You came back?? Or did you just randomly stumble here in the dark?? It doesn’t matter now; you are here and that’s all that matters. So, take a seat and prepare to join the journey. This is Episode 5 in a look back at games that were turned into films, bringing us into that classic of years – 2020. The year that will be remembered for nothing, or specifically being able to do nothing because of a global pandemic that affected every walk of life. Rather than dwell on that for now though, did you read the previous episodes of this nostalgic journey? If the answer is now then use the links below to find some goodness….
Now… let’s get on with this shall we…..
“Dead Rising: End Game“(2016)
dir. Pat Williams
Jesse Metcalf, Marie Avgeropoulos, Ian Tracey
Jesse Metcalf plays investigator Chase Carter who finds himself getting stuck in the middle of zombie infestation situations. If you have played the games, you know that it gets repetitive really quickly and stops being entertaining. The games look good but are not known for depth. As coincidence would have it, the films were just as good (I’m being sarcastic, I really mean it’s bad) without actually looking good. Go straight to SyFy, do not pass go, do not collect £200.
Did you read what I wrote about “Dead Rising: Watchtower” yesterday? I’ve basically copied and pasted that here. Do you know why? Well, I was being repetitive. Just like the game, and just the film.
The first film must have been successful enough for Jesse Metcalf to return, or he must be a true artists that wanted to conclude his run in these zombie inspired films. Not much new still, I’ll be honest, both films merge into the same trash in my head.
“Assassin’s Creed” (2016)
dir. Justin Kurzel
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons,
A game-to-film attempt that fans had been waiting for ages – apparently. The tapestry of the game is rich with content, even if it is limited with its variation. Yes, it’s a free roaming game, but you have to admit, the missions become similar throughout the games. For audiences coming to this without an understanding of the game it would be difficult – a guys gets plugged into a machine, which allows him to travel into the body of one of his forefathers via shared DNA. He is then able to see and interact with what happened back in time, which can help the future, but not in the past. Actually, when I write it out it does seem a little bonkers doesn’t it. On top of the main plot vehicle, there are secrets sects and factions who have been fighting for ages to control humanity, or to protect it.
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Brendan Gleeson are amonsgt the top stars in this – big names to help the audience enjoy this, right?
Wrong! While the film is a good spectacle, it’s not necessary true to the game because it’s been made into something it’s not. It is more complex than it needs to be too, which was done to try and make it less complex than it already was. Yes, that’s right – to make it less complex than it already was, somehow it was made more complex further still.
At least it looked good I guess, it was definitely made to be a sexy Hollywood film.
“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (2016)
dir. Paul W.S. Anderson
Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose
The Final Chapter? Really?
14 years after the first film that Paul W.S Anderson brought us in the ResEvil film franchise comes it’s swan song – the final chapter. Like some of the other films in the ResEvil franchise, this one is still trying to capture what the first film gave us but falling short. Plenty of action and excitement on a journey that sees Alice still fighting the evil Umbrella corporation.
This is a nice enough wrap up of things, but it’s still a bit samesy. After the events of “Retribution” Alice is apparently the only remaining survivor of humanities last stand against Umbrella. She decides to take the fight to them at the “Hive” in Racoon City. This brings everything full circle to where it started from. Along the way she bumps into fan favourites that have made appearances in the franchise both on-screen and in game.
It’s worth noting that if you look at future video game to film releases, you’ll see there is another Resident Evil scheduled for 2021/2022 so it’s hardly the final chapter. For now though, thank you Paul W.S. Anderson… and thank you Milla X
dir. Duncan Jones
Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga
What do you do if you have a truck load of money to burn, and an itching to make a blockbuster? Something too that won’t instantly make the fans hostile too?
You base your film on a video game which is globally successfully but has that much variation in it play that you can do whatever you want and put it down to a random story arc that doesn’t have to be specific anything.
You do something that crosses into the realm of fantasy and fiction – something with the power of “Lord of the Rings“, but with the grand scale of perhaps something like “Saving Private Ryan” or any number of big budget epic war films. You bring in everyone’s favorite Viking (Travis Fimmel), and you make giant Orc’s that match the game’s version of the fiction race or Orc’s, you bring use lots of CGI, and you try to make everything BIG!
I was slightly put off by the amount of CGI and green screen used. I knew there would be lots, but it got to the point where the actors looked as though they’d been copied and pasted onto a PowerPoint presentation.
The main problem here is, or that least the problem I had with this anyway; you know when it’s obvious that somebody is trying too hard to please you, and it becomes sickening… well that! Too much, too wide a spread, not enough focus. Pity because it certainly was a big spectacle with lots of game canon and source material to go from.
“The Angry Birds Movie” (2016)
dir. Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Kate McKinnon
Let’s not beat around the bush, a film was made to sponge off the success of a 2-dimension game which is just about flinging birds at towers built by pigs – it is a modern adaptation of skittles. It is made for kids, and with it being 2-dimensional side-scrolling concept and game, the production teams on these movies can basically do whatever they want. They don’t have much of a game source material to live up to, there isn’t a massive universe or canon – it’s just a throw away concept, like the colourful birds that are being tossed around in the game. Perfect for a successful kids movie then.
