Sessler's Soapbox: Why Video Game Movies Suck

Posted: January 18, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: Why Video Game Movies Suck

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  • GunslingerD7

    Thank you Adam!

    Posted: January 20, 2011 5:18 AM
  • Spybreak

    Books can be adapted to movies and fail as well. It needs to have a solid story, character development and an interesting setting before. Then afterwards you need a good director, a decent budget and good marketing. A lot of factors that will hold you down. I think Hollywood is doing these type of movies to be less risky than producing a new IP flop.

    Posted: January 20, 2011 1:17 AM
  • Heartland

    America is a kind of plutocratic society, in that we hold those with wealth in high regard. We listen to people with money, since they were able to make something of themselves in this capiticalist society. Since hollywood is rich, we listen to their opinion and devise from them, what should and shouldn't be viewed.
    This is in influence, and we can't help it.

    Posted: January 20, 2011 12:50 AM
  • RickAstin

    I didn't watch the video....but am using this point to say that while I don't really give a damn about the uncharted movie which will no doubt continue the trend of games+movies=suck (aside from a few exceptions that prove the rule)....Ima say this..

    Why didn't they just get Nolan North to do it? Sure he's not Marky Mark...but are they really expecting it to be a box office smash anyway?

    Posted: January 19, 2011 11:41 PM
  • TexasHays

    The Tolkien comment aside... (as a long time lover and researcher of Norse literature and a Tolkien fan)

    You are absolutely right about the current state of video game movie adaptations. However, that does not mean they should be done. Only that the current motivations that stem the creation of these movies are wrong.
    They simply try to mimic the experience of the video game with no regard for context or the fact that cinema is a vastly different form of entertainment than video games; there is no interactivity.

    Dante firmly believed in 'translations'. While these movies are not translations in the strictest sense, his same principles apply. Dante detested literal translations. He believed that the mere act of translation is an art in an of itself and, therefore, must change the original work of art. The translator, aka the artist, should put his pieces of his own language, culture, and himself into the work.

    So, if producers and directors could take a kernel of a video game, strip it down to a core idea or thesis and then deal with that kernel honestly in their own media without trying so hard to mimic the original, there could be great movies stem from video game inspiration.
    But that would require these decisions be made from the viewpoint of art and not, as too often the case is these days, from the viewpoint of profit.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 10:59 PM
  • PoliticalGamer

    The entire premise seems to be against adaptations all-together, not just on this one or a limited instance. And I have to disagree.
    First, it's a validation of goodness (on some level). Often, we as geeks want to spread our love to others. Adaptations are one of the best ways to do that.
    Second, it's more of what we loved (especially if it's good). I like seeing those characters, those settings and the plot once again, often with someone else's take on it.

    Now, granted that there's good adaptations (Borne Identity, Nolan's Batman) and some not (Street Fighter, Fantastic Four 2). There's many factors to this. It could be that the writers, directors, ect. didn't get the heart of what made the original great. Sometimes it's they stay too close to the original, or stray too far. Or just as much the people behind the film just suck.

    I do not like what they're doing with Uncharted, because from what I've heard thus far they missed the mark. Maybe Sessler is right. Uncharted is so reminiscent of other material that adapting from that is like microwaving another version of thanksgiving turkey that has already seen the microwave before.
    Although it looks pretty far off, I'm looking forward to the World of Warcraft movie. If anyone will get it right, it's Blizzard (and the people they entrust to make the film). We've seen great adaptations before from other media. I highly doubt we won't ever see a good videogame adaptation in the future. It's a matter of waiting, and hopefully not which franchises become casualties before a good one hits.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 10:42 PM
  • Stregga

    The Sess speaks for me, but here's the thing. I know that Hollywood isn't going to stop making adaptations of videos games, books, comics, board games, 80s action figures, disneyland theme rides, TV shows, cereal brands, etc. This is what I ask for:

    If you are going to use an established IP for a different creative medium, please PLEASE tell a story that is appropriate for that medium. Very few direct adaptations ever work. I think the reason why The Dark Knight worked so well is that it used an established character and created a universe and a story that fit into a 2 hour movie. While it was clearly influenced by certain comics, it didn't try to directly adapt any one story. It picked elements that worked well in a film environment and made something that stands on it's own, is very entertaining, and was a great film by any film standards.

