Director Mike Newell: Games Can't Do Drama


Posted July 29, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson

Prince Of Persia Movie

Director Mike Newell has an interesting relationship with gaming. He directed Prince of Persia, one of the most high profile video game movies ever made, and yet seems to believe that games can't convey emotions in the way that film does.

Here's the quote from Computer and Video Games, who asked Newell whether games were a threat to Hollywood movies.

"Well, here we are, talking about the God damn games again. The answer is yes, of course they can become a threat to Hollywood. But [they cannot] do so with drama in any real sense.

When people watch 24, they're watching for the surprise, you know - when is the great big bad surprise going to step out from behind the palm tree. When they watch The Wire, they're watching the human drama of it. You can't do it without the human drama.

And the video game cannot do that. The video game can do all sorts of face-pulling, all sorts of: 'I am a bad man, I have a mean jagged sword,'  but it can't do any more than that."

Newell goes on to say that he watched his assistant play Prince of Persia (presumably Sands of Time, although he doesn't actually say) and felt nothing. Not to diss anyone, but maybe a guy who doesn't play games, and doesn't have any emotional attachment to them (or even seem to believe that other people do) isn't the best choice to direct movies based on video games?

I saw Newell's Prince of Persia, and the director's condescension toward his audience is evident in every moment of the film. Each plot point in the simple story is explained at least three times, and the characters are as sophisticated and sublte as special ed fifth graders, so I'm not surprised by Newell's dismissive comments about games (and gamers). Every frame of Prince of Persia seems to say "I think you are stupid."

It is utterly devoid of any actual human emotion, as well. I guess I was supposed to be excited by the whiz-bang special effects or invested in the on-again, off-again relationship between the Prince and the love interest lady, but I was just bored by this great heavy turd of a movie.

PoP comes off as a film made by a committee of people in buisness suits. People whose wives have had plastic surgery. People who play golf. Maybe games can't convey drama in exactly the same way film can, but at least people like David Cage are trying. Newell has all the tools, money, and other resources on earth available to make Prince of Persia an emotionally compelling film, and rather than do that, he used a bunch of digital effects, cast a "big name" actor, cranked up the marketing department and called it a day. Newell didn't just fail, he seems to not have tried at all.

Or not. Newell also said this in the interview:

"I tried to make the relationships between the characters [in Prince Of Persia] as sophisticated as I could."

Really? And that's the best he could come up with?  Maybe Mike Newell is in the wrong line of work.

See my Prince of Persia review right here.

Source: Computer and Video Games

Director Mike Newell: Games Can't Do Drama


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