Friday, June 4, 2010

Question of the Week: I'd Watch That For A Dollar

By GM Staff

We'd like to pause for a moment and welcome our newest contributor, Mr. Sam Shahrani! Sam is a man of many talents - he teaches computer junk for a living and got his master's in game design at Indiana University, so he (allegedly) knows what he's talking about. Perhaps he can help bring our blog a modicum of credibility? It'll be an uphill battle, to be sure. Sam's also a part-time cop, so if anyone gets out of line, it's a safe bet he knows like a half dozen non-violent ways to show them the error of their ways. Check out his first post, and do be nice to him.

Moving right along. Question! Of the week!

Last weekend the Bruckheimer-produced, Darko-starring, not-particularly-Persian Prince of Persia opened in theaters nationwide. This weekend, the crowds have finally died down, so we here at Gamer Melodico are... still totally not going to see it. Which brings us to our question: What game-based movie, when given the right creative direction and casting, would you actually pay to see?

Dan: You know, I think the last movie adaptation I saw in its entirety was Mortal Kombat. I think I was somewhat easier to entertain back then than I am now, but I still recall feeling pretty disappointed.  Anyway, my pick would be the mostly forgotten Atari 2600 gem Yar's Revenge. The game came out at a time when the technology wasn't advanced enough to actually deliver a story, so the game's creators included a cool comic (which I found here!) about how irradiated houseflies warp into the future where they become superintelligent beings, build a peace-loving interplanetary community, and then face an enemy bent on their annihilation.  All this in like six pages—what's not to love?  Anyway, I always kind of thought it wasn't fair that they had to tell this story in the pages of a manual that most people probably lost without a second thought.  Games these days are already so good at delivering backstory that I'm not sure a movie could do a better job—how would a movie improve on a title like Grand Theft Auto IV or Dead Space? Actually, I bet a Dead Space adaptation would be pretty cool.  But still, I'm going for Yar's Revenge (which, by the way, is totally available for download in the XBL Game Room).

Sam:  I'd say Half-Life, but only if it was done honestly and not as a stereotypical jockfest with one-liners and whatnot. If they did it as a legitimate "Freeman as scientist doing what he can in a total disaster" film, maybe with Hugh Laurie or Edward Norton, and made it a suspense/horror film, I think it could be fantastic. Less on the bombastic large action set pieces, more on the horror and struggle to uncover what's going on. I'm thinking The Thing meets Jurassic Park with just a touch of Aliens and The Abyss.

Kirk: Perhaps it's just because I've been playing it again recently, but I think that Far Cry 2 could make for a pretty dang good movie. Sort of like Blood Diamond, but without the tonally inconsistent romantic stuff... just a super dark movie about a mercenary in war-torn Africa, slowly dying of malaria while hunting an arms dealer. He'd get in plenty of exciting firefights in the jungle and on the savanna, but the real story would be of man's dark nature and human suffering, told through the eyes of journalist Reuben Oluwagembi.  It'd be bleak, and it'd have one hell of a downer ending. Hmm. Maybe I should just go rent Apocalypse Now.

David: Hollywood doesn't have the greatest track record for this sort of thing, but one can always dream! I think the characters and world from Beyond Good and Evil would be an amazing starting point for a film. In particular this would make for a great computer animated project. Even though sales were disappointing, Beyond Good and Evil was a fun, unique game. I think the protagonist Jade is one of the best female characters to grace a console. She's smart, crafty, likable and nothing like your standard Lara Croft stereotype. The world in which the game is set is stylized and beautiful, but the story and setting is very dark. It was all quite delicious. I can't help but wonder what a good production team could do with this setting for a film, even though yes, people live alongside anthropomorphic piggy creatures.

