Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Three Video Games That Would Make Awesome Movies

I've talked about book-to-movie adaptations a lot in the past, but as you may have noticed, I tend to be rather vague in citing "source material" rather than "book" when discussing the theme more widely. While books hold something of a monopoly (read: chokehold) on adaptive material, either in prosal or comic form, at present, they are not the only texts and sources from whence adaptation has come.

Looking backward to the period that came some years before my birth and into the very early years of my childhood, in fact, that top spot was held predominantly by video games. Unsurprisingly, these years are also infamous for being the years of commercial sellouts, cash cow milking, and unintentionally spawning horrific cult classics to rival The Room.

But, in the paraphrased words of a good many great persons (and a thousand more desperate students hours before their exams), there is always hope of good coming from a slew of disaster. So, today, I bring you my top three picks of videogames that, I think, have the potential to make brilliant movies ... or at least go down in history as so-bad-they're-kind-of-brilliant anyway.

1 - The Elder Scrolls

Bethesda's sprawling open-world fantasy epics have all the potential for a stunning new fantasty epic - or, more likely, several. FromDaggerfall to Skyrim, each game takes place in a different part of a single cohesive environment, lending the world of Tamriel a wide variety of political and fantastical struggles from whence a veritable gold mine of stories could be drawn. The massive variety in races and backgrounds in the customisable main characters also invites potential for some industry-altering diversity to be introduced into what is usually regarded as the most tradition-dominated genre of game and film alike.

Likewise, the games' increasing focus on complete open-world, player-driven action and characterisation means that, should the classic central story arcs (ranging from toppling despotic undead usurpers to defeating the eldritch nightmare of the dragon god) not prove fodder enough, the material mined from worlds' worth of sidequests and subplots could fill dozens of movies in their own right. Think Game of Thrones meets Eragon. Only with proper elves, and the ability to catapult people off mountaintops with your voice.

2 - Assassin's Creed

EA may have displayed some truly unpleasant disregard for its players' wants and intelligence in the recent debacle over its lack of playable female characters, but nonetheless the game series holds massive potential as adaptive material. Based around the central concept of protagonist Desmond Miles re-living the lives of his genetic ancestors, the film (or, as above, potential series of) has a choice over whether to market itself as a complex sci-fi tale of a culmination of an age-long war between two powerful factions each seeking to delve deeper into the increasingly metaphysical secrets of the world's workings, or else focus more on the lives and adventures of Desmond's ancestors, ranging from a rougish Welsh pirate, a steely-eyed Native American freedom fighter, a deadly Syrian Master Assassin, and (everyone's favourite) the lovable, raffish Italian avenger.

The diversity of storylines and protagonists is unified by the focal point that is the upcoming final confrontation between the two warring sides - a conclusions though, not yet reached in the games themselves, is promising already to be of a truly theatrical scale. An opportunity begging to be taken, if you ask me.

3 - Metal Gear Solid

This series, originating from Japan, while convoluted and overcomplicated in places, is famous for its focus on story and character arcs. If an enterprising director were to cut off the extraneous material introduced by various spin-offs,  DLCs, and halt the story at Metal Gear IV, they would be left with a a gritty-action packed story following the fate of Solid Snake, one of set of clones embroiled in a series of political and military entanglements that see him travel around the world in pursuit of his enemies, all the while facing a shifting menagerie of allegiances that could stab him in the back quicker than any sniper's bullet.

For a character of his genre, Snake has a surprisingly dynamic personality, as shown by the love he receives from the game's fanbase, and the increasing complications of his situation as his backstory rears up to affect his complex and tragic future could make for a fascinating display of cinematography as well as excellent storytelling. The game also clocks up an industry record for cutscene and dialoge length, meaning there is plenty of established material to be used as foundation or homage, depending on the director's preference.

Bonus points if anyone is brave enough to include a scene of Snake creeping past the guards of a jungle fortress underneath his trusty cardboard box. Go on. Do it. I dare you.


Of course, as most of you will know, I'm hardly the world's greatest expert on movies or video games. Feel free to leave your own contributions to this list in the comments below, or commentate on paths you'd like to see the three I've suggested take, were someone to take them on!

~ Charley R

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