Let’s take a moment and think about the last time you saw a good video game based movie. Seriously, take a second and try to recall the last one. This list can wait for a minute.
Done? You probably settled on Resident Evil, or maybe Prince of Persia if you’re brave. But this really begs the question: why do video game based films suck so much? Does it have something to do with gameplay mechanics not translating well into film? Or maybe something is lost from the story once a player is no longer in control. Regardless of the reasons, gaming films have a pretty awful history, with hardly any shining moments. In fact, I would argue that one of the best video game movies is one that isn’t based on a game at all: Wreck-it Ralph. But there is a huge list of upcoming VG films, including Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, Hitman, and Angry Birds, among others. So we’re taking the time to consider what video games would make interesting movies, while trying to avoid obvious choices and juvenile fanboyism by shouting out “Call of Duty movie!” I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but if you haven’t played these games, there will be some.
10. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
A few weeks ago, we looked at six Star Wars spin-offs that would be pretty epic, and a movie based on The Force Unleashed was pretty close to the top of our list. Unleashed takes place in between the timeline of Episodes III and IV, and the plot centers around Starkiller (not to be confused with Starlord), an apprentice of Darth Vader. Although Starkiller is trained in the Dark Side of the Force, he eventually discovers and joins Senator Organa, Leia, and others in the rebellion against the Empire, and plays a pivotal role in the events leading up to A New Hope.
A movie based on Unleashed just makes sense, considering the expanded universe that Disney is creating for the series. The story is a great one, and includes a lot of characters that Star Wars fans are already used to. A young, rising star like Dylan O’Brien could definitely handle the role of Starkiller, not to mention he totally looks just like the character. Starkiller is a complex and interesting guy, and his feelings and intentions are deep, but not easy to discern. He is also master swordsman (lightsabersman?) and expert close-quarters combatant, and is definitely capable of carrying a stand-alone film on his shoulders.
9. Jak and Daxter
Jak and Daxter is about two trouble makers who stumble upon some bad guys and their minions, called Lurkers, and Daxter is accidentally transformed from his humanoid form into an Ottsel, which is a creature that is half otter and half weasel. In the first game, Jak and Daxter seek out a mysterious sage hoping that he will be able to return Daxter to his original form.
The second and third games are drastically different from the first. The first game is bright, colorful, lighthearted, and fun. Jak II and 3 take place in a dystopian world, and feature scenes of torture, experimentation, and a huge three-nation war.
The Jak and Daxter series has everything you could hope for in an epic, three-part saga (aside from a halfway decent name). The cities and environments are rich and otherworldly, yet somehow familiar as well. Jak in particular has some great character progression, and the plot is interesting and filled with expansive, if confusing, lore. My biggest concern for a film adaptation of Jak is how Daxter’s appearance would be managed. Typically, talking animals are a big no-no for me, but if Guardians of the Galaxy taught us anything, it’s that you can have an obnoxious, animated, talking animal, without said animal being a burden on the film.
8. Shadow of Mordor
Who could possibly say no to another Lord of the Rings film? Well, maybe some people could, especially those who think that stretching The Hobbit into three films was a bit too much. But, if you’re like me, you just aren’t ready to see Middle-earth’s story come to an end. The six movies in the series are incredible, and why not add to the story with Shadow of Mordor?
The story of Mordor takes place in between the two film trilogies, and revolves around Talion, a ranger from Gondor. The armies of Sauron kill Talion and his family, but Talion is brought back from death in order to avenge his family’s death. But here’s the kicker: Talion now possesses the abilities of a Wraith.
Mordor also has a very interesting game mechanic known as the Nemesis System, in which the bad guys that you encounter will react differently depending on how you treat them. For example, kill a high-ranking orc, and surrounding orcs will fear you and run away. Or, instead of killing that orc, you could possess him and use him as a spy to gather information on other enemies. The Nemesis System could actually be a huge focus in a Shadow of Mordor film. The game is dark, brutal, and gritty, and a movie adaptation would feel more like the Lord of the Rings trilogy than The Hobbit, which is absolutely a great thing.
