Welcome to our weekly column, the Wednesday List. This week, I (Reed) will tackle the most obviously important genre of modern movies: those based on video-games.
It was announced today that the video-game Shadow of Colossus will be headed to the big screen. Oh boy, oh boy, another incredible video-game movie, I hear you scream. Let's think of the gems they've cranked out... Hitman, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Max Payne, Tomb Raider, and of course, the movie that set the trend for awful video-game movies, Super Mario Brothers (for those that have blocked that from their memory, it's the one where Dennis Hopper plays Bowser, who's nothing more than a fork-tongued human, and Mario and Luigi fight this... fungus thing). Now I will admit, I get some cheap thrills in some of these movies; the most recent Street Fighter movie looked like one of those so-bad-it's-good movies and the Tomb Raiders at least starred Angelina Jolie, who, let's face it, is pretty hot. But for the most part, these movies have been God-awful abominations to both cinema and the games that spawned them. I can't think of a single well received video-game movie, and the ones I claimed as enjoyable are certainly not quality films.
I, however, don't think this is a guaranteed phenomenon. I just think they've been making the wrong movies. The ones they have made don't always make sense as a movie, and the ones that had potential either aren't taken seriously, or are butchered in the filming process. There are some games out there, however, that have enormous potential at the box office. They just need to get made.
5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Okay, so I'm kind of cheating here, since this movie is already being made. The, er, "Persian" prince will be played by Jake Gylenhaal and it's directed by Mike Newell. I have very high hopes for this movie and I think it could finally be the movie to make this genre viable. Though from what I understand, the story will deviate from the game, but if the heart of it is the same, it could still be worthwhile. Loosely, the Sands of Time (exactly what it sounds like) fall into the wrong hands and its up to that glistening hunk on your left to bring them back. I remember playing Sands of Time for the first time and being enthralled. The story was rich and engaging and the characters (what few there were) were interesting and often humorous. It could provide for a fun, well written, summer block-buster akin to the first (and only good) Pirates of the Caribbean, which, incidentally, is what they are going for.
UPDATE: I just realized that they are actually releasing a Prince of Persia game based on the movie. This means, hang on to your shorts, that they are making a game based on a movie based on a game. To use proper internet slang: WTF?!
4. God of War
I actually haven't played this game for longer than three minutes, but I've seen a friend play it and saw its potential. In a nutshell, Kratos, a mere mortal but bad-ass soldier, is ordered to kill Ares, the god of war, by the goddess Athena. Kratos agrees as he himself seeks vengeance against Ares, and armed with some really intense weapons, wages his war and kills a lot of people. The strength in the game, and why I think it could be a decent movie, is how it takes many famous stories and icons from ancient Greece and ties them into the stories. For instance, there's a point where you meet Prometheus tied to his rock getting his liver eaten by a giant bird, and another where you fight the Colossus at Rhodes, brought to life by the gods to strike you down. This is likely the reason I want to see is because I like (what little) Greek mythology I know, so perhaps this is biased. I think if made right, it could be a good action flick a la 300, and if it's done poorly it could be... I don't know... Bride Wars or something...
3. Metal Gear Solid
This is another one of those movies I haven't personally played, but every time I've seen it, it screams "cinematic." A retired soldier is recruited to save the world. Do I need to say anything else? Alright, the soldier's name is Snake. Solid Snake. That is awesome. The story is intense and the situation dire. There are plenty of plot twists along the way, and Snake is a very intriguing protagonist. I think it could actually be a serious film, if they take away some of the more ridiculous part of the game (if I recall right, there's a giant robot). It's another one of those that has to tread carefully, but it still has a lot of potential. And yes we know Kurt Russell played Snake in Escape to New York. It's not the same.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog.
Haha, yeah right.
I'm still surprised this movie hasn't been made. Everybody and their mother has played, which is saying something, since most mothers suck at video-games. It's a grand, epic science fiction story that could make for a great movie. I'm not saying Star Wars huge, but I think it could be big. The game has already inspired work in other genres, including comics and novels, so I think it's time it was taken to the big screen. It has a huge fan base, but a movie could expand to general audiences, especially if this summer's Star Trek does well.
Set far in the future, Earth is at war with a race of aliens known as the covenant. They have discovered an ancient structure floating in space and released a sort of virus that takes over any sentient living being, and is therefore a threat to both sides. We humans have engineered Super Soldiers, called "Spartans," to help tackle the challenge. Unfortunately only one survives. Called "Master Chief," he uses his superior combat skills to blow up shit-tons of aliens and save the universe.
As the plot deepens, we learn the Covenant dogmatically believes in a 'great journey' that is guaranteed to end poorly, that they are lead by corrupt ministers, and that a civil war has broken out in their ranks. The mystery of the ancient Halo structure is revealed to be integral to the Covenant's plan. I don't want to spoil too much of the story (I'm not even sure I could, it's layered and complex. I can only handle the basics), but needless to say it's an epic, but more importantly, smart sci-fi story of enormous potential. It would be like Starship Troopers only not stupid. Just, please God, don't let Vin Diesel be Master Chief.
1. The Legend of Zelda
Ask anybody who has played video-games what their favorite game is and it won't be strange for them to say "Ocarina of Time." It ranks as the number one game ever in multiple different polls, and is almost always in the top five. If you disagree, or have never played it, you're wrong. This incredible game, the first 3D outing of the classic Legend of Zelda series, is the epitome of awesomeness. In fact, almost every game ever made in this series is impressive, which is why it has persisted for so long.
More than any other game, I can't believe this hasn't been made into a movie. Last year on April 1, IGN released a semi-realistic fake trailer. It looked low budget, the cast didn't really fit the characters, but I still would have been excited if it had been real. The story (legend?) of The Legend of Zelda defines the phrase 'fantasy epic.' Each game takes a slight variation on a typically similar story: A coming of age boy of humble origins gets thrusted into the position of savior of the world of Hyrule, and realizes the scope of his destiny. A Dark Lord is secretly gaining power and leverage until he is strong enough to strike and make himself ruler. A noble princess fights to maintain control of her kingdom. The three of them are inexorably linked, demonstrating the three qualities of the goddesses: Power, Wisdom, and Courage, and are destined to cross paths and meet in battle.
Clearly I'm crazy about this idea (and a complete loser), as I've already written twice as much on this as any of the others. It's Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter meets Troy. The main character, Link, demonstrates courage and selflessness like few characters ever do. There are some problems; Link traditionally never says one word, and the story is almost too large for one movie (though I wouldn't say no to a trilogy). But Link's quest to save Hyrule and to reunite the Triforce while helping the different beings of his world has more potential than any other game to be not only entertaining, but respected. It really could be an excellent fantasy adventure, but only if the creators took it seriously and not just as a 'video-game' movie.
Now it's you turn. What video games would you like to see made into movies? Let me know in the comments!