax human emotion and convincing drama from increasingly photorealistic virtual elements. The Hollywood machine, in its endless chase for big bucks, can't help but exploit the latest hit interactive outing, often failing to realize it's often a specific gameplay mechanic, psychological meme or technical feature that makes the title so compelling. Both sides may very well continue to look down in disdain on the work that the opposite is doing, which can doom any collaborative efforts. But where the two roads truly diverge is in the way stories are fundamentally told. Films offer a single, linear tale that's open to individual interpretation, whereas games are meant to be experienced differently and in a multitude of ways by every player." On a related note, reader OrangeMonkey11 points out that an 8-minute short has showed up online that appears part of a pitch for a potential Mortal Kombat reboot movie. Hit the link below to take a look.

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Why Are Video Game Movies So Awful?

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  • The plots are too detailed, the script-writer's a newb and there aren't enough people jumping around like the Enegizer bunny on speed. Oh, and no jumping puzzles you have to try multiple times.
    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:42AM (#32507220) Homepage Journal
      In Short, the staff who make the creative decisions never actually played the fucking games.

      Maybe there was one time they got it right: The first-person scene [youtube.com] in Doom.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Sulphur (1548251)

        Did they license the demo?

        • All I can say is that after the butchering which was called the Prince of Persia, I have yet another reason to hate disney with a passion.
      • Why of all possible examples choose that one?
        I mean that movie was awful!
        I cringed when it went first person.

        Why it ever got a movie adaption I don't know, the game hardly had a plot beyond "blast the shit out of everything that moves" which gets pretty old fast in a movie.

        Some games I could see adapting well to the silver screen but unfortunately those games are the ones which have strong plots and are already pretty movie-like already, someone could probably make a pretty good movie based in the halo univ

        • I'd really like to see them do a Mechassault movie. The 'mechs in Avatar showed they can do the CGI just fine; several movies have been mostly CGI already; so all they really need is a sorta-kinda plot. Not for me, you understand, but for other people. Who worry about that stuff. Throw a love story in there, buncha cleavage... I'm good with that. Even if it steals some time from blowing things up. I'll have to blink sometime, right?

          I would truly welcome a couple hours of "blasting the shit out of everyth

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tim C (15259)

          Personally I didn't mind Doom that much, but then I went into it expecting nothing but a run-of-the-mill shoot 'em up with some vague occult/horror undertones, which is more or less what we got. Not great by any means, but I don't feel robbed of the time I spent watching it.

          I do agree about the first-person bit though.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        In Short, the staff who make the creative decisions never actually played the fucking games.

        Oh I think they've played the games and realised how utterly paper thin, stupid, derivative, repetitive or outright silly most game plots are. However it would be nice that movies did follow the game plot where some or none of these things applied, and improved them in a positive way when they did.

        • by digitig (1056110)
          Even if you take a game with a respectable story (Morrowind, for instance) the way it's broken down into tasks would mean that a film of it would play like a road movie rather than an action-adventure.
        • by digitig (1056110)
          By and large, games don't have plots, they just have stories. They're not the same thing.
      • by Fallus Shempus (793462) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:25AM (#32507772) Homepage
        OK here's the plot for Doom:

        Scene - Mars, night time, gloomy lab.

        Sciencey type bods - Hey lets experiment with teleporters, what could possibly go wrong
        Other random bod - Oh noes you've open a gatewya to HELL!!
        Monsters - GRRR ARRGH GURGLE
        Our Hero - OMFG Monsterz, where am my bulletzes

        BLAM, BLAM, ZAP, GURGLE, SQUELCH

        And they couldn't even get that right!
      • Wow, you hand-picked the one scene from that awful abomination that actually resembled anything that in a dark (and I mean dark) street could be mistaken for an actual game element? ;)

        I mean, were was fucking everything from the game?
        I wonder how they could even dare to make freaking helldemons not come out of freaking hell. It’s right in the name, idiots!

        But it has all been said.

        What has not been said, is:
        The problem is, that most people still think a game has to have a good story to be a good game.
        I

      • The first person scene in Doom looked totally fake and I hated every minute of it. Turning around and having the Imp standing there? It looked like a guy in a costume, even though I know it was CGI.

        I'd have liked the original story for Doom in the movie, and a better actor for Agent 47 in Hitman, but apart from that they were reasonable films. I wonder why thaIT WAS BECAUSE UWE BOLL HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM DON'T LET HIM TOUCH YOUR GAMES HE WILL KILL THEM.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hey! (33014)

        I don't even think that's it.

        But I think you're on the right track. There's a much much simpler explanation that doesn't have anything to do with different story telling media, and it is this: These projects are undertaken solely to make a quick and easy buck.

