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Why Game Movies Stink

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the casting-writing-and-plot-are-some-of-the-reasons dept.


Via Cathode Tan (who has some commentary of his own on the subject), a Guardian article attempting to ascertain who is at fault for crappy game movies. From the article: "Because, unlike cinema, computer gaming is a medium which requires the player to make things up for themselves. An individual game may be laden with 'plot points' but its narrative is always up for grabs. It is a format of scenarios rather than stories, elements which can be bolted together in differing orders with varying outcomes. Cinema, on the other hand, is designed for people who like to watch and listen, and who expect the film-maker to get their story straight before the movie reaches the theatres. Viewing a film based on a computer game is like hanging around in an amusement arcade, peering over the shoulders of other people playing video games. It has less to do with story-telling than conceptual shelf-stacking. And it is symptomatic of the painful death of the art of narrative cinema."

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They don't need a good plot... (4, Funny)

johnfink (810028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196332)

If they have Angelina Jolie or Milla Jovovich.

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196400)

Or Kristianna Loken for that matter..

Sure, Bloodrayne was nothing more than a vampire-themed snuff film, but really, the game was too.

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196589)

ALMOST every movie Angelina Jolie has made has been mostly crap. I used to think she had a jinx to her, until she made Mr and Ms Smith (which was crap too, but less than her other movies, that were complete and utter crap, including Sky Captain and the Penis of Tomorrow, dispite a rating to the contrare in rotten tomatoes).

Here, check out her resume and decide for your self wether or not it is indeed Jolie that is causing all these movies to suck: []

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196951)

Angelina Jolie was in Sky Captain for a grand total of MAYBE ten minutes (if that), so I wouldn't blame the movie's problems on her...

Also, she is popular because people find her attractive, not because she is a good actress.

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196990)

I didn't say she was a good or bad actress, and I don't think she is especially bad. I said she has a jinx that causes every movie she is in to suck. It isn't her fault really.

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196960)

When I was a kid (in the 70's/80's), our local theatre would show matinees from the serial days on the weekends. Admission was a couple of cans of food that was donated to the food bank. I'd ride my bike with cans of food and watch all the westerns, Zorro, Batman, and Flash Gordon epsodes.

Sky Capitan would have fit nicely in that category and if you watch it, you'll see how every 15 minutes is a completely different setting. You can pick up on the story at any 15 minute interval without really missing anything.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is isn't but matinee fun it really is and it was a refreshing piece of entertainment that is missing in today's landscape. Better than The Shadow or The Phantom that tried to be like it, it reminded me of my canned food paying days.

In response to your discussion, Angelina Jolie is in some pretty horrible movies. I think that chick flick where she's with Winona Ryder is the only decent one.

Re:They don't need a good plot... (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197485)

A string of decent movies with Angelina Jolie came out in 1999... Girl Interrupted ("that chick flick,") Bone collector (Never saw it, but heard that it was decent enough) and Pushing Tin. And then there's Hackers... while not a good movie, definately entertaining.

Basically, she can act and has had good parts in movies, but any movie whose main draw is that Angelina Jolie's tits are in it... well, you can pretty much guaranty to fail. Pretty much the same for any movie where the main draw is that (acress X)'s tits are in it, unless the movie is full on pornography. But even that really doesn't draw as many people as a blockbuster would require, it's just that the people that are drawn to it are willing to pay a much higher price.

once again (0, Redundant)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196335)

it's time to queue the Uwe Boll jokes.

Hey, Uwe Boll has potential (2, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196421)

Apparently his movies are gradually improving over time [] . At this rate, Duke Nukem Forever: The Movie will be the highest rated motion picture in the history of film.

Re:Hey, Uwe Boll has potential (0, Redundant)

idontgno (624372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196564)

Especially if you give him infinite time to release, just like the game.

Re:Hey, Uwe Boll has potential (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196709)

Where are my -1, Redundant, modpooints when you really need them?

Yeah (2, Funny)

SlayerDave (555409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196337)

It has less to do with story-telling than conceptual shelf-stacking. And it is symptomatic of the painful death of the art of narrative cinema.

Yeah, that and Uwe Boll.

Re:Yeah (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197357)

But I'm quite sure, Uwe Boll's painful death would be a smash hit in cinemas!

Silent Hill (1, Interesting)

Drakin030 (949484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196340)

I personally thought Silent Hill the movie was great.

Re:Silent Hill (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196498)

I personally thought Silent Hill the movie was great.

I think you misspelled "utter rubbish that made me want to rip out my eyeballs and stuff them in my ears".

Re:Silent Hill (2, Informative)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196711)

THANK you.

When I saw it, the audience burst out laughing at all of the "dramatic" points. A complete and utter failure in terms of inspiring fear, drama, or any other emotion but contempt.

Re:Silent Hill (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197000)

That's what happens when you have a french guy direct an american style movie. It'll probably do well over there.
Not to knock the guy, that wolf movie was interesting but it's like all the fight scenes were just replayed with different people every time. Got tired watching it. Stylish and interesting but not very compelling (that wolf movie he did).

1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (4, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196342)

Wouldn't it be cool to have a 1st person movie (similar to a 1st person shooter)? Meaning, for like Resident Evil, Doom, etc. all we see is the gun in hand, the shots fired, and the blood splattering? That would make a great movie!

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (2, Informative)

simonjp (970013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196392)

The Doom movie has this, and really, you gotta laugh.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196426)

Is that not called a walkthrough...
did I miss the memo?

