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Let's face it: Hollywood has thrown some dreadful video game adaptations our way. A while back I illustrated for you the few beacons of hope on the horizon -- upcoming movies that could actually surpass their source material. But today I'd like to focus on the opposite: Planned adaptations of video games that are themselves so unique, to turn them into cheap flicks feels nothing short of criminal. These future future flicks may have interesting stories, but their interactivity simply cannot translate to the silver screen. Not that Hollywood won't try anyway.
Ironically, gamers love BioShock because of how distinctly un-movielike it is: With one notable exception, not a single non-interactive cut scene interrupted the player's control. Instead, the entire story was delivered through audio logs and environmental details. With Pirates of the Carribbean director Gore Verbinski set to helm a movie adaptaion, one has to wonder how special those subtle plot revelations will be when they're force-fed to an audience rather than discovered naturally. How will the distinctly game-centric plot twist that holds the entire game together translate? Most likely, it won't -- a BioShock movie will show us the beautifully tragic world of Rapture and its terrifying inhabitants, but everything that made it one of the best-reviewed games of 2007 will be lost.
This game adaptation, currently in the planning stages under ex-Marvel CEO Avi Arad, will be quite a sight to behold -- not necessarily because it'll be an amazing or terrible movie, but because the game is an almost shameless ripoff of every large-scale scifi epic in movie history: It's got Star Trek's characters, Star Wars' action and Serenity's down-and-dirty nihilism. Really, that's why the game is so enjoyable -- who wouldn't want to become the James T. Kirk/Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds of their own virtual universe? A Mass Effect adaptation, however, would feel like a literal step backward -- a derivative of a derivative whose plagiarism is impossible to ignore.
Would you make a movie based on board games like Monopoly? Of course you wouldn't. (Unless you're Ridley Scott, that is.) 20th Century Fox's decision to make an adaptation of Will Wright's smash hit game series remains the most mind-blowingly confusing decision this side of Battlefield Earth. Every character in The Sims is created by the player; everything they do is dictated by the player's omnipotent hand. There is literally no story beyond what the player chooses, be it turning their avatars into rock stars or trapping them in a room with no doors and watching them starve to death. Will the movie be a generic family drama with no connection to the game? Will it be an insane, fourth-wall-breaking meta-comedy like Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation? It's too early to tell -- but whatever the outcome, it won't be pretty.
Shadow of the Colossus
Through its incredibly vague story, minimalist environments and morally ambiguous gameplay, Shadow of the Colossus opened many eyes to the emotional and intellectual power of video games as an art form. Which, of course, makes it pretty ill-equipped to function as a halfway decent movie. The game consists of the player hunting down and killing sixteen different giant creatures, and includes less than two paragraphs of spoken dialogue. If the adaptation stays at all faithful to the game, we're talking about the most awkwardly paced movie in cinematic history. Hypothetically, Shadow could be made into a pretty subversive flick full of silence and existential pondering. But considering it's being written by the same dude who penned Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, my hopes aren't exactly sky high.
But what do you think? Could any of these movies be saved?