4 Video Games That Desperately Need a Movie Adaptation
Like many of you, I'm pretty big on deconstructing and nitpicking both movies and video games. Movies based on video games are my particular pet peeve, as it seems like they never get the essence of the source material right. I mean, just think about the movies about Final Fantasy, and how they managed to mess up practically everything that makes the games tick. Really, the mere thought makes me so angry that I ought to take this conveniently placed giant mallet and ...
"Back off, people, I've got this."
Ahem. However, we're not here to judge today. Quite the opposite, in fact; we're here to create, to imagine what the absolute best video game movies would be. Here's four games that I would love to see on the big screen and think would best honor the source material. You are more than welcome to suggest yours in the comment section, and maybe -- just maybe -- a big-shot Hollywood executive will stumble upon this article in a coke-fueled haze while looking for donkey porn, realize that our ideas will sustain him for a lifetime, and send us all big fat checks stained with what are hopefully tears of gratitude. Well, that, or I'll drop by later and whiskey-scout the comments for material for a sequel article, drunkenly scrawling notes so I'll remember to name-drop the people who came up with the best ideas. It could go either way, really.
Here we go, yo:
The core idea of Psychonauts is that your character can invade the heads of various other characters and have adventures in their vivid mindspaces, which captures pretty well the experience of getting so hammered that you become convinced you can read other people's minds and everything is simultaneously the most beautiful and terrifying thing you have ever seen. (This is a thing that regularly happens to everyone, right? It's not just me?)
Psychonauts is the Firefly of the video game world. Given its legacy in pop culture, it's no surprise that the game holds a special place in Cracked's collective heart: Its creepy Easter eggs and modern art qualities have earned it various #1 spots on our lists.
They were this close to writing "BUY THIS OR YOUR FAMILY WILL DIE."
The first port of call when thinking of a movie version of Psychonauts is probably Inception, what with the whole "traveling in people's minds" thing heavily present in both. In fact, one fan made a crude trailer for an Inception-style Psychonauts movie. Hey, let's check it out to illustrate the point:
Holy shit! Did I say "crude"? Because I'll eat those words right now, with a pint of Sriracha to wash down all connotations of disrespect. In fact, the makers of the game agree with me on the impressiveness of that clip: Tim Schafer used it as part of his presentation when he pitched Psychonauts 2 to publishers.
There's just one thing: Although Inception and Psychonauts share certain similarities in atmosphere and central themes, the Nolanesque tone of the dream thief epic doesn't quite seem to match the skewed air of the game, apart from the fact that Leo DiCaprio wouldn't look out of place playing a cartoon character. To fully embrace the delightfully childish insanity of the psychonaut world, it would need to be an animated film. Luckily, we wouldn't be short of inspiration even then, because there's another beloved movie that has set the precedent for bringing extremely weird animated shit to screen in a manner that appeals to audiences of all ages and critics alike:
It's kind of tragic that no one has attempted to film the Wolfenstein series. The franchise ushered in the ongoing era of 3D shooters, and experts believe the games are still the best method of recreational Nazi disposal, outside of taking a time machine holiday to 1945.
Perhaps Wolfenstein has gone unfilmed because for the longest while nobody really gave a damn about Nazis as movie bad guys. The barrage of huge World War II movies at the turn of the millennium saturated the market for swastika-wielding grimaces for over a decade, to the point where supervillain incarnate Hugo Weaving could play the goddamn Red Skull and still be left in the dust by pretty much all other villains in the Marvel movieverse.
Of course, the 2005 shitfest that was the Doom movie probably didn't help Wolfenstein's cinematic aspirations, either.
Every time Karl Urban fired a shot in Dredd, he aimed it at this movie.
But that was then. European films like Iron Sky and Dead Snow have been slowly paving the way for the revival of Nazi monsters, and since Hollywood is currently having the mother of all idea-recycling boners, the stars are slowly turning to a position where a Wolfenstein movie doesn't seem like a bad joke. (Well, no more than a franchise with ED-209 Hitler as a villain is supposed to.)
The main problem when adapting a gun-heavy game with Nazi supertechnology is the atmosphere. Sure, you could do a tongue-in-cheek Expendables-style romp with 1980s aesthetics and Scott Adkins minigun-punching SS troopers in the cyber-dick. Hell, throw in Steven Seagal as an inexplicably cast Robot Hitler, and I'd watch the shit out of that movie 17 times, each and every one of them after 2 a.m. Here, I wrote the script already:
EXT. CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN - SUNSET. Gunfire. Allusions to Commander Keen. Everything explodes for two hours straight.
But if we wanted to take the sneaky route, we might use a certain other franchise as our template. Since its debut in 1993, Mike Mignola's Hellboy series has often focused on the titular character's struggles with scary ubertech-wielding, magic-using Nazis and Hellboy's various "Die, you bastards!" reactions to the situations presented by them. These stories are all about a badass who is the only stick in the wheels of Nazi machinations and chooses to live out his role with extreme prejudice. Take away the demonic aspect of the title character, and a storyline like "Conqueror Worm" could easily play out as the cutscenes of a Wolfenstein game, not to mention the plot of a movie made from one.