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (2, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196439)

Because watching a FPS movie is about as much fun as watching someone else play a FPS video game.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196510)

My wife's family gathered around to watch my brother-in-law play Doom 3. They actually do like watching other people play games.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196785)

But if you paid eight bucks, plus another five for a small popcorn, you might feel a little gypped.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196817)

Did you repeatedly tell him which way to go and point out incoming enemies like I usually do? :)

My point was that movies aren't as engrossing because you have zero control over the action.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196504)

1st person shooter...

Are you talking about Gonzo style porn again?

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196878)

You'd have audience members complaining of motion sickness, like the first "Blair Witch Project" film and its relaince on the cast's handheld cameras.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197013)

Resident Evil isn't a first person shooter. It's a third person survival horror game...

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197097)

We already had a first person movie. It was called 'The Blair Witch Project'. And it sucked.

Re:1st person movie? for a 1st person shooter? (3, Informative)

BTWR (540147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197205)

There was one. It was called Lady in the Lake [] (1947). I'm pretty sure it was a commercial and critical flop, but an interesting experiment.

Uh.. (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196348)


most games stink
most movies stink

It's basic algebra/logic/common sense...

not quite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196523)

I think it has more to do with: Games require interaction by the player to progress through the narrative, thus, by default, the game is "engaging" in that you, the player, have to make the decisions and invest yourself in the story. Movies of games, on the other hand, make you a passive spectator of the story, removing the player portion all together, and therefore they have to come up with some kind of narrative to move a slap-dash plot along to the inevitably disappointing climax/resolution. You can't really take a video game where it's player-controlled and make it into a movie where the players sit and watch.

Re:Uh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196912)

Spiderman the movie rocked and so did Spiderman The Movie the game

Poppycock! (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196351)

So, the movie will never be the same experince as playing the game. That's obvious.

It is still possible to write a good movie based on the plot points of a game. "Tomb Raider" comes to mind, as does "Mortal Kombat". Neither is all-time great cinema, but they are both perfectly good movies. They took the plot points of the video games and built a good story around them.

If you can't make a good movie from a video game that's a failing of the writers you are using, not of the concept itself. Given the quality of plots coming out of Hollywood in general, it should be obvious that good writing is in seriously short supply.

Re:Poppycock! (4, Insightful)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196696)

Ah, where are my mod points when I need them?

The parent is absolutely correct. Most game-movies fail because they aren't like the games at all. For example...

Super Mario Bros. should have been a pipe-and-koopa-filled Mario and Luigi adventure to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. Instead, we got some bizarre sci-fi thing involving parallel universes and evolved dinosaurs(?)
Doom should have been like the games - an intense survival-horror flick where the main character blasts his way through demons (and even Hell itself) to save the world. But, nope.
Street Fighter... don't even get me started. How they adapted a fighting game into this piece of motion-picture crap, I'll never guess.

Either way, the success of movies like Advent Children proves that people want movies based off of the actual games themselves, rather than some contrived movie plot written by someone who has obviously never played the original games in question.

Re:Poppycock! (5, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196742)

If you think Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat are perfectly good examples of the cinematic art, then Mark Kermode isn't really speaking to you. The whole subtext to his discussion both here and elsewhere on the issue is that the failure of many blockbusters to aspire to anything greater than a series of explosions linked by some car chases is directly connected to the games-as-films phenomenon.

Re:Poppycock! (3, Interesting)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197180)

the failure of many blockbusters to aspire to anything greater than a series of explosions linked by some car chases is directly connected to the games-as-films phenomenon

Except that it's poppycock, since films like that have been made for quite a long time. Take a glance at Burt Reynolds' early 80s filmography, for example, and you will see many examples of films that aspire to be nothing more than just some car chases and things blowing up... and this was well before the video game-movie phenomenon.

In truth, there have always been movies without good plots... why? Because there is a segment of the audience that doesn't care and will see these movies anyway. That's not a story, though, so reporters have to claim it's a "new trend".

Seriously, go look at a list of major hollywood films that were released in the past- you will see tons of brainless crap in every year. You will see some classics too, of course, but the thing is, we tend to ONLY remember the classics. You remember Chinatown from '74, but do you recall the original Gone In Sixty Seconds (which has even LESS plot than the original, and was advertised as having a 60-minute-long car chase)? No, you probably don't...

Now, I'm not saying that there haven't been better times for American movies than today - there have. But there have ALWAYS been brainless movies.

Re:Poppycock! (1)

whoop (194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197373)

The MPAA and myself know the real reason movies fail to sell tickets is piracy. After all, the plots have been constant over the ages, never changing. Therefore, it must be the piracy!

After all, you wouldn't steal a car...

simple (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196376)

Because most games have very simplistic plots. Sure, they seem fairly intricate when you spend 20-40 hours running around performing tasks to get the next part of the story to be revealed. But when you sit back and look at it again afterwards, you can usually distill the story down to a one or two paragraph summary that still contains the more intricate plot points.

Re:simple (3, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196453)

And? Romeo and Juliet can be distilled down to a one-or-two-paragraph summary that still contains the more intricate plot points, too. This has not led to people saying "most plays have very simplistic plots", and it appears to have been completely irrelevant to the quality of movies made based on it, some of which have been good and others bad.

Re:simple (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196739)

But Romeo and Juilet doesn't require the audience to spend 2/3 or more of their time leveling up by battling random encounters.

