Hollywood has a spotty record with video game movies — OK, a terrible record. Back when video game adaptations were being churned out by the bucket full, the prospects were slim. Super Mario Bros. was never going to make a great action film (sorry, Italian plumbers). But these days, the game has changed. Or, the games. Inspired by Hollywood’s serious reinvention of comic book and blockbuster movies, the video game industry has discovered a new emphasis on story and character, an angle that permeates through design, gameplay and franchise building. Despite Roger Ebert’s insistence that video games aren’t art, the auteurs behind the latest and greatest for Playstation, XBox, Nintendo are feeling more an more like high cinema. More like art.
Now it’s the movie studios turn to pay back the favor. Take a cue from the video games and help expand their worlds through solid, silver screen adaptations. It’s possible! Taking a look at some of the big hit trailers from this year’s E3, here are the games that could make great movies — as long as Hollywood takes them as seriously as the engineers do.
Beyond: Two Souls
The trailer for Heavy Rain development studio Quantic Dream sticks mostly to the cinematics — which helps, as actress Ellen Page lends her vocals and her likeness to the supernatural drama. The game follows Jodie Holmes, who has some connection to the spiritual world, and is being hunted down because of it. Page has proved herself more than capable in an action movie, popping up and rubbing shoulders with her male counterparts in X-Men: The Last Stand and Inception. She could carry an adrenaline-infused, high concept movie and if Beyond: Two Souls ends up a hit, perhaps we’ll see her tackle the role again on the big screen.
Resident Evil 6
Over the past decade, Resident Evil has transformed itself into distinct properties. The gaming road, a zombie-filled survival horror, and the cinematic road, a Milla Jovovich-led franchise that’s grown from horror blockbuster to sci-fi action extravaganza. But based on the trailer for the most recent entry of the interactive series, Resident Evil 6, the movie’s influence may finally have the upper hand. The trailer depicts an all out action movie, putting costar Leon (who is featured in the upcoming Resident Evil: Retribution) front and center as he battles a few monsters while doing his fair share of running from explosions and looking like a modern day big screen hero. As the producers of the movie franchise have indicated that there will be life for the RE series after Jovovich departs. A Leon-centric adventure seems likely and the foundation is there with this trailer.
Assassin’s Creed 3
The idea of turning the Assassin’s Creed franchise into a movie isn’t a new concept — Sony announced they would be adapting the property way back in October 2011 — but with the debut of the third installment (which is, in fact, the fifth game in the AC continuity), the property may only now be suited for a big screen adaptation. While the original iteration was intriguing, the Third Crusade setting may have rang a bit too much like Prince of Persia for anyone investing money to bring the game to life (note: that movie flopped). Assassin’s Creed II was a sweeping, Renaissance era epic…entirely revolving around the diabolical plottings of the Catholic Church. Might be hard to kill the pope in a Hollywood blockbuster. Is the third round the perfect plotline? The American Revolution, North America-friendly shooting locations, a small scale with ferocious fight scenes — as long as no one remembers The Patriot, it’s gold!
The Last of Us
A straight forward survival game, The Last of Us drops players in the middle of city ravaged by a plague and overrun with survivors killing for food and mutants killing for… mutant reasons. The get-yourself-out-of-a-sticky-situation-before-you’re-dead genre has rarely been replicated on screen, the fear that out of anywhere at anytime death could come knocking. But with a strong central character, a true proxy for the audience member, there’s no reason it couldn’t work. The Last of Us drops most of the flourishes (that is, until the shoot out begins) and the minimalist approach could work in a movie version. I Am Legend riffed on the idea on a large scale worthy of Will Smith, but there’s something to scaling it back and making the scenario truly scary.
One of E3’s biggest hits was Watch Dogs, a game that, based on the trailer, appears to involve lots of walking around and looking like you’re up to no good. The main character is a superheroic hacker, able to tap into phones, computers and anything Internet accessible at the drop of a hat (in a crowded room, he quickly pulls up personal information on everyone int he surrounding area). His power can also be destructive: in one scene, he hacks a traffic light and causes a pile up worthy of Blue Brothers. Hollywood hasn’t produced a true hacker movie in nearly a decade — the thriller subset was prominent back in the ’90s but it’s all but faded post-Matrix — but Watch Dogs could be the answer. Live Free or Die Hard dabbled in modern hacker techniques, but these days we have WikiLeaks and Anonymous and 4Chan. The fantasy element in Watch Dogs is all too real and primed for the movie treatment.
The fourth entry in Microsoft’s mainstay sci-fi series once again delivers an epic live-action trailer. Are they mocking us at this point? Will directors like Neill Blomkamp and Rupert Sanders tease us with possibilities knowing full well we’ll never see a Halo movie? Military sci-fi is a rarity in Hollywood. Starship Troopers did it as satire, Wing Commander did it as a Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie, but now it’s time for the serious take. Halo is a time-honored series with a built-in fanbase. Heck, maybe they could just assemble all the live-action trailers and release it on the big screen. Whatever it takes!
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Microsoft ]