Now, Hellboy has already been adapted for the big screen two times very well (the first one played a role in the creepy Nazi villain revival), and it just so happens that the dude in charge of said adaptations was none other than Guillermo del Toro, master of creepy-ass storytelling and, in this case, a very decent action director, too ...
... or, you know, we might just drop that train of thought, because it looks like Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary (whose other credits less enticingly include Beowulf and the Silent Hill movie) is already somewhat attached to the project. Still, as long as Uwe Boll doesn't feature anywhere in the equation, I'll just be happy to have my fix of late-night Nazi slayin'.
Fighting games are rarely fertile ground for movie makers, as anyone who has seen turdfests such as Street Fighter and Tekken can attest. If you've never played the Soulcalibur series, things aren't looking much brighter; chances are the above picture and similar boobalicious antics are your only points of reference when it comes to the games. Sure, you might vaguely be aware that they're fighting games, and yeah, there are probably characters and endings and attacks and crap, but at the end of the day, it's all just a big bunch of Dead or Alive-style jiggle physics for the gamers too busy to browse for porn to ogle. Right?
Well, yeah. But! Once you manage to navigate through the sea of pixelated Jell-O mammaries, the games themselves are pretty decent. The series -- Soulcalibur III in particular -- is actually some of my favorite games, and it has (almost) nothing to do with the gratuitous amount of T&A. Being the kind of guy who habitually watches all the cutscenes and hunts down all the character endings even if I'm playing a Bible camp math game, I was immediately entranced by the series' story about an evil sword that wrecks shit and the surprising depth of the backstories of all the characters hunting said sword for various reasons.
Sure, many characters initially seem like "Swordfighter #47" and "Spear Guy #6" from Stock Fighter Depot's bargain aisle, but there's a twist to each and every one of them. The token "I'm the best there is" samurai character is going through a major existential crisis due to his inability to compete with firearms. Another character has spent decades locked in an underground vault, deaf, blind, and mute, slowly descending into BDSM gear-wearing, voices-hearing, flailing-at-everyone madness due to his horrific isolation. There's a nunchaku-wielding Elvis joke character that somehow manages to be a genuinely tragic hero. Hell, even the walking boob display cabinet up there is actually a pretty complicated character, ravaged by a nightmarish family history and some very literal personal demons. Yes, she has some daddy issues. Why do you ask?
"Guess which one I am?"
Each and every one of the characters proceeds in their chosen path of despair as the series progresses, occasionally murdered or otherwise incapacitated by incoming new characters. People have sons and daughters, who then grow up to join the sequels as new combatants. You could have your standard "knight in shining armor" character in one game, watch him become possessed by evil spirits in the second one, and spend the one after that reveling in pure supervillainy -- only for him to regain his full faculties in the fourth game, absolutely mortified by the whole "murdering scores of people" scene he's been frequenting, and spending the rest of his days desperately trying to redeem himself.
He fights evil with the Final Fantasy-approved style of absolutely unmanageable swords.
See where I stopped describing the games and started talking about the movie? No? That's because I never did it. Once you actually pay attention to the story behind all the overblown boobs and weapons that would get the characters killed in real combat, the series is halfway toward a huge fantasy epic before the first screenwriter even comes along. Actually, let's ditch the movie idea altogether and flat out make this a six- or seven-season TV series, Game of Thrones-style. After all, the story's already there, as are the awesome fighting scenes, awkward sexual connotations, and seemingly absurd supernatural elements.
Just ... just keep Voldo the hell out of the sex scenes, OK?
"I will totally be in all of them."
Relatively few people have actually played EarthBound, but most of us have sure as hell heard about the various ... oddities of this 1994 RPG. You know the ones I'm talking about: the cutesy, child-friendly graphics that are at constant odds with a plot that is rife with evil cults, spider robots, and ghosts that you must willfully allow to tear you apart, piece by piece by agonizing piece. The centerpiece of this tableau of insanity is without a doubt the game's final villain: Giygas, a mindless, gibbering idiot god that looks like a howling tornado made of abortion because that's precisely what he is.
"Thanks a bunch, buddy. How's your modeling career going?"
So why do I want to see a film version of this veritable buffet of batshit insanity? How could I not? For all the smack I like to talk about how I could totally come up with better movie plots than half the studios, I have absolutely no idea how an EarthBound film should (or, for that matter, could) be done. And now that I've got the idea stuck in my head, I'm itching to find out. I'm ... guessing it would be a horror movie of some sort? Maybe one of the really weird Japanese ones, in the vein of Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo series ("Now with 300 percent more abortion Cthulhus!") or pretty much anything by Takashi Miike. Among American filmmakers, Don "dude who made Bubba Ho-Tep, John Dies at the End, and the Phantasm series" Coscarelli could probably pull it off. Not that I have any idea what said "it" even is -- I just want to see what any of those people could do with the concept.
This is my only mental image of what this movie could be like.
So, powerful studio executive who for some reason is reading this article: Please put this movie at the top of your list of terrifying things to do. Yes, even above that thing with the midgets and two cans of turpentine. I can guarantee that you won't make a single cent of money out of the deal, but you would at least make one Internet comedy writer deeply happy and almost certainly irrevocably traumatized.
And really, isn't that what life is all about?
Pauli Poisuo could probably bankrupt a major Hollywood studio within minutes. Follow him on Twitter.