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Does A Good Game Make A Good Movie Idea? 464

Brakz0rz writes "Here's a BBCi article by Daniel Etherington with an overview on how videogames translate onto the big screen. I can't say I've been impressed by any such effort so far. The article touches on John Woo's upcoming Metroid adaptation. Etherington writes, "One of these days, someone has just got to make a decent video game movie. How about Peter Jackson doing Zelda? Now that would be promising." I would enjoy that more than the games franchised from the LOTR trilogy."
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Does A Good Game Make A Good Movie Idea?

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  • Metal Gear Solid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:00PM (#8960554)
    How about a metal gear solid movie. Imagine if that came out in the movie format instead of the game format... Wait it did come out in the movie format! What sucks though is that lots of these game-movie adaptions stray away from the main story of the series which is what makes the series so unique to begin with. Case in point, Final Fantasy Spirits Within.
  • Games and movies have different life cycles.

    A decent game often gets better in its second abnd third versions as technology improves and the story lines get more mature.

    Films sequels are rarely better than the original and often dramatically worse.

    Today, games make more money than films. A successful game franchise - that has many years of life left - can be ruined by one poor film tie-in.

    So the ideal model is to take a good film and turn it into a series of games, and to resist at all costs the temptation to make film sequels. (Yes, I'm thinking of the Matrix).

    LoTR does not really count as a film + sequels since it is based on an existing story and was shot in one go.
  • Final Fantasy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jin Wicked ( 317953 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:06PM (#8960617) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to see a GOOD Final Fantasy movie based on one of the actual games. Six has always been my favourite, I'm sure the story is strong enough to be made into a good movie, but there's so much to it that two hours may not be enough. It might make a good two-part or three-part movie like LOTR, though, I doubt it has enough audience to have anyone know what the Hell it was.

    I'd wager to say most movies made from games in the past (like the awful Streetfighter movie and Super Mario Bros) are just trying to capitalize on the name. I did like the first Mortal Kombat movie, though, and Tomb Raider was silly but at least entertaining.

    Maybe we need more movies made from RPGs, they seem to have more in the way of actual plot to begin with.

  • Grim Fandango (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:08PM (#8960627) Homepage
    That game [lucasarts.com] provided me more dramatic entertainment than two thirds of the movies I've seen. It convinced me beyond any doubt that games are a form of art.
  • by hcetSJ ( 672210 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:11PM (#8960648)
    Just last Thursday I heard a lecture about digital effects in movies and games by George Joblove and Douglas Kay, two former ILM-ers who have now moved to Sony Imageworks and Mondo Media, respectively. One of the clips that Douglas Kay showed was a concept for a project they're doing which is a combined movie and game. The idea is that the movie is done entirely digitally, and at a technological level that can be reproduced on a game console, so that there is a seemless transition between the movie environment and the game. Sounded like a good idea to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:11PM (#8960656)
    I think "pirates of the carribean" is pretty obviously plot-related to "Secret of Monkey Island" - they just got the "Obscure Disney Ride" franchise instead, because SoMI is a bit obscure in suit's eyes.
  • Grim Fandango (Score:5, Interesting)

    by instinctdesign ( 534196 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:12PM (#8960662) Homepage
    It is funny how these type of stories come up now and then because, for awhile now, I've been really set on the idea of a Grim Fandango movie. I can't think of any game which could more readily translated onto the big screen. Even as a video game it still boasted an incredibly well developed story with a wonderful atmosphere and stellar voice acting.

    My dream? Pixar doing Grim Fandango. Something like that would, in my mind, help make up for all the Tomb Raiders and Mortal Combats.
  • Zelda now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RTPMatt ( 468649 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:20PM (#8960707) Homepage
    How about Peter Jackson doing Zelda?

    I can't wait to see what the original zelda theme sounds like when a full symphony plays it.

  • Star Wars: KOTOR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeyNg ( 88437 ) <mikeyng@gmaCHEETAHil.com minus cat> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:20PM (#8960709) Homepage
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic would make an outstanding movie. If someone actually bothered to make it, the storyline and characters are much better than anything Lucas is putting out in the "current" trilogy.

