It’s not exactly news that video game movies almost never work. Movies like Need for Speed, Tomb Raider, and Silent Hill just don’t seem to work when brought from the console to the silver screen, for whatever reason (Tomb Raider only made money because of Angelina Jolie’s chest, and we all know it.)
One of the biggest reasons we think they fail is that they either stray from the storylines that made the games so great to begin with, or attempt to attach a hackneyed story to a game that never needed one. Here are some outstanding video games that all feature amazing stories that we think could easily be told on the big screen.
One of the more recent video games that has absolutely tremendous cinematic qualities is BioShock. It features a more complex storyline than we’ll bother getting into because, frankly, we could spend a couple thousand words on that alone. The bottom line is that it takes place in 1960, after a guy named Jack finds himself the lone survivor of a plane crash and ends up in a strange, underwater city with nefarious entities all around him. The problem with this might be the fact that it could be a little too bizarre when it’s brought onscreen, but it could be such a visually stunning, epic, and original film that we’re willing to risk a little bit of weirdness and confusion to see it come to life.
9. Dead Island
Dead Island is an interesting game. It was incredibly hyped before it came out, thanks in part to one of the most spectacular video game trailers ever conceived. It was a breathtaking mini-film, featuring a compact, brilliant story crammed into about two minutes, “filmed” in reverse and telling the story of a family on vacation and being terrorized by zombies, with all of the immense heartbreak a situation like that would bring with it. And then the game came along and … well, it wasn’t remotely as heart-wrenching or deep. It was a fun game about killing zombies, and that was about it.
So in this case, we’re suggesting taking that trailer and expanding that to an entire movie, with the same sort of heart and emotion throughout, and you’ll have not just one of the best zombie movies, but horror movies in general, to come out in recent memory.
8. Metroid Prime
A lot of people will point out that there aren’t a lot of great, ass-kicking roles for women in movies, especially when it comes to video game adaptations. The few attempts, Resident Evil in particular, have basically been out-and-out disasters, taking fantastic female characters and saddling them with horrible stories that care zip for continuity and entirely for tight clothing.
So why not take a chance on an epic science fiction adaptation of Metroid Prime, and give an up-and-coming actress a chance to take on the role of Samus Aran, a kickass bounty hunter who finds herself fighting space pirates and trying to figure out the mysteries of what basically amounts to a phantom planet that’s home to a horrifying creature known as The Worm in the process?
Part of the acclaimed Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim has become one of the most popular and iconic video games of all-time. It’s insanely expansive, incredibly immersive, and features such a vast array of characters, settings, and storylines, that it seems like the only reason it shouldn’t be turned into a movie is because it almost seems better suited to become a Game of Thrones-type television series.
Because Skyrim is such an open environment, you aren’t really tied to any one plotline for a potential movie like so many other possible video game adaptations, though there are obviously some pretty awesome tidbits they could incorporate. But as long as you focus it around a prisoner who escapes an Imperial execution and goes on to become a dragon-slaying hero, you’re on the right track.
For some reason, much like Dre, people tend to forget about Castlevania these days, and how utterly awesome and cinematic it was. In a lot of ways, Castlevania was a little ahead of its time with the depth of its story, as it follows a man named Simon Belmont whose destiny is to hunt and battle vampires. Simon comes from a family of vampire hunters, and it falls to him to infiltrate Dracula’s castle and kill the most famous and feared vampire in history.
The video game series is, kind of amazingly, tied all the way back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with a character named Quincey Morris being referenced in official Castlevania canon as a member of the Belmont family. Frankly, anyone who grew up playing Castlevania and its sequels is nodding his head vigorously right now, wishing like crazy for an awesome, badass, action-packed Castlevania adaptation that finally brings the one and only Simon Belmont to silver screen life.
5. Red Dead Redemption
It feels like we’re ready for a new wave of awesome Westerns, all filmed in the style of The Wild Bunch and featuring some truly badass gunfights and bloodthirsty vengeance. And that’s why it feels like you could easily turn Red Dead Redemption into a movie. It lends itself perfectly to the same sort of Western as Django Unchained and True Grit, with a little bit of Unforgiven mixed in.
Cast someone like Josh Brolin in the role of John Marston and you’re on your way to having one hell of a compelling movie, as he gunfights his way across a vast Western landscape trying to find the men who kidnapped his wife and child, while also serving as a reluctant bounty hunter working for the perpetrators. This is justice, Old West style, and it could be absolutely awesome if done right.
4. Grand Theft Auto
Video games, as we’ve already mentioned, are incredibly cinematic these days. Today’s games have denser stories than most television shows, let alone movies, and you couldn’t hope for a better potential anthology series than Grand Theft Auto. Seriously, doesn’t the GTA series feel like it should be turned into a Quentin Tarantino film (or two), and get set in the same sort of world as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, or Jackie Brown?
For the sake of getting specific and starting with a fixed point in the series, let’s focus on Vice City, and let you just imagine the magnificence of a period 1980’s, hyper-violent, extremely snarky film, filled with the darkest humor imaginable. Tarantino is pretty much the only guy who could bring this franchise justice on the big screen. As Patrick Stewart would say, make it so.
3. Resident Evil
Yes, we know, Resident Evil was already turned into an entire series of movies. But those movies were utter garbage, and the franchise doesn’t just need, but absolutely deserves a total reboot. This time, the films would actually stick faithfully to what made those games, the early ones in particular, work so well.
The early Resident Evil games had all sorts of weird stuff going on, but at their cores they were still primarily insanely creepy, atmospheric, occasionally violent zombie games in which the main characters were simply trying to survive in a seemingly impossible situation. Stay faithful to the games (just don’t duplicate the voice acting) and you’ve got a winner on your hands, particularly with zombie popularity being at its absolute apex right now.
The entire Fallout franchise is incredibly cinematic, particularly when you talk about Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Those are games that, with their incredibly detailed worlds and compelling storylines, already feel so cinematic that playing through them feels like watching an entire television series, let alone a film.
We don’t even care which one you go with — the appeal of the post-apocalyptic wastelands of the Fallout series, with groups like the Enclave, the New California Republic, Caesar’s Legion, and the Super Mutants almost too much to resist. Combine A Boy and His Dog, Mad Max, and various other dystopic films and just follow the threads already started by the Fallout series, and it feels like you’d have one hell of a movie franchise on your hands.
1. The Legend of Zelda
Doesn’t it seem a little bit amazing that, with all of the video game adaptations over the years, no one has ever even attempted to make a movie based on the Zelda franchise? This is one of the most iconic video game franchises in history, and despite the successes of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises, no one has attempted to try to bring a fantasy epic like Zelda to the big screen.
Seriously, can anyone explain how this wouldn’t be a smash success? You’ve got one of the most famous franchises in modern history, an iconic hero, and a classic fantasy tale that could make for an absolutely epic film – or even film series (one for each timeline). This is one of those titles that seems ready to simply print money for a film studio, yet somehow Hollywood would rather screw up over and over again, instead of running with the guaranteed success story of Link and his quest to save Princess Zelda, despite being repeatedly warned how dangerous it is to go alone.