Ok to begin with, to say that these types of films fail is a bit over reactionary. One look no further then at the Box office figures to know that there is a good market for these films. But ticket sales aside, it’s not just what a bunch of numbers in a bank account mean, it’s what these films mean to the audience that attend them. And a lot of the time, despite the profits, many of them leave that cinema disappointed. But why is that?
Many may notice now that the video game adaptation of the much beloved Ratchet and Clank series has been doing the cinematic rounds which lead to very bad critical responses. Which is a shame considering that the game itself is packed full of fun characters, over the top action and weaponry, and just a whole lot of fun. It made me consider why video game films get such a bad reputation in the cinema world, seeing as many of the characters and stories are so beloved by such a huge fan base.
Considering it had a very bad start to begin with didn’t do anybody any favours with the likes of Super Mario Brothers (1993) and Street Fighter (1994). You think producers would have learned their lessons the following years. Then the release of Mortal Kombat (1995) helped seal the deal by removing themselves from the violence of its own source material (although we were treated to a kick ass dance song). But even if this was the case, filmmakers, whether they stick to the source material or not, just never seem to get it right.
One director who many may be familiar with in this area would be Uwe Boll. The director gave us such abominations as House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005) and Bloodrayne (2006), the latter of which starred the great Ben Kingsley (how?). Each film mixes with inconsistent plots, bad acting, and even very bad action sequences, which you may think could be the saving grace of said films.
Although I don’t mean to hark on about how bad the majority of these films are, some of them do exactly what it says on the tin. However it still doesn’t mean that they cannot learn their own lessons. Some video game fanatics argue on behalf of the games themselves, which can (in their own eyes) be cinematic masterpieces in and of themselves. I’ve heard stories of parents watching their children play the classic Metal gear Solid series (1987 – present), simply because the Hollywood inspired cinematics were so consistent, they just wanted to see what would happen next.
Even to take a page out of the recent release of Hardcore Henry (2015). Not a video game adaptation by any means. However it does make the audience feel as if they are part of a first person shooter, which adds to the intensity and action which is most associated with the feeling of playing a game itself, even though the novelty may wear off on some people. But the best example may be from the recent release of The Last of Us (2013). The game is so in depth with heart-breaking story and characters, it provides us with an intense cinematic experience that we are in control of.
Although all of these films (and many more) got a lot of bad press over the last twenty years, I am still confident that there will be one film to make us think differently about this genre in film. The Resident Evil series (2002-2017) has its fair share of ups and downs, and even an adaptation of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) got some recognition, but I am confident this may all change. One example in particular being the upcoming adaptation of Assassins Creed (2016), being directed by Justin Kurzel who also lead the cast for the recent adaptation of Macbeth (2015).
Could this be bad? Very possibly. But I am still waiting on the day that a familiar trend may be broken. Nothing is better when something a lot of people can expect to be terrible, ends up defying the expectations of even the most cynical of critics. My fingers will be crossed for that day.