    Secondly, Hollywood, please PLEASE ask yourselves if this is a product that needs to exist. I really enjoyed Sin City (and to a much lesser extent, Watchmen) as a movie and it totally turned me onto the graphic novels by frank miller (or Alan . That said, after reading the graphic novels I couldn't find a legitimate reason for the movie to exist. The movie is mostly a frame by frame adaptation of the comic. It isn't a bad movie by any standards, it just doesn't need to exist. I feel the same exact way about the uncharted movie. It might be a decent summer blockbuster type film, but does it need to exist?

    If anyone read this entire post I'm shocked, but i'll leave with this. Either give us a new dimension of a character or world or story, or just ask yourself "does this need to exist?"

    Also, stop going to see transformers movies! You're not doing anyone any favors!

    P.S. Sessler, I envy your soapbox good sir.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 6:55 PM
  • Eddy483

    the man speaks the truth

    Posted: January 19, 2011 5:52 PM
  • 23MakeItRain23

    -I enjoyed Tomb Raider and I know many people that did also-Videogames are a form of art as Adam has argued on many occasion. Artists like writers, directors, and photographers look at art and are inspired by said art. Most song writers look at art and are inspired by what they see and develop their lyrics over their sensation. So if a movie director/writer sees a videogame and is inspired by the art within that videogame, the director/writer has every right to use that art and make it their own or use the character's they're invested in and develop a new adventure that would ultimately expand on this world that is trapped to a console. Don't get me wrong there are videogame movies that are bad, however, you can't blame a director/writer for wanting to expand on a videogame world just like you can't blame The Doors writing "the killer on the road" in their lyrics for Riders On the Storm. "The killer on the Road" is from a screenplay for The Hitchhiker. To deny access to a videogame world is to deny someone's creativity or imagination, wasn't freedom of speech the whole point of the Supreme Court hearing that people have been flipping out over?

    Posted: January 19, 2011 5:19 PM
  • frankurban

    it's pretty obvious to me that the problem with adaptations isn't the world or the characters. It's the story.

    If you take a 10 hour or more video game story, or an even longer book story and cut it down into two and a half hours you lose a lot of depth.

    However if you take those characters and give them a story tailor-made for the movies then it can easily work. Then it just needs good directors, writers, etc. And enough care to be made into a good movie.

    Likewise, if you take a two hour story and try to expand it into 10 or more hour game you will run into problems. (and most of the time they aren't given the same amount of care that top-ten games are given).

    The easy "go-to" example is Batman. Good comic books, better than average movies, and one really good game.

    And the game rocked because it wasn't an adaptation of a movie story, and was treated as a game. It took a simple (and great) game formula and but Batman in it. And it was also given more care than pretty much any movie-game.

    But I completely agree with Adam's point about there being no real reason to have all these adaptions.

    Who needs it?

    Posted: January 19, 2011 5:14 PM
  • seiuchi

    I object to the comment that everything on the internet has to be a controversy! That statement is quite controversial. JK
    However, I will say that Sessler needs to show a little respect to Tolkien. The man revolutionized the fantasy genre. Tolkien is the Lord of fantasy! His work has definitely impacted the games we see today. I know WOW should be paying the Tolkien family some gratuity.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 3:05 PM
  • Tyri3l

    There's a right way and wrong way to do it, and yes gamers can be fans of movies as well. There's something to be said for an actor bringing a character to life on the silver screen. As for as it being masochistic, fans of Uncharted would be able to leave it alone if Hollywood did the same, so in a way we just can't help ourselves.

    Now, Drake may be based on Indiana Jones but he is still a different character in more than just looks. Indiana Jones is distinctly more noble than Drake. Indy believed that artifacts belonged in museums, in Temple of Doom he returned the Sankara stone to the village and freed the children. Drake doesn't go into things with the same mind set, he's after "fortune and glory" and he falls into being a hero. In Uncharted 2 it got to the point where he was ready to wash his hands of everything and walk away and he begrudgingly chose not to. That character flaw doesn't synch with the "family of treasure hunters" vision. If anything it's closer to Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, so Drake is more of a pirate? lol.

