Thanks to an endless slew of successful comic book films, movie adaptations have become the new norm. Unfortunately, not every adaptation out there has been a hit. While films like Wonder Woman, Harry Potter and The Avengers dominate the box office, video game adaptations remain at the very bottom of the cinematic barrel, forever reviled by the fans they were supposedly made for.
So, what’s wrong? Why can’t Hollywood ever make any great video game movies? Or forget “great.” What about decent? Are video games simply not translatable to live-action media, or is there something wrong with Hollywood’s preexisting formula?
It almost certainly has to be the latter. From a purely creative perspective, there’s very little to distinguish comic books from video games. Both media are decidedly visual and explore storylines that are both out of this world and perplexing, and yet comic book movies continue to find success both critically and financially. It’s no surprise fans moan and groan whenever news of a new video game adaptation hits the internet. On a fundamental level, gamers have begun to lose faith, and here’s why.
There’s a line that is often used in storytelling: “Sometimes, less is more.” The same goes for video game adaptations. For some reason, filmmakers feel obligated to put a “fresh Hollywood twist” on classic video game stories to stand out, but this is a mistake. In the movie’s efforts to seem unique, distinguish itself from the source material and appear creative, it overwhelms the narrative with changes it never needed, resulting in a contrived, overblown mess of incoherent plot parts and themes that are far removed from the video games fans know and love.
There is a persistent belief among filmmakers that video games are simply untranslatable to live-action media, which might’ve been true if Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hadn’t come out in 2010, proving that video game-inspired films can indeed be both impressive and successful. Scott Pilgrim may have been adapted from a comic book, but the comic book itself was inspired by everything modern gaming stands for. In a sense, their argument is invalid. And if Edgar Wright was able to do it, why not everyone else?
Popular video game titles aren’t too different from classic literature, and classics are classics for a very good reason. These are tried and tested formulas that shouldn’t be excessively tampered with because they already work. It’s like they say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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