Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rant: Video Game Movies = Bad?

It's been quite a while, hasn't it? I mean, I have been putting out a few videos over on YouTube, but otherwise it's been rather quiet. So, here I am trying to shake off the writing cobwebs and bring you lovely folks some snark. When wracking my brain to figure out what I should cover, I thought about video game movies. Oh, now there's a gift that just keeps getting worse. Now for someone like me who lives to mock bad movies, I am rather excited to talk about these cinematic atrocities. But...are they all bad? Many would argue that Street Fighter, while campy as hell, is still an rather entertaining film that feels like a throwback to over the top 80s action movies. I would argue that it's a better Expendables 3 than the one we got, for certain.

I would gladly trade Chuck Norris' homophobic ass for Raul Julia's Bison.
But then you have so many other video game based films that are universally despised. From Tekken to Silent Hill to Super Mario Bros. to yet another Street Fighter film, it's difficult not to think Hollywood should steer clear of adapting video games. But why do they fuck it up so often? Let's look at this question by examining another medium Hollywood has had difficulty with: comic book movies. It's easy to forget that at one time Hollywood had no idea how to handle superheroes. If you look at Marvel Studios especially, you see that the medium can be done respectfully and handled in a way that pleases the movie-going public. But then, not all comic book based films get that treatment. Just look at 20th Century Fox's X-Men, where they basically tried to distance themselves from the comics by having the characters don tight black leather outfits rather than brightly coloured uniforms that more closely resembled the comics. They treated it as if they were ashamed to be a superhero movie. And where you have a movie like First Class, which seems to be a love letter to the fans, Fox then turns around and reminds everyone they still seem ashamed to make superhero movies.

Yay, more tight black outfits that look like they hopped out of a bad sci-fi movie.
So, bad to video games, where we look at some glaring examples of Hollywood making needless changes that ultimately hurt the final product. First up, we have Silent Hill, a game series that has a deep understanding of psychological horror, using a person's own inner demons as the ultimate threat. The first game, in particular, dealt with a very real fear all parents have: losing your child. You had this guy named Harry who already lost his wife and now only had his daughter, until she disappears when they veer off the road outside of Silent Hill. The plot is all about this desperate man struggling to maintain his sanity while looking for his daughter in a place where his mental suffering has taken physical form as literal monsters, finding very little in the way of help.

Except for a cop lady named Cybil, who looks remarkably like Cameron Diaz.
Sounds like a great story, right? Well, the movie wasn't about that. No, instead it was about a mother who had a husband (meaning she had no personal loss prior to this) who brought her adopted daughter to Silent Hill as a way to help her cope with her mental problems. The monsters are not a product of the protagonist's own psyche, but rather just monsters that are there because of contrived plot convenience. The only real ally Harry had in the game, Cybil, is portrayed more negatively and gets a nice horrible death in the film. The movie ends with the audience being confused and there being no real payoff, where the game ends with a clear explanation of what happened and a bit of hope for our hero. Cybil doesn't get horribly burned alive by cultists for no reason in the game either.

"Killing me won't bring back your goddamn honey!"
The only thing most people will attest to enjoying about the two Silent Hill films is seeing Pyramid Head in full glory. And maybe the fact that Sean Bean doesn't get killed for a change. There was a similar problem that occurred with the Resident Evil films, but it didn't quite start out as a problem. The first Resident Evil film could even fit solidly into the game universe, as it takes place before the initial plot of Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero. No, the problem with those movies stems completely from the fact that the sequels set out to make the first's films star the most important character in the series, having her make the game protagonists look like average joes. It was a huge slap in the face to fans who wanted to see the heroes from the games get their due. Luckily, Capcom decided to make their own animated films that actually fit into the games, so this created an option for fans. They could watch the numerous generic live action films with zombies that are only loosely related to what they love, or they could watch some really well-made animated films that add to the mythos of what they love.

Personally, I go with quality over quantity.
But Capcom does have a history of letting bad things happen to their properties, cinematically speaking. Remember how I mentioned there was another Street Fighter movie? Yeah, it's not that level of lovably bad that the JCVD/Raul Julia one was. No, this one was simply a forgettable trainwreck that didn't resemble Street Fighter in the least.Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, starring an actress who barely looks like the right nationality as she goes up against what is supposed to be Bison, Vega, and Balrog. It feels and looks nothing like the source material, has a terrible story, talented actors who are completely wasted, and ends up being so bad that no one ever talks about it. Whether it's because they simply blocked it out or forgot it exists, it's a perfect example of taking something that should be easy and fucking it up.

"You know, I was nominated for an Academy Award...*sighs*...let's make this piece of shit."
I could literally go on and on here, naming off video game movies that completely missed the point and ended up being so startlingly different than their source material that they may as well have been given different names. But, I want to save some of those to talk about for another day. Ultimately, when looking at the question of whether video game movies are inherently bad, it's simply not that simple to answer. Sure, the vast majority of them are awful, but there are examples of good ones too. It's just hard to bring oneself to sift through that mountainous pile of shit to find the good ones. I suppose that's why people like me exist, yes? So, join me next time as I delve into a video game movie I didn't talk about today. Will it be good? Don't hold your breath on that one, but I can promise it will be much better than Legend of Chun Li. Later days, bleeders.

"HOW'D IT GET MADE!"

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