Yeah, yeah, okay, so this is nice:
But you know what would make it even better? Imagine if it was an animated movie with Tim Burton at the helm, infusing the production with a quirky, offbeat sensibility. And we could get a real actor -- Johnny Depp? Just throwing that out there -- to play Manny. Now we're in business.
I'm using sarcasm to make a point and be a dick. Film has become the final destination of any work of fiction; sort of a pop culture meridian. That's great for the author whose book was optioned for a cool seven figures, and great for the studios and everyone working on the project but I have no idea why consumers get at all excited at the prospect of a video game being made into a movie. I don't understand the people who actually want to see a Monkey Island film. The story was told pretty well the first time. Who wants to watch that?
Translating a novel into film makes some sense because there's a visual and a sonic dimension being added, but games are already so cinematic as to render the translation pointless. A video game narrative is the closest thing to movies that any medium's got going. In fact, cutscenes are movies.
In exchange for seeing something we like up on the big screen, we have to cut five-sixths of Planescape: Torment and remove what's interesting about Half-Life. Doom and Super Mario Bros. are going to need a story and so the producers will use the template that came with the scriptwriting software. It's not 1990. Games these days are pretty good with cinematic techniques and they're using talented actors and for the most part they know how to structure a story, so I am moved to ask: what's the point? It's a cynical cash grab and that lack of inspiration is reflected time and time again in the product itself.
It's unfortunate that video game movies have, with depressing consistency, been some of the worst pieces of celluloid trash ever; the province of the special effects guy making his directorial debut. That's bad luck and the movies will get better. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Max Payne look like they'll reach a basic level of filmmaking competency. Although Max Payne is a fan letter to film cliché to begin with; it's going to be very exciting when that's all filtered out, leaving the story of a tough-as-nails cop who plays by his own rules.
It's not even about whether the movies are bad or not. It's about gamers thrilling to the very possibility of a movie adaptation, and apparently assuming the cinematic treatment will somehow unlock the game's heretofore unrealised potential.
What's the reason? Is it that a wider audience will be exposed to Metal Gear Solid and we'll be all I-told-you-so. You see, we weren't engaging in meaningless first-review hyperbole when we claimed this was an "Oscar-worthy story". You made fun of me at the time but didn't that thing with Aeris move you more than you ever thought possible?
Do we want to live vicariously through a game's second life? Are the people photoshopping the Firefly cast onto a movie poster for Mass Effect looking for the satisfaction of having their fannish wish-fulfillment writ large? Are we trying to validate the artistic merits of this medium to a mainstream audience by, ironically, repackaging it in an already established and acceptable format?
The advantages and the reasoning elude me. The aesthetics of the major leagues seem fine but we do some things okay. There's the red carpet and there's gold statues, but right now I'm actually pretty content with video games.
P.S. You almost surely read this post as a response to the recent announcement of a BioShock movie, when in fact I had this idea three weeks ago. I blame the news cycle for detonating my post's time-sensitive originality and making me out to be some lousy op-ed writer who just riffs on the day's headlines. Gore Verbinski, how dare you. This isn't over. You're going to feel what I feel. I swear I'm going to find your BioShock script and I'm gonna leak it. Don't mess with me.