Annie: At first, I didn't know what I could say in light of these other fabulous suggestions. My immediate reaction is Half Life, because DUH, or Diablo, because it has that linear narrative of which Hollywood is so fond. Eve, because it is stunning (and because getting some cash flow into Iceland would mean not having to subsist on Hakarl when visiting. Just kidding, I'd probably starve first). However, I'm going to step back in time a bit more and propose Earthbound, because I think the time is right. The story is idiosyncratic and self-aware enough that with the right script, and under the joint direction of Gregg Araki and Michel Gondry (although a brief survey of our readership indicates that any choice besides Uwe Boll would be satisfactory), this cannot possibly fail. I propose the following cast:

Ness - Rupert Grint, because there should be more leading gingers
Paula - Zooey Deschanel, or any other "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"
Jeff - Malcolm David Kelley
Poo - Danny Pudi (You know, Abed from Community)
Giygas - Voiced by Tom Waits, but only after he has been made to consume nothing but raw eggs and single malt
Pokey Minch - Jack Black in a fat suit
Doctor Andonuts - Mos Def. Obviously.
With special appearances by Pepe the Prawn as Buzz Buzz, and Iron Maiden as the Runaway Five (Shut up, it's MY fantasy, and there are six of them).


The Sonia Show said...

I'm going to kick it old school like Dan and say "Adventure." It's got dragons and since that recent movie about training dragons made so much money at the box office I think "Adventure" would be a big hit.

Jay said...

David, I'm totally with you here. I instantly thought BG&E too and was stoked to see it represented. What an awesome story, right? The authoritarian, Orwellian overtones contrasted by the bright and vibrant characters and environments is the perfect mix. Jade truly is one of the best heroines in video game history. And honestly, who wouldn't want some sweet anthropomorphic piggy CGI? Get Guillermo Del Toro or Tim Burton to do it in a way that's not too cutesy and it would be amazing.
I'd see it twice :D

On a similar note, The Longest Journey would be my other pick. You definitely have another great heroine in April Ryan. I know I've mentioned it before but this point-and-click adventure title had one of the best narratives EVER. Parallel universes. One ruled by technology, the other by magic. Neither of them are aware of the others existence (yet each is dependent on the other to maintain a sort of "balance"). Then the walls start breaking down and... oh just download it or go buy it at Target for $10 in the bargain PC section next to the magazines.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Heavy Rain, but only if it ends the way I played it. Kid drowns. Father shoots himself in the head. Chick dies jumping out of a burning building. Killer gets away. Now that's what I call a movie! Bring a date.

Tim Mackie said...

Obvious, obvious choice would be Half-Life, but as has been mentioned, it would be difficult to get right. No, something more marketable, and something I think might actually be able to improve on the games, would be a Metal Gear movie or series thereof. Last I knew Kojima was on the record saying that this would never ever ever happen, but honestly I think it could really work. Especially considering the later games in the series in particular were basically computer animated movies anyway. We'd just be cutting out the extraneous gameplay bits.

Kirk Hamilton said...

Jay - Oh man, I would go see a film adaptation of The Longest Journey like *snaps fingers* THAT. It would be amaze. Especially if it had puppets.

Tim - I wonder if anyone's ever just put the cutscenes from MGS4 in order. I'd have to think for a sec, but I'm pretty sure it'd make sense as a movie.

Andrew said...

I'd like a film set in the same universe as something but not a copy of the game (even vaguely).

I'd never pay to see Half-Life, I've already brought it!

The Mass Effect universe for instance would be apt for this - like Star Wars, you can have more then the game's story (much like Knight of the Old Republic is to the Star Wars trilogy!).

The Thief world is also interesting in itself; don't focus on Garret, but do another story in the past or future around the same City, the supernatural steam-punk thing going on.

A lot of people say "XXX game would be great as a film", but you'd just lose so much from "transferring" it - you simply can't competently since they are much longer - you can perhaps cut it down or alter it as the examples show, but in any case...

Could Gordon Freeman ever have a voice? (What on earth would he say? Sure, Valve's in a rut there but in any case...), would Beyond Good and Evil be as fun if you just extracted the cutscenes? If so why bother then? in fact something like Anachronox has had the cutscenes extracted and it is a reasonable (animated) action-comedy...why would you want to make it a film?

Seems like a lot of redundant work...

Anyway, all hypothetical - who am I to care if people want films of something? If it was books or music I'd be less worried, perhaps because such linear works are more easily adapted accurately and more fully.