7. Chrono Trigger
The more I think about this one, the more I realize how great it would be. Admittedly, it would be difficult. But if it was done well, a Chrono Trigger film could be a huge success.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chrono Trigger, it was originally released for the Super Nintendo in 1995, and is a RPG similar in style to Final Fantasy. The plot revolves around Crono (not a spelling error) and his friends, who inadvertently end up in a complex time-travelling adventure. They witness the destruction of the world by a massive beast named Lavos, and set out to find a way to change the future by altering the past, not unlike the most recent X-Men film.
Chrono Trigger is heralded as one of the greatest video games of all time, and it is one of just a handful of games to achieve perfect rating scores, thanks to its characters, interesting time travel story, and multiple endings. Everybody loves a good time travel movie, but so few are done in a way that make it plausible and understandable. But the story and time travel mechanics are already laid out in an approachable and easy to grasp manner in the game. All it would take is some good writing to transfer that to film.
Chrono Trigger would definitely be a risky game to adapt because of its massive popularity and huge cultural impact. But if done right, the risk would be well worth it.
6. Shadow of the Colossus
Now, this would be a really interesting movie. Shadow of the Colossus is about a guy who is simply named Wander. He wanders (ha…) into a forbidden land, and seeks to restore a young lady named Mono to life. Wander is told by a mysterious voice that in order to bring back Mono, he must slay the sixteen colossi that roam the land. The colossi are huge, mountain-esque creatures that Wander must bring down with nothing but a sword and a bow. Wander’s actions have a negative effect on his spirit and body, and he decays more and more with each colossus that he kills. It turns out that that mysterious voice guiding Wander on his quest is slowly possessing him, bit by bit, in order to gain control and be reborn…or something like that. It’s pretty confusing.
Colossus is a gorgeous game, with stunning landscapes and excellent gameplay. It has next to no dialogue, but is one of the most emotional games I have ever played. Whether it’s Wander’s determination to save the life of Mono, the loyalty of his horse, Agro, or the dark twist at the end of the game, Colossus hits you in the feels pretty hard. Its unique story and emotion make it a perfect candidate for a film adaptation.
5. Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider series has already been made into not one, but two very unfortunate movies. In a time when video games themselves were just starting to really take off and become more than just mere time wasters, Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft was providing adventure and strange feelings of arousal to teenage boys everywhere. But it wasn’t until 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot that I really started to pay much attention to the series. And the reboot is awesome. It’s Square Enix’s answer to the Uncharted series, and women’s answer to Indiana Jones. It is intense and, at times, pretty terrifying, Whether you’re, well, raiding tombs, fighting off wild animals, or escaping collapsing caves, Tomb Raider has the capability to really make you afraid.
Best of all, though, is that the reboot focuses less on Lara Croft’s assets and more on her aptitude for survival. It changed Croft from a sex object to a real woman, and makes the game much more enjoyable. A reboot of the Tomb Raider films, with the same tone, environment, and focus as the 2013 game, is just what we need. At least until Indiana Jones 5 comes out.
4. Child of Light
Child of Light is Ubisoft’s 2014 homage to the golden age of classic turn-based combat RPGs, and traditional fairy tales. It tells the story of Aurora, a young princess who falls into a deep sleep, and leaves her home in Austria to enter the magical land of Lemuria. In Lemuria, she discovers that an evil sorceress has stolen the sun, moon, and stars, and if she wants to return home to her father, she must defeat the sorceress and recover them. With her firefly pal Igniculus by her side, she travels throughout Lemuria, befriending jesters, dwarfs, golems, and mice, who aid her in her journey.
