Reasons why movies based on video games fail – 03/23/2014

The release of Need For Speed has proved once again that movies based on video games are disasters. It now joins the ranks of many video game adaptations that have been panned as embarrassments to the cinematic arts.

There is a reason why so many movies based on video games fail to impress critics, attract audiences and satisfy the fans. The problem could be broken down to four major reasons and here is why:

Nobody in Hollywood respects video games as an art – This is not referring to all actors or directors, because it’s obvious that Steven Spielberg respect video games as an art. It could not be said the same about studio executives who see gaming as a fad among kids that they want to profit from.

To be fair; most studio executives operate in a shell while only focused on the bottom line of the industry. Its understandable that they need to focus on profits to keep everyone employed, but focusing on the bottom line gives them a warped perception on the business (aka knock-off’s and clones). To them its all about what sells and if they can’t understand it then it must not sell (this also is why Community has had a turbulent run).

However there are going to be a lot of entertainers who feel that video games is not an art and working on such a project would be beneath them  (people who are not Spielberg, Joss Whedon, Peter Jackson or Zack Snyder).

Lacking an understanding of gaming – Since many in Hollywood have failed to respect video games as an art, they have also failed to understand it as a medium. For example; people who don’t understand gaming as a medium will look at Grand Theft Auto V as a “car game that allows you to kill hookers” rather than a story of three friends seeking the American Dream in a corrupt society.

Its easy to overlook that video games didn’t become a story telling medium until the late 80’s while having to break from the traditional standards set by cinema and theater.

The issue is that a lot of screen writers and directors will look at video games as if it was an action movie. The action is a gameplay mechanism that allows he player to function in the context of the environment, not drive the story. In doing so they have overlooked the story and robbed it of any content that fans enjoy.

Case in point would be the Max Payne film and how it failed to properly recreate one of the greatest works of neo-noir since Pulp Fiction. The key word being “neo-noir”, as in a gritty crime drama within the context of a modern society. Not a dry action bore with trivial elements of a “supernatural” thriller.

Lack of respect for the source material – If the creative team doesn’t understand or respect the medium than its likely that they are breaking away from the source material.

Too often when such a film is announced, fans get excited in the hopes of seeing a cienmatic adaption of their favorite video game. A few months later they are shocked to discover that the story and characters are not based on the source material.

The film adaptations of Doom, Hitman, and House of the Dead are just a few examples to note. The most well known example to look at would be the turbulent production that Resident Evil had to undergo.

When the Resident Evil movie was green-lite back in the 90’s, Capcom and Sony originally wanted George A. Romero to direct it.  Unfamiliar with video games; he attempted to understand the source material by having his secretary play the game over eight times while being recorded. Next he would study the videos while writing a screenplay that was faithful to the story.

However Sony rejected Romero’s screenplay and put the project on hold until Paul W. S. Anderson submitted his screenplay. That is correct, Resident Evil was originally suppose to be directed by one of the most influential horror film directors and Sony rejected him in favor of some hack.

This bring the next big pint…

Unqualified directors – Finally when it comes down to it, the majority of movies based on a video game have been created by directors who obviously lack any kind of creative talent. A lot directors who have made movies based on video games are either inexperienced or just notoriously terrible.

Taking lessons learned from the success of comic book films and New Hollywood era, there could only be a good film based on a video game if the director understands and respects the medium. Not too long ago; comic book movies were seen as box office poison until Bryan Singer redefined the concept in 2000.

Video game movies could also have the same kind of success if only the right talent is leading the project. One needs to realize that there is a big difference between the works of Paul W. S. Anderson and John Moore compared to the auteurism of Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi.

Directors like Whedon, Raimi along with Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson and Zack Snyder were the kind of geeks who had the utmost appreciation for the source material. These artists were raised within this culture and as adults it has been a vision to properly recreate or retell these stories through the cinematic arts.

Also important to note is that they all had some experience in film making that help build the needed credibility among the studios to green light their dream project. Raimi had established himself with the Evil Dead-trilogy, Sir Kenneth Branagh was already recognized for his cinematic adaptations of the works of William Shakespeare before directing Thor,  the successful re-make of Dawn of the Dead help launch Snyder’s career, and Whedon became an icon with his cinematic screenplays and television shows.

Meanwhile the majority of movies based on video games have been directed by individuals who are either inexperienced or known for making bad films. The best film Moore directed, Flight of the Phoenix, has a 37% on Rotten Tomato, Andrzej Bartkowiak is also very similar, Uwe Boll can’t direct a film for s***, and Need for Speed is Scott Waugh second major film.

That is why fans were disappointed when Jackson abandoned his highly anticipated Halo movie. Because it had a chance to actually be a proper adaptation of a popular game series because of his experience and Neil Blomkamp possible vision.

However there is some hope for the proposed adaption of The Last of Us since Sam Raimi is attached to the project.

Written for The Gamers Progress
03/23/2014
Original Article: Reasons why movies based on video games fail

Advertisements

‘Ground Zeroes’ properly introduces the series to the Xbox – 3/18/2014

Metal-Gear-Solid-V-Ground-Zeroes

Metal Gear Solid has always been a pioneer in redefining the stealth-action genre while re-branding itself with each new entry in the series. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is Hideo Kojima’s attempt to introduces gamers to what he hopes is would be a new direction for the series.

Its going to be a long time before The Phantom Pain is released while Kojima really wants to show the gaming world the new chapter in Big Boss’s story. Hence he has done everyone a favor by giving a sample of what to expect.