        It's not that anyone objects to making a buck, or to having a buck handed to them on a silver platter, but I think any movie worth seeing is made by people who actually care about more than collecting a paycheck without embarrassing themselves. Look a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcmonkey (96054)

          There's a much much simpler explanation that doesn't have anything to do with different story telling media, and it is this:

          I have a simpler explanation. Why wouldn't video game movies be awful?

          It's like asking, why do kids who play video games commit violent crimes?

          The answer has nothing to do with the video games, per se. The answer is, these days almost all kids play video games. Therefor the kids who end up committing crimes play video games. And the kids who commit no crimes play video games. You

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:59AM (#32507320) Journal

      What is sad is even when it should be a simple matter to make a slam dunk they STILL manage to fuck them up! great example: DOOM. hell you take Aliens, throw in equal amounts of Event Horizon, and voila! Instant dark and scary shit. I think it is because they get a bunch of guys that have never touched ANY game, much less the game they are making, to write and direct the things.

      That is why one of the first thoughts as I played Bioshock is "Please don't let anyone make a movie, PLEASE don't let anyone make a movie of this!". I mean can you imagine some hack script writer that had never played the game, and what they would do to it? Instead of Ayn Rand's theories pushed to the point of madness you would probably get some hackney Robocop 3 style "comment on consumerism" along with the little sisters being nothing but freakish ghouls and Big Daddies Frankenstein monsters.

      To do the stories in most games right you would need writers and a director that had actually played the game and cared about telling the story, not just cashing a check. Sadly I just haven't seen that kind of care and love put into a game based movie yet. The closest I've seen so far IMHO is RE1, and even that they fucked up, just not as bad as...say a Uwe Boll "production". IMHO the story should have been about what a SWAT style team would do when faced with a "gates of hell just opened up" kind of situation, but instead by the end of the movie it became Supergirl VS Frankenstein.

      • by jabbathewocket (1601791) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:13AM (#32507394)
        The problem with Doom was that they tried to turn it into something it is not..

        Doom is about 1 guy alone going rambo on some aliens.. and trying to get out alive... NOT about a group of people getting saved along tthe way by a heroic soldier.. which is what they tried to turn the movie into.

        The funny thing is.. for as bad as game to movie conversions are (generally speaking), the movie to game conversions are far worse (perhaps its because there are so many more movies to game than the reverse?)

        I disagree that the director/author need to play the game, the problem is often that hollywood wants to take a HUGE hit that has little to no story, and convert it into something it is not (such as doom) or worse, they don't add anything at all to it.. and leave it as a special effects set piece..

        this is also prolly caused by the fact that most games have plots that are essentially ripped off from 1 scene in a movie from 20 years ago.. its kinda hard to stretch "that cool scene with the zombies and the dude with the chainsaw" into a game.. its even harder to then stretch that back into a 90 minute movie.
        • I agree with the other comment- they might have done better if they'd gone with a "doom starts here" style ending.
          instead of that awful first person section make a decent plot out of people trying to stop the disaster before the start of doom and focus on that, end with them failing(or if you must have some kind of happy ending the hero sacrifices himself to get the love interest and generic people to be saved out, end on a couple of seconds of first person view matching the start of the game)

          but personall

    • Hollywood isn't interested in making "good movies", they're only interested in "making money".

      It's a simple formula: profit = earnings-costs

      To make money the costs have to be less than earnings.

      They have a pretty good idea what the earnings will be because they know their target audience will watch it based on the name/poster not the reviews, ie. profit = X million acne-ridden geeks multiplied by ticket price.

      All they need to do to pay for their next round of coke+hookers is to make sure the costs are les

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zippthorne (748122)

      It's the same reason video games made from movies suck: They don't think they need to spend as much effort on talent because the name of the thing they spent money on licensing will put people in seats.

  • Two Words: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:34AM (#32507184)

    Uwe Boll.

    • Uwe Boll.

      On the other hand, the absolute best, by far, 9/11 joke is the opening scene [youtube.com] of Boll's Postal [imdb.com] movie. The rest isn't so bad either - it's got a 4.1 on IMDB, but my impression is that a lot of people gave it a crappy rating without even seeing it, because just about everything else he's done really has deserved a score of 1.0.

    • Ya, pretty much (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      When you look at it, it turns out he does make most of the video game movies out there. His movies tend to suck because there's no incentive for them not to. When you look at it, they generally do abysmal at the box office. However he can afford to do so because of an oddity with German tax law. It basically allows businesses to write everything off if the movie doesn't make money. So his investors are fine with his movies losing money, because all the writeoffs allows them to have a net gain from the gover

    • by CronoCloud (590650) <cronocloudauron@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:59AM (#32510514)

      There's a joke that goes something like this:

      You're in a room with James Cameron, Michael Mann, Michael Bay and Uwe Boll. You have a gun with three bullets, who do you shoot?

