Some, if not all of you, may have seen the recently released trailer for the upcoming, and highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed video game movie, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, as Callum Lynch/Aguilar de Nerha and Sophia Rikkin, respectively.
While the concept and characters as depicted in that small glimpse seemed to be everything fans of the Assassin’s Creed series have been hoping for, no one is ready to cast doubt aside just yet.
Gamers have had their fair share of disappointment when it comes to video game movies of their favourite franchises. All the wonder and excitement of the video games disappeared somewhere in the rushed (or just poor) writing and relatively small budget.
While that may not necessarily be the case with Assassin’s Creed, seeing as Ubisoft saw fit to involve themselves in film production and writing, we may actually get a decent video game movie of the beloved franchise. Still, that’s no reason to raise your expectations or get your hopes up too high. If you need a reason why, just take a look back at the video game movies everyone just tries to forget.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Since 1996, the Tomb Raider series has given us countless adventures in dozens of ancient, creature-infested tombs through the dual-pistol-wielding, controversially busty (before 2013) heroine, Lara Croft. We all enjoyed climbing, running and leaping across the world carrying nothing but weapons and whatever could fit in Lara Croft’s tiny, iconic backpack (which was surprisingly spacious).
Let’s all admit that any video game movie of any of the pre-Tomb Raider Legend games was bound to be a little goofy. 2001’s Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, was a different kind of goofy. It wasn’t a complete disaster. The action scenes featuring ancient tombs were actually quite interesting and reflected well on the video games from which they were inspired, regardless of how utterly ridiculous they were. As Roger Ebert put it, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider elevates goofiness to an art form…”
Though the video game movie sequel that followed in 2003, did try to improve upon what they had, it wasn’t enough and ultimately, regardless of how much of that sensual, confident bearing Angelina Jolie brought to the Tomb Raider films, Hollywood just wasn’t able to do the character justice on the big screen.
One of the best and most memorable horror series from the video games industry, the Resident Evil franchise, developed by Capcom, took zombies and the undead to new levels of frightening— gruesome, diseased creatures pitted against fantastic characters such as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.
In the past, zombie movies produced by Hollywood have been somewhat lacklustre, and were you to mix that with a complex story as one can find in the video game series, you get the films we were given back in 2002. Not quite what fans wanted, though not for lack of trying. They took bits and pieces from the games and tried to adapt them to film, going so far as to mimic camera angles. The problem was the writing. Characters simply didn’t possess the depth of their video game counterparts. The zombies were fun though. You have to give them that.
Intense and action-packed, the Hitman trilogy featuring the cold and enigmatic Agent 47, would in any fan’s opinion, make for a great movie. If only it were done right. Unfortunately, no one has done it quite right. Admittedly, it’s understandable for anyone playing Agent 47 to unintentionally cross the line between cold and enigmatic to just lifeless and boring. That being said, the plot simply didn’t play well into what Agent 47 is, a stealthy assassin. Neither the 2007 adaptation nor the more recent 2015 reboot succeeded or attempted to depict that on screen. The Hitman movie depiction was about as stealthy as a bulldozer with just as much personality.
Some video game properties should stay video game properties. Mortal Kombat is definitely one of those video game properties. Mortal Kombat is a classic purely because it’s so outrageously violent and ridiculously sexualised that outside of video games, it’s unreasonably offensive (let’s be honest, it’s fun, but just barely tolerable as a video game). The filmmakers who took to creating the Mortal Kombat movie definitely took this into account and rolled out characters and fight scenes that were toned down, somehow even more lacking in actual personality, and battling on screen without any real plot or purpose.
Then they decided to make another Mortal Kombat movie and released Mortal Kombat: Annihilation just for the few people who might have actually enjoyed low-budget films with rubberised characters and no plot. It’s a niche market.
Konami’s decades old fog-filled franchise has done exceptionally well in fixing itself on to every gamer’s top 10 list when it comes to horror. Twisted monsters such as Pyramid Head, and the nurses, have become icons of the genre in video games.
A film was to be expected, and so a film was created and released in theatres in 2006. It starred Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell, as the parents of a young girl who is taken to the town haunted by evil, by her mother, who seeks to cure her child’s case of somnambulism.
The Silent Hill movie looked fantastic and took everything it needed to from the Silent Hill games, still however, it suffered from poor expositional delivery, and a lengthy, unsatisfying plot which seemed to at times, serve only to showcase the fantastic bits and pieces it had taken from the video games. It was a lot of running around and not a lot of ‘getting anywhere’.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy was at the heart of every Prince of Persia fan’s fondest memories of the nameless character—our dear Prince, with the help of Farah, who travelled through a mystifying world straight out of One Thousand and One Nights to retract the corruption of the evil Vizier. We remember the glittering golden sands and terrifying sand monsters, holding entire cities hostage. None of these things were present in the critically panned 2010 movie adaption, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
One might have thought Jake Gyllenhaal would be able to carry the wit and charm of the video game character (who, for the purposes of the movie was named Dustan), but instead, brought none of the vibrant life to the screen. The Prince of Persia movie offers a new background for the character, and whilst the dagger and evil Vizier (played by Ben Kingsley) are present, that’s all the movie and video game really share. It wasn’t the video game movie anyone wanted, but as the critical consensus of Rotten Tomatoes stated, while the film itself failed to offer anything worthwhile, it was “a substantial improvement over most video game adaptations.”
There are a lot of other video game movie adaptations that weren’t mentioned, mostly because they were either too small, or directed, written and/or produced by Uwe Boll…’nuff said. Hopefully the Assassin’s Creed movie, coming to theatres 21st December 2016, will finally give audiences the video game movie adaptation they crave. After all, video games often offer worlds of such depth and intrigue, mostly due to the nature of the medium through which they are delivered. But there’s no reason a video game movie can’t properly adapt or even play into the narrative of the games from which they are inspired, something the Assassin’s Creed movie appears to be doing, thanks to the involvement of Ubisoft, the creators.
Take note, all ye who would create video games and wish for a video game movie adaptation, don’t give full control over to people who don’t fully understand your creative child or you could end up with one of the worst video game movie adaptions ever.