So Netflix just announced a Resident Evil Live Action series, and it uh, it doesn’t look good. Most people who have read the synopsis can agree that it sounds less like Resident Evil and more like Stranger Things meet the Walking Dead. The announcement of another likely to-be-bad video game adaptation will likely get people talking about the “Video game movie curse” as they always do.
But is this curse actually real? Are video game movies doomed to be bad by default? Personally, I don’t believe so. I have a belief that anything in any medium can be adapted into another medium fine with the right amount of care. In fact there’s some video game movies I would consider to be good and love watching.
Resident Evil has had several prior experiences with film adaptations
People will often give the argument “Well there’s just some things you can do in games that you can’t do in movies”. Okay, such as? See, people will always say this as a reason it’s impossible for a game to be made into a movie, but can never give examples. I ask you, do you honestly think movies cannot portray superhuman feats like jumping? Or impossible swordplay? Or monsters? In an era where the MCU exists, do you honestly think movies would be too brought down by realism to be video gamey?
Then there’s the argument of “Films lose a sense of control that the player feels” and to that I say, yes, you are absolutely right. You aren’t in control of films, because it’s a completely different medium. The goal is to tell a story and entertain as opposed to a game where the entertainment comes from your control over it. However this doesn’t just doom a video game movie by default. To say that without control over it a video game’s story becomes bad is ridiculous I think, almost an insult toward gaming. Video games have been telling great stories for decades and to dismiss any storytelling potential that doesn’t involve direct control is the height of folly. Cutscenes have existed for years in games, subtle storytelling through action in film has existed for decades in film. These aren’t incompatible mediums.
Next I would just like to take some time to highlight three video game movies that I find enjoyable and love to watch:
The most obvious example being the Ace Attorney movie. The Ace Attorney movie adapts its GBA source material into a 2 and a half hour live action format nearly flawlessly, with an amazing cast and great set design. It’s everything you could ask for from an adaptation. It holds a reputation among people who have watched it for being “The only good video game movie”. However, even with this universal praise there are still those who would decry this film as being a victim of the video game movie curse simply because they changed one character’s design.
Then another personal pick for me is the Street Fighter live action movie. Wait please don’t close the tab, I’m serious. The Street Fighter movie was absolutely hated upon release by audiences and critics, and I personally think that’s unfair. The movie is a campy action film that rarely takes itself seriously. With outrageous speeches from M. Bison and Guille spouting one liners. If you genuinely hate a campy film like this, then why are you defending the honor of a game with a dictator whose chin looks like a butt
Then we have the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, the video game film with the current highest rotten tomatoes rating out of all video game movies. I don’t pay attention to those ratings myself, but I felt that was worth mentioning.
Following the footsteps of other “Small creature ends up in the human world” movies Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Smurfs, Sonic was in a position to be another immediately hated film. However things didn’t go down that way, reception was mixed upon release but that’s better than most video game movies’ reception. I think that in ten years the Sonic fanbase themselves will relax on hating it, similar to how they’ve now relaxed on hating Sonic X
Plus it’s the most successful superhero movie of 2020 according to Wikipedia and is the first signs we are living in a post apocalyptic world so it has that going for it
Now allow me to highlight two upcoming video game movies that are already getting a lot of hate. I think we need to appreciate the effort that’s going into them
The minute we heard that the Monster Hunter movie was coming from the people responsible for the Resident Evil films we scoffed and rolled our eyes, me included.
However, we all need to admit something. Monster Hunter is pretty damn silly. The Resident Evil movies were similarly silly, and any crew bold enough to put a big knife that ridiculous in a theatrical film deserves at least some respect
Dynasty Warriors exists in a strange position as far as video game adaptations go. For one, I’m slowly being convinced it isn’t actually coming out with how long it’s been in post production. Also, Dynasty Warriors was based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms literature. So the filmmakers could just make a standard Romance of the Three Kingdoms film, call it Dynasty Warriors, and we wouldn’t be able to argue.
However, that’s not what they did based on the trailer. Not only do Guan Yu and Zhao Yun look like their Dynasty Warriors designs, but the trailer ends with Guan Yu defeating fifty men with one attack in true Musou fashion. Even attempting to replicate Musou action on the big screen is commendable.
But there’s still a LOT of bad video game movies right? Far more than just the ones I like or others like. You’re probably listing a lot of ones you personally hate right now. Now do me a favor. Take the list of bad video game films, and remove ones that involve a certain man, Uwe Boll. Suddenly the list of bad video game films becomes a lot smaller, right?
You may think it unfair to discount any of Uwe Boll’s work, but do we really need to consider the work of a man who made these films just to abuse German tax law? Do we really need to consider the work of a man who told all his critics to f**k their mothers? Do we need to consider the work of a man who has no issue dropping slurs? Do we need to consider the video game movies of a man who has admitted to not caring about the stories of said games? Personally, I think not.
And that’s all I really have to say about video game films. I don’t think they’re cursed like so many other people in the gaming community do, there have been plenty of bad ones yes, but discrediting the ability to adapt games into film now is the same as discrediting adapting comics into films two decades ago. Sure, there have been more bad ones than good ones as of now, but the fact that good ones exist means that they’re not impossible and the potential for greatness is there, and I would be lying if I said the Super Mario Bros movie isn’t a guilty pleasure of mine.
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If you would like to read another article from me specifically, please check out my review of the Final Fantasy VII Remake
If you would like to read another control article, please check out Victiny’s piece on the PS5 game cases