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Games on TV: The Dreaded Video Game Movie

by Chris Yeoh

In this series so far, we’ve covered some pretty special stuff. Videogames have often had a strained and unsuccessful relationship with their television contemporaries. Whether it’s an attempt to depict a popular game, warts and all (or with all kinds of stigmatisation and baggage attached), or if it’s just a game that they invented to try and look cool.

But there’s also a darker side to the story. I think we can all agree that no matter how egregious or stereotypical the depictions of video games in media have been so far, there is nothing worse than the pure, unadulterated garbage of a videogame movie tie-ins.

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Look, let’s just get through this and not pretend that there’s any artistic merit in any of these, shall we?

Pokemon

Also known as: the movie where Ash dies at the end and all of the Pokemon cry and bring him back to life. It’s an odd one for sure, dealing with the origins of MewTwo as some awful cybernetic alien monstrosity. (He can also talk, but you’d think with that much rage and pain he’d use his ability to beg for death.)

Okay, it sucks–not as much as the 10000000 sequels (and more that got released in Japan and even more direct-to-DVD)– but I still watched it twice as a kid. In theatres. With my poor, poor parents.

Resident Evil

If there was ever a prize for someone taking an idea and running away with it, Resident Evil is it. RE is the poster child for artistic licence, and with six movies currently released (and more planned, probably), it’s managed to attract some pretty solid actors in its time, including Jorah Moremont from Game of Thrones. To be fair, the writing in the source material is nothing to be marveled at, but the twists and turns this series has taken are wild, to say the least.

It’s pretty much an exercise in light entertainment, and has never really purported to be anything mentally engaging or particularly great. Most of the films were directed by Paul Anderson, who cast his spouse Mila Jovovich in the lead role, so pretty much an excuse to make a saga entitled “look how hot my wife is”.

What I'm trying to say is: God bless you, Paul W. Anderson

What I’m trying to say is: God bless you, Paul W. Anderson

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Angelina Jolie plays the titular role of Lara Croft, and she raids some tombs. It’s actually pretty good if you’re not especially invested in the video game series. Jolie shows the makings of a good action hero here, and it was made before people were too cynical about these movie tie-ins.

As such, it’s got Daniel Craig, Rimmer from Red Dwarf, and it was the highest grossing videogame movie until Prince of Persia (which was just bad). And it’s okay; it’s still fun and I remember it fondly. I’ll always remember the sequel better however, where she punches a goddamn shark.

Max Payne

Mark Wahlburg and Mila Kunis make some interesting career choices in possibly the strangest one on the list (sorry, Far Cry movie). Critically panned, it also saw performances from Ludacris (inexplicably as Jim Bravura) and the guy from Prison Break.

I love the Max Payne series, and I consider the second installment one among my favourites ever (thanks to its narrative and tone, mostly), so it’s strange to see a film based on a game already purporting to be a take-off of the Film Noir style. It didn’t really work, but the trailer does look pretty cool (if totally unfaithful).

Hitman

Continuing our trend of “How on earth did they get him/her in this movie?”, Timothy Olyphant plays Agent 47, an elite Hitman (duh) who was kidnapped as a child and brainwashed into becoming a total killer. It’s pretty much Hitman in name only, dressed up as a standard thriller, but bald Olyphant is pretty cool.

Far Cry

Yeah, apparently this was a thing. It totally passed me by, which is regrettably what I can say about most Uwe Bowl movies. Obviously, I haven’t seen this movie, and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that none of you did either.

But the trailer pretty much says it all. I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with the game. (Where is the island in all of this, and why is General George Hammond from Stargate SG-1 in this? Did he get transferred?) It’s so bad, it’s actually made me forget what Far Cry the game was about…

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Is on it’s way, apparently. But hey, it can’t be worse than the Super Mario Bros.

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