Legendary Pictures, the studio that co-produced The Dark Knight and 300, bought the movie rights to Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the world’s leading MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), almost 3 years ago and it has been rumored ever since that they are bringing it to the silver screen.
Call of Duty, a first person shooter also by Activision, is now also rumored to see action on the big screen as well. The only information to come from the studio and game maker regarding this and the World of Warcraft films is pure speculation, but it would seem that Hollywood is dead set on getting a video game movie right, by evidence of the two-dozen or so live-action films in the genre they shoved out the door in the past 20 years.
Is it even possible for them to get the formula right just once?
Yesterday, Screen Rant writer Ross Miller talked about Wheelman with Vin Diesel, and asked the question: “Can Hollywood make a GOOD video game adaptation?” So far the answer has been a resounding "no". The comments from that post are full of people that liked certain films and hated others but there has not been a clear front runner in the video-game movie market. The best anyone has done is merely “OK”. Personally, I don’t think it’s a problem with which studios, actors, directors or even writers are involved in the process. I think it has more to do with which stories they are choosing to tell and if they even need to be told in a movie adaptation.
Three things for studios to consider when developing a game-to-film are story, characters and SFX.
The stories from these games usually aren’t very original. First person shooters are always killing aliens, zombies, demons or other people, and most of the MMORPG games don’t have any main story arc that can be easily recognized by everyone in the game’s universe. If you don’t have a good story to start with then you shouldn’t try and make one up just to use the title of the game to help sell tickets.
Some games just can’t be made into a movie and I’m not sure if there are any games that easily adapt themselves to film. If the writers take liberties with the story, then rabid fans will jump on it like a lion on a wounded wildebeest. Besides, no matter how much detail a writer puts into the script, it will not be enough and I feel bad for the guy that has to put pen-to-paper for World of Warcraft. There will be die-hard fans that will despise and loath it just because there wasn’t enough screen time for their favorite class or race. Others will point out how the armor doesn’t look a certain way and weapons do not have certain abilities or monsters are too poorly portrayed, etc.
Call of Duty is in the same boat when it comes to plot and I don't know how it can stand out from other movies like Saving Private Ryan or any other WWII flick. Screen Rant writer Rob Keyes pointed out that its uniqueness would extend from focusing on multiple mostly-separate plot threads from the different armies and their perspectives in the game (i.e. Britain, Russian and American) but how would that make it stand out from any other WWII movie? As it is, Call of Duty is loosely based on Saving Private Ryan and I can’t help but think that it would look like a movie, based on a game, based on movie.
Most MMORPG's do not have any recognizable main characters to associate with the franchise, except maybe WoW with the Lich King but that’s a stretch. First person shooters like Call of Duty have the same problem. With no main character, the audience will have no reason to care about the film or what happens to the people in it. It’s not enough to simply create characters that all of the sudden exist in this world just for the movie's sake. They must have existed there before like Max Payne or Lara Croft. Creating believable and realistic characters from a game like this is all but impossible.
Just about every SFX possible for a video game has already been done in a movie and I can’t imagine anything new that can be offered. Doom had the first person shooter scene, Max Payne attempted a a terrible bullet time moment and Tomb Raider gave us digitally enhanced breasts (seriously, read about it here). There is nothing else that can be added to either a WWII film or a fantasy/action flick that we haven’t seen before.
As an example, WoW is already behind the curve depicting the Taurens since Chronicles of Narnia showed us the Minotaurs three years ago. If WoW had come out first, then people would say Narnia copied WoW but now it is going to be the other way around. In a genre like this you have to be cutting edge and bring something new to the table and studios are quickly running out of time before we, the audience, have seen it all.
However, with all the spoof movies that have inundated the theaters over the past few years, I’m surprised the Wayans Brothers, who will release Dance Flick this summer, or the writers of Superhero Movie haven’t jumped on this potential gold mine with a "Video Game Movie”, and if they read this and one comes out, I want royalties.
We always discuss what games they have screwed up and what games they haven’t but let’s talk about what games SHOULD be done as blockbuster movies and why. I vote Kid Icarus and Metroid.
What do you think?
Source: Hollywood Reporter