Today: April 14, 2024

Games To Screen

By Stephen Lillie – This week FilmJuicers Stephen Lillie and Alan Peters braved the undead-infested environs of … umm … Reading for a survival day to end all survival days. Conjured up by the lovely people at ZED Events, the experience pitted a group of not so hardened journos against hoards of brain-eating zombies to celebrate the arrival of Resident Evil: Retribution on Blu-ray and DVD. Inspired – or should that be traumatized – by the experience, Stephen Lillie shares his very own Top 10 Video Game To Film conversions …

By
Stephen Lillie

This week FilmJuicers Stephen
Lillie and Alan Peters braved the undead-infested environs of … umm … Reading for a survival day to
end all survival days. Conjured up by the lovely people at ZED Events, the
experience pitted a group of not so hardened journos against hoards of
brain-eating zombies to celebrate the arrival of Resident Evil: Retribution on
Blu-ray and DVD. Inspired – or
should that be traumatized – by the experience, Stephen Lillie shares his very
own Top 10 Video Game To Film conversions …

Resident Evil: Retribution
With
the recent release of Resident Evil: Retribution on Blu-ray and DVD it’s
impossible to ignore these films. Now enjoying its fifth outing, with no sign
of stopping, this is a franchise that will run and run. Zombies, guns, and
explosions, these films are high-octane action to the fore, gore fest. If you
like beautiful women machine gunning monsters, these are the films for you. And
let’s face it, is there a heterosexual male who doesn’t enjoy seeing Milla Jovovich in a film?

Final Fantasy: Advent Children
Could
this be the best film born out of the video game world? Actually a direct
sequel to Final Fantasy VII (the
massive hit that cemented the Final Fantasy series as never being “final”) this
film is touchingly dedicated to all the fans who played and loved FF7 and is
simply a beautiful piece of work. Full CGI animation was used to bring the
characters to life in a way they could never have been done on the first
Playstation. Unlike some other film adaptations, this adds to the game story
and develops it. Sensitively nuanced character scenes, breathtaking action,
drama, imaginative direction, it’s a film without faults. A joy to all fans of
the genre and beyond. There was another Final Fantasy film before this release,
but we never speak of it.

Doom (Main Image)
Not
the most promising narrative material to build a film from, and this film has
received many negative reviews. However if you like action films such as Predator or Aliens, you could do a lot worse. Carl Urban, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Rosamund Pike are amongst a capable cast. It’s tightly scripted and
well paced, with some great moments. What fan of the game could fail to be
delighted by John “Reaper” Grimm going into game mode as he slaughters his way
to the climax of the film? Its main failing was it lacked a definitive monster.
Sadly, there was nothing iconic in the beast bag, as there was in the
aforementioned classics.

Tomb Raider
Tomb
Raider was potentially a rich ground to plant the seeds of a good film in the
Indiana Jones, archeologist with guns goes grave robbing genre. Starring Angelina Jolie as the big-breasted
adventurer, we have seen two films of Lara’s exploits to date. The games’
popularity was attributed, in some part, to being the first game where a
teenage male got to control a large breasted young woman and not a muscle-bound
tank brain (which had been the default up to the release of the Tomb Raider
game). Genius! Unfortunately most of the criticism of the films seemed to hinge
on whether Ms Joile’s attributes were adequate for the part. And while the
films were very competent action flicks, you can’t make Angelina drown or run
into walls.

Super Mario Bros
Well
done for making a film out of this at all! As everyone must know, Super Mario
Bros is a platform game – a genre not known for its plot and character
development. Putting aside the potentially awkward Italian stereotypes, it’s
got Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the bouncy plumbers
who come to save Daisy from the claws of dinosaurs (some with tiny, tiny heads)
who have evolved some intellect and evil intentions. It received its fair share
of bad press on its release but what were they expecting from a fun family film
tie in? Worth a look for the surreal experience of the Mario Bros coming to
life, making you realise just how bizarre these platform games are.

Street Fighter
There
have been quite a few films made from games in this genre, which is surprising
as the games themselves are basically just beat ‘em ups. To be fair, Street
Fighter does have a plot of sorts and delivers exactly what it promises to do
with much fighting in the streets. It also has a cracking cast, Jean-Claude Van Damme doing his leg
thingy, the fabulous Raúl Juliá, and
Kylie Minogue in a rare acting
appearance. Yet again, the film had a bad reception from the critics.
Criticised for the campness of the one-liners and overacting from Raúl Juliá.
Overacting?! How can anyone overact that role? This is a film best approached
with a very open mind.

Prince of Persia: The Sands Of
Time

The
original game has a long history and has appeared in many incarnations on many
platforms. So it was no surprise when it was eventually adapted for the big
screen. Well cast, with high production values and more than average plot, the
film is a swashbuckling cut above many other video game adaptations. This is
due in no small part to the writer Mechner
who said “Rather than do a straight beat-for-beat adaptation of the new
videogame, we’re taking some cool elements from the game and using them to
craft a new story.” Made on the back of the hugely successful The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise,
while not quite capturing the cheeky zest of POTC (basically no Johnny Depp) it did well at the box
office and was the highest grossing video adaptation ever! Even beating Lara
Croft.

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon
Siege Tale

Dungeon
Siege is one of the legion of games to evolve from the Dungeons and Dragons
table top role playing game. Generally games of this type involve a group of
adventures, known as the “party”. However Dungeon Siege focuses on the story of
Ehb, the farmer with martial prowess, played by Jason Statham in his usual hard man demeanor. Directed by Uwe Boll, who has a long track record
of making films from video games (House
Of The Dead, Alone In The Dark and BloodRayne
) Dungeon Siege offers nothing
new in the fantasy genre. The film was panned by critics and was probably a
pretty poor career decision for Mr Statham and anyone else involved in it.

Max Payne
It
was a choice between Max Payne and Hitman
for this slot. Max Payne won as it’s as close as we have to video game
converted into a Noir film. At least it looks a little like Sin City, on the cover, if you squint a
bit. The film is only loosely based on the game, which is always a good thing. Mark Wahlberg gets the lead, a role for
which he received much critical distain. Like other adaptations the film leans heavily
on special effects, a phenomena we are all accustomed to being overused in a
post-Matrix world. However it was popular with the punters if not the critics.
As in so many cases, the film was damned for not being like the game. How can
it be like the game? And who wants to see the hero repeatedly die while trying
to kill the end of level boss anyway?

Silent Hill
Silent
Hill is included here as it is an example of the more psychological video
game-horror film conversion. Potentially an excellent subject for a film,
Silent Hill did quite well at the box office grossing nearly $100 million. The
director, Christopher Gans famously
took five years to secure the rights to the game so perhaps it was his
commitment to the story that holds the secret to its success?

Resident Evil: Retribution is out
now on Blu-ray and DVD.

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