History has shown that video-games-turned-movies are an unreliable bunch. According to IMDb, some of the worst films were adapted from video games. Based on user ratings, House of the Dead ranks number 23 on the list of worst movies ever released. However, the Resident Evil franchise has seen a fair amount of success throughout five movies since 2002, with the sixth and final installment set to premiere in 2017.
Perhaps the trouble is fans are so passionate about their games and the stories they tell, as they should be. Hollywood tends to take one small element from a game and blow it wildly out of proportion, so eager viewers become jilted critics.
As a film-lover I tend to squint my eyes and tilt my head questioningly at the announcement of a new video game adaptation, but as a gamer I still feel that leap of joy that maybe this time someone will get it right. With talented directors and big stars, many of these upcoming films show promise. Hopefully they won’t share the fate of their predecessors.
World of Warcraft – June 10, 2016
One of the burning questions about a video game movie is “Will it be as wild and awesome as the game?” Usually the answer is a flat no. The excitement and grand fight scenes can come off as cheesy when you are the viewer instead of the game’s hero. Based on the trailer, though, World of Warcraft seems to really be going for that wow factor (no pun intended). Perhaps it’s trying a little too hard. Director Duncan Jones brought high hopes to the franchise with previous films like Source Code (highly recommended) and Moon (more highly recommended), but Warcraft relies heavily on unimpressive special effects.
Travis Fimmel and Toby Kebbell play the lead human and orc, respectively, and based on their previous works I desperately want to root for their success. Fimmel stars in History Channel’s Vikings and is creepy good as the impulsive and unpredictable Ragnar, while Kebbell has demonstrated his skills with performance capture technology in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
[Jones hopes Warcraft will mark the first in a trilogy films, but his ambition may be misguided.]
Assassin’s Creed – December 21, 2016
I love, love, LOVE the early Assassin’s Creed games. So I was one of the grumpy skeptics who crossed her arms at every news article about the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender. The recently released trailer, though, awoke my inner geek. Every favorite feature of the games is promised in the film: gorgeous cityscapes, fluid and gory fight sequences, stealth blades, and even a leap of faith. Director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) is well aware of the disappointments of video game movies, so he has used as many practical effects and real locations as possible. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw is responsible for the look of the first season of True Detective, so it’s no wonder the trailer looks particularly stunning. It is understandable, if not fairly logical, to have high hopes for this adaptation.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – January 27, 2017
As with the Final Destination series, I shouldn’t be surprised that yet another Resident Evil movie is coming to theaters. Each film has performed fairly well at the box office, and there is never a lack of hyper-violent action sequences or horrendous zombie-monster-things. For some viewers, these are guilty pleasure movies and I say more power to them. For others, what’s dead should stay dead.
Uncharted – June 30, 2017
Originally the movie based on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was set to star Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake, with the story revolving around the treasure hunter and his relationship with his father (Robert DeNiro) and his uncle (Joe Pesci). Thank God that didn’t pan out. Straying away from key characters like Sully and Elena could have led to a weak story and outraged fans.
The only credit attached to Uncharted so far is writer Mark Boal who penned Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker. Directors David O’Russell and Seth Gordon have also been connected to the project, but both have dropped out, leaving the director’s chair vacant once again.
Uncharted was originally set to release in June 2016 and has yet to cast a leading man, which, unless the studio is trying to create suspense, could mean bad news for the film’s production and overall success.
Tomb Raider – October 2017 (rumored)
The Tomb Raider reboot we didn’t know we needed. This marks the third movie to be based on the adventures of archaeologist Lara Croft, the first two earning $432 million worldwide. Alicia Vikander was recently announced to star in this latest film, which will be a reboot of the 2013 video game. Vikander has portrayed fairly demure characters, so bringing that feistiness to the role of Lara Croft is a concern. If the script can manage to stay true to the game, this adaptation may have a fighting chance.
Splinter Cell – 2017
Another big title with yet another big star, the Splinter Cell movie is in the works with Tom Hardy as the lead, Sam Fisher. After Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, any Tom Hardy film guarantees heart-stopping action, so the intensity factor is not a concern. And with Joseph Kahn in the director’s seat, Splinter Cell won’t shy away from bloodshed. The film is still in development, but New Regency Productions has already begun exploring options for a sequel. Their cockiness–er, confidence–is reassuring.
Thief – TBA
With the flop that was the latest Thief game, the odds of it being a good movie aren’t so good. Add the fact that Thief will be produced by the same team that brought you Hitman, and the odds go from poor to meager. Adam Mason and Simon Boyes are hammering out the screenplay. This particular combination of producers and writers forebodes a gruesome action movie that might take itself a bit too seriously.
Borderlands – TBA
Here’s an adaptation that is far more intriguing: Borderlands. The rights were acquired by Lionsgate who promises to keep the game’s in-your-face attitude and likens the film to Mad Max in space. Producer Avi Arad announced the movie in August, but no release date has been set. Borderlands seems like a change of pace not just for video game movies but all movies, and hopefully the welcome relief will bode well in the box office.
The more you love a game, the greater your anticipation and the greater your trepidation for its silver screen debut. People love video games for their graphics, storylines, rich characters, and addictive gameplay. Unfortunately, Hollywood loves video games for all the wrong reasons: it’s easy money from franchises that have already performed well. What is important is that gamers continue loving their games in spite of their cinematic flops. What would the world be like if people had stopped loving Mario Kart or Super Mario World thanks to the awfulness of Super Mario Bros. (1993)? Embrace the skepticism, but stubbornly hold out hope that someday the secret to quality video game movies will be found.