Director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) announced the upcoming Uncharted movie should begin filming soon in 2015. This puts a lot of pressure on the pre-production team to prepare a solid script, cast, and crew for the film adaptation. The Assassin’s Creed film, starring Michael Fassbender is already in production, which makes it hard for its crew to heed this warning: Film adaptations of video games are nearly impossible to pull off.
Taking a look at the history of film adaptations for games you will find several flops and dozens of movies that never made it out of pre-production. Doom, Max Payne, Resident Evil, Need For Speed, Prince of Persia, and Tomb Raider have all seen embarrassing and poorly reviewed film adaptations which lost studios large sums of money. Other fan favorite games like Bioshock, Gears of War, Halo, and The Sims lost steam or ran across complications before shooting even began.!
So what’s the problem? Video games are a bigger industry now than film, so why can’t film adaptations be successful? The reason is that movies are movies and video games are video games. Media studies guru Marshall McLuhan once said that the medium is the message, meaning the mode of representation adds to its meaning.
Bold examples of films where the media is the message include Inception where the team creating the dreams parallels the crews making movies and the dreamer who lose their grasp on reality is the audience. An example of a game that does this would be the Bioshock series.
Director Ken Levine played with the idea of free will in video games. Do the players have any choice but to play by the rules given to them? Other games like The Stanley Parable and Hotline Miami also work in similar territory.
Not all games do this. Some games are just games. But either way there is a huge difference between the mediums of film and video games. Video game movies are rarely successful because turning the concepts of a game into a movie just does not work sometimes.
In turn, many movies made into video games flat-out suck. How many games based on a movie’s story have you played and liked? Of course Star Wars and other big titles make for great games, but the good ones have their own story lines.
For years video games were taboo in the film industry. Too many movies ruined too many careers and only now are studios giving adaptations a try again. Are they doomed to fail? It’s very likely. But it’s not impossible to make a good Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed movie. A Nathan Drake film could work in the style of Indiana Jones and a Desmond Miles movie could be pulled off with the alternate history hopping action style of the Xmen: First class and Days of Future Past.
I’m excited to see what these two films will bring, but if I were the studios in charge I’d be shitting my pants.
BY HARSHVARDHAN SINGH.