With the Oscars taking place this past week, I kept thinking to myself what it would take for a video game movie to be nominated for an Oscar and what property I think will be the first to be recognized by the academy.
Historically, movies that are based on video games tend to do poorly, are not received well, or are just bland, especially in comparison to the source material. Sure, you may have enjoyed some part of the Resident Evil movies or maybe you were a fan of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who thought any of those movies deserved Oscar recognition in any category.
All of that being said, I do believe that there will be a higher quality video game movie adaptation to come out of Hollywood within the next five or so years. Here’s what franchises I think offer up source material that could berth an Oscar caliber movie.
Obviously I would love to see a Zelda or (another) Super Mario movie but I am too nervous that whoever makes them wouldn’t exalt the same care that Nintendo normally does with it’s games, and in turn the movies would suffer. Metroid has everything I’d want as well, a badass female heroine in a sci-fi landscape (those seem to be all the rage right now). The movie could have elements of exploration with adrenaline pumping fight and escape scenes that would really look fantastic if they were executed well. Again though, I’m nervous about who would be making these Nintendo movies and who their target audience would be. I do think that a Nintendo and Studio Ghibli collaboration for one of these properties would absolutely be a smash hit though. Gorgeous artwork, lovable characters, it would be a dangerously successful combination.
The Mass Effect series has a sprawling universe that would be able to offer up bucket-loads of source material and lore, as well as lavish worlds that we feel right at home on the silver screen. Some of the issues though? Part of what makes the Mass Effect games so great is that they offer the players so many choices in the forms of dialogue trees that alter the paths of the story that I can’t fathom a way in which a director could make that aspect of the game work on the screen, so there would be a gaping hole to fill with that aspect missing. Another trait lodged in Mass Effect‘s DNA is that the games possess character relationships (no, not just the romantic ones) that really connect you with your virtual crew and that would be the area I feel the movie would really have to excel at in order to try and capture the essence of Mass Effect. I would love a Mass Effect movie to get made, but with the stipulation that BioWare would be involved as much as possible or at the very least, help craft the story and screenplay.
The Last of Us would probably translate well into a movie, the only major problem I would see here is that the movie would end up being identical, plot-wise, and that would be unfortunate for fans of the game. I am not sure if there’s enough lore for the people in charge of coming up with a screen-play for them to be able to craft a movie that made sense bearing the title of the game. So not only would that be an obstacle, but it would require the writers to exhaust more time, energy, and resources coming up with a screenplay. The enticing thing that this type of property lends to a possible film adaptation is that incredible acting, if the right pieces were in place both in front of and behind the camera, would be where this movie would shine and set itself far apart from its constituents.
Other franchises that I think have a deep enough lore and universe worth experimenting with on the big screen would be Bioshock, Halo, Gears of War, and God of War. The mythos surrounding those properties offer a wealth of characters, worlds, and plots to be explored.
Also, I don’t know how the World of Warcraft movie did, nor do I care to research that at the moment (I believe it did terribly here and decent internationally) but if that was possible then we better get a damn Overwatch movie at some point. No, I don’t expect anything about it to be Oscar caliber, I just want an Overwatch movie.
I’m sure there are a few more franchises out there that would offer similar attributes that could potentially work well, but it ultimately comes down to a few things. Who is directing the movie, who is creating the screenplay, and who is cast in the roles. If the movie is being made just to capitalize on the popularity of an intellectual property it’s not going to offer much more than fanfare. We truly need some passionate gamers involved with some equally passionate filmmakers to really delve into the source material and decide what makes the game great and how that can translate onto the screen.
Mark my words, in the next 3-5 years we will see something worthy of some merit from people outside of the fanbase of the source material. I mean, if Suicide Squad can have an Oscar attached to it, anything can. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of the Miyazaki and Miyamoto collab that will never come to fruition.
Side note, when I asked Mike if he had any input his response was:
“At the same time, even games with expansive plots don’t have enough to sustain a film because for the most part the plot of the games comes after the gameplay. Short version of the story, the only game series that can be perfectly adapted to film is Sonic.”
Make it happen Sega, it’ll really make Mike happy.