Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. KL Yong's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.
As much as I long for some video game franchises to be made into movies, there are also some that make me say, "Don’t even think about it!" Here are five video game movies that would be utterly disastrous if adapted for the big screen.
1. The Elder Scrolls
With the enduring popularity of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the commercial success of the Game of Thrones TV series, there seems to be no better time for an Elder Scrolls movie. After all, Bethesda’s legendary franchise is famous for its meticulous lore. Its storylines have also consistently been matured and thoughtful. Under the right hands, an Elder Scrolls film series could perhaps rival even Peter Jackson’s masterpieces?
And yet, the gamer in me just doesn’t look forward to any such cinematic adaptation. The main reason being, I’m just too used to experiencing Tamriel as an open-world. A make-belief realm in which I’m free, mostly, to do whatever I want, however I want to.
Confined into the structure of a cinematic narrative, don’t you agree such an interactive world would lose much of its appeal? Besides, fans of the franchise are likely to have many disagreements over what should go into any Elder Scrolls movies, disagreements that include “Hey! That’s not how I’d do it in the game!” Or, “that’s not how anyone would do it in the games!”
Here’s hoping that Bethesda wouldn’t start considering any film adaptation after it finishes its next round of remaking Skyrim. We players want to be part of Tamriel. Not watch it from outside.
2. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
On the surface, the phenomenally successful PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has many of the ingredients necessary for a great movie adaptation. Its lack of any complex mythos means scriptwriters are free to experiment with the plot without risk of harsh criticism from fans. It is also representative of the Battle Royale genre, a genre that has been commercially successful in both cinema and the Young Adults writing category.
The above said, would a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds movie really strike the right notes with movie-goers? Since The Hunger Games movie trilogy, there have been the Divergent movies and the Maze Runner trilogy. There have also been several other lesser-known productions, all of which follow the theme of (young) people forced to brutally compete against each other.
Would any PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds movie thus be able to exhibit the “freshness” necessary for mainstream and critical success?
On another note, the cutthroat nature of the game is not without controversy. Translated onto the big screen, there is likely going to be even more hullabaloo. Chances are, resulting restrictions would result in a pretty colorless, vapid production.
3. Candy Crush
If you aren’t aware, there is already a Candy Crush: The Movie available on YouTube. This isn’t a real movie, though. Just a hilarious sketch featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
If you enjoyed that, as I did, great. But please let it stay at that. Don’t start wishing for full-length video game movies based on the game!
I mean, do you seriously want to see ridiculously dressed real humans prancing and moping around for two hours on a cinema screen? Not even toddlers would survive that!
Remember too that as funny as the Late Show segment was, its humor entirely reliant on references to the game. Such humor tires quickly, on top of being baffling to non-players.
To share, my grin started to strain midway through the YouTube skid. If I had to watch it for two hours, I'd most definitely end up in tears.
4. Saints Row
After a change in franchise ownership, and years of discussions and rumors, a Saints Row movie was officially revived in 2019. In May 2019, it was also announced that F. Gary Gray of The Fate of the Furious would be helming the project, with “Lifelong Gamer” writer Greg Russo penning the script. Russo, incidentally, is also working on movie reboots of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil.
All seems hopeful. Notably, Gray has also proven himself capable of balancing fun, humor, and over-the-top action. Despite these, though, I can’t say I’m optimistic about the project.
Why? Because any video game movie based on the Saints Row games would be a constant question of, which audience to cater to? As in, just how should the overall tone be?
Should they be action-packed and intense? Which would then upset gamers who love the series for its over-the-top comedy. Or should they be raw, absurd, and outrageous as the games were? Which would then bewilder, or worse, offend non-players.
Quite frankly, I think a Saints Row movie would only polarize audiences, no matter the skill of the producers. This, incidentally, one of the consistent reasons why video game movies receive mixed or bad reviews.
Besides, even if you’re a hardcore gamer, do you really want to see a guy with a snazzy coiffure gun down a hundred assailants, then survive a 30-floor jump, then transform into a god? No. No way. Unless you’re playing that guy in a video game.
5. Grand Theft Auto
Rockstar Games’ all-time bestseller franchise has everything that’s needed for an easy video game movie adaptation.
Meticulously designed cities, memorable characters, mature storylines, etc. Should there really be a movie, I confess I would also hit the cinema on release day. It would be such a thrill to see how San Andreas, Liberty City, and the various protagonists look like in real life.
Yup. I would be at the cinema on release day. I’m also quite sure that later on, I would be sorely disappointed.
How to explain this? Grand Theft Auto (GTA) thrives on the same elements that make games like Saints Row and Far Cry so popular. Elements such as unapologetic, over-the-top violence, and the indirect glorification of crime.
To be successful, any GTA film adaptation needs to find ways to reproduce these on the big screen, but just how could that be done without running into all sorts of regulation issues? The result, most likely, would be a clumsy compromise that satisfies no one. Another way of putting it would be to say the end product is going to be one of those, “neither here nor there” video game movies.
And even if there are no regulation issues, I suspect commercial support for any GTA movie is going to be exceedingly hard to secure. How many big brands would be willing to appear in such a movie? How many corporations would dare to risk consumer backlash? Maybe even legal backlash?
In short, any GTA movie adaptation is just going to be endless controversy. Best to keep this legendary series in the gaming world, where Rockstar is (at least) still able to retain its creative direction.
© 2017 Yong Kuan Leong