As video game releases continue to bring in millions, or billions of dollars for major publishers, movie studios are turning to video game movies as their next big thing. But the ties between movies and games have existed longer than most fans, or executives, probably realize.
Here is our list of 10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Influenced By Video Games.
Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise gave a face to this sci-fi war movie about a soldier reliving a day over and over again, but the story of Edge of Tomorrow started as a Japanese comic series called “All You Need is Kill.” The writer came up with the idea after noticing how video games used death to train players, turning them from beginners into veterans – just like the movie’s hero. If the video game ties weren’t clear enough, the idea for the movie’s robotic exoskeletons was also introduced in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – released just months later.
A Halo movie is still just a dream, but when Peter Jackson was producing the film back in 2006, he saw Neill Blomkamp as the perfect director for the project, who turned heads by mixing CG creatures with lo-fi camerawork and realistic sets instead of massive green screen spectacle. When the movie plans were scrapped, Jackson decided to produce Blomkamp’s District 9 instead, featuring alien creatures, conflicts, weapons and action scenes torn right out of a first person shooter. The movie was based on one of the director’s short film, but Blomkamp’s original goal and similarities have led many to claim that District 9 is as close a vision of Blomkamp’s Halo movie as fans will ever see.
No game series has taken as much heat as Grand Theft Auto, embracing violence, destruction, and general carnage in the name of fun. The movie Crank took that dedication to heart – literally – with a hero who needs to keep his adrenaline pumping just to stay alive. The directors made the similarities to chaotic gaming obvious, including nods to video games throughout the movie, and even going completely into the digital world in the film’s final credits, putting star Jason Statham exactly where his character belongs: a bullet-fueled 16-bit shooter.
Pitting four surivors with a sense of humor against an army of the undead made Zombieland a hit, but one video game series was using zombies for fun, not fear long before. The zombie shooter Left 4 Dead followed the same formula, even shaping its campaign and marketing to resemble a Hollywood film, but fans soon turned the game into an online sensation, where hilarious kills were the top priority. Zombieland kept the sense of humor and tension, and even “Kills of the Week” competitions intact, not to mention a finale set in a zombie-filled amusement park – a location included in Left 4 Dead 2, released shortly after the movie.
Die Hard, Dredd & The Raid
Modern game makers can dream up entire universes, but games made in the ‘80s and ‘90s had to rely on levels, and chains of boss battles for success. Die Hard may be the most famous movie to actually take the idea of fighting enemies from level to level literally, but the original writer’s idea for the story was basically a live-action version of Elevator Action, a game released just a few years later. Since then, movies like Dredd and The Raid: Redemption have embraced the same structure, sending heroes up against gangs of enemies, mini-bosses and one massive final battle to achieve victory. The confined settings and levels may just be a way of keeping a story simple, but the solution is one that game developers were the first to really exploit.
The story of giant mechs fighting giant monsters told in Pacific Rim pulled from decades of Japanese anime and films, but director Guillermo del Toro didn’t copy any one movie when developing his own. But as a die hard gamer, it’s no surprise to see futuristic pilots in VR helmets working in unison to launch special attacks, taking on more and more difficult enemies. Del Toro even called on Ellen McLain, the voice of the Portal game series’ GLaDOS to supply the voice of his own futuristic mechs.
Zack Snyder’s adventure of female warriors was an original idea, but Sucker Punch took its influences from 20th century warfare, steampunk, Japanese mecha and anime as much as any modern fantasy game. Whether it’s Nazi Zombies made famous by Call of Duty, or mixing bullets and blades with dragons and orcs like Final Fantasy (and too many other RPGs to count), the source material is clear. Snyder stated that he wanted the movie to be less chaotic than a typical video game experience, but the constant need to defeat waves of enemies or steal key quest items was spotted by critics… and their comparisons to one massive video game adventure weren’t usually meant as a compliment.
Act of Valor
Some of the most popular and profitable video games in history have followed elite soldiers into battle, with the Call of Duty series painting the picture of modern war for a generation. So when the minds behind Act of Valor turned to real Navy SEALS – not actors – to show audiences what war really looks like, video games were impossible to ignore. With millions of gamers experiencing combat down the barrel of a gun, the directors made sure to recreate that sensation in live-action. You could say that video games simply copied the real tactics of the soldiers, but filming and editing them to look like a game is something else entirely.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite films that have video games to thank for their story, characters, or action? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one.