With recent releases such as the “Tomb Raider” movie, “Assassin’s Creed,” or even “Angry Birds,” video game movies are typically unpopular.
When you think about it, making a video game movie based off of a beloved game seems like a good idea at first; after all, we do the same with popular books. However, there is something that books and movies have in common that video games lack: complete authorial control.
As Dan Casey at nerdist.com wrote, “[T]he problem in turning these games into movies is that Hollywood has a fundamental misunderstanding of why games are fun.”
In video games, the player has agency, whether it is to make decisions or explore; alternatively, books and movies offer the reader a spectator experience.
Some video game movies are well received, but also criticized for different reasons. For example, the reboot “Tomb Raider” movie was said to be both “the first good movie based off of a video game” and “boring and disappointing” on IMDb.
Of course, all movies have their share of good and bad reviews; however, there is a greater fluctuation in the opinions of those who watch movies based off of video games and regular movies. Due to the increased difficulty in creating an adaptation of a video game, it is far easier to notice when directors make mistakes. Also, video games already offer what characters and settings look and sound like, which leaves little for the director’s interpretation.
In Tomb Raider, Director Simon West tried to make an amalgamation of the first two reboot games — “Tomb Raider” (2013) and “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” What resulted was a rushed one hour 58 minute film that overlooked many of the game’s details, settings, characters, and plot. The majority of the cast were cut out completely and replaced with lackluster characters. Were West to create an entirely new story, the movie may have been more widely accepted.
“Assassin’s Creed” starring Michael Fassbender was another casualty of cheesy production. Unlike “Tomb Raider,” the adaptation took on a different story than the game. Though this seems more promising due to the writers and director having more creative freedom, some things may have changed too much.
Pacing varies drastically between movies and video games with games often taking a much slower pace. To make the movie more action-packed, the adaptation opted for a robotic claw to fling Fassbender around rather than the game’s more tame bed-like device.
The movie received a fairly mediocre 5.8 star rating out of 10 on IMDb and was accompanied by comments like, “Poor outcome with a dreadful script” and “An oversimplified story leads to an uninteresting experience.”
One of the better received movies recently was “The Angry Birds Movie.” This movie is often lauded for being colorful kids movie. This movie was likely more successful because its video game counterpart is a simple game with a simple story. The director was able to create a more expansive story than the iOS game’s “birds go after the pigs who stole their eggs” story. It even was able to successfully incorporate the game’s mechanics in a way the made sense in the later scenes of the movie.
Since the game works well as a time passer, the watcher is not left wanting to experience more when watching this movie. User Avirariva on IMDb wrote, “’Angry Birds’ is a great movie for both children and adults. The comedy is simply mesmerizing, and the adventure is extremely entertaining.”
Whether someone is an avid gamer or a casual moviegoer, video game movies often miss their mark. Gamers usually tend to be more disappointed, as they get more excited for the movie and are more irritated by the changes directors and writers make.
Despite many video game movies falling beneath what is expected of them, they can still create a fun experience. After all, who doesn’t like to make fun of bad production?