    Video games are a different medium than films. Resident Evil and Tomb Raider were more action-oriented games with hardly any plot. Hmmm... what kind of a movie do you think is going to arise out of a video game like that?

    Basing a movie off of an RPG, such as KOTOR, would at least give the writers and directors more meat to play with. They probably wouldn't have to do too much yet still remain true to the game.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:24PM (#8960735)

    A couple of years ago I had hear John Woo was interested in making a Symphony of the Night film. Konami apparently has a trilogy of scripts floating around. I can see it must have never gone anywhere. John Woo has been expressing his interest in making a videogame movie for a while now. Honestly, I don't have high hopes for this Metroid game.

    I want a movie about the first Castlevania game before everything turned to cheesy anime hell, when it was a European horror game about Simon Belmont just fighting zombies and trying to destroy Dracula.

    By the way, I know many here probably don't consider it a great film, but I remember Mortal Kombat doing pretty well when it came out, and lots of people went to see it simply because it was a fun action flick with a great techno theme song. In my eyes, it was the first true successful game-to-film translation, even if it isn't regarded as a classic movie (few are). I guess Tomb Raider would have to be considered as well since it did successfully, but I never saw it.

    They're even making Spy Hunter starring The Rock. It's insane.
  • Re:Metal Gear Solid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeXpop ( 614167 ) <mikeNO@SPAMredcrowbar.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:26PM (#8960749) Journal
    Metal Gear Solid was basically a movie where you could play as the character. However it would suck major ass if you had to watch it on the big screen. For example, (I'll use an example in MGS2, cause I can't think of a quick one in the first one) in MGS2, Raiden and Snake have to go all the way around each others site of the plant defusing bombs. Imagine watching that. While it might be filled with action and such, it would be very, very boring.

    If you allowed Hideo Kojima to write a new MGS script solely for the silver screen though, it would be awesome. I'd pay for the movie, the DVD, the Special Edition DVD, and the Special Edition Box Set which includes 40 hours of footage that wasn't good enough for the original.
  • Re:Tetris: The Movie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nkh ( 750837 ) <.exochicken. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:30PM (#8960764) Journal
    Did you mean this [madblast.com]?
  • Re:lets see here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lambent ( 234167 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:32PM (#8960779)
    What's wrong with Resident Evil? A bunch of people run around, kill zombies, and eventually everyone dies (except Milla ... man, I love that red dress).

    How is that bad, when you consider the general action/horror genre as a whole?
  • Mortal Kombat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roman Levin ( 774216 ) <anat_lev&shaar-hagolan,co,il> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:36PM (#8960799) Homepage

    It wasn't all that bad. It was an okay action movie. I mean, it had Christopher Lambert.

    Mortal Kombat 2, on the other hand, was such an incredibly disgusting piece of shit it almost makes Tomb Raider look like Indiana Jones.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:40PM (#8960823) Homepage
    The best video-game-made-into-a-movie was never a video game. It was Run Lola Run, and it was built around the structures and logic of a game (multiple lives with learned rules; time limits; lots of running; "puzzles"; even some FPS action.)

    There's an essay called "Run Lara Run" by Margit Grieb, a doctoral student out of the University Florida, published in the collection "ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces" that connects Run Lola Run with videogames.

    Other essays in the book are worth checking out. Also, people have described Matthew Barney's experimental films "The Cremaster Cycle" as videogame-inspired. [gamegirladvance.com]

    Instead of trying to just stick videogame franchises into schlock pop cinema, it would be good if some brainier filmmakers continued to pluck the truly most compelling aspects of the videogame experience and translated them into film. But they won't - and it's mostly the fault of fan culture, I'm afraid.
  • Re:Final Fantasy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:44PM (#8960846) Homepage
    I agree. I liked FF:The Spirits Within, but it wasn't as good as a FF game. The problem is the timespan. It can easily take 20 hours to play through a FF game, which is one of the things that makes it so deep. So even if the movie was 3 hours long, you really couldn't do the stories justice.

    For Final Fantasy (and many other games) I think Hollywood shouldn't be looking at movies as much as miniseries. That would allow them to spend enough time to do a good job. There are lots of great properties too. FF 7, 9, and 10 were all fantastic.

