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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are (Good) Video Game-Based Movies On The Rise?

Yesterday it was announced that Michael Fassbender, the acclaimed Hollywood actor who many will probably recognize from his role as Magneto in X-Men: First Class but who has also starred in 300, Shame, and Haywire, would not only be co-producing a movie based on the Assassin's Creed license, but would possibly also be starring in it as well.

Just this morning, Eidos and CBS Films announced their partnership in developing a movie based off Eidos-Montreal's recent sci-fi RPG hit Deus Ex: Human Revolution. CBS made a point of saying that they were working very closely with the development team behind Human Revolution in order to give fans and viewers a truly authentic Deus Ex experience. 


If you're reading these announcements and either cringing in fear or rolling your eyes in frustration, trust me, I don't blame you. Up to this point, movies based on video game licenses have almost always ended up sacrificing their integrity in the name of bringing in bigger audiences. Whether it's completely butchering the game's original plot (Dungeon Siege 2, BloodRayne, Super Mario Brothers), grossly misrepresenting the game's characters (pretty much any fighting game movie), or just going so far off the rails that it becomes a joke to fans and critics (every Resident Evil movie after the first one), the excitement fans and gamers used to feel towards video game-movie tie ins has slowly worn away into dread and mockery.

Now of course not *all* video game movies are necessarily bad; 2007's Hitman starring Timothy Olyphant as the illusive Agent 47, while deviating slightly from the original game's premise, still managed to stick rather closely to the series' roots and was a pretty fun action flick all on its own. The movie adaptation of Silent Hill in 2006 was a near-perfect re-imagining of the first game in the series, complete with actual musical scores borrowed from the game. 


To this day, despite nearly five attempts at doing so, director Paul Anderson still hasn't managed to re-capture the magic that made his 2002 blockbuster Resident Evil such a hit amongst fans of both the game series and horror movies in general (of course a big part of that might be because he keeps insisting on putting his wife Milla Jovovich in the starring role).

The disconnect between making a good video game movie and making a "oh god how could they ruin such a great series!" movie seems to lie in how much the two different production studios collaborate. When a video game movie manages to stick close to the source material while also making a few subtle creative tweaks, that seems to work. Giving the reins entirely over to a movie studio and/or director and expecting them to do the same thing pretty much always ends up being an effort in futility.

With all that in mind, I personally feel confident that neither the Assassin's Creed nor the Deus Ex movies will fall into the same hole that nearly every video game movie before them has. Fassbender doesn't seem like the kind of actor who'd invest in a script unless he was confident in both its premise and its integrity. As for the Deus Ex movie, to quote Terry Press, co-president of CBS Films:

"No one knows Human Revolution like the team that created it, and we look forward to working with them from day one to make a film adaptation worthy of the Deus Ex name." 

What do you think? Are quality video game movies finally on the rise? Are movie studios and directors finally starting to get what fans and viewers want? Is the upcoming Resident Evil flick (the fifth one to date) gonna be any good? (my money's on "nope" but hey who knows...) 

Follow me on Twitter at @NateHohl and check out my other work at vgutopia.com, hookedgamers.com, and explosion.com


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