BioShock was shelved and Halo: The Movie of the Series of Games failed to launch, but CBS Films are going to have a go at Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Has there ever been a good movie based on a shooter? Let’s take a look: No. They’re mostly just baffling things that make about as much sense as Van Damme’s derpy Street Fighter: The Movie victory preamble. Remember Doom?
Maybe you didn’t want to. What I never understood here is why this film sucked when it could have been great. It didn’t have to suck. Doom’s narrative is non-existent, but there’s a simple, epic premise there just waiting to be mined: Dude with gun goes to hell, sees demons. Bam. Sam Raimi would’ve known what to do straight away.
Instead, many dudes with guns go to Mars and see The Rock. I don’t know, studio people worried about your bottom lines, but that’s pretty crap even on paper. Surely they have realised that, by now and even as big as gaming is, people won’t just flock to these things based solely on the license.
The same unnecessary alterations were made to Max Payne, to Red Faction: Origins, and to Far Cry (although once we start talking Uwe Boll, we enter a place where there is no more room in hell and the dead walk among us). They are bad films. They’re not even so bad they’re kind of awesome, they’re just painful.
Not all video game adaptions are horrendous. I quite enjoyed Silent Hill, and the original Resident Evil was fair ballin’. It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t you understand? Why can’t you see? Definitely gotta leave the table.
I got to thinking: Why?
Action films – which is ostensibly what an FPS is naturally inclined to manifest as – are not rocket science. The best of them include inventive gunfights, knowingly awful one-liners, and goddamn explosions. The leading man, too, is paramount. This last part shouldn’t be too hard to get right, for gaming is full of ready-made heroes that run the gamut from steroidal douchehole (Duke) to capable scientist (Gordon). Hollywood has everything it needs.
Chief amongst its problems when engaging with this material is that most directors who might find themselves doing so are older guys. They don’t know games. They want to come in and change everything, bend it to their will and waft their egos all over the source material from the depths of a redundant dutch oven.
No video game adaption has ever been changed for the better, and once all those little details that made the game what it is start to go, the whole thing becomes sort of irrelevant. It may as well be a singular vision, and not a pre-owned one.
Interestingly the reverse is true: games adapted from so-so action flicks can sometimes be above average. Starbreeze’s The Chronicles of Riddick is a great example of this; Rare’s vaunted GoldenEye 007 greater still. It’s not an indictment on the games industry – it’s testament to flagging imaginarium of Tinsel Town.
Hollywood is out of ideas and thus insistent on refashioning its own past into dismal presents (hey, Total Recall) when it all it has to do is look across the pond, once again, to an industry that’s probably going to be a hundred times its size in the next few seconds. Homefront would be killer – just make sure someone under the age of one billion is behind the lens.