Changing the Game in Video Game Adaptation

Seeing as the video game industry has become so massive, with such hits as Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfare, which sold $400 million in a single day in 2011, why is it that film adaptations of video games are so often flops? Especially in the wake of the dismal Silent Hill: Revelation, it seems that the studios producing such adaptations really need to rethink their approach.

Some of the only successful such adaptations include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the Resident Evil franchise, so perhaps the film industry should take notes from their example. In the article below, Resident Evil producer Jeremy Bolt, for example, said “When we developed the first screenplay, director Paul W.S. Anderson flew to Tokyo and spent a great deal of time with the game creators. We listened to their comments and respected their positions and that of the fans as much as we could. We see that as part of the success.”

So is that the key? True collaboration between the video game studio and the Hollywood studio? Well it’s certainly a start. It’s true that the video game creators know their fans much more intimately than the big-wigs in Hollywood. Ubisoft is taking this approach by putting together a complete package before proposing their projects to the studios, specifically by signing A-list stars (Michael Fassbender is slated to star in and produce Assassin’s Creed, and Tom Hardy is already attached to Splinter Cell).

But Prince of Persia showed that having A-list actors isn’t enough, as it failed to connect to audiences even with Jake Gyllenhaal as the star, and other recognizable actors such as Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in supporting roles. There must be more to it than that – in my opinion, the weakness of these adaptations is primarily in the story. There is a delicate balance between pandering to the preexisting fans of the video game and being accessible to a new, wider audience, and the best way to appeal to both is through a story that is new and exciting for the fans that can also stand alone as a solid movie in its own right. If you ask me, the producers of these adaptations need to put more stock in their screenwriters.

What do you think would make film adaptations of video games more successful? Are there any video games you’re dying to see made into movies?

Why Video Game Companies Are Taking More Control Over Their Movies
Tatiana Siegel @ The Hollywood Reporter

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From books to plays to theme park rides, Hollywood has a long history of transforming successful intellectual properties into box-office hits.

But when it comes to video games, the track record is surprisingly dismal. Despite sales figures that have made film executives drool — Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfaresold $400 million in a single day in 2011 — only one film based on a video game, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, has ever crossed the $100 million threshold domestically ($131 million).

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Tarantino on the Censorship Controversy of ‘Django Unchained’

Even though it’s been out for over two weeks now, I can’t resist at least a brief discussion of the controversy surrounding Django Unchained, especially because of how closely related it is to my own adoption of the moniker “mewling quim”.

Django Unchained uses the n-word approximately 110 times in its 166 minutes, a level of vulgarity that has caused some uproar. My first reaction to the arguments against it was simply that, coming from Quentin Tarantino, what do you really expect? He is known for excessive violence and language in his films, almost to the point of satire, and that is honestly what is so great about them.

The whole issue reminds me a lot of the episode of South Park, “It Hits the Fan” (S05:E01) that took a stance on censorship through the excessive use of the word “shit”–they even kept a counter at the bottom of the screen of how many times it was uttered in the episode, reaching 162 by the end of the half-hour show. This episode emphasizes the fact that the more a word is used, the less impact it starts to have. It seems to me that this is exactly the point of Django Unchained, as it is meant to realistically reflect its setting at a time and place when the n-word was not offensive. Words change their meaning and their import over time, so why are we so concerned that Django Unchained uses the n-word 110 times instead of 10? Would it be less offensive if there were fewer instances of the word?

But even more importantly, as the interview with Tarantino below reflects, the “excessive” use of the n-word in Django Unchained is not actually excessive, because “no one can actually say with a straight face that we use the word more than it was used in 1858 Mississippi.” And to me, this is the overriding principle in terms of censoring film and television–and creative productions in general: if it’s something that the character would say, then they should say it. You have to be truthful to the characters you write.

One of the most interesting aspects of this interview is that, in response to the Drudge Report posting a splash page of Tarantino across the top of its front pages with the n-word written below it seven times, Tarantino indicates that they were trying to offend him. An ironic state of affairs when you consider the fact that many see Tarantino himself as the one who is being offensive. His reaction to this intended slight is incredibly admirable–he doesn’t let it offend him. He simply says that what they did was ridiculous, and he can’t take it seriously.

What do you think of the controversy surrounding Django Unchained? Check out the interview with Tarantino here.

Quentin Tarantino Isn’t Fazed By ‘Django Unchained’ N-Word Controversy
Kevin P. Sullivan @ MTV

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It should come as no surprise that Quentin Tarantino‘s latest film — which we’ll remind you is a slavery-era tale told in Spaghetti Western style — has stirred up some controversy. What is slightly shocking, however, is that much of the controversy is coming from media coverage of “Django Unchained” as opposed to the movie itself.

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‘Dredd’: An Under-Appreciated Adaptation

The British science fiction film Dredd, an adaptation of the comic book series Judge Dredd, with no relationship to the awful 1995 Sylvester Stallone film version, has unfortunately flown under the radar. With its DVD and Blu-ray release just two days ago, I hope that it may garner some more attention.

The setting of the film alone is incredibly intriguing–a dystopian future where most of Earth is too dangerous to inhabit because of high levels of radiation, so most of the world’s population is crammed into massive conglomerates of cities, rife with crime and violence. But beyond that, this film has some incredible action sequences, stunning and innovative visuals, and impeccable acting on the part of Karl Urban (Judge Dredd) and Lena Heady (Ma-Ma, a ruthless drug lord and gang leader).

So why is it that almost no one went to see this film? I, myself, didn’t even hear about it until I saw it on the local theater’s movie showtimes. I think this is a testament to the fact that promotion was far too limited here in the States for this great British film, but the article below discusses some of the added reasons why this under-appreciated film may simply not have what it takes to appeal to mainstream audiences.

Have you seen Dredd? Tell me what you thought of it!

Slow It Down and Violence Is Made Beautiful in ‘Dredd’
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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Dredd is a visually stunning, action-packed, and subtly funny British science fiction comic adaptation, yet it flew under the radar—only partly due to minimal promotion in the States. Beyond that, although Dredd admirably stays faithful to the spirit of the original comics, this approach in some ways limits the film’s appeal. With no epic narrative, no major growth in the protagonist, and a focus on the entrancing visuals rather than on plot or character development, Dredd is a great film that simply doesn’t fit the mainstream formula.”

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