Joystick: Games will eventually have their day as top-notch filmsPublished 11:09am Thursday, April 4, 2013
I am consistently amazed at how many movies the “Resident Evil” series has spawned.
The survival horror video game franchise is responsible for five movies to date starring Milla Jovovich, and all of them seemingly passable in the new “Resident Evil” universe of the last few games.
That’s not to say the movies are good: With the exception of the first film, they’ve all been middling action movies with less-than-stellar acting and some at-times creepy sex appeal. But sex and violence are a winning pair when it comes to movies, games, or other forms of storytelling.
The “Resident Evil” franchise isn’t alone in creating millions of dollars in the movie business: Everything from “Silent Hill” to “Final Fantasy” to “Super Mario Bros.” has spawned a film or TV series in some form.
There’s few games that translate into enjoyable films, however. I love “Super Mario Bros.,” the 1993 movie starring Bob Hopkins, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, but it was a terribly schlocky film that suffered in production and by almost all accounts alienated gamers who enjoyed the transcendent platformer. I enjoyed the 1999 movie “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,” despite the movie having almost nothing to do with the “Final Fantasy” universe. While critics were decidedly mixed on the movie at the time, the film absolutely tanked at the box office. This movie ended up losing Squaresoft (now Square Enix) more than $100 million, hurting director Hironobu Sakaguchi’s otherwise-sterling reputation — the man who created the “Final Fantasy” series would leave the company to found his own successful studio within a couple years of this film disaster — and arguably turned the perception of Square Enix as the Japanese studio that could do no wrong into a still-powerful gaming institution that can’t seem to get its own games right, according to its most ardent fans. The “Max Payne” movie took a few liberties that seemed way out of left field for fans of the series, let alone regular filmgoers. And don’t even start on “Doom:” Even The Rock publicly denounces that piece of garbage, and not even Karl Urban could save the terrible 2007 action flick.
I’ve written before how film and gaming are intersecting in new, exciting ways, and how the evolution of cinema within gaming is a great thing to behold. But the opposite is true for gaming within film, and with a few average exceptions — “Prince of Persia,” the first “Silent Hill” movie — there’s a whole lot of terrible game-based movies.
There’s hope on the horizon: As franchises like “Halo,” “God of War,” and others get picked up by movie studios (and promptly stuck in development for years), there’s Internet series like “Mortal Kombat Legacy,” which has cast several notable B-list actors and actresses for an amazing, gritty look at the MK universe which almost every fan wants to see on the big screen. Michael Jai White as Jax? I’m in.
Sooner or later, gaming will get its turn in the movie spotlight that so many good books and fairy tales are getting recently. It probably won’t come with the next “Resident Evil” film, though. Sorry Milla.