Category Archives: movies

Red vs. Green

Microsoft want Halo 3’s initial launch-day revenues to exceed that of $155 million, thus besting the last instalment of the popular Spiderman franchise, which only mustered a measly $151 million.  Since the Master Chief is a better actor than Tobey Maguire and more attractive than Kirsten Dunst, I don’t think this is an overly-optimistic objective, and neither do the analysts

Since Microsoft don’t seem to concern themselves with minor details such as the fact that games cost significantly more than movie tickets, let’s ask a more pertinent question; is Halo 3 even deserving of the hype?  Microsoft’s marketing campaign could be likened to a full-scale military campaign, drafting in support from allied forces such as Burger King, Pepsi and Pontiac to name but a few, in an effort to smite us with Halo’s considerable promotional artillery; ‘Halo 3 Mountain Dew – now with 30% more market penetration!‘ 

However, whilst I have no doubt that Halo 3 will prove to be entertaining, I’m skeptical that it will be worthy of the degree of hype that has been heaped upon it.  Other titles, such as Bioshock, have received much attention in the media, although the huge majority of this seems well-deserved and, more importantly, has been generated by the gaming community as opposed to the might of Microsoft’s marketing dreadnought.  Bioshock not only offers something different in terms of visuals and the production design itself, but also in terms of gameplay elements and the extent to which these elements can be customized according to player preference and the situation the player finds themselves in.   At least from the pre-release marketing, Halo 3 doesn’t seem to advance the genre or the franchise much at all, instead favoring better graphics and a handful of new vehicles, environments and weapons to differentiate itself from it’s predecessors.  Is this enough to warrant the scale of the marketing assault?  Do gamers even want innovation in high-profile franchise sequels?

Whilst I’m most definitely in favor of games being taken more seriously as an entertainment medium, the games that garner such attention as this have to be deserving of the hype, and as of right now I remain unconvinced.

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Uwe Boll Must Die

….or at least stop making movies that inspire fantasies of self-harm in his audience. That is, if game adaptation movies are ever to be taken seriously and, considering the facts, I think there’s a slight possibility of this happening. If Boll stops making movies like this. Or this. Or this. You get the idea. Perhaps ‘die’ is a bit strong, but he definitely needs to stop directing ‘movies’ and perhaps consider switching career paths to, say, a sanitation officer, a plumber or another vocation familiar with handling considerable amounts of shit – he’ll be a natural.

As I’m sure even the non-believers among you have heard, Legendary Pictures (of 300, Superman Returns and Batman Begins fame) have signed on to create the World of Warcraft adaptation, whereas there has been much talk of late regarding Universal bringing David Jaffe’s God of War to the big screen, although much of this has focused on the format of it’s eventual home release rather than how spectacular the movie itself could be, if handled correctly.

As much as it pains me to admit, we have to concede that Uwe Boll isn’t solely responsible for the state of video game adaptation movies, and their dubious quality – if he were, we could arrange for him to be held accountable for his actions in a court of law, in something akin to a war crimes tribunal. However, he isn’t the disease – merely a carrier, a ‘Typhoid Boll’, if you will. As anyone that witnessed the horror that is Street Fighter will testify, video game adaptations have a long and colorful history of being effective wastes of celluloid and money. But, as I dare to dream and turn my gaze upward toward the skies, there is hope. It doesn’t have to be this way. And I think it’s all a matter of expectations.

It’s one thing to go to a theater expecting to be entertained by a fun, enjoyable movie based on a video game. It’s another matter entirely to expect Oscar-winning performances and moving, thought-provoking insights into the human condition – let’s face it, a movie based on a beat-em-up (even the best beat-em-up ever) was never going to challenge you as a viewer – even though that’s exactly what it did, albeit unintentionally. These days, audience expectation is the highest it’s ever been – studios have to try harder and harder to please increasingly-fickle movie goers, but surely if someone goes to see, say, Michael Bay’s Prince of Persia in 2009, they should expect high-octane action sequences, a overly-simplified plot and some attractive, shapely acting talent – and that’s about it. Oh, and exploding horses. What else could you realistically expect from not only a Bay flick, but also from a video game adaptation?

However, as much as I bemoan the increasing commercialization of video games in this blog, perhaps this could have a beneficial effect on cinematic adaptations of our favorite game franchises. The Hollywood idea machine needs more than just an oil change, and studios are keen to ‘adapt’ game IP given the ridiculous amounts of filthy lucre they make their owners, but in a rare display of forward-thinking, attitudes towards video game adaptations are changing. We all know that Peter Jackson demanded obscene amounts of funding to accurately visualize the world Halo’s fans would expect; “At this time Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, along with their partner, Microsoft, have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game universe until we can fulfill the promise we made to millions of Halo fans throughout the world that we would settle for no less than bringing a first class film to the big screen.” Perhaps things are finally about to change.

I can’t see Jaffe handing over his baby to some Hollywood abortionist without retaining a degree of creative control, so we can hold out some hope that God of War: The Movie will be faithful to it’s roots and be good fun, on an epic scale. Likewise with Halo – gazing into my Magic 8 Ball, I foresee a radical change of direction from Jackson’s financiers shortly after Halo 3’s release – remember, you heard it here – and I don’t think anyone has to warn Legendary Pictures to handle the Warcraft movie carefully. If all it took was the capitalization of the massive buying power of gamers and their gargantuan market value to get Hollywood (and Uwe Boll) to take video game adaptations seriously, it can’t happen soon enough.

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