We have seen it go both ways when it comes to the transition between games and films with the results of most being disastrous with a few minor exceptions.
Batman is possibly the easiest franchise to think of where the recent batch of films has been excellent and the games released at the same, although not tie-ins, have been epic titles.
In this instance both the games and the films have come from another medium, comic books.
In terms of which followed the comic first I believe that it was the TV series featuring Adam West as one of the first on screen incarnations of our cowled super hero, albeit a little bit camper than portrayed in ink. The Caped Crusader was possibly the earliest version I saw on the C64 and was a great title, but was equally ‘bright’ in it’s presentation of Batman. That didn’t stop it from being a challenge.
Another example of a comic book origin is the X-Men. Until First Class the films have been reasonable, with this last outing being a seriously good film. It would appear that the darker they make these adaptations the truer they appear and the better they are. The standalone Wolverine film sucked more than Chasey Lain.
After the popularity of the X-Men comics exploded there were a number of titles released to try and grab your coin. It started out with the arcades featuring simple sideways scrolling ‘bash-em-up’ style games that weren’t much more than re-branded titles that just happened to feature some of your favourite characters.
My problem lies with those transitions that have come either directly from the big or small screens.
By and large they’re crap. Mario Brothers should never have been a film, it just doesn’t make sense at any point in the film. Bob Hoskins playing a plumber frm Brooklyn? Erm, no. Does anyone know who played Luigi, and does anyone care?
We’ve also had Final Fantasy cross over in the form of some visually impressive but severely lack lustre CG animated films.
I can’t really talk about this subject without mentioning Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, the latter which had an impressive cast list but was sadly still a pile of poop but still not quite as bad as the Far Cry film which had more wooden characters than Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Will there ever be a decent cross over?
Well there have been some passable conversions in the form of Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, Resident Evil with Milla Jovovich, Max Payne, Doom, Hitman, and Silent Hill.
For me, the best one out of this bunch was Silent Hill. It was dark, atmospheric and had some serious ‘Holy F**k’ moments Just as you would expect from one of the games in the series.
Doom was entertaining but was a little amateurish in places and Hitman should not have had Timothy Olyphant as the lead. If Jason Statham was able to do a decent posh accent he might have been a contender.
The best one to date has been the 2010 film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time featuring Jake Gyllenhaal. It was entertaining, exciting and the story wasn’t pants. They actually managed to make a story that was believable and themed perfectly with all the Arabian mysticism you would expect. I’d easily rate it an eight out of ten and it happily sits on my shelf along with the rest of my films.
Now there are a few sequels coming from the Resident Evil, Hitman and Mortal Kombat camps but what is more exciting is the new set of titles that are coming from games such as Deus Ex, Halo and Assassins Creed.
You’d hope that in this day and age it will be impossible to make a below par film but we’ll have to wait and see.
I don’t think you’ll ever see the likes of Half-Life crossing over to the big screen because the main way in which the narrative is told is through Gordon’s interaction with the other characters. The element of exploration would be totally lost on the bigger screen but it’s absolutely perfect in it’s current ‘game’ format.
The only way it would work would be if there was a completely new story written from the perspective of the resistance. There’s been a few attempts by fans to do just that with one of the best being Escape From City 17 on YouTube. You can also see a similar storyline in the TV series Falling Skies which is quite similar in it’s execution but is lacking the extra oomph it needs when it comes to the special effects budget.
I think I’ll continue to watch these conversions on the big screen, but I won’t be holding my breath.