Sonic The Hedgehog has proven that it’s possible to make good video game movies—so, now, can we get them?
Because there have been quite a few games practically built for Hollywood and big animation budgets. And when I say “movie,” I don’t mean mini-series. I don’t mean live-action trailers. I mean a full-length, made to be a movie, movie. Something with the weight of a studio behind it and millions of dollars in CGI.
Personally, I have a few ideas. Five, actually. Ranked in no particular order.
The BioShock Games:
Probably best to start with Rapture, but they could do Columbia—it just would take a lot more work and planning. The cities of BioShock are full of political satire, amazing architecture, and many points on their timeline(s) worth exploring. The games’ plots are so dense that you could make multiple movies or a long television series exploring different parts. Just get the right visual artists to render Rapture/Columbia and you have instant eye-catching advertisements even for people not familiar with the games.
What little of Forward unto Dawn I’ve seen does not impress me. We can do better. It’s kind of ridiculous that a live-action, two-hour-long, bombastic action film was not yet made for this franchise. It could even be a mindless battle spectacle like the later Transformers movies, so long as the iconography and vehicles and alien designs are intact. I’m not saying it would be a masterpiece, but it would make for a fun popcorn flick.
So, the thing about Portal is there’s not a lot of storytelling in it, except in the margins. Portal 2’s plot expands on things, but still not enough for a movie. But the background story of Aperture Science could easily be used for comedy, horror, or just science fiction. It’s such an absurd, rich world; I can’t imagine it not having some potential. And, if they wanted, they could make Half-Life movies to cross over with it. It might be in danger of being gimmicky and half-hearted, but I could see someone like Taika Waititi managing the correct tonal blend.
Fallout is an open-world game. It’s already a free license to explore almost any story. It’s got a lot of violence and darkness, but also insanely absurd (and often funny) science fiction conceits drenched in nostalgic iconography. You could do a gritty post-apocalyptic story about people traveling the wastes, or a buddy cop story about two people trying to find a Nuka Cola factory. Heck, you could do a multi-character drama or even an anthology series. I’d even be happy with a Lower Decks-style animated comedy…so long as it’s actually funny.
The Stanley Parable:
I know this idea sounds insane but imagine if someone like Edgar Wright worked on this. Imagine a Free Guy-style deconstruction plot. If you’ll dream with me, we could have the people behind the Lego Movie make it. A film taking apart film narratives with as much wit as the game did for games. I know there’s something golden here.
And those are five games that deserve to be movies. Big, expensive movies. With the right directors, with the right vision, they could happen, and turn out well. If we will ever see these titles, it will be now, while Hollywood is still salivating for proven content. We can have more good video game movies.
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