      Wait for it.......Uwe Boll, three times. Then you take the empty gun and hit him over the head with it a few times...just to make sure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)

        I would have shot the other three. They are the ones that gave me expectations to be let down. Uwe Boll never set anything as good.

  • Doomed (Score:3, Funny)

    by dlsso (1808390) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:34AM (#32507186)
    "...which can doom any collaborative efforts." I see what you did there.
  • Story. (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_raptor (652941) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:36AM (#32507190)

    Most video games have stories that straight-to-DVD movies would be ashamed of*.

    Other than that it is because Uwe Boll makes 90% of game movies.

    *The games with good stories general can not compress a 20-40 hour experience into an hour thirty.

    • by Verunks (1000826)

      Most video games have stories that straight-to-DVD movies would be ashamed of*.

      Other than that it is because Uwe Boll makes 90% of game movies.

      *The games with good stories general can not compress a 20-40 hour experience into an hour thirty.

      and this is the same reason why games based on movies are very bad too, nobody would buy a game that last 1-2 hours, so they have to add pieces that didn't exist in the movie to make it longer

      • nobody would buy a game that last 1-2 hours

        Sure they would. The original Prince of Persia required you to complete the game in 1 hour (not including starting over if you fail).

      • by Psaakyrn (838406)

        PORTAL

    • by gravos (912628)
      Well, a lot of RPGs (which are usually based around a "story," at least in the JRPG sense) could probably get down to 3-4 hours easily if you took out all the random battles, walking to places, random sidequests, ...

      The other problem is that people tend to remember games' stories fondly if they liked the game rather than evaluating games' stories on their own merits. It's difficult to critique parts of a whole objectively even for amateur or professional reviewers who do it all the time.
      • Most JRPG's fall under the first part of my post. JRPG's in general only have a memorable story because of the way you interact with the characters, which can't be translated to a non-interactive medium*.

        *With games "story" is distinct from "story telling" in a way that it isn't for movies. Very few movies are adventurous in the way they tell the story (something like Memento puts a lot of people off because it isn't linear A to B with five acts).

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Most video games have stories that straight-to-DVD movies would be ashamed of*.

      Exactly. Most games are just not suitable for movie adaptation, is basically what TFA is saying. My problem with that is: most games aren't being adapted to movies anyway. Some games really do have good writing and interesting characters.

      I think a Planescape: Torment movie could be really good (although a bit hard to sell to a large audience). Fallout has some excellent stuff, and is a lot easier to sell.

      KOTOR should be adaptable to a pretty decent Star Wars movie. Maybe not Empire Strikes Back-level, but d

    • by ihavnoid (749312)

      *The games with good stories general can not compress a 20-40 hour experience into an hour thirty.

      However, books with good stories also have a 20-40 hour experience, and somehow still can be compressed into an hour thirty..??

      • by Zarhan (415465)

        Except that almost all book-to-movie conversions suck. The few notable exceptions are Hunt for Red October (Sean Connery as Marko Ramius) and Lord of the Rings (which was converted to 10+ hours in extended editions).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          I disagree on Lord of the Rings - the film managed to mess up the characters, cut some of the important plot development, and replaced pages of gripping description with minutes of boring CGI.

          Tom Clancy films tend to be better than the books, because the books will contain two or three pages of description of exactly what kind of gun each character is holding, whenever said character picks up a new gun, while the film just uses a prop. A typical Clancy novel may take 10 hours to read, but only one hour

          • Re:Story. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:26PM (#32513062)

            I disagree on Lord of the Rings - the film managed to mess up the characters,

            In the end, does that really matter? Was the act of telling the story enjoyable to watch? For the vast majority of people the answer is yes. We all understand lots of elements were not true to the books but it doesn't change the fact that the movies were still enjoyable in their own right.

            That's basically the problem with book/movie translations. Many people get upset when its a literal translation. As such, they want something new which wasn't in the book. The inverse is also true - it must be literal and true else it completely sucks. Then there are stories such as LotR which are so long, have fairly developed characters, complex situations, so on and so on, its seems very reasonable that some things will simply not translate well while others are just too deep/complex to allow for a timely and comprehensible tale. Some say that means the story shouldn't be told then. Others say its a reasonable trade.

      • It depends on the book. A lot of the page count in many books is descriptive text that accounts for a few seconds in a film. On the other hand many short novels like Dune, which isn't burdened with an extra hundred pages of bullshit like many post word processor novels, do not fit in an hour thirty.

