Lights, Camera, Failure

Video games and movies go together like water and oil, rather than chocolate and peanut butter. Most attempts to take the interactive media of games and translate them to the silver screen has ended in disaster. While there may be a few outliers such as the <em>Resident Evil </em>franchise, theses movies are still considered to be bad by the majority of viewers and critics especially.</p>

Opening in theatres on June 10, Warcraft is the latest attempt at properly adapting a video game to the big screen. Sadly, the film has been met with Batman v Superman levels of negative reviews. Currently sitting at 19 per cent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Warcraft is being blasted by critics as yet another poor video game adaptation. There are a few reviews that say otherwise, but not enough to bring back people already scared off by all the negative press.

Since I haven't seen the movie for myself, I can't give my opinion. But that will not stop me from discussing video game movies as a whole. In particular, is it worth trying to translate the games and franchises that make up our favourite pastime into film?

Personally, I say no. In translating a medium that is interactive by nature into one that's passive, you lose the traits that make video games engaging. You lose the agency that makes games special. Why would I want to watch The Rock slay demons on Mars when I can pop Doom into my PS4 and actually take part? The American movie industry can't understand how to move past such a huge disconnect, so we're left with the critical bombs that are the norm.

In all honesty, the best video game movies don't actually adapt an existing game to the big screen. They take different aspects of video game culture such as the iconic characters, or pop-culture references and use them to underline the narrative, setting, or even the humour.

One of my favourite movie to incorporate video games is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Although Scott Pilgrim may be an adaptation of a graphic novel, it's the use of classic video game music in the movie's score and the plethora of game references imbued in its aesthetics and humour that not only make it a faithful adaptation of the source material, but a faithful representation of video game culture on film. Wreck-It Ralph and Tron are two other examples that show the proper way to use video games in movies.

As long as Hollywood continues to treat adapting video games the same as other media, the more reinforced the stigma surrounding their lack of quality will be. We may put new projects, like Warcraft and Assassin's Creed, on a pedestal as the ones that will break this so-called curse. Sadly, those unrealistic expectations will never bring success — they will only stave our hopes for a little while longer. 


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