Re:simple (3, Insightful)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196524)

The part of the story that makes it interesting isn't the main points, you can take any great story and sum it up in a couple of paragraphs that contain the more intricate plot points. What makes a story great is how it happens and unfolds, this includes the little details. Would you call the original Half Life a good game if all you did was find out that aliens showed up, you went to their world then you fought the boss of the soldiers attacking you and finished up with killing the large Alien at the end? No that would be at the most 30 minutes of game play it takes these points, which I've probably messed up a bit, and everything in between to make the game and story great.

Re:simple (1)

MrJack5304 (908137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196962)

I think the biggest problem with game movies is simply that they choose the wrong games to make movies out of. Games like Beyond Good and Evil, Perfect Dark, Second Sight, would make excellent movies as long as they followed the "general" plot points and did a little elaboration in between.

I thought Silent Hill did a pretty good job, and was a bit better than any other game movie to come out yet. Now if they could put the effort they put into Silent Hill into games with a more fleshed out plotline I think we could have some great game movies.

Re:simple (3, Insightful)

thos_thom (723520) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197046)

Yes, but, I can distil the story of any major hollywood film down into two paragraphs but you try and convey the understanding one gets from reading two hundred or so snippets of chozo lore (metroid prime) or the ever increasing pain of finding the diaries of people who have killed themselves and left behind their last thoughts for you to find in a mansion full of terror (resident evil 1) in a two hour film. A game film that tries to express the 15 hours of emotion evoked from a massive involving plot most of which you have come to by thinking then re-told in a two hour third person form where everything gets handed to you on a plate, just seems like a waste of time.

I hear people say that you are more likley to say you enjoyed a book, over a film, because of the ammount of time you need to invest in it. I think its the same with games and films. You invest more time, it uses your brain more, you like them better. How can they compete.

Re:simple (2, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197226)

No, it's because games aren't taken seriously enough to warrant making a decent film out of them. Most of them just intend to cash in on the name, using the cheapest staff they can get. There are games that could have been made into decent films but weren't. For example imagine that Mortal Kombat had been made by Tarantino, or that Doom had been made by Spielburg. Same original material but they might actually be watchable.

Re:simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197294)

I would argue that "plot" is not the problem (most movies made today have equally weak plots as videogames), the problem is atmosphere (or setting if you will); the "story" of a videogame is played out in the setting you're put in rather than the actions of your character. Think of Resident Evil the "Story" unfolds as you uncover the truth about the Umbrella Corporation by seeing the destruction and learning about people's stories through journals (and what not). When you're given 40 hours of walking in an environment and discovering the story it will have dozens of times the impact of some third rate actor who produces a monologue to explain his motives.

This is ridiculous. (4, Funny)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196402)

The Wizard was a piece of theatrical mastery in every sense of the word.

Re:This is ridiculous. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196865)

Savage was awesome in Wizard. Add to that a kid with a powerglove, and revealing the warp whistle secrets in SM3.
Result: Best videogame movie ever!

On a serious note, I would say this movie is responsible for SM3 being the best selling video game not packaged with a system.

Re:This is ridiculous. (1)

wickedj (652189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197350)

The red-head girl, Jenny Lewis, is a total hottie now with a kick-ass band called Rilo Kiley. That said, the Wizard was the best game movie/marketing scheme ever!

Seriously? (3, Insightful)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196405)

From TFA "Without the luxury of a joystick in our hands, the viewer has no chance to make the incoherent on-screen antics any better - or worse. We just sit ... and stare."

Okay, walking into a movie theatre, sitting down on the couch with a DVD, or even catching a game at the bar, we all experience Television or Movies in the same way. We can't control anything. People who go to a movie go there to see a story unfold. They don't go there to make things happen. When people go to see a movie based on a video game, they expect the same level of excitment the videogame delivers. This can never happen.

Silent Hill was probably one of the best videogame movies I've seen. The game doesn't concentrate on combat, but on storey and making you piss your pants. The movie keeps your heart unsure whether or not it's worth each heart beat. Just like the game. The movie has very little combat. The game does not focus on combat. The game has a deep story that takes forever to discover and understand. The movie uses the time you're in the theatre to deliver enough story to understand what's going on. The only problem is that if you haven't played Silent Hill 1,2, and 3, you may not understand the movie's symbolism, and thereby, believe that it's just wonton violence.

Silent Hill was good. Not the best, but good. Compare it to any other video game movie, and we're darn near a 10, at least a 9. TFA goes on to campare it to Street Fighter and Mario Bros (THE worst video game movie EVER). Not really a fair analysis. Street Fighter the game doesn't really have a plot. And Mario Bros the movie didn't have a plot. Not really a fair comparison there.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196529)

From TFA "Without the luxury of a joystick in our hands, the viewer has no chance to make the incoherent on-screen antics any better - or worse. We just sit ... and stare."

Okay, walking into a movie theatre, sitting down on the couch with a DVD, or even catching a game at the bar, we all experience Television or Movies in the same way. We can't control anything. People who go to a movie go there to see a story unfold.

That's an interesting quote from TFA. The thing about "the luxury of a joystick" is that a joystick is a damn primitive interface. Books and to a lesser extent Movies are able to delve ino the various layers and nuance of the human experiences in a way that games just can't now, and for the foreseeable future.

I don't 100% agree with him but I see where Ebert was coming from. Run, jump, shoot, throw, duck is just a very limited subset of what it means to be human. And w/o full blown AI, a "choose your own adventure" style game will tend to have less depth and meaning than a director-selected plotline. When we do get AI, gaming might end up looking more like LARP, live action roleplay.

Re:Seriously? (2, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196787)

Mark Kermode is one of the UK's leading experts on horror films, so he's not even particularly averse to a bit of violence for its own sake. He just found the narrative to be decidedly lacking.

