Hollywood has established a rather solid reputation for turning out a disproportionate number of reboots and films based on, well, just about anything they can get their hands on. At times, it seems like those in charge of the green light are just a bit too quick to capitalize on a recognizable name or established fanbase.
I’m not saying we need to draw up new marketing laws to prevent Hollywood from adapting every intellectual property under the sun, but some gentle guidance wouldn’t go amiss.
Like any of the alternate media forms available for Hollywood to pilfer, there are video games that could provide great inspiration or material for a movie. Unfortunately, there are just as many – if not more – games that would not translate well to screen.
Let’s take a look at a small sampling of games that should not make it to the silver screen, regardless of whether they’re already contenders, already greenlit, or not even on the radar.
10. The Legend of Zelda
Stating that The Legend of Zelda should not be made into a film seems crazy. Why say no to a game that has enough plot to sustain a feature film, not to mention a large and dedicated fanbase? Two words: inevitable disappointment.
Sometimes, when a property is so beloved by so many people, it’s impossible to make an adaptation that will please the fans of the original. Such is the case with Zelda. Zelda has maintained its status and popularity across multiple generations and multiple games, making for an incredibly diverse fanbase.
Moreover, since Link is a primarily non-speaking character, fans have been free to construct their own headcanons for what he sounds like and, ultimately, who he is. No actor, no matter how talented, would ever be able to match the headcanons of thousands of diverse fans. Not to mention the very real danger that beloved franchises always have the potential to fall into the hands of a director that doesn’t care or just doesn’t get it (See M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender for a glimpse of a worst-case scenario).
A Zelda movie might not be the worst choice, but that doesn’t make it a good choice.
9. Metal Gear Solid
Some games have such rich and detailed plots that it would be impossible to condense the subject matter into two and a half hours while still maintaining any resemblance to the original work. Attempts to do so result either in a tepid, watered down version of the original, or in a mess so incomprehensible, even die-hard fans walk away confused.
Such is the danger in adapting Metal Gear Solid for the screen. Sure, it’s a compelling and engrossing spy narrative, but it is too dense to adapt. An attempt to squeeze all of its nuances and subplots into a feature would be akin to trying to cram every detail of Lost into two hours.
8. World of Warcraft
Similar to both The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid, World of Warcraft is simply too popular and expansive to translate well to film.
After numerous expansions, additions and modifications, the world of WoW is too dense and detailed to easily encapsulate in movie form. The world is too big, the character classes too numerous, and the lore too complicated to properly introduce to movie goers. Sure, you could attempt to trim it down, but it would still both confuse the uninitiated and fail to satisfy die-hard fans, inevitably falling into the forgettable middle-ground.
7. God of War
There have been a slew of undefeatable-warrior-battles-the-gods movies lately, and none have been noteworthy. Similarly, a God of War adaptation would lose any of the fun or passion of the game and end up as anther lifeless warrior-vs-gods film offering.
Furthermore, the main character, Kratos, is simply too one-dimensional as a character. An undefeatable warrior may be fun as a video game character, but makes for a boring, unrealistic film protagonist. Given the extremely oversaturated market on practically-invincible-hero-with-cliched-angst-masquerading-as-character-development flicks, studios should take a hard pass and leave this one to the gamers.
Games where any action depends upon the player’s choice do not make for a good adaptation. While Minecraft is engrossing (and borderline addictive) because of the explorative and creative possibilities, it doesn’t have anything to offer in the way of plot or characters.
For those who really want to watch a hilarious Minecraft adventure, try watching Yogscast’s Minecraft adventures with Lewis and Simon. Their three season YouTube series began as two friends exploring the world of Minecraft in a Let’s Play style and then radically transformed into a comedic RPG adventure. (Which works perfectly for a YouTube series but less so for a feature film.)
Let’s be completely frank: while it made for a great cameo in Wreck-It Ralph, Frogger is not sufficient for a feature film. Perhaps you could twist the “try to get the frogs to safety” angle into a plot fit for a children’s movie, but really, shouldn’t you just watch The Incredible Journey or Fly Away Home again?
4. Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero is one of many games that is only fun when you’re the one playing. If you are bored or annoyed watching your friends play, why would you want to pay good money to watch a (likely) terrible attempt at a film adaptation?
And, really, would Guitar Hero: The Movie be any different from Rock of Ages?
As with Minecraft, a film based on a game where almost everything depends upon the individual player is rather pointless. As the entire premise of Sims is the gamer’s ability to make characters and families do whatever you want within the game limits, a film version would likely take the crown for flattest plot and most static characters.
Furthermore, the only interesting possibility to explore would be a pre-determined-character-and-actions vs. free-will angle, which falls directly into territory already covered in Stranger than Fiction.
2. Duck Hunt
Fake target practice does not a compelling movie make. Any attempts, any thoughts about adapting Duck Hunt for the silver screen should be scrapped in favor of re-watching Bugs and Daffy’s classic duck-season-rabbit-season skit.
Let’s be honest: a cheeky Tetris reference/tie-in in Avengers: Age of Ultron could be a fun follow-up to the Galaga nod in The Avengers. However, it would be a bit more difficult to make it serve as a plot-revealing Easter egg.
Tetris is far too simple a game to make into a feature film; it has no protagonist, and nothing that would or could serve as a plot. While I’m sure Michael Bay would love to have Megan Fox strike a pin-up pose in front of an exploding Tetris wall, the potential for gratuitous bosom heaving and explosions does not (and should not) a movie pitch make.
What games are you hoping and praying never become movies? Are there any that you think would make a great feature?