Top 5 Game to Film Should’ve Beens

Top-5-Video-GamesAlright, I’ll admit the title is a mouth full, but give me a second to explain myself.  Since nowadays Hollywood slightly redeemed themselves in the eyes of many geeks in a light of the recent comic book to film adaptations, it seems they’ve realize that combining solid talent to fan boy material can equal box office success as well as critical plaudits.  It was a long road to get there and for every Dark Knight there is the Fantastic Four series.

It’s my overall theory that success lies with the talent behind the camera.  Directors like Chris Nolan, Jon Favreau and Bryan Singer all rose from up-and-comers to A-list by respecting source material and delivering the goods for the fans and the general audience with comic book movies.  On the other hand, Tim Story and Jonathan Hensleigh aren’t doing much at all.

My point proven, it’s a shame that Hollywood hasn’t taken the same approach for the generally dismal Game-to-Film adaptation circuit.  I’ve been a video game fan since the golden days of the NES and have to say I’ve only been satisfied with one adaptation (Silent Hill) in a period that’s almost spanned two decades.

This list consists of a look at some prime examples of films that had all the potential to soar, but unfortunately coupled with miscast directors fell flatly.  I excluded obvious director choices (what film wouldn’t be awesome done by Cameron or Jackson?) as well as Street Fighter 2 because they made an awesome Manga from that back in the 90’s.  I don’t expect all of you will agree, but I think you’ll defiantly enjoy…



 Max Payne


 In my opinion there hasn’t been a larger missed opportunity than with Max Payne.  Whilst the game was hardly sex-on-tap, it was extremely fun, introduced bullet time to gaming and uniquely combined film elements from Film Noir, John Woo and Gothic horror, smashing them together in a unique package that screamed film adaptation.


I will give hack director John Moore credit where it’s due.  He was able to capture the visual look of the game to a tee.  Unfortunately, that’s were the compliments end because what we’re left with is a shallow experience following a by-the-numbers plot, Mark Wahberg showing up to collect his pay check and an action movie that doesn’t really have any action.  The movie is a celluloid equivalent of a ‘cock tease,’ which, lets face it; is never a good thing.


While the obvious choice would’ve been John Woo or the Wachowski brothers (not to mention their association with video games), I’m going to go for the underdog vote and shoe-in; Wayne Kramer.  If you’re asking who, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Running Scared.  The film comes off as a better adaptation of Max Payne than the resulting film; mixing slow-mo bloodshed with hard-hitting Noir undertones, the film even made Paul Walker look like a badass (no, I don’t smoke crack). Sure it didn’t have the Gothic visual look to match the game, but if Moore could pull it off, so could Brett Ratner.



 Resident Evil


While Resident Evil was hardly the first ‘Survival Horror’ game, it definitely was the first to make most of gamers scream like little bitches (the dog jumping through the window; need I say more?).  It also took a simple, cliché premise and put the player through a roller coaster ride that equalled (at least for the time) the best that the horror world had to offer on the celluloid screen.


While the box office might argue with me on this (they’re filming Part 4 as we speak) there’s no denying that Paul Anderson’s adaptation is extremely flawed, overly complicated and conclusively a crap zombie movie.  Milla Jovovich kicking an undead dog in the air does not make for an exciting horror film.  Admitedly, if the film didn’t bear the title Resident Evil, I might not be as harsh, but unfortunately its relentless effort to swerve away from what made the game effective is both disappointing and unnecessary.


I’m going to go for the obvious choice on this one, the godfather of Zombies; George A Romero.

Some of you might be scratching your heads with my decision after seeing the horrendous Diary of the Dead, but it is well-known knowledge that Romero was originally hired to write and direct the movie back in the late 90’s.  Unfortunately, he was fired after handing in his first draft.  Anyone who’s read that draft (its online), or saw the TV commercials he directed for the “Resident Evil 2” game, will agree that he was the right man for a solid adaptation that would’ve kicked you squarely in the balls.



 Tomb Raider


While I’ll admit I’m not overly familiar with the Tomb Raider games, it was always clear to me what they set out to do; provide the gaming community with fun globe-trotting adventures in the style of Indiana Jones, but instead of your hero being the gruff every-man, it would be in the guise of Lara Croft; a sexy, double gun wielding babe with a giant rack.  Indiana Jones with tits, what could go wrong?


While I’ll admit that casting of Jolie as Croft was ingenious.  She was able to display as much charisma as a wooden plank, not to mention the resulting two films lacked one important element; they just weren’t any fun.  Simon West and Jan De Bont both failed at delivering anything satisfying.  They were dull, by the numbers and sported a bunch of lame CGI that would feel at home with Asylum’s back-catalogue.  These films should’ve been epic, sexy and oh, what did I say…FUN.


While Stephen Sommers would’ve been an obvious choice after the success of The Mummy, his subsequent films make me retract that decision.  Pondering it, the main man for the job would have to be Joss Whedon.  Whilst I wasn’t one for the Buffy phenomenon, there’s no denying he has the ability to create three dimensional action heroines that don’t come off as pretty caricatures.  Also, anyone who’s seen Firefly knows he delivers rollicking adventure that make even hardened viewers giddy.





