From Game to Screen

What a horrible-looking film Silent Hill is. I rarely judge a film before I see it, but based on the trailer for this film I doubt I’ll ever want to see it! Zombies, dark alleyways, close-ups of Radha Mitchell screaming… I’ll pass, thank you. The reviews haven’t been spectacular either, as you’d expect. I’m getting tired of the idea that all video games are like this, though; violent, senseless, without a story. Just because there have been a few crap movies based on games doesn’t mean all games are like that.

I think the problem with a lot of movie-games is that they’ve tried to recreate the game too closely. Tomb Raider‘s sets and story felt like they’d come straight out of the game, and Doom and Resident Evil were much too close to their original games as well. It just doesn’t work. You can’t recreate a game for the big-screen because you just don’t have that same sense of interactivity; you can’t suspend your disbelief as easily as in a game, and so the movie falls apart. The most important thing a movie-game should have instead is a sense of the game’s world; to make you feel like you’re in the same environment as the game, but with a deeper, more involved story. I don’t think directors understand this enough.

The perfect example to follow is comic book adaptation. Think about Spider-Man. Sam Raimi is a Spidey fan and has been incredibly faithful to the comics in creating the movies; when you watch the movies, there’s so much detail that you feel you are in the comic-world. But at the same time he’s changed a few things to make it more believable; updating the spider that bit Peter to being a genetically enhanced one, letting Spider-Man’s web be natural rather than something made. If you seriously think about the comic, there’s no way it should work on screen; it’s camp, corny, a guy with the powers of a spider in a bright red-and-blue suit! But Raimi’s created the world so well, and changed enough of the story, that it works on the big screen. You just believe it. That, I think, is what movie-games are missing.

Maybe it’s simply that the wrong games are being made into movies. I mean, there’s no way Street Fighter or Dead or Alive were ever going to make good films! I have high hopes for Halo, though. Halo and Halo 2 are two of the best games I’ve ever played; their worlds are so detailed that they almost feel like myth sometimes, and they have a great story. A Halo movie could change the way movie-games are seen, and with Peter Jackson behind it, it could work really well. The game I really want to see made into a film, though, is Metal Gear. The Metal Gear series comes from Japan and is all about nuclear proliferation and terrorism, about how far we can go before we lose who we are. If Metal Gear gets made, it could be something really special.

In any case, I just hope the idea that all video games are a stupid, violent waste of time isn’t gaining too much popularity. There are really good games out there, and they aren’t all super-violent. There are even games with – shock, horror – a good story! Young women are playing games more and more now, and the University of Southern California even has a Game Innovation Lab. If that doesn’t say to people that games should be taken more seriously, then I don’t know what will.

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