Video game movies have long been a source of contention, disappointment and confusion in pop culture. As we stand on the cusp of one game film that no one asked for (Sonic the Hedgehog) and another that is capitalizing on renewed interest in the franchise (Detective Pikachu), it’s the perfect time to look at some game franchises that could use the big screen treatment and others that really need a second shot at it.
Before we proceed, let it be known that no Fighting Games will be included on this list. Plots in fighting games are notoriously absurd, convoluted and constantly retconned. It’s only “worked” once in film with Mortal Kombat and that’s not the best bar to set.
Red Dead Redemption – Just play the game. I’m not convinced anyone could make a better film than Rockstar made either game.
Uncharted – It‘s already a film, it’s called “Tomb Raider” and we don’t need to do it again.
7. Assassins Creed
Michael Fassbender is awesome on screen. He’s the only good part about the newer X-Men films, he was a part of perhaps the best scene Tarantino has ever directed in “Inglorious Basterds” and played Steve Jobs in the better of Steve Jobs biopics. But not even he could save this mess of effects and call backs to a game that, at the time, hadn’t rediscovered its footing. Part of what made Assassins Creed engaging was its meta narrative surrounding societal control, religion and free will. Yeah, none of that was really explained well in the film. Instead, what we got was a convoluted mess with hard to follow action and writing that had the charm of a Brutalist apartment complex.
Who doesn’t like a good ole kung-fu movie? “The Raid” and “John Wick” brought back the feeling of Jackie Chan/Charles Bronson where you know there’s some bad guys and they need to be beat the hell up. Ryo Hazuki’s quest to avenge his father’s death and the hands of the malevolent Lan Di would make for an awesome kung-fu film. It already has the thematic tone for film and with the release of Shenmue 3 later this year (probably) a film could help restore the feeling people had when the original on Dreamcast revolutionized cinematic games.
Every time a new animated short for Overwatch is released hundreds of thousands of people clamor for a feature length product. Overwatch is a very well lauded franchise even though it consists of only one game. It’s gained an immense following and is even one of the largest esports out there right now. With no plot-driven, single-player mode to speak of in the game, the lore of Overwatch is only fleshed out in animated shorts, comics and social media posts. A feature film depicting the first Ominc War and the origins of Overwatch would satiate the rabid appetite for extra content that Overwatch fans have.
4. The Last of Us
Remember the woefully average “I Am Legend” where Will Smith has to strangle his infected zombie dog? Let’s take all the good elements of that film and spend a bit more money on the effects and you’ve got The Last of Us: The Movie. Here’s a game that is, well-paced, emotional, impactful, and, most of all has a variety of zombies and human characters to choose from.
3. God of War
Honestly, ANY of the main series games OR the 2018 reboot would work. In the same vein as Shenmue, God of War represents a quest for vengeance, but steeped in the world of Greek or Norse mythology. The budget would have to be astronomical to properly depict the scale of some of the battles between Kratos, the protagonist, and the litany of ethereal beings he violently defeats along his path. But if done correctly, God of War could become a summer blockbuster franchise like Michael Bay’s Transformers.
2. Mass Effect
A rule is about to be broken here, because film couldn’t do the galaxy of Mass Effect justice. HBO is about to end the most hyped, watched, tweeted about and followed TV show of modern times. They are going to need some new ideas and FAST. Bioware/EA needs to monetize the Mass Effect franchise and FAST. So, why not have HBO take that massive pile of cash and throw it into a Mass Effect series? It could focus on the immediate after effects of Mass Effect 3 or take place in the during and right after the First Contact War where Earthlings arrived on the Galactic stage.
1. Metal Gear Solid
To quote Jay-Z, The Metal Gear Solid movie is coming out “Nevurary 31st“. This film will NEVER see the light of day and yet there’s probably not many games that deserve a film adaptation more. MGS1 for the Playstation was absolute masterclass in storytelling, action, suspense and even social commentary. It was one of the most intelligent games ever written before the sequels/prequels began tangling the lore up and in terms of a closed narrative MGS 1 is the most complete story of all the games. There is some pre-production work being done but nothing concrete has been released about the project. And that’s a shame because it’s one of the first games that addressed consequence of violence, nuclear proliferation and even gene therapy. Its narrative was spot on for 1998 where the specter of the Cold War still loomed, and the internet was still in its infancy.