Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Sixteen: Video games x the silver screen = FAIL!

If only Hollywood would listen to the fans.

Well, today’s episode is about a not-so-serious concern, unless you’re a big movie person. I myself don’t consider to be one, but I won’t hesitate to check out something that looks promising in previews and commercials. That being said, I’m this close from giving up on the video game genre of movie making. For some insane reason, it seems that when it comes to this particular category, the movie industry just can’t – or won’t – get it right, and proceeds to throw on 1 1/2-2 hours of garbage juice onto the screen.

So, in trying to search why this is so, I came up with one conclusion. The two most awful words that can wreck a movie franchise: family friendly. No, this is not an attack on families, just an attack on that concept. The concept that a product is made specifically to tailor to soccer moms, recital-going parents, and seven-year-old kids is laughable at best and utterly irresponsible at worst.

This especially holds true when it comes to video games-turned-motion pictures. Think on it: most of the games when they come out into arcades and gaming systems are inheritly violent and crude enough to where kids are not even permitted to play them with some sort of supervision…or not at all. So, when a game gets to be that popular to where a movie can possibly be made off it what happens? Mostly, greed. Greed that the studio who sign on to do these projects take the original storyline and either, 1) water it down or, b) trash it completely and make a new story to tailor to a larger audience, mostly…you guessed it, families.

Look, I’m all for opportunity in that: make a franchise that was a “cult classic” in a sense a national (and possible global) phenomenon. The problem is, that more often than not, it ends up being a TOTAL flop. There are a few exceptions to this hypothesis: the first Mortal Kombat film being the stand-out. That’s pretty much the one video-game movie I can remember that made an enjoyable film for everyone, that stayed true to the main story. (Of course, the sequel stunk something rotten, but that’s not the point)

Pretty much every other video game that has thrived in the hands of joysticks, ultimately has crashed and burned next to the oversized popcorn: Double Dragon, Street Fighter (who somehow managed to put out two lumps of crap called movies in that franchise, the original and Chun-Li spinoff), Dragonball, Doom,  and countless others. (I’ve seen the Tekken movie preview; it will join this list shortly. SMH.) However, the worst offender of them all: Super Mario Bros. Quite frankly, I believe that was the worst video game movie ever made. The original story of the Mushroom Kingdom was completely junked for a non-believable story about a magical rock from a Dinosaur Land, and the Mario Bros having to keep it away from a dinosaur looking humanoid named Koopa, played  by Dennis Hopper. No magic mushrooms, no fire flowers or invincible stars, maybe three pipes the whole movie. On cue, it flopped something terrible. To be honest, in a decade filled with re-makes, I was really shocked no one tried a do-over (I mean, the Hulk franchise got one in less than four years) with it, and for Mario to be pretty much the most famous video game character EVER, he really deserved better. No disrespect to Anthony Hopkins.

So, I have a radical suggestion: whenever we hear that a studio has taken on a video game to make a movie, I’m offering to start a fund-raiser to give them money so they won’t have to worry about a budget or the first-week box office receipts and just focus on giving us a good film that reminds us why we all loved said game in the first place. Either that, or start boycotting some places. Look, video games for most of us was a big part in our growing up, and when someone decides to capture it on film, I’m sure we all want to make sure that also captures the essence of the game, not just something thrown on a movie with the game’s name in the title.

*Sighs* I shudder to think what’s going to happen when The Legend of Zelda comes out…

1/28/10

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