        Even stuff like Harry Potter needs everything but the main plot removed to fit within the time constraints of cinema.

        • Although speaking of the Harry Potter series, ever notice the accuracy between book and movie goes down with each sequel, even if you ignore adjustments made for consistency with prior alterations/removals?

          Really a shame too, given that the entire thing is a massive allegory for the alchemical perfection of the self (much like Faust, at least the way I interpret it -- which mind you requires essentially every character in the story to be an aspect of Faust himself) filtered through rosicrucian imagery. Onc

  • Two words:

    UWE BOLL
  • by dirtyhippie (259852) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:40AM (#32507210) Homepage

    it's simple, really - spin-offs are, by definition, lame and derivative.

    books based on tv shows, books based on movies, tv shows based on movies, movies based on movies (aka sequels), video games based on movies, and movies based on video games - all are driven by profit over artistry. these products don't start with the question "wouldn't this be a neat idea?", they start with "can we extract more profit from this franchise?" because people already have a positive relationship with the brand, there is less incentive to work on quality, because there are large numbers of people who will consume the product regardless of its quality. since the product's quality does not dictate its profitability, the quality tends to suck.

    • by domasx2 (1828656) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:02AM (#32507334)
      A lot of (perhaps even the majority) of grood movies are based on books. Also there is s a growing trend of making pretty decent movies based on comics. Therefore, spin offs are not automatically doomed to be lame. The biggest problem, i think, is that movie studios don't take video games seriously enough yet - the general attitude is "it's for kids, throw in a few half-assed CGI effects and it will do". But if comic books broke through this barrier, certainly it is possible for video games.
    • Damn it, you left out "TV shows based on books" or I was going to use Dexter as a counterpoint. I have a hard time deciding whether I like the books or the series better, ignoring the third book, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MartinSchou (1360093)

      it's simple, really - spin-offs are, by definition, lame and derivative.

      Which is why The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is such a lame, derivative and quite thoroughly uninspired book.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      it's simple, really - spin-offs are, by definition, lame and derivative.

      books based on tv shows, books based on movies, tv shows based on movies, movies based on movies (aka sequels), video games based on movies, and movies based on video games - all are driven by profit over artistry. these products don't start with the question "wouldn't this be a neat idea?", they start with "can we extract more profit from this franchise?" because people already have a positive relationship with the brand, there is less incentive to work on quality, because there are large numbers of people who will consume the product regardless of its quality. since the product's quality does not dictate its profitability, the quality tends to suck.

      It's possible to wed good storytelling with commercialism. Those of us who grew up in the 80's might recall the GI Joe comic book. The original toyline had barbie-sized dolls that you dressed up with soldier clothes. When the GI Joe line was revamped, they went with the smaller "action figures" that were of molded plastic with the clothes as part of the model. They also tried to come up with a storyline to go with the toys and also approached Marvel Comics. A guy named Larry Hama got the gig. He took a reje

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      it's simple, really - spin-offs are, by definition, lame and derivative.

      [...] tv shows based on movies [...]

      Yeah, that M*A*S*H show sure sucked. And no one on Slashdot liked Buffy or Stargate, obviously...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So no one bothers to actually try making a story of it. Well, more than a Boll-esque story, that is

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:51AM (#32507276)

    Now, that many games didn't get big because they have such a great story but rather because they offer a new twist or gadget that people liked has its analogy in movies that live off their effects rather than a compelling script. The cynic in me would say that similarity should actually lead to a GOOD movie adaption. The writers sure know how to write show over substance movies today.

    The problem is that you are dealing with two completely different kinds of entertainment. You can't even say it's like sports where you can actively participate or be the spectator, it's a completely different kind of entertainment. Movies have to tell a story. Their challenge is to convince the spectator that he cares about the hero and that he wants to know how it ends. And that ending has to be logical enough to not smell like a cheap deus ex machina hodgepodge but also unpredictable enough to keep the watcher from snoozing off after 15 minutes because he already knows how it's going to end.

    Games necessarily do not have this "depth" of a script, not because game makers don't invest as much time into developing the characters and story, but because it would distract from or even outright disrupt or even destroy the experience. If you are playing an adventure game and simply CANNOT guess what to do next because you would have to have knowledge the character has but you cannot have because it has never been told during the story (Agatha Christie, anyone?), it's not a surprising twist, it's just plainly annoying.

    If you are playing a beat 'em up, jump'n run or any game that relies more on twitch skill than thinking, the story is often pretty straightforward and "simple". Be honest, who didn't figure out the story of Mortal Kombat right from the start? But would you want a more complex story? Would you enjoy it if you beef up your character, spend hours training him and improving his stats only to find out that he's actually the bad guy and that he will be taken from your control, replaced by a new character and you have to compete against the character you pumped up? Frustrating. Not interesting.