Doom, at the time, was one of those rare games that put you in a crap-in-your-pants situation; stranded on a space station overtaken by demons straight out of Hell’s inferno, then put enough firepower in your hands to flip them the birdie and send them straight to…well, Hell.  The premise echoed Aliens by way of Hellraiser.  The transition to film was only furthered signified by the release of Doom 3 which still stands, to use crude terms, as one of the most pimp-ass games around.


While the film is not god-awful and has a few stands out scenes (the POV sequence will always have a place in my heart), there’s no denying it was overall mediocre.  I think part of the reason is the general lack of passion put into it.  Go-to hack director Bartoviak proves again that he was a better cinematographer than director.  The scares are obvious, performances so-so (besides The Rock cooking it up OTT) and action generally underwhelming.  Not even to mention the unnecessary plot twist where the demons are genetic experiments all done by the evil Military Science Division (is there any other type?).  They should have stuck to the basics; “Aliens” with demons, like the game.  Simple no?


There’s one man that could’ve knocked this one out of the park, Neil Marshall.  I will stand by The Descent as one of the best horror films of the past decade.  The man can do action, the man can do scary and claustrophobic, he can even throw in a little drama into the mix.  With his love of James Cameron and horror material, if he’d been hired to do Doom it wouldn’t have been an extra pay check; he’d eat that sucker’s soul!



 Mortal Kombat


Mortal Kombat splattered all over the arcades in the 90’s with its dark and bloody approach to the VS genre.  It stood out from the other Street Fighter 2 clones just from the sheer goriness of it all.  In Mortal Kombat you didn’t just lose, you got your spine ripped out and humiliated in front of the viewing public.  The plot was a nice mix of Chinese mythology with borrowed elements from the movies Big Trouble in Little China and Enter the Dragon making it ripe for the big screen.


While Paul Anderson’s dated original was goofy fun, not to mention it pulled in enough bank to warrant a crap sequel and an even worse TV series, there’s no denying the film slightly missed the point.  The game is dark, bloody and really bloody  If you don’t see what I’m getting at; where was the blood?  It’s a bit of a superficial complaint but one that has been sounded by many fans, not to mention that several corners of the Kombat universe still remained to be explored signifying the potential of what could have been.


This one proved to be a tough call as Mortal Kombat had always been Asian mythology projected through western eyes.  It would need a man that had a decent awareness of both worlds, had experience with chop-shocky action and as well as deliver gooey massacres with ease.  They’d be no better man qualified than Ronny Yu; the Hong Kong vet who’s dabbled excellently in both the Kung-Fu (The Bride with White Hair) and Horror (Freddy vs Jason) genres, while not to mention has the necessary visual panache to pull off the mystical world full of black sorcery, demons and ninjas!


6 Responses to “Top 5 Game to Film Should’ve Beens”

  1. Shawn

    You can’t expect that Doom would have ever been a good movie, no matter who was at the helm. There was zero story for them to work with, you can’t just expect them to whip something up out of thin air!

  2. Edzy

    i have to agree with you on the majority of this article, pritty much all of it however, i dont think Jolie had a problem with charisma, she might not be the best actress of all times but she is almost a splitting image image of croft and g’dam you cannot deny those tits 🙂

  3. McNulty

    Good article! Well written. There’s nothing more fun than film speculation. Video games not my thing but you made it fun.

  4. Lillo

    @Shawn : Doom the VG has enough elements to build a good plot around: the atmosphere, the setting, the monsters. Then you can have an action and/or horror story. Of course you don’t expect some guy going around shooting slow paced freaks for 90 minutes non-stop. Because that is another movie, Dawn of the Dead and as you can see, it’s not that bad.
    I think Neil Marshal is an interesting pick and The Descent comparison perfectly tailored.

  5. Gregg

    Great article, Thor! I agree almost 100%. I’d have to say about Mortal Kombat though, while it had its flaws, there wasn’t a whole lot that went wrong. That movie made a $102,000,000 profit (roughly) after worldwide ticket sales. I actually never knew it spawned a TV show and yes, that second movie was complete and utter trash.

    While Max Payne wasn’t a great film, it was a lot better than I expected it to be. The representation of evil in the film through the hallucinagenic, demonic images was genious.

    As for Resident Evil, I thought the movie sucked. Yes, this franchise has done much better than the Mortal Kombat movie franchise but I guess I just don’t get it. It was unexciting and I found it really lame. Good game. Bad movie.

  6. Fabio

    I have to agree with Lillo, Doom has enough for a good plot. Yeah, you could finish the game without noticing it, but there was one. It also does not have to be convoluted with extra script gunk like military experiments. What’s wrong with just dealing with Hell? Proof: Event Horizon, while more horror than action, scared the crap out of me. Ship gets transported to Hell and back: pretty simple plot, yet it worked.

    I agree with the writer that even though the director has a lot to answer for, I think that the script writer (or whomever tweeks the scripts and hires hundreds of retarded rewriters) is also responsible for a lot. They have to answer for all the odd out-of-game explanations, love stories, cliche’s and whatnot to make the plot fit a standard Hollywood template.