Top 10 Things Video Game Movies Always Mess Up

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Top 10 Things Video Game Movies Always Mess Up

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Kienda Coppin
Movies are great. Video Games are great. So why is it so hard to make a great video game movie? For this list, we'll be looking at ten recurring issues that video game movies just can't seem to get right. Our countdown includes Character Personalities, Character Design, Casting, and more!
Transcript
Script Written by Kienda Coppin

Top 10 Things Video Game Movies Always Mess Up


Let’s get a raise of hands... what do you think is more difficult?... Making a successful video game movie or sitting through an entire video game movie? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Video Game Movies Always Mess Up.

For this list, we’ll be looking at ten recurring issues that video game movies just can't seem to get right. In today’s video, we will be counting down from the slightly annoying, to downright treasonous. We’ll also be attaching examples of these cinematic blunders for any brave viewers that wish to see their favourite games transformed into cinematic mishaps.

#10: Character Personalities

The personality of the main protagonist always seems to be a little off from how they’re portrayed in their video game. Using Lara Croft from the 2018 rendition of Tomb Raider and Max Payne from the 2008 film titled Max Payne, both characters stand in stark contrast to their video game counterparts. Lara Croft comes off as more of a street dwelling, troubled young adult rather than a gun-toting, treasure hunting, shoot-em-up bad-ass. And the dark-noir, sombre, comic book style renegade hero out for revenge Max Payne of the video game, is replaced by a juiced-up walking talking shootout with bland dialogue and gunfights that verge on parody.

#9: Secondary Character Development

The next blunder that video games movies seem to always trip up on is secondary character development. Now, as you know, just as any game is more than the main character, movies too are more than just their main protagonist. The films Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Streetfighter both show us what happens to a film when little to no effort is put into developing any characters other than the main protagonists. In their respective games, both franchises have well-developed backstories for all of their characters. This failure to develop the accompanying cast leaves these films feeling very two dimensional and hollow.

#8: Plot Adaptation From Game to Film

This is an obvious blunder that can be seen again and again in countless video game movies. Simply put, the task of fitting an entire game's worth of lore into a 90-minute film is a skill movie studios have yet to master. You have to look no further than the movie Warcraft to see this blunder in action. The arrival of orcs into Azeroth is a monumental moment in the game's history that falls short when adapted into a feature-length film. One of the main gripes fans had with the film was that in an attempt to adapt the story for both lifelong fans and new viewers, much of the grit and brutality of the early horde and alliance conflicts had to be left out.

#7: Character Design

Now it goes without saying that character design is a crucial aspect of any given film. Video game movies present the opportunity for gamers to see their favourite character transported from their tv or computer monitor onto the big screen. Unfortunately though, when we look at films like Sonic the Hedgehog or Mortal Kombat Annihilation their takes on character design border on downright comedic. Luckily for Sonic, the criticism that followed his character design seen in the trailer brought about a redesign. Unluckily for many other video game films, no such redesigns were had. Just look at Nemesis, he’s way too short.

#6: Sticking to the Main Story

It’s almost comical how often a video game’s plot is disregarded when adapted to film and replaced with some suped-up Hollywood version. Obviously Resident Evil is the most famous example, but it's not the worst, that honor belongs to “Bloodrayne”. For those who don’t know, Bloodrayne the game saw the player control a nazi hunting half-vampire named Rayne on her search for an ancient relic. Rayne’s adventures were set in Argentina in the 1930s and became a cult classic that many gamers still speak highly about to this day. On the other hand, Bloodrayne the movie and it’s Hollywood adapted plot are set in a different time, with different enemies, and is an unrecognizable shell of its name’s sake.

#5: Taking Bizarre Liberties

The big screen has always been a place to experiment with new ideas and unique concepts. When these new ideas and concepts pay off, it’s great, but when they don’t… you’re probably watching a video game movie. You have to look no farther than the Super Mario Bros film, Wing Commander, or the Resident Evil franchise to see what happens when directors decide to take on strange liberties in their movie-making process. Like, for some reason, Super Mario Bros is set in a dystopian city sprawling with dinosaur mutant hybrids. The Kilrathi in Wing Commander are changed from anthropomorphic felines to ... weird lizard-like things. And lastly, throughout the Resident Evil franchise, Alice has zero mention in any of the Resident Evil games.

#4: Misrepresenting the Genre

You’d think that the people behind green-lighting video game movies would make sure to keep the genre as close to the game as they possibly can. Transforming a horror game into a horror film can’t be that hard, can it? Well, apparently it is. Looking again at the Resident Evil franchise, we have a horror game turned into an action thriller devoid of anything resembling a horror film. House of the Dead, another horror-themed game is represented on the big screen as a beach rave party gone wrong when zombies decide to crash the party, and lastly, though not totally a horror game, Doom is transformed from a gore-filled shoot-em-up into a sci-fi action rescue mission then turns into poor man's “Apocalypse Now” as the commander leading a team of marines loses his sanity.

#3: Relating to the Gamer Culture

Taking what gamers love about their favourite games and replicating that onto the big screen shouldn’t be that difficult. Video games are all about conquering a challenge and imagining oneself as the epic protagonist. More often than not, Hollywood tries to force in too many film cliches, and we end up with a watered-down video game film flop. The films Rampage and Doom display this blunder for us perfectly. Rampage is a game about destroying cities and eating people with giant monsters, this is what gamers loved about the game. Rampage the movie strays and gives us The Rock saving the day and protecting a misunderstood gorilla. Doom on the other hand has a lengthy first-person sequence that comes off feeling like an underwhelming fanservice.

#2: Developing the Main Character’s Backstory

Few things are more important than the main character in any game or film. Part of what makes video games so appealing, is the ability to really fall in love with playing out the protagonist’s story. When you have put hours and hours of your time into a game, the backstory of the character starts to feel like your backstory too. When trying to develop the same amount of depth, films always fall short. The movie Hitman is a prime example of this lack of main character development. The game itself features many hours of character building, and the player really gets to understand who agent 47 is. The film, on the other hand, replaces development with hollow dialogue and over the top violence.

#1: Casting

Choosing people to represent the various characters throughout a film is no doubt a very difficult task. Whether it's the protagonist, side characters, or choosing the perfect antagonist to terrorize all the others, video game movies just can’t seem to nail down their casting. In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the film saw criticism for casting Jake Gyllenhaal, and not choosing an actor of Iranian descent. In the film Max Payne, critics thought both Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis felt miscast and didn’t suit their respective roles. We cannot forget about Chris Klein as Charlie Nash delivering probably the most bizarre performance ever seen in a Video Game movie. And for Alone in the Dark, 5 simple words: Tara Reid as a scientist.
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