  • Chrono Trigger (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:54PM (#8960894)
    I still think that Chrono Trigger would make for a great movie adaptation. It's got a compelling plot (preventing the end of the world), great characters (Magus, anyone?), the all-time creepiest scenario (the Kingdom of Zeal, 12000 BC), time travel, and the miraculous resurrection of the main character.

    It's a pity that FF: Spirits Within tanked so badly, especially because it didn't even tap into the rich back stories that Square has developed for its games, like Final Fantasy VI.
  • by OgdEnigmaX ( 535667 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:56PM (#8960900)
    Among other things, Call of Duty was pretty heavily influenced by the fantastic HBO miniseries Band of Brothers [imdb.com] (rent it or buy it! You won't be sorry!). Hell, the first of the three campaigns in the game puts you in the shoes (or rather, the chute) of a member of the 101st Airborne as he and a bunch of other paratroopers drop over Normandy the night before D-Day; Band of Brothers follows the 101st from training to Normandy through the European theater of operations. Several of the missions from the war covered in the show are modeled in Call of Duty. Particularly impressive is the similarity between BoB and CoD's interpretations of the Battle at Brecourt, an assault on German artillery emplacements connected by a system of trenches. Damn cool stuff. :)
  • by pantherace ( 165052 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @04:59PM (#8960914)
    Netrek [netrek.org]

    No plot at all, unless you count things like the t-mode messages. Goldmine for a movie, better as one of the oldest multiplayer games in existance!

  • hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShadowRage ( 678728 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @05:09PM (#8960991) Homepage Journal
    the metroid movie might be decent..
    would be cool if they had the game music done by the guy who did the metroid prime music. that would fucking own.

    especially the ridley theme.

    dude, I wanna see ridley. and he better have his theme.
  • by lethalwp ( 583503 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @05:14PM (#8961035)
    Who never played the monkey island games?
    Those were probably the best adventure games ever made, filled with humor everywhere, probably the only game where it's not boring to talk with the other characters

    If they could bring up a movie with a good plot, related to monkey island, and with the same kind of humor! (which will be very hard i think), it would be a great great movie.

    Now making a movie of an action game is something pretty stupid, couldn't even watch more than 15 minutes of tomb raider 1, and some years later i even saw they made a second opus? what a disapointement

    we all want monkey island! monkeys everywhere, with some scenes filmed in 320*240 pixels & 16 colors (must be great on a cinema screen) =)
    and the music of monkey, of course

    Let's think of blade runner, i played the game, which i enjoyed a lot, before seeing the movie, the game was great, the movie disapointed me

    let's think of dune, played both games, those were amazing! then i saw the movie, again, i was deceived...

    The connection between game and movie is hard to do, i don't know if it's even possible, they are too different.

    But the only movie about game that would attract me is that monkey island. Which isn't planned, and probably never will be.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @05:16PM (#8961050) Homepage
    I'd suggest: Deus Ex

    The original storyline provides a -lot- of world material to work with. Of course, it would have to be done by a good scifi/action director, or it'd be hosed.

    I'd say that there's simply a lacking of good movies in general; it's not exclusively endemic of game => movie adaptations. Hollywood excels at cranking out shit. The Hulk, anyone? There are dozens of forgetable movies every year.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @05:25PM (#8961099) Journal
    Star Wars the original movies X-wing (space combat game). Worked excellent x-wing killed wing-commander. Who needs cats when you have the empire!

    Star Trek Original Series Star Trek 25th aniversery and Judgement rites. Two excellent adventures.

    It can work but it needs really carefull work. X-wing worked because it really only used the setting of star wars. You weren't Luke Skywalker or Han Solo but rather one of the many nameless pilots that got killed in the movies.

    The star trek adventures are perhaps the most perfect adoption. They played EXACTLY like a tv episode. The only minor point was some extremely pointless space combat shooter element that was thrown in for god knows what reason. The adventure part worked, the space combat bit didn't.

    And that really is the lesson. Focus on ONE gametype and realise that certain things just can't be done in games. So far we have had numerous attempts at games that put you on the bridge of the Enterprise in combat and they just don't work.

    Will a good movie ever be made based on a game? Well tron is a nice movie. But then it was based on fantasie games, the games in the movie only coming AFTER the movie.