Why have I included it in this list, despite it not being live action? I dunno – it made a lot of money and I’ve seen it? It was a game before it was a movie so it qualifies? I don’t know – maybe I was being soft and shouldn’t have included it in this blog. Too late now though.
“Dead Trigger” (2017)
dir. Mike Cuff, Scott Windhauser
Dolph Lundgren, Autumn Reeser, Romeo Miller
A 2012 game made into a 2017 film with Dolph Lundgren fighting zombies… hang on, that sounds epic!!
Oh, but hang on a minute, it’s not real, you’ve been duped. It’s like a modern day version of a drone… or rehashing “Universal Soldier” and adding zombies into the mix. There is a reason why not many people have actually seen this (unfortunately I am not one of those people), because it’s terrible and actually quite laughable at times. Even as an autopilot movie that requires no thinking, there isn’t enough alcohol available to make me enjoy this. Sorry Dolph.
dir. Brad Peyton
Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Dwayne Johnson is on the list more than once, and both the films make me slightly unhappy too. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’d be happy if the Rock rolled passed the next game-to-film adaption and passed it up. This film was always going to suffer IMO, the concept of the game was that you are one of 3 giant super-sized beasts that tries to destroy a city – end of plot.
There were always going to be difficulties humanizing this film and wrapping a story around it. The production team managed it just about, but this is only really “Rampage” in name and big beasts only – nothing else. As an action/ creature film which has Dwayne Johnson being the same kind of character he is in virtually every film – then it get’s that right. As a homage to the game that the title comes from – I wasn’t personally impressed but take from it what you will. It doesn’t need a brain, it’s loud, it sparkles, it passes time easy enough.
“It came from the desert” (2018)
dir. Marko Makilaakso
Harry Lister Smith, Alex Mills, Vanessa Grasse
I remember the game fondly. Not because it was that good, in fact when I played it on the Amiga in the 80’s I was a child and it made no sense to me whatsoever. When I played it again in the 90’s via MS-DOS it still made no sense to me, and I learned that it wasn’t a fun or easy game. This film is pretty poor, but it knows that it is. It is intended to be a cheesy piece of garbage that was inspired by a video game and 1950’s creature feature films. Because of that, I can’t instantly hate it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I can’t hate it either – I’ll just walk away and blow a whistle and hope that nobody saw me watch it.
“Tomb Raider” (2018)
dir. Roar Uthaug
Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi
The Alicia Vikander film (soon to be films with a sequel planned for 2021/2022), came about because times changed, both in the game and in the real world. A top-heavy sexualized figurehead just wasn’t appropriate anymore.
Video Game makers wanted the Lara Croft character to be taken seriously again after the way it turned out around 2010. They wanted a game character that connected with the real world and wasn’t as much a Jessica Rabbit, but more of a strong independent Wonder Woman. The game reboot made the character less about style and more about substance – the game franchise got taken seriously again, and copies of it flew off the shelf. Personally I think this was the right time for the reboot because the character had turned a little stale and laughable, history had distorted what people remembered. Let’s not forget, before we had Angelina Jolie jiggling her bits on-screen, we had one of the best selling video games of the PlayStation era.
After navigating the maze of the game reboot, and after a couple of years of it bedding in, came the topic of rebooting the film franchise too. This was a risk that Hollywood felt was worth taking, and that is where Alicia Vikander comes into it.
Time will tell if this works in the long term but it’s worth noting that this reboot scores better on film review sites then the Angelina Jolie originals. This upturn in rating isn’t always the case, so maybe the world has changed? I certainly know that this reboot brought a lot more ladies to the cinema than the original films did, which wasn’t a measly amount as it was. Plenty of ladies enjoyed the first incarnation of Lara Croft on the big-screen and in the games. This just brought more out because it was a newer and modern strong female character. This version of Tomb Raider is not just more authentic and raw, she’s also not over-sexualised and pouty like the adventurer that came before her.
The downside to all this, and my justification for saying that “time will tell if this works” is that the film didn’t really jump out that much. It’s a good adventure and action film, but it’s middle-of-the-road without bells and whistles on. Perhaps that is just to bed in the new version before going big.
“Detective Pikachu” (2019)
dir. Rob Letterman
Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanbe
I enjoyed this random film more than I thought I would to be honest. The game is a random off-shoot to the bigger Pokemon franchise and was really more of a filler than a standalone game title. The film however, with beautiful voice acting from Ryan Reynolds, became something that could stand up for itself in big boy pants. It was visually striking and fun with a nice story. Sure it was a little predictable to older audience members but I’m pretty certain the film knew that it was aimed at the younger audience to bring in new fans, with a side task of satisfying what older fans would have experienced when they were themselves a lot younger.