Also, I'd argue that if the game can't be understood without having played the games then that's just as much a failing as if an adaptation assumes you've read the novel.

Re:Seriously? (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196876)

Also, I'd argue that if the game can't be understood without having played the games then that's just as much a failing as if an adaptation assumes you've read the novel.

I don't disagree with that. Like I said, though. The movie can be understood without playing the game. The symbolism, however is a look into the human psyche from someone else's point of view. Which really doesn't translate well across rooms or across the seas.

A friend of mine has already tried an experiment. He has played all the games and enjoyed them. He brought six people to the movie who had never seen the game. He brought two that had seen it played. And one other who had played the games, but didn't enjoy them.
The reactions were as you would suspect. Those that hadn't played/seen the games, frankly, hated the movie because it seemed too gratuitous, and the plot too unbelievable and forward. Those that had seen the game played, and the guy that had played it and not liked it (I'm not sure if he completed it) all said, "Aha!" Because the movie offered explanations the game left you to find out. They generally liked it. The friend who had played all the games enjoyed it throughly, and ranks it as the best video game made movie he has seen.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196913)

Silent Hill was probably one of the best videogame movies I've seen. Yes. I have not played the video game, but the movie makes me want to. I found the storyline to be intriguing and, most of all, complete. Don't give me crap about the differences between the movie and the game - rarely can any cross-medium productions be exactly how they were in their original medium. Silent Hill stands on its own two feet and is a testament to the greatness that all future video game movies should look up to and even try to beat.

Game movies may be bad... (5, Insightful)

Flaming Babies (904475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196409)

...but movie games are far worse.

Re:Game movies may be bad... (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196798)

Actually, now that it doesn't take developers no time at all to make a half-baked game off of a movie franchise (ET for Atari 2600, anyone?), movie-based games are getting better. In the past year, I can name at least four (King Kong, LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth II, Star Wars Battlefront II, The Godfather) that, while they won't be making many peoples' favorites lists a few years from now, are at least playable, fun, and critically-acclaimed.

It's a problem with the videogames NOT the movies (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196417)

the painful death of the art of narrative cinema.

No, the problem isn't the "painful death of the art of narrative cinema" its the "painful dearth of art in popular video games."

Let's face it, most video games have a very simple storyline (if any storyline at all). Most of that storyline concerns itself, not with introducing interesting and complex characters and plot points, but in setting up cheap excuses to get you into some predictible gaming sequence. The focus of "Doom 3" isn't charcter and plot, that's all just there to set up a fairly predictable FPS.

Decent movies; on the other hand; rely on good writing, plot, and character development pretty much EXCLUSIVELY. That often means that a video game adaptation movie either has to reduce itself to being just as mindless as the video game, without even the benefit of any interaction (what the article complains about) or make HUGE alterations and additions to the original videogame storyline just to "flesh out" some interesting characters and plot developments (something which makes the studio and fans howl).

I mean, ask yourself, how exactly would YOU make an interesting movie out of Halo, whose "star" is a faceless, anonymous, killing machine with virtually no backstory (and working under the studio requirement that he has to occupy most of the screen time, with a large number of pure mindless action scenes)?


Re:It's a problem with the videogames NOT the movi (1)

panda (10044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196573)

No, the problem isn't the "painful death of the art of narrative cinema" its the "painful dearth of art in popular video games."

I'll agree with you for the most part, but there have been some exceptions.

The Marathon Trilogy easily comes to mind. The original was a 2.5D first person shooter, but it had an interesting story, and if you were a thinking player, it made you face the question of just who or what your onscreen counterpart really is. Are/were you human? Are you the missing Mjolnir cyborg? That question was never fully resolved, I think deliberately, to let you ponder that question and to leave room for doubt.

There's also a great tie-in with Bungie's previous game, "Pathways into Darkness." Because a lot of the same concepts pop up in both, and the pre-story is much the same.

I'd go a step further and say that videogames are a different kind of art from cinema, and the one does not always translate well to the other. Just like making films from novels, some work and some don't.

Re:It's a problem with the videogames NOT the movi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15197334)

I'd venture a guess and say that Halo's Master Chief is the Mjolnir cyborg from Marathon... post "Destiny" [] . There's always the insinuation that you've been here before, you've done this a million times, you've been this hero and never anything else. And when you're not needed, you're kept on ice.

Bungie just keeps telling the same basic story (guy with gun saves the day and collects pieces of a puzzle) with a time jump between each game (PID + 500 years = Marathon + 17 years = M2, M:Infinity + "T-Minus 15.193792102158E+9 years until the universe closes!" + lots more time = Halo, H2, H3...

And for all you Bungie-lore freaks out there... Halo 3 will be the 7th game.

Re:It's a problem with the videogames NOT the movi (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196820)

Personally, I don't think there is a particular dearth of ART in videogames. I completely agree with both yourself and Mark that there is a lack of narrative, but that's a different thing. The art of videogames is in the game; the subtle balance of risk and reward.

There's a distinct lack of narrative in most painting, too, but that doesn't make them Not Art.

Re:It's a problem with the videogames NOT the movi (1)

The_Real_Quaid (892126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197359)

I agree completely.

Let's also face the hard facts - video games have stupid stories.

That's why I laugh when I read gamers saying silly things like "omg Metal Gear has teh awesome story!!"... no, it doesn't. It's stupid, just like 99% of all games. Half-Life? Stupid. Resident Evil? Stupid. Final Fantasy? Stupid. Pokemon? Stupid. Zelda? Stupid.

