Game-Based Movies: Why Cheesy Seems To Please Me

“One date with me, she’ll look like she’s been hit with a mayonnaise truck.”

Let me describe the scene from the videogame based movie Postal in which the above line of dialogue is delivered. Two men, both of whom must surely be in their seventies, sit at an outdoor-situated table of a small cafe, quietly chatting to one another, when a scantily clad, big-breasted blonde female wearing a purposeful look upon her beautiful face marches past. One of the two men turns to watch the woman pass by before releasing a short, sexually-fuelled chuckle and making the aforementioned imagination-butchering statement.

This film, directed by Uwe Boll, the man steadily becoming synonymous with the term ‘videogame movie’, has received substantial criticism from the media, namely for its ‘crude’ realisations and apparent acting talent deficiency. It would appear that many a viewer has been turned off from Postal by this or indeed any one of its sexist, racist, disability-discriminative scenes.

What do you mean Postal's a tad controversial?
What do you mean Postal's a tad controversial?

I wasn’t. In fact, the whole tone of this movie worked to turn me on and tune me in. I actually believe Postal to be one of the better game-to-cinema translations. Why? Because it entertained me. Postal resists the urge to take itself too seriously. As a result, it remains exactly what it should be – a celebration of the awesomeness of games and, more specifically, the outrageously un-PC concepts upon which the game Postal was built.

If that didn’t set your conceited-game-writer senses tingling, this certainly will do: I also liked the movie Doom. You heard me! I’m proud to admit it, although I’ve never quite gotten used to the looks of utter disgust that seem to follow the admission of this fact. Doom is yet another game based movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is heavily grounded in the profoundly sophisticated philosophy of media cheese. It lays down a delicious base scenario of monster hostility, adds a zesty layer of authentic ‘good’/ ‘evil’ philosophy and finishes the dish with a generous grating of The Rock. It’s like, how much more tongue-in-cheek could this be? The answer is none. None more tongue-in-cheek.

The Doom movie is as cheesy as they come
The Doom movie is as cheesy as they come
But also stays true to its source material
But also stays true to its source material

Where game movies tend to fall down, at least in my eyes, is when they attempt to set themselves apart from the videogames on which they are based. Directors that endeavour to use a popular game franchise in order to turn a profit rather than to celebrate a captivating game are creatively doomed from the start.  Running the duster of shame along the skirting board of cinema dislodges a whole heap of Tomb Raider-Silent Hill- Resident Evil-Alone in the Dark-Hitman-speckled crap.  These are all embarrassingly poor Hollywood-saturated renditions of non-US based games.

Resident Evil movieLet’s stop for a moment and consider the movie rendition of Resident Evil. A large portion of this feature consists of a woman running across the screen with nothing but a sheet wrapped around her. At no point did I see such an image in any one of the Resident Evil games (although I am somewhat convinced that this sheet-lady-running theme paved the way for one of my favourite survival horror games of all time – Haunting Ground). I therefore can’t help but look upon this character as the personification of attention-seeking

Movies based on games will continue to be made. I can be as sure of this as I am about the sun rising tomorrow morning, the weather being bitterly cold in the arctic, and my mum buying me slippers for the seventh Christmas running despite my all but blatant repugnance with the ‘gift’. So rather than waste mental energy wishing people would leave them the hell alone, I simply hope to see them feature more cheese and less chav.

World of Warcraft will be an interesting transition for Sam Raimi
World of Warcraft will certainly be new ground for Sam Raimi

So let’s consider what’s in store for us. We have Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time scheduled for a May release, a film thrown forth from the loins of Hollywood itself. We also have a movie based on the fictional Warcraft overworld which is to be directed by the legendary Sam Raimi. There’s got to be room for some sophisticated cheese in a movie directed by the stilton-churning god himself, surely?

I’ll finish by expressing some relief at the idea that at least one of my favourite games, BioShock, is almost certainly safe from the clutches of the movie industry; an underwater city full of gruesomely spliced, freakishly powerful, Adam-ripped denizens. I mean, who’s going to want to touch that, right?

Why are you looking at me like that?


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5 responses to “Game-Based Movies: Why Cheesy Seems To Please Me”

  1. i am gwailu avatar
    i am gwailu

    it looks like i don’t know you anymore, celeste.
    doom? i am trying not to swear at you at the moment.
    hmm.
    i will openly admit i liked most of the movies you mentioned and didn’t like. i’ve never played hitman but i liked the film. popcorn movie that i didn’t take too seriously. silent hill: see previous comment. but resident evil i though went pretty well with the games. there were direct scenes taken from the cinematography of the games. but your main point was you didn’t like the way she dressed? and tomb raider was an alright film. the first one at least. but if the film followed the games there’d be no viewer interest at all. it’s just a continuation of the character. but surely it’s this character development that delivers funding for the next game and thus perpetuates the series?
    i can see where you are coming from but for once i disagree with you.
    films and games will always be tied. they just help to promote each other, but i don’t see you moaning about the ubiquitous movie-game tie ins. avatar? or is that next weeks rant?
    for your sake, i hope the bioshock movie doesn’t make you cry. because it is coming out. but the game developers are happy about this. the movie people came up with ideas they hadn’t considered and are putting into practice for games down the line. likewise, i’m playing wet and i’m not sure how the movie will come out, but it is and i hope it doesn’t turn out to be a generic hollywood film, it’s just how much we love the game and much we take it as our own.
    once again, i am rambling, so i’ll just shut up.
    why do i even bother when i know how it’ll end up?
    oh well.

  2. Ramsden avatar
    Ramsden

    “Uwe Boll, the man steadily becoming synonymous with the term ‘crap movie’”

    Fixed. Heh.

  3. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I liked the Resi movies. The first one had so many references to the games. What are your views on games based on movies?

  4. Celeste avatar
    Celeste

    Well, the first Resident Evil movie generated $102,441,078 worldwide, according to Wikipedia, so it would appear you are not alone in your liking of the movie, Rook. 😉

    To answer your question, I think it is easier to make an enjoyable game based on a movie than an enjoyable movie based on a game. Perhaps developers don’t rely so much on the brand in its own right to generate profit. A movie primarily offers an emotional experience, whereas a game also offers visceral pleasure. If a movie’s emotional pitch is off, then how can it redeem itself? If, on the other hand, a game based on a movie loses some emotion in the translation, it still has its gameplay to offer the audience. Scarface, The Thing, and many of the Spider-Man and Star Wars games come to mind as examples.

  5. John avatar

    I liked Tomb Raider… or did I just like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider?! Dammit, now I have to go a re-examine my whole structure of rationalisation. Oh wait, no, it was definitely Jolie! 🙂 Phew!

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