    Take a shooter. Call of Duty for example. They now have some sort of story, you follow the "life" of a soldier during his missions. But what kind of story is it? We go from battle to battle and fight. End of story. What do we learn about the soldier we control? Nothing, basically. Is there a family? Kids? A love affair? Why did he join the forces? We don't know. And frankly, we don't care. We want to play this soldier and guide his actions, we want to aim his gun and shoot the enemy. And those cutscenes that deal with his life off battle can be skipped, I hope!

    How about RTS? Command and Comquer actually has some kind of story built around Cain. Maybe even enough to make a movie out of it. Now. After, how many? Ten? Games. Yes, we could by now have enough "meat" to actually puzzle together about an hour of story. Add a few filler FX and we can make a movie. And that's one franchize, with nearly a dozen games. Usually the story is also pretty straightforward and, and here's the problem why this doesn't lend itself well to movies, tailored to the missions the player would have to play. The focus of a RTS story has to be the game the player should play. Not driving that story forwards. And that requires that he'll first play a few introduction maps where he gets to learn the interface and the units, then maps where more and more units are introduced (and the matching story why that unit becomes available to him now), he has to combat the various other factions that exist so he gets a taste for all of them (as adversaries, and possibly allies) and so on. The progress of the game dictates the story. Not the other way around. Doing something like that in a movie would end in a desaster. People would, rightfully, wonder why alliances switch faster than you can adjust to your new ally.

    You have two very different kinds of entertainment here, with very different requirements to make them "fun". Just because both are visual and because both rely heavily on computer generated FX doesn't mean they somehow have to be compatible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reapy (688651)

      I mostly agree with you but that is more a representation of the mistakes made in other game-->movie crap movies then what could be.

      One of the first problems you have is games are often set in quasi fanatasy and violate reality. I think a huge portion of america has a problem with fantasy. Either you laughed when they took off in the air in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, or you thought it was cool.

      What filmmakers try to do all the time is ground the fantasy in 'reality' and it fucks up the entire movie.

  • by mogness (1697042) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:52AM (#32507286) Homepage
    Hey I dunno why everyone's hating, the original Mortal Kombat movie was awesome.
    • Damn straight, it was a great parody of the whole "fighting movie" genre!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RivenAleem (1590553)

      When I saw the original Mortal Kombat movie I was young enough to think it pretty cool. Now pardon me while I get off your lawn.

    • Not funny at all (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      The original Mortal Kombat movie was directed with a lot of energy and style. The music was sufficiently rawking and there was some pretty innovative cinematography and the sound was very well done.

      It wasn't all that bad. It wasn't Oscar material, but it wasn't an embarrassment to the people who made it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The sequel went a long way into making the original look like a piece of masterpiece cinematography.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:52AM (#32507288)

    Box Office failure != Bad Movie. Doom wasn't much of a movie compared to the best, but it was OK compared to the output of Hollywood et al. Mortal Kombat was an OK beat-em-up Movie and compare it to a Steven Segal movie, then it's not so bad.

    They aren't *great* movies and the game link has made people invest much more money into the movie than the idea deserved, but that makes them less profitable rather than bad. It's just that the investors expected a block buster and got an OK movie. Compared to expectations, a flop.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:52AM (#32507290) Journal

    "It often comes down to money, as movie studios frequently choose to make films based on the franchises that sell the best, not those with the most cinematic potential," said Corey May, co-founder of Sekretagent Productions.

    Yeah this, I think, is the heart of the issue. What's more is that they pick the most popular games and shell out the most money for licensing and royalties those franchises. Then you pile on that they rarely spend money on good actors (although some do and that's a sink for money). And that these these are video games so the required special effects are almost always through the roof costing more money. And it seems like when they're done spending on any of those things they'll stick Uwe Boll as director and phone in the rest of it. I mean, I would almost say that they think something stupid like "Man, if we could only license rights to make World of Warcraft into a movie, then we'd have a base viewership of twelve million world wide already!" Then it turns out that Blizzard knows they could milk that for tons of money and there goes all your funding. And after all is said and done it seems like the director has no freedom to deviate from anything. Why is that Mortal Kombat eight minute pitch bad? Because it's absolutely unrealistic. What is the motive to hold the tournament? Doesn't matter. Why are all these people fighting each other? Doesn't matter. We probably don't have time to develop any sort of meaningful relationship with the characters and as such every single character in Mortal Kombat will forever be laughable to a viewer. Mortal Kombat was known for being a great two player fighting game with just round after round. The thing that made it interesting was the moves and counter moves and inventiveness of special moves that players got a kick out of exploring. To take that away (inherent to movies) and to try to focus on the plot does not work. The plot's really kind of insane.