To understand why games have stupid stories, you have to understand game design and the relationship the design and the story have. You always start out with your outlines and your targets, but eventually things have to be tweaked. When the game design is tweaked, the story has to be changed, and vice-versa. Gameplay is about possibilities, stories are about linearity. There's not a lot of room for compatibility.

My theory... (3, Insightful)

BMonger (68213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196437)

I've always though game movies stunk because they either fall into two areas:

1) They are the same plot as the game. You already played the game, why do you want to watch the same thing in cinematic form?

2) They are too far away from the plot. The fans already know the plot line and you've thrown something completely different at them and they cry about how it's not true to the game.

I prefer the latter personally.

Oh wait...

3) Uwe Boll

Re:My theory... (3, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196766)

Game movies can suck for the same reasons that any other movie can suck: it's a bad movie! Bad acting, bad script, bad direction, etc.

Just because the inspiration for the movie was a videogame instead of a book, doesn't mean that these movies have to be treated with special care.

Re:My theory... (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197283)

Game movies suck for the same reason any other licensed property sucks: because it can.

It's simple, really... (2, Informative)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196447)

One major reason why game movies suck is that some games have very simple plots, that cannot be expanded eaisly. Take something like Doom 3 - yes, there is a background story, but good 80% of the game is shooting stuff... walk somewhere while shooting, hit a button, walk back... now, that works for games, but is too monotonous for movies...

Game-based movies would be better if they were based on games with better plot. When you start out with a shootfest where your main hero doesn't even speak, you're gonna have a hard time making something out of it.

Piracy! (4, Funny)

ghislain_leblanc (450723) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196463)

No doubt about it, there is no other possible explanation, it just HAS to be piracy!

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196465)

Franchise games suck for one simple reason: you can invest very little (i.e. make a crappy game) and get a huge return on your investment anyway because all the mindless fanboys will buy it anyway.

Unless there's some unusual reason like artistic integrity (ha!), why would you spend more money when you already know it will be a hit?

Umm, no (2, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196476)

What a bunch of pretentious crap. Game movies have been bad because there is currently little to no incentive for the studios to do anything worthwhile with the license. Why go to all the trouble to make sure the script is solid and the directors vision is good, when you have this huge built-in audience who is going to see the movie regardless of any bad buzz or reviews?

Re:Umm, no (2, Interesting)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196634)

Interesting observation (sorry, no mod points for me today). We're so addicted to bread and circuses that we'll take whatever stale crumb is offered. There is no competition for audiences.

Or it could just be that... (1)

Lave (958216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196479)

Most games these days try really hard to be like movies, and provide "cinematic experiences." As Game developers believe this is a route to respect for this new art form. They are, of course, wrong (in my opinion at least). And fail because for true success in an art form you have to eventually abandon the traits of older more established ones.

So making a film based on a flawed attempt at making a film is two steps away from making a film. And that is a Bad Idea.

Fans don't write scripts! (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196483)

Disagree 100%. I get the feeling that after watching these things that the scriptwriters and director(s) simply read the summary on the back of the box, maybe read the manual and pulled the rest from their nether regions. Thus, they don't understand the *feel* of the game. I firmly believe many games made into movies had something going for them, other than German tax breaks. Doom? Oddly, yes. Alien worked. Course, that deveated so far from the original it barely deserves the name. Tomb Raider? Indiana Jones worked. What'd they do wrong? Hmm, oh yea, made it NOT like IJ and more like one of the last two Bond films...(gag). They would manage to screw up Half-Life, and that one practically gives you the script as you play it. Still seems to me the best one made so far is Mortal Kombat. It didn't take itself seriously, at all. Decent action, music, enough of a plot to move along... and it was short.

If Bad Video Games Make Bad Movies... (2, Funny)

jpiggot (800494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196535)

Then Madonna must have starred in a shitload of video games.

Good Game != Good Movie (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196538)

Anyone remember the Super Mario Brother's Movie? Aside from those of us who've gone to the trouble of supressing the memory...

Simple thing is, Fans of the game want it to be just like the game and Joe Adverage wants it to be the next matrix. What's the saying "You can't please all the people all the time"?

Unless there's a movie about FF:VII with really good CG Eye candy... That get's a little better treatment for being so main stream already...

Game Movies Stink (1)

Postmaster General (136755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196544)

Game movies stink, because the story/plot in the games stink.

You can't take a pile of crap and turn it into roses by moving it from the backyard onto your kitchen table. Sure, you could try to mold it into flowery-looking things and spray some Glade(tm) rose-scented air freshener on it, but in the end, it'll still look like crap, and it will stink like rose-scented crap, and then your hands will all be covered in crap. Then you go tell your friends about your roses, and they think they'd like to see those roses, because roses smell nice. So, they go see your crappy roses on your now crap-covered kitchen table, and they will either see it for what it is ... a pile of crap, or will be fooled by Glade(tm) and get themselves all covered in crap in the process, just like you.

It's a viscious, neverending cycle, and the only ones who gain in the end, is Hollywood and the crappy game designers wth their crappy stories and plots.

It's all about respect (1)

Chef_TM (563785) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196569)

Movie Studios do not respect Computer Games as a legitimate form of art, just a way of marketing a genre to an in built audience. It is the same situation with Comics and to a certain extent, Animation. Both of these artforms are considered to be just for kids and even now, are still not taken seriously by the vast majority of people. Computer Games differ from Animation and Comics in that both the aforementioned mediums have been around long enough for talented film makers to take them seriously. I believe this will also happen with Film properties based on Computer Games.

