We all saw what happened when Metal Gear Solid was pursued as a film property, and why it shouldn’t be revived. Now, I’m not here to argue the merits of adapting games into films, but if it’s going to happen some games make significantly better film fodder than others. Hollywood depends on known commodities to make a profit like Kim Kardashian’s notoriety depends on her posterior, so any time a property is remotely popular, odds are someone in Hollywood is going to try to turn it into a movie. This is the industry that is not only making a movie based on Monopoly (yes, the board game), but also managed to convince Ridley Scott to direct it. So if we’re going to be forced to watch beloved video game characters make the precarious leap onto the silver screen it might as well be those that have a shot at making decent movies.
1. Mass Effect
You could really make this any of the Bioware games of late (Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Dragon Age), since they all have pretty much the same story. The hero comes from a reasonably ordinary background, but because of their extraordinary abilities, they’re asked to join an elite group tasked with protection of the galaxy/kingdom from a pending invasion of evil. It’s pretty much the archetypal Joseph Campbell mythology that Star Wars is based on, which is why it would make excellent material for a big screen adaptation. Mass Effect, however, would make a particular good source, mostly because it actually takes seriously the science in its science fiction universe, making its take on the galaxy and the technology within it seem fresh and interesting.
Mass Effect should be a hot commodity for film adaptation because it’s a trilogy, and the only thing Hollywood loves more than a proven formula is a trilogy of proven formulas. Mass Effect also promises an ideal cross-over of Hollywood’s target 18-25 year old male audience in science-fiction and gaming nerds, who (let’s face it), have nothing better to do during the summer than see the Mass Effect movie 17 times. We’re certainly not going to go to the beach. That sand gets everywhere.
2. Monkey Island
As Hollywood’s recent obsession with reboots will tell you, nothing sells a movie look a solid nostalgia factor, so why not capitalize on a newly revived franchise in a dwindling genre. That’s sure to get anyone who remembers the heyday of point and click adventures excited if it’s done right. The whole series is brimming with hilarious characters and gags that are just waiting to be mined for feature film treatment.
Apparently Hollywood realized there was something to this idea, since Steven Spielberg actually planned to develop a Monkey Island movie last decade. According to the Monkey Island community, the screenplay for that movie eventually became the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Remember how sweet the first Pirates movie was, when the story still made sense and wasn’t completely wrapped up in magic, monsters, and unbelievable set pieces? Now imagine that movie with a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, and a lot more monkeys. Yeah, we missed out.
3. Left 4 Dead
Zombies never go out of style, just ask George Romero. The man has had over a thirty year career making zombie movies. Why not make a movie based on a game inspired by zombie movies? It’d be like a greatest zombie hits compilation. Plus, it’s got those fast moving zombies that are all the rage right now. (Get it? Like the Rage virus? Ah forget it). You’ve got a disparate group of characters brought together by the total zombie apocalypse and forced to fight off these fast zombies in fantastic yet ordinary locations like amusement parks and shopping centers. Actually, now that I think about it, this has already been made into an excellent movie by the name of Zombieland.
4. Half Life (2)
Half-Life has the end of the world appeal only with aliens instead of zombies, and is also very nearly a trilogy. The games have plenty of cool weapons people would love to see rival District 9 in terms of alien evisceration. The gravity gun alone could be worth the price of admission. Sure Gordon Freeman doesn’t speak, but that could be used to the film’s advantage. Follow in the tradition of Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns he made with Sergio Leone. Cast someone who can play strong but silent (Hugh Jackman comes to mind), and turn him into the new “Man with No Name,” only with a pulse rifle instead of a six shooter.
The biggest problem with making a Half-Life movie is that it would most likely take 12 years to ever be released. It already takes Valve at least 3 years to release an episodic piece of a game. If Valve has any sort of control over this project they won’t let it see the light of day until every inch of every frame is perfect. This movie could take longer, cost more, and look even better than Avatar.
Speaking of silent protagonists, Samus Aran is so reticent that if you don’t already know she’s a woman, you won’t find out until the end of each Metroid game. This is definitely the least likely adaptation on the list especially given the way Hollywood works, but it could be the most interesting and original done properly. First, there’s the matter of casting. Samus easily could have been played by Sigourney Weaver 20 years ago, but she’s a little too old for the role now. Any female action star like Eliza Dushku or Zoe Saldana could pull it off though as long as they made it the right way.
Hollywood would have to sex up her costume, but that would be tolerable as long as they kept the core idea intact. The whole film would take place on an unexplored planet as Samus investigates Space Pirate activity on an uncharted world where she discovers the dangerous metroids. She wouldn’t talk to anyone but herself while on the planet (think I Am Legend in space), and the real selling point would be the Ridley and Mother Brain fight scenes. What male moviegoer wouldn’t pay to see a hot female Bounty Hunter take on a cyborg space dragon? Nobody I know, that’s for damn sure.
Think you can come up with some better ideas? Leave ‘em in the comments.
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