Avid fans (including myself) often wonder when will our beloved franchise be adapted to the big screen. Better yet, when will Hollywood make justice to our favorite video games? Famous studios such as Warner Bros. place millions, billions of dollars to bring to life comic book superheroes. More so than ever, studios attempt to adapt any other media available into big budget films. Unfortunately Hollywood can’t seem to find the spark when it comes to successfully adapt a video game.
No, not just money wise, although that is only what it matters to the studios, apparently. The Tomb Raider films starring Angelina Jolie was the highest grossing film in its opening weekend back in 2001. While Angelina Jolie’s casting was spot on, the rest of the film simply did not live up to its original source material. I will admit this is one of my guilty pleasure movies. It is dumb fun, which one could also argue that it could not be more than that since the original games were also fun, to say the least. I mean you fight a T-Rex in the game, so the game itself is not to be taken seriously as well.
In the video game industry, it was met with critical acclaim for being one of the most recent games of its time to introduce a dynamic action adventure game. The same concept applies to the Resident Evil games for redefining the horror genre during its conception in the 90’s. Likewise, their movie adaptions fell into the same trap. The notable exception was that the Paul W.S Anderson’s movies continued beyond the first installments.
As a consequence of its continuation, they progressively got worse. Every scene was watered down with slow-motion effects. No character development. Not to mention the elephant in the room, that with such a rich universe already established, they decided to focus on a bland protagonist and set aside the main characters we fell in love with. It got to the point that it could no longer be called a guilty pleasure movie. They had many chances to pick up the broken pieces, but they didn’t. The pieces were just left on the ground to be further broken.
Tomb Raider got another reboot starring Alicia Vikander back in March. This time, the studios were basing it on the 2013 video game reboot. The reboot took our previously witty and daring heroine and Crystal Dynamics gave her a more gritty origin. To emphasize the story lasts roughly 10 hours, without optional side quests. The second game got greater success and we are now two months away from concluding this origin trilogy with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
“So how was the movie?” You may ask. Well, as a fan of 2013 reboot, it was “meh.” I got out of the movie and went about with my daily routine. There was nothing memorable that could excite me for the next installment. It was a simple “meh.” The movie tries to be gritty and dark, so you can’t regard certain scenes to fall under campiness. However, I do admire and respect the actress for the massive amount of training she went to portray the character. I wouldn’t say that they should have just copy and pasted the video game story to the movie, as it would beg the question, why did they do it in the first place?
More so, the story the director chose to tell was simply rushed. Which you can say the same to most video games as movie adaptions. There was little interaction amongst the characters. One note villain, although the game has that problem too. According to an interview done with director Roar Uthaug by Den of The Geek, the movie was trying to establish itself. Roar Utaugh mentions the following.
…Anytime you’re adapting an existing property into a film, you have to take your inspirations and then put them aside a little bit. You have to think, “Okay, what’s the best way to go about this for the big screen?” Then we kind of crafted our own origin story of Lara Croft, and then went back to the games. What can we put in here for the fans? They’ve done some really great set-pieces in the games, so what can translate onto the big screen?
We spend most of the time with this big action set pieces that try to appeal to the casual audience. Trying to appeal to those who don’t play video games. Therefore, we get stories we spent hours trying to uncover its mythology, get butchered up. A movie can only go for so long, so it is understandable why certain plot points get into the cutting floor. That’s the problem with video games as movies. Uthaug’s delivery of his statement suggests so much material can only make it into the movie that it all boils down to what I have mentioned before: what story elements get the ax and which don’t.
Make a TV Series
So, this morning, Netflix released the first official trailer for the second season of Castlevania. Castlevania is another video game property with its roots originating way back in 1986. It first released for the NES and has since spawned numerous sequels, spin-offs, and reboots until this date. The first season was fantastic, albeit with only four episodes. It left me with this sensation that I wanted to know what happened next. Eager to know more about its story its world, it’s mythology. I never had any engagement with the video games, but know I was curious to play them. Paste Magazine’s 2017 interview with Netflix’s Castlevania writer, Warren Ellis, shines light by asking him if it has been better to adapt the video game from movie to tv series. Here is what Ellis had to comment:
…the liberation from hard and fast run-times means we can take a minute here, two minutes there, and let each beat of the story breathe, visually, in a satisfying way. Not being locked into a strict container of time is probably the biggest and most important change that streaming services have ushered in, and I think it’s a huge change for the better. In 2007, we would have been locked into an 80-minute…
He perfectly understands the limitation of adapting video games as movies. It is why the animated Castlevania series became such a hit. The reason many are excited about its upcoming second season. A tv series adaptation lets every aspect of the story and characters have an opportunity to be in front of the curtain. You can introduce original characters and make them meaningful to the story without feeling rushed and explore their side of the story in the episodes that unfold.
Other Games As TV Series?
It is why I am more excited about the upcoming Witcher Netflix series. The Witcher 3 already has one of the most engrossing and vivid video game stories ever told. Some regard it as the best masterpiece out there that any gamer should experience. That is not even counting the games that have come before the third installment, which even delves further into the complex world. We don’t have to necessarily follow Geralt’s story again or the character itself. We can follow somebody else’s story whose stories crosses paths in the kingdoms of Temeria or Kaedwen. It is full of possibilities that could live up to the likeness of success as HBO’s Game of Thrones.
While you could argue that the Lord of The Rings was successfully adapted from a series of books into the big screen. It did so at the expense of having movies have a run time of almost three hours. Not to mention, the uncut versions last almost four hours, and there is still more to tell from that world. Fortunately, there is a tv series being made as well. If say, the movie adaptation of the Tomb Raider reboot would have taken its time in establishing only the first game’s story, maybe it could have been better. The two games’ plot would not be a rushed mess in the first movie. It is frustrating to see how studios only focus on trying to make the movie adaptation pure spectacle.
Just look at the Resident Evil movies. Sure, the games have laughable dialogue, but that does not mean you can’t improve, right?
What Comes Next For Video Games?
Furthermore, there are already over 40 video game movies currently in development. One that begs the question as to why it is being made into a movie is, The Last of Us. Will it retread the same story? If it does what events or characters will we not see? In fact, I rather see The Last of Us being made into a tv series, even if we follow the same journey. It could even take The Walking Dead‘s overdue stay and be the next beloved post-apocalyptic zombie show.
With such limited time frames, it is hard to adapt video games into movies. However, it does not mean that movies are the only way to adapt a story. TV Series is the best way to transition our beloved video games and tell their stories to the fullest extent. It goes beyond the boundaries. I still hold hope that one day we may see a video game movie, not only have a box office success but at the very least be a positive experience. However, it is becoming more clear that TV is the way to go.
Share your thoughts below and on our social media! Do you prefer a movie or tv adaptation? Which video game story would you like to see make its transition as a tv show? Or as a movie? Do you think there is even a necessity to do so?