Re:It's all about respect (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196678)

It's like D&D: The Movie [] . It wasn't that BAD of a movie but people took it too seriously or not seriously enough. I sat down and about half way through it I turned to my friend and related a story about stupid Players. That's when it hit me, it was EXACTLY like D&D. Not really a kids game, but treated as such because of social stigma and some of the silliness that comes with Role Playing

Now they just need to figure out... (1)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196591)

They just need to figure out why movie games suck.

Game movies, movie games, both stink. (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196598)

It's because you don't make a game movie because you have a great story to tell. You make a game movie for cash. The story is an afterthought.

Movie games stink for the same reason. You don't have a great idea for a game. You have a set of characters and you need to find something for them to do.

Storytelling and fun are afterthoughts in these projects.

I would have thought that was obvious.

Lacking proper perspective (4, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196640)

Twenty years ago, no one thought comic book movies were going to be any good. Then Batman came out. If any project is paired with a director who has a specific artistic vision and is familiar and passionate about the work, more often than not a good movie will result. My favorite movie of this year so far happens to be based on a graphic novel.

I don't see any interesting video game works in the horizon save for Halo: Fall of Reach which at least has been rumored to be attached to pretty good directors (Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro). Just give it time. It may take another two or three years for a good video game movie to be made, or longer, but it will eventually happen.

Now, if they could only get licensed games to be good...

Re:Lacking proper perspective (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197225)

I 99% agree with your post entirely. I agree that all it will take it is decent script and a competant director to make a wonderful game (I truly believe that with the correct script, actor and director, and as long as it is made at least 5 years from now, thus far away from LOTR, The Legend of Zelda movie has at least the *potential* to be an absolutely beautiful flick).

The 1% I totally disagree with you is that serious comic-book movies started with 1989's Batman. You're about 10 years and 3 words off:




That's the beginning, middle, and (mostly, though a tad bit silly but still ok enough) end of how to make a great super hero movie (and I know for a fact that Bryan Singer said his model for X-Men was "The first 3/4 of Superman 1" - and I know Superman Returns will be amazing).

GIGO (1)

whysanity (231556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196641)

I like to think of the problem as something attributed to GIGO []

You can't generalise... (1)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196658)

For calling off so-called game movies is a bit reckless.

Two points:

1. You will theorise as to the reasons why it doesn't work *until* there comes a "game movie" that's truly great. And then you will revise your theories..

2. The gaming media and cinema are new art forms, especially compared to other arts like painting or literature or music. To write any one of them off is premature not to mention an attempted fusion of the two.

I think instead of blasting the combination of the two, the important question to ask is this:is the cinema making effort honest, or is it mainly dictated by a 'marketing extension of a brand'? Which is not to say, that a sincere film about a game need necessarily turn out to be bad...

I long for the old days (1)

murderlegendre (776042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196706)

When they only made bad games from average movies..

(Actually, I've seen the RE movies, and thought they were reasonably entertaining. It's all about the mindset - I wasn't expecting Kubrick or Herzog, and recieved neither. As for adhering to the plot of the game, it's a chick shooting zombies - close enough.)

Games Can't Have Great Story Telling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196714)

Is it just me, or are there games with masterful storytelling? A few games come to mind immediately:
Chrono Trigger
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ok, so maybe Zelda doesn't have the greatest plot ever; I still think it's something I would have been happy to read in a book, even without the Zelda branding.

Chrono Trigger on the other hand is a beautiful piece of art in every way. The story is great (and has many key points that can be altered based on decisions), and the way the story unfolds is good too.

Knights has a huge story with a bunch of twists in it. There is a lot of character development (and character interaction/relationship stuff) and a lot of "makes you think" dialogue. Also a great game in every way... wait... the graphics sucked.

Most of the games (and movies based on games) have been shooters, so is it any surprise that few of these movies have plot? Shooters are not typically known for their plots, obviously. On the other hand, games like Final Fantasy are known for plots.

Re:Games Can't Have Great Story Telling? (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196976)

Knights has a huge story with a bunch of twists in it. There is a lot of character development (and character interaction/relationship stuff) and a lot of "makes you think" dialogue. Also a great game in every way... wait... the graphics sucked.

The KOTORs, Jade Empire, and Halo felt like movies while I was playing them... I can imagine seeing good renditions of these titles on screen, iff Uwe Boll, Paul W.S. Anderson and Michael Bay are sent off to carousel to renew...

Cop-out (5, Insightful)

sc0ttyb (833038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196730)

I'm sorry, but this whole thing gets on my nerves.

The reason videogame movies blow isn't because of the source material (usually). It's because the writers/directors/studio bigwigs/what-have-you take too many damn liberties with the mythos.

Okay, let's take Silent Hill for a start.

DISCLAIMER: I am a Silent Hill fanatic.

The makers of this film had an interesting, unique mythos to work with. They had interesting characters, bizarre environments, crazy monsters, excellent music, etc. So instead of using that as it was presented, they decided to pick and choose what they wanted and slapped it all together. Granted, they nailed the visual aspect of the game, but nothing else.

For a start, let's talk about Pyramid Head (er, sorry - the Red Pyramid). He shouldn't have been in this movie at all because he's totally pointless outside his original context. Pyramid Head was only relevant to Silent Hill 2 because he a manifestation of both James Sunderland's sexual frustrations and his guilt. Including him in the movie just smacked of "hey, this guy's a cool villain, let's use him!"

And don't even get me started on the whole plot/character deviation from the first game. You know, things like the lead character being Harry Mason and not this Rose person, his daughter being Cheryl and not Sharon, etc. Harry Mason's presence in the original Silent Hill game is very important, as it plays a rather significant part in Silent Hill 3, where it wraps up some of the first games loose ends.