A bit of a guilty pleasure of mine is enjoying the stop-motion animation films produced by Laika, like Coraline and ParaNorman. Like those films, Child of Light has the feel and appearance of a children’s story, but is actually quite dark and frightening. The stop-motion animation would be the perfect fit for it, and it would definitely be able to have that strangely perverted children’s story feel. The only thing I’m unsure about is whether the film should have the same rhyming-style dialogue as the game.
I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to scary games. Okay, I’m more than just a bit of a wuss, and BioShock is about all I can handle. But the game has so many elements that would make an amazing movie.
It takes place in the 60’s and you play as Jack, a man whose airplane crashes in the middle of the ocean. He is able to swim to a bathysphere which takes him deep underwater to the isolated city of Rapture. Sounds ominous, right? Well, Rapture was intended to be an independent utopia, but, like virtually every other utopia, it is far more dystopian than its creators will admit. This already sounds like a movie I’d go see, but it gets even better. Jack discovers that there is a war of sorts between the two creators of Rapture, Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine, and he is, in fact, Ryan’s son. He also learns that has been genetically altered to age at an alarming rate, and eventually he kills both Ryan and Fontaine.
BioShock is creepy, filled with superpowers and a retro steampunk theme, and tells a pretty disturbing tale about the greed of humanity. It’s essentially a more far fetched version of 1984, and the dystopian society niche is pretty popular right now. So, make it happen.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
If there is any Zelda game that would work as a movie, it would be The Wind Waker. Originally, Zelda fans criticised the game’s art style, saying it was too childish and it took away from the seriousness of the series. The game is definitely more lighthearted than others, but this works in its favor. Wind Waker is one of my favorite Zelda games because of its new approach and cartoonish appearance.
The game actually has a bit more plot to it than others. In pretty much every game in the series, Link travels throughout time to stop Ganondorf from using the Triforce to do bad things, and save Princess Zelda. End of story. But in Wind Waker, you must save Link’s sister, Aryll, who has been kidnapped. Then you stop Ganondorf and save Zelda. I know, that’s not really very different, but the added element of a family member in peril really fills in an emotional gap that other Zelda games can’t.
A live-action Zelda TV show was rumored a few months ago, but nobody has really come out and said that it is actually happening. I think an animated Wind Waker film is a much better idea. I don’t know how Disney hasn’t picked up the rights to something like this yet. I mean, you have Disney and Nintendo, arguably the two biggest family entertainment companies in the world. One plus one equals two, right?
1. Final Fantasy VI
Prepare yourself for the greatest argument of all time on behalf of a Final Fantasy VI movie. Final Fantasy is one of the longest running and most recognizable video game franchises of all time, and while there have already been a couple film adaptations that weren’t great, they certainly weren’t the worst either. Where The Spirits Within and Advent Children go wrong is they just plain don’t give the fans what they want. Spirits Within is a totally original storyline that is hardly related to the series in anything but its name, and Advent Children tells the story of events following Final Fantasy VII, but doesn’t cover the story of the game itself.
But Final Fantasy VI already has an amazing story, and one that is much easier to understand than the later games. The story follows a huge cast of characters, who are each unique in personality and motivation, but join together in order to stop the evil Kefka from unleashing a powerful, devastating magic on the world, repeating historical events from thousands of years prior. Terra, the game’s main character, is the first person on the planet for thousands of years to be born with the ability to use magic, and it is this ability that both the good and evil forces seek.
I can see FF6 becoming more than just one film, but an entire trilogy. I have even already named each film:
Part 1 – Born With the Gift of Magic
Part 2 – A Dark World (or A New World if that sounds too much like Thor 2)
Part 3 – Dancing Mad
There is so much plot, and so many characters to explore and develop, not to mention a lot of exciting mythology, that it could end up looking and feeling a lot like Lord of the Rings. And the musical score is even already written! FF6 has an amazing soundtrack that could easily be arranged for an epic film. Never in my life have I wanted to see a film adaptation of a game more than Final Fantasy VI.
What do you think of our picks for epic video game movies? Do you have any past gaming films that you think are pretty good? Which ones are you excited for? Let us know below!