Video game adaptations to film (rightfully) have a bad rap. Most of them are thrown together haphazardly to offer mindless entertainment to teenage boys, who aren’t exactly arbiters of great cinema. However, just as broken clocks are right twice a day, video game adaptations can become good films, even if it might not happen very often.
The latest such adaptation, Resident Evil: Damnation hits Blu-Ray TM and DVD on September 25th. This particular film is a visually stunning departure made entirely with computer graphics and it actually serves as an in-depth story prequel to the upcoming Resident Evil 6 video game, unlike the live-action Resident Evil series.
In honor of Resident Evil: Damnation, let’s go through recent history to find some other films that raised the bar for video game adaptations.
Say what you want about the writing and plot, but this film stayed very true to its source material, offering up a generation’s characters in the form of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia(!)
Aside from a few prior cinematic missteps, this was the world’s first large-scale introduction to video game movies, and it carried the flag dutifully.
Taking things up a notch was Tomb Raider, which followed the exploits of the original video game vixen (sorry, Princess Peach), Lara Croft. The outfit was worn very well by Angelina Jolie, who put on the short shorts, tank top, and dual pistols. This movie served as an updated Indiana Jones for the ADD.
The effects were top-notch, the story wasn’t breathtaking, but was strong, and Angelina Jolie… well, let’s just say that none of those things really even matter when you’ve got Angelina doing her thing in short shorts and firing weapons.
But if those things DID matter, I would also mention the acting of both Jolie and her dad, Jon Voight.
While Grand Theft Auto hasn’t yet gotten the adaptation treatment (and giving its sprawling nature, how could it?), Hitman comes closer than any at replicating GTA’s grittiness on the big screen. The story is violent and fast-paced in a manner reminiscent of The Transporter or Crank, which means that it’s capable of crossing over to serve both the teenage market and older fans of cutthroat action films.
Further, Timothy Olyphant generally plays a world-weary badass in every single one of his roles, but in this one, he’s especially violent and merciless, Natch.
When your video game is called “Final Fantasy,” it’s hard to keep the film adaptation confined to the realm of realism, so the producers of this film made it a CGI spectacular, offering up lifelike characters (not the creepy ones that mo-cap creates) amid a beautiful story.
The fact that this film was based on a video game may have served as a hindrance, as it is very reminiscent of Spirited Away, a film that achieved widespread acclaim using the same tactics, and perhaps a less engaging story.
Though it didn’t get the critical acclaim or box office take that fans of the game had hoped for, Prince of Persia is finding a second life after all the haters have grown hoarse. Many of the enthusiasts are probably woman excited to get a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal up on the big screen, but whatever. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong.