Video games seem to be plagued with problems as soon as their film adaptations are even attempted. We’ve heard the horror stories of the failed Halo film that originally had Peter Jackson and then Neil Blomkamp, but issue after issue with budgets and Microsoft wanting to be the dictators of the films themselves, but what about the other properties?

Films like Doom, Mortal Kombat. Prince of Persia, and so on were not only flops, but just crap-tastic projects. What I learned from all these films besides the lack of love thrown into them was that they didn’t feel nearly as epic in scale as the games they were inspired by.

Here are my reasons as to why video game movies fail:

The Budget:

You think of the many grand video games out there and they are cinematic in nature nowadays, but its far easier to put such a large world into a video game where there isn’t any big time actors you have to pay nor the high end set pieces. For films, you are looking at films that can range from $80-$150 million just to make these set pieces.

It’s all about finding a balance of what is needed for a grand picture without going overboard with marketing and set pieces. It has been proven that big budgets don’t equate to quality films. Prince of Persia had a massive budget of nearly $185 million and we saw how that turned out.

Not Enough Strong Characters:

There is rich mythology in the characters of video games and yet directors and studios can’t seem to pull out the core of what makes most of these characters so likable. Any good film has likable characters in an enjoyable story, but they always fall flat or come off as cheesy and over the top.

A video game like God of War in particular has a character that not only is a  great antihero, but also a layered and developed protagonist in his respective stories and would serve well with proper story telling, the same goes for characters like Agent 47 or Prince Daston (Prince of Persia) where they were nothing short of campy and underdeveloped.

No Proven Storytellers as Directors:

The reason so many of us are holding onto hope for this World of Warcraft film is because of who the studio recruited as it’s director. Duncan Jones has given us films like Moon in the past that have proven his skill behind the camera, but also his ability to establish worlds and the characters that live in them.

Great directors are storytellers in all different forms and there have not been enough quality names to give the genre a jump start like it needs to. If Peter Jackson had done his Halo movie I’m convinced things would be different, but alas, they are not.

They Aren’t Treating the Adaptations like Movies:

There is so much underlying pressure on making a great video game film that people are forgetting to just make great films. The comic book genre has become successful because people realized they weren’t just watching superhero movies, but just good movies. The same mentality needs to be established when making a video game film.

Video Game Companies Are Not Leasing Their Properties:

This is slowly beginning to change with Nintendo being at the forefront of shelling out their games for movie rights, but it was far from the case after that awful Super Mario Brothers movie in the 90’s. Game companies understand that films have not been kind to video games and they don’t want to risk tainting their brands.

So there you have it, a few reasons as to why video game movies aren’t any good…yet. For the sake of great movies, I hope this trend breaks soon because we are dying for live-action installments of these games and they’d be feasts for everyone’s eyes and good for the world of movies if you ask me.

Check out my list of video games that deserve great movies here and tell me what you want from video game adapted films or which games in particular.


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