    This, of course, is some weird Hollywood money magic that perpetuates the problem--because the movies are still seen as successes in the eyes of producers. But there is hope that someone could get this right. For example, Shadow of the Colossus [wikipedia.org] was optioned for a movie ... but of course they gave it to run of the mill action director Keven Misher and written by run of the mill action movie writer Justin Marks. Why? For what possible reason? You need to give a game like this to Darren Aronofsky or -- if you must go with an action film -- at least Quentin Tarantino. What's more you have to give them freedom to adapt the game into a movie. Not rely on what the game already has. I think that these games have other great things to offer like the artwork, feel and atmosphere but a stupid action director strips all that away down to stupid action.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      Doing SotC would be DIFFICULT. For one, barely any dialogue. The main character says pretty much NOTHING, and the only other dialogue you get is at the end of the game.

      It would be pure art direction and many hardcore battle scenes. Not many would go for that, honestly.

  • by Pav (4298) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:53AM (#32507296)
    Even though hollywood has been losing the popularity war for years they still consider themselves a "higher" artform and don't take videogames at all seriously. I guess it's similar to how theatre regards hollywood, or classical music regards popular music. I would imagine this will change over time as the baby boomers retire and people who have real experience with video games take over.
  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:57AM (#32507314) Journal

    Because selling crap is easy while real artistic creation is hard and demanding and does not guarantee quick money.

  • I liked some of them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iSzabo (1392353) <tyler DOT szabo AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:01AM (#32507324)

    I liked Max Payne, and for the most part Hitman. I found Resident Evil hard to follow, and a little shallow, but it wasn't all bad. Silent Hill was good for a horror movie.

    • Hitman was good, but it spent too much time talking about catching Agent 47 and not enough of what Hitman was about: Nerve-wracking suspense and adrenaline-fuelled trepidation. I'm not sure that can be captured in a movie, though... If the main character is discovered in a movie he has to kill everyone around, or he looks like a wimp. If it happens more than once, he's rubbish.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think 'The Phantom Menace' was pretty good.
      They got the pod race bit really well. I didn't like the way they put a complicated story around it though.

  • I was going to make a snarky comment about how most games have really lame stories, but then I remembered that that also goes for most movies.
  • Eating cake is fun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:30AM (#32507476) Journal

    Watching somebody eat cake. Not so much.

    But what about porn movies then? Ah, exactly. If you are one of the few slashdotters to have a partner, film yourself. And I mean with the camera just on a tripod filming your regular style. Not exactly movie magic is it? Every single celeb that does a playboy shoot remarks on how much work is involved in setting up a shot. There is a reason for this, reality is not all that attractive.

    Playing a game is one thing, watching somebody else play a game is another, trying to turn the tension/emotion from active playing into a passive experience. Impossible.

    Take Doom. It seems simple enough, lets forget about the required process of raping the story (and the doom makers must have been pedophiles for raping such an underdeveloped story) but what is Doom? It is running around in a FIRST person view and shooting baddies. You could make a movie out of that. But why? We already seen that, it is the game. So the movie has to add things. Story... but story requires people in movies (well with bad writers anyway) and Doom is about being alone.

    In the end the movie had all kinds of stuff added on to it that make it into "Not Doom". The more you make it into a standard movie, the more you get away from the game.

    Books have the same problem. How do you do Hobbits? It is very easy for some pratt writer to come up with short people but does he ever think about how hard it is to cast for them? Noooo, not those fancy smancy writers. Story/setting elements that work in one medium can't always be transferred to another. The solo, silent experience of Doom doesn't translate into a "10 little indians movie".

    Super Mario is even worse. The entire game is surreal with not a shred of real world realism. How the hell do you translate any of the game elements? Actually the movie made a good attempt but the references ended up closer to in-jokes then part of a coherent world.

    Uwe Boll is perhaps the cleanest attempt, he takes the title of the game, some of the most basic elements and then tries to cash in on the connection. And it barely works.

    The gamer is always going to be disappointed because it is not the game, the casual fan doesn't see the point and the non-gamer doesn't get the references.

    Who is left as your audience? The sucker. Now there is one born every minute but they tend to be short of cash because everyone else is tapping them as well.

    • by cowscows (103644) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:52AM (#32510434) Journal

      Just to expand on your ideas, because they're really good...

      You're almost never going to be able to take a decent game or book and turn it verbatim into a decent movie. Something really well designed to work for one purpose should not be expected to automatically work just as well for a different purpose. Sticking two extra wheels on a nice motorcycle does not make a nice car. You've got to tear the game/book down, pick and choose the pieces that are useful, and then assemble them back with some new pieces to get something that works as a movie.