    Frankly most games just don't have a universe rich enough to make a game. It is easy to make a shooter out of story but a lot harder to make a story out of shooter. Can anyone really imagine what the plot would be for an ID game?

    So I agree with you why it is difficult but it has been done in one direction at least. so movies -> games at least can work.

  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @05:30PM (#8961139)

    Most books make crappy movies, why would video games be any better?

    Addendum: Hollywood may be in a serious rut with relatively few new ideas, but it is absolutely revolutionary compared to the game industry.

  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @07:18PM (#8961783) Homepage Journal
    My only exposure to the movies-from-vidgames genre so far has been to watch 'Final Fantasy.' While the animation and CGI work was decent enough, the story was weak at best, certainly not enough to earn the movie a permanent spot in our collection.

    I've always held the belief that it's good, solid STORYWRITING that makes a movie or video game succeed, not how many FX you can cram into X number of minutes. Look at 'Field of Dreams' for example. Minimal FX, but a terrific story, and well-told to boot.

    What I would REALLY like to see is some of the older 'classic' SF novels turned into movies that FOLLOW THE BOOK with a high degree of accuracy. These days, adapting something like Heinlein's "Have Space Suit, Will Travel," or perhaps the original "Red Planet" would, I think, make for a heck of a blockbuster.

  • by rspress ( 623984 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @07:19PM (#8961791) Homepage
    It is not that video games make bad movies, it is just that those who make the games often have no idea what it takes to make a good movie.

    The people who are involved in making the game often have no idea how Hollywood works and those in Hollywood are often so inbred in the industry they don't want to stray to far from the original game or the tried and true formulas of the industry. Demographics tell them that the game was popular so lets not mess with the formula and make a film just like the game.

    There is no reason, other than talent on both sides, that stops anyone from making both a great game and a great movie. Right now both camps could use a fresh influx of new ideas and talent.
  • by Rich Klein ( 699591 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @07:46PM (#8961940) Homepage Journal
    I wrote a short story in fifth grade based on Adventure, which I'd played on the TTY at a friend's house. That would've been in 1980, I think, and my friend's dad was a professor at the University of Michigan. My teacher thought it was pretty good (or maybe he just said that about every assignment we turned in).
  • by corban.elektrolite ( 763222 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @07:49PM (#8961952)
    i think prequels may be a good model for movie adoptions of video games. any decent game has a plot and a setting. it would sense to make a movie to "set up the story".

    just waiting for pacman the movie with michael madson as pacman explaing why he is so afraid of these monsters.

    i left the .sig business long ago.
  • Re:Clue! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by what the dumple is ( 682010 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @07:52PM (#8961970)
    Right, all you need is people who know what to do and what not to do with the material and having a SUPERB cast will help you even if your film isn't as great as it could be or flawed in some way (i.e. Donnie Darko is a bit of a mess due to all the cuts they made but the outstanding cast makes it so worthwhile. (Can't wait for the directors cut)).

    Same goes for Clue, it's not the best film but the cast is really good and it works.
  • Re:different targets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prichardson ( 603676 ) on Sunday April 25, 2004 @11:07PM (#8969387) Journal
    If you think games can't have a lot of background and character development then you are sorely mistaken. For a game with a great story and background, look no further than the Baldur's Gate series (I mean Baldur's Gate 1/2, Icewind Dale, and the expansions, not the atrocity that was NWN). There is an order of magnitude more content in either of those stories than there is in even the most developed movies. For good character development, Max Payne (the first one, complete with ambiguous ending) is a triumph for any medium.

    The problem is that people don't make movies out of those kinds of games, they make them out of games like Tomb Raider. Also, the kind of people who are uncreative enough to write a script out of a game franchise aren't creative enough to make a good script at all.

    Another thing is that the really good games can't be told in two hours. It takes two hundred hours to fully complete the Baldur's Gate series if you're fast and do a reasonable number of quests. No one is going to invest that much time in a movie. It's just not worth it.

    All of that said, there are some games that would make really good movies, if they were done correctly. Max Payne and Metal Gear Solid (PS1) come to mind as action movies. Some things would have to be done creatively though. The dream sequences in Max Payne would need to be worked out and the radio chatter in Metal Gear Solid would also need to be dealt with.

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