    Personally, I don't mind it not being an adaptation of the first game however I would have gone a different direction with it. I'd have still done a prequel but instead of a family of treasure hunters, I'd have made it about Drake, Flynn and Chloe's past dealings.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 2:35 PM
  • RadioactiveTaco779

    The only way that a video game movie could be good is if Peter Jackson directed it.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 2:10 PM
  • TheWarhamster

    Ahh this is why I'm glad i work at blockbuster (still alive and kicking in Canada! hah!) 10 free rentals a week...i haven't paid to see a movie in 7 years and i haven't needed to download a single one. Take that internets!

    Posted: January 19, 2011 2:06 PM
  • fubarfoote

    to dukeletoatreides:

    technically speaking your making an assumption that films are art. making good film based on a game doesn't constitute art in the inspiration, espicially when film is not globally considered art.

    secondly, this idea that new hollywood movies are crap is somewhat accurate but only to a point. i would consider it a simple shift of how we as a society look at entertainment. when movies first came out many ppl thought it was crap and could never be as good as a live performance, we are dealing with a similar transition now.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 1:50 PM
  • JoeHoganArt


    I apologize for the off-topic comment but I wanted to put this where you might see it. I figure this is the best place.

    In a past soapbox, you had some inspiring words that stuck with me, "Hang in there, you will get out of the bank." It's been my dream for the past decade to become a cartoonist, and because of my own shortcomings, as well as a saturated job market for artists in my area, I was forced to take on a 9-6 office job. I was miserable for 2 long years. However, I caught that soapbox, and never forgot those words. I kept pushing myself and believed that someday, if I didn't let myself quit, I'd become a professional illustrator.

    If I could find the exact soapbox you dropped that pearl of wisdom, I'd post this comment there. But anyway, I just wanted to thank you for saying the words that stuck with me while I kicked and screamed to improve as an artist, enough to get myself "out of the bank" and into the field I love. I was able to quit that office job, and now I have art gigs falling into my lap left and right. The best part is, the subject matter is exactly what I love.

    I just wanted to say, thanks for sharing YOUR story, Adam. Whether or not luck favors my current path is still yet to be seen, but I know that if I have to struggle for more cartooning work later, I can get the hell out of the bank as many times as I have to and make it happen.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 1:22 PM
  • AngelsandDemons

    thank God....no feedbak advertisement

    Posted: January 19, 2011 1:22 PM
  • GeekTakes

    I agree with most of your rant. I'm never surprised when a comic book movie or video game movie gets bad review, or is just flat out terrible. It is nearly impossible to translate so much back story into a one and half to two hour movie. My hope is the director did a decent job getting the story on screen, so someone might have a reason to try that game, read that comic, or in LOTR case try to read the books.

    I read a lot. I know I'm not the norm for people my age, but it would be nice for gamers and comic fans to know where the inspiration came from to create the stories they love. One of my favorite comic characters is Hellboy. So, not only have I read all the graphic novels, I've gone a little farther and read stories that Mignola sites as drawing points on his creation. Short stories from William Hope Hodgson, Robert E. Howard, and Howard Phillips Lovecraft to name a few.

    Anyway, I hate Directv, bring back G4TV!

    Posted: January 19, 2011 1:13 PM
  • bluedusk18

    i have to agree with you on most of this. video games based LARGLY on movies to then be whored out to be a movie is like ya said a snake eating its own ass.

    but on apocalypse now i have to disagree with you because if you look at it strictly as a movie not a vague adaptation of a book its a great movie with lots of political undertones and like you said great set pieces and tells a very captivating story.

    but i also agree with you that some forms of media and entertainment are at their best in their home form of media like (i hate to mention this) avatar the last airbender. when it was in its in its original TV setting it told a great story of a kid trying to find his destiny with a long well written story full of plot twists and sub stories that gave the story real depth. while in its unholy movie adaptation we get none of that. trying to cram 20, twenty min episodes into a 2 hour movie is not going to end well.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 1:00 PM
  • CustosIntusSilentium

    Interesting comments about Apocalypse Now given it's one of the few movies my last screenwriting professor used to demonstrate effective use of visual and sound elements other that for spectacle. He even pointed out the similarities in my own use of those to further the plot and story.

    Posted: January 19, 2011 12:41 PM