      There's really three good sources in a game from which you can potentially to draw ideas for a movie. Different games have these in different amounts, so you need to be careful about how you draw it. The three sources are Story, Characters, and the game's "Universe". Note that the other big element in games, namely the Gameplay, is basically useless for translating to a movie. Your example of Doom is the perfect illustration of this for all the reasons you described. The story is filler, there are no real characters, there's very little consistent "universe" to draw from except for some types of guns that have been consistent through most of the games. The positive experience of Doom was almost entirely due to gameplay (and to some degree that it generally represented a pretty cool technological achievement in terms of 3D graphics).

      Anyways, story and characters are tough to translate, because the pacing in a decent story driven game is generally much slower than a movie, especially if it's well integrated into the gameplay. It's meant to unfold through hours and hours of playtime, compared to movies which are pushing things at two hours long.

      Characters are even more dicey, because so much of a character's meaning to gamers is tied up in how they personally chose to play them. You as a movie writer/director/whatever would have to choose one of those personalities, and it's bound to be different in some fundamental ways from the personality that many players projected onto their playthroughs, and that's going to leave everyone unhappy with the end result.

      This really leaves a gaming "universe" as fertile ground for movie ideas, and although building on that foundation can potentially lead to a good movie, its connection to the actual games that people are familiar with is likely to be incidental, and that will upset people who naively expect to see their game memories somehow displayed on a movie screen. Warcraft being a great example of a franchise with lots of backstory from which some good writers could probably come up with some awesome stories. But how many Warcraft fans are actually familiar with that backstory and will appreciate a new exploration of that universe, verses how many will see it just as a cash-in where they just attached Warcraft to the name in order to sucker people into watching?

      You also brought up Mario, which I think is an amazing example, because as you mentioned the long running series of games has actually built an expansive and reasonably consistent universe that is familiar to millions of people. But as you mentioned, it's such a bizarre universe, consistent only within itself. It's tied so strongly to gameplay elements, yet in an abstract enough way that they can make decent games in all sorts of unrelated genres using all of the peculiarities of the Mario universe, and it makes intuitive sense to gamers. I automatically know a green shell can be used to attack my enemies, whether I'm 2D scrolling, 3D exploring, riding a go-kart, or playing soccer.

      So anyways, your post apparently inspired me to write all of that out instead of working for the past 15 minutes. Nicely done.

  • The fundamental difference here that I think a lot of people miss is length.

    Just as movies differ from books in length, games do. A game story's got to be sustained over 5-100 hours. It's a longer format, and that can be good or bad. The pacing's also totally different: things we do in games are often the things a movie will skip over (travel in particular).

    If a film's story comes directly from a game's, there will be cutting for time reasons. If instead it's just "based in the universe" it might fall into

  • Movies invoke compasion or anger, they invoke emotions. Games can do the same, but their main aim is to provide expierence, interactivity. So it takes to be both excelent gamer and excelent scripthead to hit the nail. For example, it is quite clear to me that movie in Half-Life universe would rock - but it would have to be very different from the game. And that's the problem - writing something unique yet comming from same universe is huge risk, and requires true talent. Unfortunately, so far we have seen U

    • by Psaakyrn (838406)

      Then again, if you write based on the world instead of the game itself, are you really writing based on the game? Likewise, there are good Star Wars movies and good Star wars games (and granted, bad examples of both too), but in the end, most of them aren't about each other.

      I think the biggest issue is pacing: most games are paced slower than movies and reuse set-pieces (and for good reason: so that material can be reused, both to "train" the player, and to provide sequential challenges). This however doesn

  • ...the fact that most games are heavily influenced by movies has something to do with it. Movies based on games based on movies simply leave very little to work with besides tired cliches and hackneyed genre conventions. Imitating the imitation leads to crap, see Max Payne, Resident Evil, Prince of Persia, etc etc.

    Also it must be noted that most gamers are somewhat delusional about their favorite hobby. No, your favorite game/genre will not make a good movie, not because it "can't be translated to the
  • Bad Writers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:39AM (#32507546) Journal

    There's a wonderful creative team behind most games. How many of them are taken seriously in film at all?

    If we look at good book-to-movie movies, it's clear that the artist -- whether Stephen King (Shawshank Redemption), Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's), or even the G.B. Shaw's My Fair Lady (shot for shot based on the writer's adaption Pygmalion) has input and if not, the screenwriter is intimately familiar with the material.

    With games, the writer/director/etc are just trying to make a buck -- has anyone heard of an independent video game movie -- and the original expression is lost. It feels like taking the Declaration of Indpendence, and using Babelfish to translate to Japanese and back.