I could go on and on, but I won't. The fact of the matter is that they take too many liberties with the games. Don't change things that don't need changing. For the parts that can only be experienced with a controller, use your head and try and think of a way to convey that experience to the audience. Play the game through and take note of your emotions/feelings as you play a particular part, then use that to transfer it to the big screen.

I think bad game movies are more a lack of effort and adherence to canon as opposed to having nothing to work with.

Re:Cop-out (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197269)

Silent Film's shitness was nothing to do with adherence to the 'canon'. The people complaining about it weren't the hardcore fanboys, it was the people who had never played the game. If the film was made well it wouldn't matter how loyal it was to the game.

LOTR took liberties with the book but was still good, only the minority of fanboys complained.

What a total crock of sh!t. (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196745)

Viewing a film based on a computer game is like hanging around in an amusement arcade, peering over the shoulders of other people playing video games.

This line alone is an utter crock of shit. If a movie on based on a video game, it's like hanging around in an arcade? What the f**k is the person who penned this smoking and why isn't he sharing it with the rest of us, because that's some strong stuff!

The source material is completely irrelevant whether it's based on a true story, a classic piece of literature, or a vide game. There are writers who could take a very basic story and with enough creativity to create an entire arc that is still relevant to the core story.

There is a lot that could have done with, for example, Bloodrayne if they wanted to expand on the story behind her video game character. The background on her character - half-human, half-vampire - is great fodder for some interesting character development. Note that in most sci-fi shows, characters of mixed races are the ones that often get the most intersting character arcs. Look at Spock, Troi, and Seven of Nine in the Star Trek series and how they often ran into problems with being a mixed race, whether that's from biological issues, prejudice, or something else. (Okay, Seven wasn't quite a mixed race, but you get the idea.) Rayne could have had a very interesting character arc in the hands of a good writer, which Bloodrayne: The Movie did not have.

Bloodrayne's vengeance against those who murdered her mother certainly could have been expanded to involve some interesting twists and turns, particularly with the Nazi-era background of the original Bloodrayne. Exactly how did her mother die? Murder? Consequence of being raped by a vampire? How did Rayne find out who was responsible? Was her mother's murder really what triggered her rage against fellow dhampirs or is there some long-forgotten memory that is subconsciously driving her? Add a bit of "Indiana Jones"-style action and the Bloodrayne movie could have been very well done. Instead, we got a crappy movie with just about nothing of value except a babe of a lead actress and Ben Kingsley, not that he could have added any credibility to this shlock.

Why do movie games stink? Because there is no effort in developing any kind of plot or storyline that the audience would find intriguing. In fact, this describes the majority of movies nowadays. The fact that a movie's source might be a video game cannot possibly be more irrelevant.

Re:What a total crock of sh!t. (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196940)

The background on her character - half-human, half-vampire - is great fodder for some interesting character development.


Ah, finally it all makes sense! (3, Insightful)

clambake (37702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196748)

I always just assumed that the lazy, talentless hacks who spend all of 15 minutes throwing together a script full of plot holes, boring dialog, nonsensical character motivations, no character development whatsoever and cliched plot elements that have to be grafted over the originally interesting game-storyline (to make the movie "marketable", of course), while blowing the entire budget on dime-a-dozen pure-CGI special effects that were only really believable ten years ago while ironically being less visually interesting than those in the actual game itself were the source of the problem...

Now I read, they are only a symptom?

No, the real problem is, quite simply, Hollywood can NOT make a movie where the story is already written for them and the market for that story is pre-built-in. They can't HELP but change it based on market testing, on director's "creative" whims and seniour executive's cocaine fueled brain farts... Only to discover after the fact that the original story that sold so well as a game was, in fact, quite good and was the primary reason why the franchise was so popular in the first place, and that changing it to make it more saleable actually made it less appealing to everyone.

IMHO (2, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196767)

I think game movies suck mainly because the people making them think "We have a built in audience that will pay to see this movie no matter how good/bad it is, so who gives a rats ass how much effort we put into the film". I mean, honestly: how much effort is someone going to put into a film to make it appeal to a large demographic when they think there's already a set demographic ready to hand over their money just because someone made a movie out of their favorite game.

"Viewing a film based on a computer game is like hanging around in an amusement arcade, peering over the shoulders of other people playing video games. It has less to do with story-telling than conceptual shelf-stacking."

What an asinine thing to say. This article is nothing but a worthless attempt at shifting the blame for crappy movies which are based on the same story that some video game was based on away from the people who deserve it. Just because a video game was made of a story does not mean a movie made of the same story can't be great.

Today it's virtually impossible to turn on the television without being told to 'press the red button for more options', or to phone an 0870 number and vote for your favourite contestant.

What the hell are you talking about?!!

What do you think?

I think you should put down the crack pipe.

Re:IMHO (1)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197149)

Did you wonder what he meant by red buttons and 0870, or just the randomness of the

For those not following digital TV in Europe, there is a lot of interactivity these days, almost too much and most of it is DOG'd into the screen with a "press the red button now" - you press it and get to follow on with WWTBAM or Idol and so on using your remote control.

I'm fairly sure US digital TV is much the same but I haven't seen so much of this "HEY YOU INTERACT NOW!!!" hyped as it is in Europe.

