I'm not a big fan of the word "epiphany", which is defined as, "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience" but is really just a fancy way of saying after witnessing something insignificant you had a grand idea. Well, last night, after witnessing something rather insignificant I had a grand idea...

How to make a movie inspired by a video game that doesn't suck.

Of course I should caveat that claim by saying this is just my idea; an idea that hasn't been, nor will it probably ever be, tested.  It is however something I found at least remotely interesting and hopefully worth talking about. And part of that disclaimer should also read, this is meant as a lighthearted piece poking fun at many of the video game to movie crossovers that exist. Don't take it too serious.

It's no surprise that historically speaking the majority of the video game industry feels that movie productions based off of video games tend to, for lack of a better word, suck. We can easily validate this claim in terms of theater release statistics, ticket sales, low review scores and really a whole gambit of factors. It might be a generalization, and you may or may not agree with it, but the overall feel is...

Video game movies suck.

Okay, before I dive into this revelation, I think it's important to at least talk about why that might be. There have been pages of material written on it; I'm certainly not the first (or the last). It's often the topic of discussion so much so that anytime someone mentions a video game inspired movie, most of us cringe. Sure, a Halo movie or a God of War movie or an Uncharted movie sound awesome on the surface, but some of us fear that the final product would somehow tarnish the brand image, so we'd just rather not see it happen.

Are "no movies" based on video games better than "bad movies" based on video games?

Well that's a question each of us would have to answer on our own. Honestly, there are a few video game movies I've enjoyed, but there are certainly more that I haven't. I'm not so sure I know how to answer that question. I'd have to give it some thought, for sure.

Interestingly enough, I'm currently reading a book that mentions a theory why video game based movies suck so bad, and it's an assumption that I find myself agreeing with. I've thought about the merits of the claim; I've applied it to movies I've seen; and I think the author is on to something. That something may be nothing more than the how's and whys I like some video game movies and not others. But if it's true among others, then perhaps a more practical application of the logic could be used to actually make movies based off of video games that are better than just crap.

Before I tell you what this theory is, let me back up just a bit and tell you about the "something insignificant" that led me to this grand idea I mentioned in the opening statement of this blog. Last night I was watching the Ghost Recon Future Soldier Alpha video that is being released to coincide with the release of the Future Soldier game on May 22, 2012. In case you didn't know, a 25 minute long video available on DVD and Blu Ray is being released as the prequel to the events that unfold in the Future Soldier video game.

After a decade-long manhunt, US Intelligence received new intel on Boris Chevtchenko, mastermind of the world's most heinous war crimes. Linked to Russian ultranationalists, Chevtchenko is about to deliver a dirty bomb large enough to contaminate Moscow for centuries. Enter the Ghosts - The US Army's most elite Future Soldiers, precision-trained and lethal human weapons armed with the most devastating high-tech combat systems, to take out Chevtchenko and stop this international catastrophe before it erupts. But behind enemy lines, the Ghosts discover that Chevtchenko is just the tip of the iceberg. What begins as a surgical strike spirals out of control into a no-holds-barred battle even the Ghosts won't forget.

I think most of us would agree a 25 minute video starring real people and showing off special effects that rival a Hollywood production are a bit more than your standard pre-release video game trailer. The video was impressive. It's hard to believe the amount of energy (and money) spent to produce the clip that is scheduled to coincide with the release of the video game. I watched the video clip and dare I say...enjoyed it. It was entertaining and intriguing enough it left me wondering about the single player portion of the game. Sure, it's only 25 minutes and not as long as a full length movie, but the Ghost Recon Future Soldier Alpha movie didn't suck. It was actually pretty cool.

Hold that thought.

So, the book I'm reading discusses why most people think video game to movie crossovers suck, and basically the theory suggests something along the lines of, "Video games affect us all differently and those experiences are unique to us; we often fill in the gaps and envision what the characters and story are trying to illustrate to us (think about the ending of Mass Effect 3 and how some hated it and some liked it). When someone creates a movie based on a particular video game, and it doesn't align with our vision or our own personal experience we felt when playing the game, then we think it sucks.

What I'm thinking or wondering or suggesting...

If you've played the game and then watch the movie, then the movie sucks.

If you haven't played the game and then watch the movie, then you're less likely to think it sucks.

Follow me here...in my most recent experience, a movie (clip) was released for Future Soldier, a game that isn't even out yet. I know plenty about the Ghost Recon series. If I saw a film on any of the previously released episodes, I'd probably agree they suck. But since this game isn't out yet, the film interests me enough that when I watch it, I don't think it sucks and I want to watch more of it.

Now, let's apply this to a game that doesn't have a movie. If I found out that they were making a Halo movie based off the first game (Combat Evolved), I'd be a little concerned. That is such an iconic game with a cult like following and putting it in the hands of even the most capable director would cause me to panic about the accurate translation from game to film. I've logged so many hours into the game; survived so many battles; sprinted to the end too many times. Making a movie that changed any part of my memories of the game would not sit well with me. But...


If I found out someone was making a Halo film that was going to coincide with the release of a new Halo video game, well I might just get excited over that...and I might be far more tolerant and patient with judging the movie. You see, I wouldn't really have anything to compare it to or judge it by. It would be something all new and exciting, since it would coincide with the release of the game and not coming out afterwards.

Now the first downside and valid complaint is, if the movie and game came out at the same time, and both were based off the same story then obviously whichever you experienced first would spoil the ending for the other. This is true, but not uncommon. A lot of books are released just prior to the movie. I recall reading the Attack of the Clones (thanks Darth-Carbonite for pointing out my error) before it released in theaters, and distinctively remember the part about Anakin's "robot hand" - but seeing it on the big screen was still rather shocking.

It's a trade off, but one that could be dealt with. I posted a blog about how I read the Rage novel before the game came out, and then seeing the actual characters and setting from the game, it was not quite what I imagined from the book. I'm sure a video game and movie duo released on or near the same day would be very similar. I think as long as it is in relatively close proximity, it wouldn't be too big of a deal. I also think the longer and more established a game title is, the harder it is to make the transition to film. There are some rather obscure video game to movie crossovers that are pretty good (and by good, I mean I enjoyed it - NOT it was profitable), partly because I don't think everyone realizes they are based off of video games. I'll cite In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale as an example. And that was even directed by the often criticized Uwe Boll. The movie failed miserably in terms of sales (as in it didn't even come close to breaking even) but I don't think that was necessarily because it was based off of a video game. Like I said, I kind of liked it. Then again, I don't know that I've played any of the Dungeon Siege games. Maybe if I had, I would've hated the movie.

I'm going to tell on myself a bit and admit that I like some of the movies that most people say suck, and that's Resident Evil. The truth is I've only played the first game (that I remember), so anything after that, my exposure is limited. I've watched a few of the movies, and they're not great...but I don't think they really suck. I know fans of the games, or at least some of them, really seem to hate the movie adaptations. Since I'm being honest...I also liked Doom. Hah. But I didn't like the Mario Bros. movie.

Anyway, I suppose I should wrap this up. I guess I'm always just a little bewildered that I love video games and I love movies (I'm guessing you all do too?), so marrying up the two just seems natural; seems like something we would all want...but all too often it's a match doomed from the start. It's unfortunate that's the reality, and if the key to success is releasing them in tandem or at least within close proximity, I'm willing to risk watching one more potentially bad movie to see if this theory has any merit or not.

Maybe we could start with Bioshock Infinite. I'd watch it.