    To be sure, it's a much harder transition, but it could be done. If only, you had the original creative team -- or at least someone who's logged 60+ hours in the game -- doing it.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:53AM (#32507610) Homepage Journal

    They're adapting the wrong games. They're adapting the best sellers, which of course sells on name.

    I can only think of a few game franchises I would actually like to see as movies:

    The Gabriel Knight series.
    The Tex Murphy Series - maybe
    The Broken Sword series

    These games of course have a common element, they're basically movies to begin with. The Oddworld series was designed to be a video game and movie series to begin with, nobody has actually taken the plunge to make the movies. I think they could work out, but I'm not sure. I still think the Alice game could have made an awesome movie with the right director at the helm, however I fear the crap fest that was the recent Disney Alice in Wonderland ruined any chance of American McGee's movie getting an interest boost on name recognition.

  • I think there are two main factors at work here.

    I think the biggest problem for movie adaptations of video-games in the mainstream is that such movies are basically marked from the start as "video game movies". Like it or not, video games remain something of a culturally divisive issue. Those who play them (who are a growing segment of the population, but still nothing like as large as "those who watch movies" or "those who watch sports") are usually prepared to accept that they can have decent stories and

  • The only game with a chance to make a brilliant movie is ...

    Monkey Island
  • Judging by the trailer [youtube.com] I think the particular movie should be great.

  • by NoZart (961808) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:14AM (#32507714)
    Games traditionally have only simple characters, so the player can "fill" the games narrative easily with his own persona. This way, the 4th wall is broken more easily and the player gets the feeling of experiencing the story. Movies are about characterization and the story is just a vessel for the characters to act out their motives. The rare games that actually have characterization actually as a built in game play mechanism provide better material for the move adaption, as there are not so many blanks to fill in.... Also it depends on the movie viewer perspective: as a fan of the game, you look at different qualities as the normal movie watcher. Silent Hill, while being a terrible flick from a movie standpoint, is a very good adaption that the gamers of the series can relate to. Tombraider was good pop-corn cinema with some nasty mistakes but really failed to convey what the game was really about...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anne_Nonymous (313852)
      >> Games traditionally have only simple characters

      Coming to a theater near you this fall...<dramatic music> Minesweeper II, A Square Too Far. </dramatic music>
  • by jsse (254124)
    You may say I'm a ill-taste reviewer, but I do think there are good videogame movies:

    Biohazard (at least the first one is great)
    Silent Hill (how I wish there's a 3D version...)
    Prince of Persia (well it deviated far far away from original video game, but still, the story is complete on its own)

    Don't just look at the lousy ones. ^^
  • It's very true that games and movies are different mediums, and tell stories very differently.

    But I think the bigger portion is that the stories in video games seem more heavily Hollywoodized and made generic and just poorly done in comparison to movies based on, say, books. Look at the Super Mario Bros. movie. Can you even REALLY say that that is based on the games? Most video games movies suffer because they're nothing like the stories in the games...! We see great movies based on books and comic book

  • by Paradigma11 (645246) <Paradigma11@hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:42AM (#32507870)
    Compared to how bad games adapted from movies are they are all Oscar/Cannes material.
  • I think it's mostly to do with the emphasis on characters between movies and games. In movies, the main tension is usually between two or more actors, whether romantic, action or whatever. In games, it's mostly the protagonist (who is mute and often faceless) against the environment. If characters do feature, they are mostly accessories rather than antagonists.

    A great example is the Doom game/movie - for the most part of the game, it is simply the main guy exploring, fighting, and cool things and monster

  • There's so many reasons:
    - Mostly, games are bad material. No games compare to what a book can supply in terms of universe, character background, plot, psychological elements...
    - those films are kinda low-budget anyway. The gamers market is not as big as the general market
    - the target audience are not very discerning. Adolescents are mainly in a herd phase were they do stuff because their peers do it, so the film will get some audience regardless of quality.
    - no upside for a good film. There little chance of

  • I saw the Doom movie (not the Bollywood version) by accident, one night. It even stars Dwayne Johnson so I was expecting pretty much nothing.

    Yet, it was pretty decent for a random horror/splatter flick. The end was a bit strained, but the overall movie was far from awful. Solid, but not excellent, movie.

  • Madden (Score:2, Funny)

    by sharkey (16670)
    TV seems to get it right, maybe Hollywood should study TV. The annual TV series based off the Madden games seems to be pretty good, even though they don't include effects like "QB Vision". It seems to simulate the gameplay well, it's seems to be network agnostic AND they play more than one episode a week during the season.
  • Goldeneye (Score:4, Funny)

    by Crock23A (1124275) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:44AM (#32508944)
    I don't know, guys. I thought Goldeneye was a very competent movie.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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