0870 is a premium rate phone line in the UK :)

GAME MOVIES are a subset of MOVIES (2, Insightful)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196788)

And movies in general suck. Seriously. I see movie previews and they're just god-awful. The only stuff I like to see any more are kid's movies, they have the most mature and sophisticated humor of almost anything that's out there. You find more clever wit in a 90 minute animated Pixar film than every action movie or romantic comedy of the last 5 years combined.

So, take the same vapid cadre of writers who produce the piles of drek and schlock out there and sick them on material that's already (in general) not good (game plots), and why is anybody shocked that they make crappy movies out of it?

Nope (2, Insightful)

kratei (924454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15196891)

"A cursory glance at the list of cinematic stinkers which have taken their lead from PCs, Xboxes and PlayStations reveals that there has never been a half-decent movie based on a computer game."
I rather thought Final Fantasy was at very least a half-decent movie. I know some people didn't think much of it, but it was better than a ton of non-game-movies I've seen. In any case there have been so few movies based on computer games that it isn't right to write off the genre yet. Just because there has yet to be a gem doesn't mean that there can't be.

Movies stink generally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15196931)

Game movies do indeed stink, for the most part. The Doom III movie was gawd awful. But then so was the Electra movie, in spite of its huge budget and pre-existing comic book back story. So was the latest Star Wars movie, with the largest budget in movie history. It sucked more than Doom.

Doom could have been quite entertaining, if it had decent plotting and characters. As in, if the WRITING didn't suck. The Laura Croft movies were fun because of the writing. You don't think Angelina Jolie can make a bad movie, check out Gone In 60 Seconds. Yawner because of stupid story line and really pitiful dialogue. A series of nice car chases separated by boring shots of people talking.

This is a failing of Hollywood generally these days. They won't fund a script that doesn't look just like every other goddamn script they've seen in the last ten years. No noble themes allowed, no religion except as comic relief or as The Bad Guys, no Heros, just anti-heros or Average Man, blah blah blah.

Its crap, and their flood of red ink proves it. Pretty soon the dinosaurs will be out of business because they won't change with the times. Good riddance, brontosaurus.

Re:Movies stink generally. (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197267)

So was the latest Star Wars movie, with the largest budget in movie history. From [] :

Production Budget: $113 million

You are WAY off if you think $113 is anywhere NEAR the record. I think what you *may* have read somewhere is the "cutesy" fact that the new trilogy movies are *technically* "The most expensive independent films ever" because they are technically financed by a single individual (George Lucas himself).

These guys think too much (3, Insightful)

Programmer_In_Traini (566499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197007)

These guys thinks too much. We've read it before, we've seen that before.... movies based on games are, more often than not, crappy.

Not because the producer fails to grasp the concept of game or because it lacks the player involvement or any sense of reality.

Let me break the hard truth on you : budget.

There are 2 scenarios :
1. A small producer trying to get some movies under his name because it fits nice on a resume. Its like acculumating hours of flights for a pilot. He'll take a quick project, small budget movie just to get experience

2. Big producer accepting the project for a big budget movie, but he'll use only a fraction of that budget because people tend to except low quality anyway. He'll use the remaining budget to fund a big movie that will catter to a much bigger audience, rewarding him with more money.

Its all about the money really.

Well, anyway, that's my 2c :)

Gameplay versus plot (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197050)

What makes a game good is gameplay. What makes a film good is plot. The two have nothing to do with one another. Hence running around hitting your head on blocks, avoiding turtles and eating magic mushrooms makes a very fun game [] , but a lousy film. Conversely, many films have been licensed to make bad games (such as ET on the Atari 2600).

Game movies don't stink. The scripts do. (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197435)

Most games offer, as has been said numerous times, rather shallow story and plot. Most writers simply take that and run with it. The net effect is a movie with a shallow story and plot.

Why does it matter in the movie while it doesn't in the game?

Because the player of a game is more involved than the watcher of a movie. He's part of the experience, he is "in" the game, not "looking at it".

Quite the same reason why Game-TV isn't really getting off the ground. Play a few hours of a shooter and then watch others do it. You'll understand the difference.

If they want to make GOOD movies based on games, they should take the general idea and write a plot around it. Not try to copy the "feel" of the game. Can you imagine what Indiana Jones and the last Cruisade would've been like if the game had been out before the movie? Can you envision the movie? And how bad it would've been? Just imagine the movie would have been watching Indy do what you make him do in the game...

Lack of imagination and creativity (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197496)

Video-game based movies suck for the same reason that most fan fiction sucks.

Consider: If I have a great deal of creativity and imagination, I am going to write my own damn story!. I am not going to set my story in some video game I played, or some TV show I watched - I am going to make up my own world.

So almost by definition any screenwriter who is basing his story on a video game lacks imagination.

Now, if I am a director who is *good*, am I going to pick a screenplay by some hack who was inspired by some video game, or am I going to pick a good screenplay by somebody with imagination and creativity?

You are selecting from the bottom of the barrel, twice - and you are surprised that the movie sucks?

A couple more differences... (1)

Wraithfighter (604788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15197508)

1: Size. Many of the games with the good plots, you know, the Bioware games, Starcraft, some of the Japanese RPG's, and such, are really long. REALLY long. Games can reach 40 hours of length and while not all of that is taken up by the main plot, it still makes things difficult as hell to translate to a script. So either this limits the games that can be used (action-heavy games like Doom) or the plots are cut up and shrunk down to be "faithful" but still not that good.

2: Genre choice. Only one RPG has gotten the adaptation treatment, and that film (Final Fantasy) didn't actually use any of the games' plots. The rest of them: Platformers, survival-horror, a few fighting games and a FPS. Not exactly the creme of the crop when it comes to narrative threads.
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