While PlayStation gamers are debating between David Hayter vs. Kiefer Sutherland, for Xbox gamers this will be their first real introduction to the Metal Gear series.

The series has always felt like a PlayStation exclusive ever since the release of Metal Gear Solid back in 1998. Despite the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox gamers have been left out of the experiences.

Times have changed and it appears Kojima no longer wants to feed the fuels of the console war. In the end we are all gamers and despite a difference in consoles, having missed out on the Metal Gear-series is not acceptable.

Following the events of Peace Walker; Paz Ortega Andrade and Chico have been captured by XOF and are being held at Camp Omega in Cuba. Snake (a.k.a. Big Boss) needs to infiltrate the camp and rescue them before sensitive information regarding Militaires Sans Frontières (Soldiers Without Borders) is leaked to The Patriots.

First lets get the obvious out of the way, this is not a two hour game or an over glorified demo. This is an introduction to a direction for the series. Gamers could expect to finish it quick (a time period greater then two hours) if they play it on easy and don’t bother using stealth or tactics (this is not Call of Duty).

However $30 price tag is still too much as a $15 price would have been more reasonable.

As with previous games; Ground Zeroes features a thought provoking story with an ending that will leave players speechless and really wanting The Phantom Pain. Kojima vision of creating games could only be described of having the artistic style of James Cameron while borrowing the auteurism of Quentin Tarantino.

Ground Zeroes gameplay mechanism will use features from both Guns of the Patriots and Peace Walker while having improved the overall setup. Players will explore a limited open-world from a third person perspective while avoiding detection.

The game will use the same kind of combat system featured in Guns of the Patriots but using stealth and avoiding combat is more encouraged. CQC has also been modestly tweaked to give players an easier time engaging enemy sentries.

One issue old-school gamers will struggle to overcome is getting acquainted to Kiefer Sutherland having replaced David Hayter as the voice of Snake. The problem is that despite Sutherland efforts in trying to give Snake a voice, it almost feels like you’re playing as Jack Bauer.

The biggest obstacle Xbox gamers will have to overcome is trying to understand the story while understanding how much Ground Zeroes has accomplished. Having played HD Collection only tells parts of the story while a quick read on Wikipedia is not the same as having played Metal Gear Solid in 1998.

In the end Hideo Kojima has not outdone himself, he has only demonstrated with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes that he plans to make The Phantom Pain his crowning achievement. Meanwhile; Xbox gamers will finally have a real chance to play one of the greatest game series.

Final Score: 5/5

Written for The Gamers Progress
03/18/2014
Original Article: ‘Ground Zeroes’ properly introduces the series to the Xbox

Gamer culture has been more progressive about the depiction of LGBT characters – 3/2/2014

Volgin_Crockett

Is the gaming community ready for an LGBT protagonist? This is the discussion that Lucien Soulban, head writer of Far Cry 3 and one of the most influential openly gay figures in the gaming industry, opened up when he stated that gamers were not ready for such a protagonist.

With all due respect to Soulban, he underestimates how progressive gaming culture has been regarding the depiction of LGBT characters. That statement may appear out of place given how the gaming community has often been stigmatized for being homophobic. Sadly its a shame that the antics of brats who play Call of Duty has been allowed to be a representation of the culture.

When a gamer takes the time to look back at the history of video games, they will realize that the culture has been more progressive about the portrayal of LGBT then Hollywood. Probably unbeknownst to Soulban, there have been games that have given players the option of being an LGBT character.

Most recently Saints Row IV gave players the option of having an LGBT character based on their interactions with a homie. Among the interactive choices, players could engage in sexual relationships with each homie regardless of gender (except for Keith David).

Several years earlier; Mass Effect 3 also allowed players to have the option of having an LGBT character based on their interaction with the game world (regardless of gender). Fallout: New Vegas also gave players same the choice while also encountering a verity of LGBT characters that are in the service of the NCR Military or trying to survive in the Wasteland.

The crowning achievement to the advancement of the depiction of LGBT characters in video games goes to Colonel Yevgeny Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He is one of the most significant gay figures in pop-culture who broke from the stereotypical images in-favor of a strong willed character.

Metal Gear Solid has always been very progressive regarding the depiction of LGBT characters by giving them strong traits and a significant role. Gamers have encountered characters like Vamp and Dr. Strangelove, but Colonel Volgan may be the most significant of them all.

In the game; Colonel Volgan was the most powerful military figure in the Soviet Union who also lead the hawkish-faction that is plotting to replace Nikita Khrushchev with Leonid Brezhnev. His actions brought America and the USSR on the brink of war only to be defeated by Snake. However actions lead to the downfall of Khrushchev while setting the stage for the conflict between Big Boss and Major Zero.

Despite claims that he is bisexual, there are a lot characteristic traits that support the notion that he prefers the companionship of men. Most of his sadistic interactions with women have been based on a misogynistic outlook that women are inferior (with The Boss being an exception) and are not worthy of his respect. Hence he prefers to have a proper emotional relationship with a male companion who he can see as an equal (like Major Raikov).

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released a year before the media was over-hyping the  socially progressive significance of Brokeback Mountain (because apparently everyone forgot about Midnight Cowboy). Despite the social changes achieved, Hollywood and has failed to create a strong and powerful character like Colonel Volgan.

Soulban remarks came from a position of misunderstanding his culture and was a disservice to the social progression it has made. However his remarks could only encourage the industry to continue this social progression that has put Hollywood’s slow acceptance to shame.

Written for The Gamers Progress
03/2/2014
Original Article: Gamer culture has been more progressive about the depiction of LGBT characters