One of the things the film did really well is not focus too much on explaining itself, which allowed it to just be itself. There was enough explanation for people new to Pokemon. Likewise, there wasn’t too much of an explanation to annoy people familiar with it. It is a miracle that Nintendo allowed this game to be made after what happened in 1993 with “Super Mario Bros” but they took the risk and I think it paid off. 26-years after being burned I think Nintendo can hold their head up high with this film – finally!
This film kind of goes under the radar but does well for itself. Like I mentioned earlier in this list about “Dragon Ball Evolution“, I know that this franchise is as famous for cartoons as it is video games, but I have played Pokemon games so it’s only fair to include this in my listing.
“The Angry Birds Movie 2” (2019)
dir. Thurop Van Orman
Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Leslie Jones
Let’s not beat around the bush, a film was made to sponge off the success of a 2-dimension game which is just about flinging birds at towers built by pigs – it is a modern adaptation of skittles. It is made for kids, and with it being 2-dimensional concept and game, the production teams on these movies can basically do whatever they want. They don’t have much of a game source material to live up to, there isn’t a massive universe or canon – it’s just a throw away concept, like the colourful birds that are being tossed around in the game. Perfect for a successful kids movie then.
Wait a minute, isn’t this just the same as what I wrote for the first angry birds movie higher up this list in 2016? Ok, you’ve caught me out, I just recycled the same thing as before, much like the game got away with, and much like he film also did too!
“Doom: Annihilation” (2019)
dir. Tony Giglio
Amy Manson, Dominic Mafham, Luke Allen-Gale
Somebody in Hollywood forgot about the last time a film of the Doom game was made and they decided to make their own version of it. Its funny that the game studio distanced themselves from this feature film attempt – like audiences that have seen this 2019 film, they had a big dislike for it. In addition, the last film didn’t really enhance their reputation so it’s probably best to stay distant and just see what happens – I bet they are glad about that.
In this films defense, at least made reference to the games – despite being a massive pile of rubbish. It had the colour concepts of the game, artifacts, transporter portals to Hell, demons, a proper plasma gun, a BFG… It was just poorly delivered and looked cheap. The acting wasn’t great, and the plot was predictable too. I didn’t hate this film, I just didn’t love it either.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” (2020)
dir. Jeff Fowler
Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey
This cheesy film went from nightmare to acceptable after audience opinion/ backlash forced change to the first draft(s) of it – mainly to the titular hedgehog. Appearance wise, instead of looking like the pixelated blue hedgehog from the games that 90’s kids loved, what we got was… well… an unintentional scary mess! Thankfully fan-power changed that and the studio redesigned Sonic.
Aside from visuals though, let’s be honest – how exciting or engaging is a film about a speeding smart-talking blue hedgehog that collects rings ever going to be? Not at all really, yet this actually turned out to be a fun family film. James Marsden and Jim Carrey help pick up the slack and deliver the film to a better standard than it would have been just working with the animated abomination we were first given.
In the long term, people have worked hard for nearly 30 years to come up with an angle to get the iconic Sega character onto the big screen. Back when “Super Mario Bros” (1993) became the first Hollywood game-to-film feature, the console wars were in full effect; Nintendo with their Italian plumber versus Sega and their Blue Hedgehog – Sonic vs Mario. It’s nice to wrap up this list with the blue hedgehog finally getting a film of his own. I can’t say its a great film, but hey, he got a film. Is it to the same standard that we got with Mario? Let me answer that in a few years time when the dust settles.
So there you have it pop-pickers. Hollywood’s game-to-film features which started in 1993 with Nintendo’s Italian plumber stomping on mushrooms, all the way up to 2020 and Sega’s fast talking, quick spinning blue hedgehog. In between you got some PlayStation characters, some PC adventurers, and some XBox legends – all of which can be found by clicking back on some of the other write-ups I’ve done which are hyperlinked here:
Episode 5 – 2016 – 2020 (you are here!)
Before I started this week’s theme of game-to-film, I had some disclaimers. One of those disclaimers was that there were more films that could be included in my blogs, that I hadn’t, purely on the basis that I just hadn’t seen them or didn’t know about them. Well, the kind folks that read this blog (both of you), got in touch to give me the names of a few films that I had missed. I promised those people (both of you), to add those films here with an apology for not doing enough research. So, “Sorry”, and other notable films that could have been included on my list, are as follows:
- The King of Fighters (2009)
- Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn (2012)
- Company of Heroes (2013)
- Zombie Massacre (2013)
- Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist (2014)
- Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (2014)
- Halo: Nightfall (2015)
Where to next?
Next, because I am generous I haven’t quite finished with this week’s blog theme. Come back tomorrow (8pm) to look at some of the films that are penciled in for future releases. There are some new titles, some old titles rebooted, and some that are completely left field when it comes to considering which games to adapt into films. I won’t spoil it for now though, for now I’ll just say adios amigos – peace out!