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A Difficult Relationship

Written By: Harold Schossman



Remember 1993 when Disney launched the abysmal feature film adaptation of Nintendo’s hugely successful Super Mario Bothers game? Or does anyone own the two Mortal Kombat movies that came out in 1995 and 97? Add to this the sorted achievements of the “king of trash” Uwe Boll and it’s safe to say that film adaptations of video games haven’t exactly been great. Sure there were a few highlights like the Resident Evil or Tomb Raider films but even those valiant efforts didn’t quite live up to the thrill and tension the games provide.

So what is it; is Hollywood just unable to translate video games to the screen? Or are inept filmmakers tackling the subject matter?  Interestingly enough it was up to the video game industry to help the merging of films and games. Video sequences that support the storyline of a game have been around for years, but only recently have they attained a quality that can rival motion picture level in terms of film making.

My personal favorites are: Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, Resident Evil 5, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Not only are all three games easily some of the coolest games out there but they feature a storyline and cinematics that’ll have Steven Spielberg pale in envy.  The youngest game in the list, Uncharted 2 employed the same motion capture studio James Cameron used for his super successful Avatar to breathe life into the characters of Jake Sully and company. Columbia Pictures has already optioned the rights and is currently developing a script for “Uncharted Drake’s Fortune”. It seems Hollywood needed a good kick in the ass from talented game makers to take both games and their stories seriously and treat them with the respect they deserve.

One of the coolest films that’s about to hit theaters next May is “Prince Of Persia Sands Of Time”. If you haven’t seen the trailer for this Jerry Bruckheimer produced game adaptation be sure to check it out. It looks absolutely fantastic. This time they really got it. “Prince” is really going to clean the tarnished image of films based on video games.

This begs the question: Does Hollywood merely take ideas from the video game industry or does it return the favor as well? There have been many games based on films some better, some worse but we’ve yet to see a movie-based game that rivals video games with original content.

The largest gift Hollywood lavished upon the video game industry is no doubt Avatar’s 3D breakthrough. 3D technology has been around since the fifties but it never quite established itself. With the advent of digital projectors studios began offering more titles in 3D, mostly computer animated films. But it’s the phenomenal success of Avatar that really inaugurates a new era in film presentation and ultimately game playing. While Hollywood has to adapt to the new technology (Warner is currently evaluating how much it would cost to conform/reshoot the almost complete Clash Of Titans for 3D) the game industry can adapt to the new technology with much greater ease.

Sony has announced a 3D mode for the PS3 that will enable all games to run in 3D! The setback: you may need to purchase a new TV set! Needless to say Microsoft is not lagging behind. “Xbox 360 is fully 3D capable", Xbox product manager Aaron Greenberg stated not long ago though he didn’t provide any technical specifics. 2010 should be an interesting year for the entertainment industry – we’ll keep you posted.

About The Author: Harold Schossman is our International News Correspondent and our resident Expert Videographer. He has worked in the entertainment industry for almost two decades. Be sure to check out his outstanding video work on his YouTube account.