With the release of “Tomb Raider” this past Friday, we find ourselves with another movie based on a video game. Only, this time it seems like the movie has fared decently well. It was still outperformed by “Black Panther” at the box office (or “buried”, as news outlets like to put it…you know, because puns), but people who liked the video game also seem to have liked the movie as well. Now, I haven’t seen the movie myself, but from what I’ve heard it seems like there might be one big reason for that:
It mirrors the video game almost exactly.
Now, I can’t speak for everybody, but I think what most people want to see is an adaptation. They want to watch a video game they love made into movie form. They don’t want to see Hollywood get all cute and switch things around to try to make their own version of the story.
Which is exactly what happened with the 2016 “Assassin’s Creed” movie.
If you’ve never played any of the “Assassin’s Creed” games before, here’s the rundown: they center around a device known as the Animus, which allows a user to relive the memories of their genetic ancestors. The first game has you playing as Desmond Miles as he wakes up in a mysterious location, kidnapped by an unknown organization with sinister motives. The sections in the present day are very brief and low-key, building up an overarching mystery as to who these people are and what they want. But the majority of the game takes place in the Animus.
Apparently the movie didn’t get the memo, because from what I understand the majority of the film takes place in the modern-day.
Seriously, how do you take a game that features super cool stuff like jumping off tall buildings and landing in a pile of hay, and make a movie where the main character only does that twice and the majority of the movie is people sitting around talking about shadowy conspiracies? In the games, the modern-day segments are largely kept in the background, an overarching element to the franchise’s story. But the main focus has always been the Animus segments, with whatever assassin character it happens to be for that game.
Now while I can’t speak for the quality of “Tomb Raider”, having not seen it myself, the simple fact that it has fared better than most other video game movies would seem to indicate that it at least did something right. I honestly think people just want to see something that compliments what came before instead of trying too hard to be its own thing.
Another failed case study of that can be found in the 2008 “Max Payne” movie.
In what seems like another incident of Hollywood trying to play cute, “Max Payne” only shares surface level elements with the game. The movie keeps the names of most of the characters and the drug known as Valkyr, which plays a crucial role in the story. Other than that, the progression of things seems entirely different. In fact, the main villain of the game doesn’t even die in the film. No…instead they keep her alive so they can force in a post-credits scene to hint at a sequel. Of course, that never came to be because of how poorly the movie did.
Hey guys, I don’t know if anyone told you, but the game already has a sequel. And it’s certainly far better than whatever you had planned.
The sad thing is the movie should have been good. All of the elements were there for them to turn the game into a stylish, gritty revenge movie. But instead, they tried to twist things around to give their own personal interpretation on it. Maybe they thought they could do better than the game’s writers did? I don’t know. You’d think with the history of video game movies being so terrible they’d stop and think “maybe this is a bad idea”.
I think a large part of the problem is that the people who make these movies either have never played the games themselves or just don’t have respect for the source material. Or possibly both. It’s almost as if they just read a synopsis of the plot somewhere and wrote a script based on that. You’d think that if you really wanted to adapt something and do it justice, you’d actually bother immersing yourself in it.
But I guess that’s just me.
Thanks for reading! Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post and have a wonderful month.