Are Movies & Video Games Blending Together? [Guest Post]

Thanks to Sam and co. for featuring this article on their site! Season of the Bliss is a creative outlet and excellent resource for entertainment news. When you’re finished here, check out their list of 10 Films You Must See for ideas of what to watch next.

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It’s nothing new to see adaptations of one form of media into another. Since they’ve been making movies, we’ve had film after film ‘based on the book’. In time, we started to see movies ‘based on the video game’, but as Super Mario Bros showed us in the 90s, that isn’t always the best idea, at least not when you’ve got a runaway train wreck of a director.

But things change. With the growth over the past decade of superhero movies and epic film adaptations, we’ve started to see the reverse: video games based on movies (which were based on books, popular TV shows or comics half the time anyway).

When the Prince of Persia movie was released, it reached a peak where I was ready to believe we’d have a video game based on the movie based on the video game for an inception-esque video game.

That didn’t happen of course, but what about today?

Ratchet and Clank

The most recent “video game movie” to hit the box office was Ratchet and Clank, an adaptation of—you guessed it—Ratchet and Clank! The movie has all the elements you’d expect from an animated talking animal movie, but with elements that harken to the games. Like all adaptations, some degree of lip service is paid to the fans of the games, but the movie itself very much has a life of its own.

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Movie poster for the Ratchet and Clank film [Picture: IGN]

Unfortunately, it suffers from a problem that most video game movies seem to find unavoidable. There’s no gameplay, so it’s not nearly as much fun to watch as just playing one of the games. Its rating on Rotten Tomatoes is further proof of its overall reception, commanding a whopping 16 percent freshness rating.

In fairness, most critics probably haven’t played the games, so the nostalgia that tends to make these movies fun is lost on them. Regardless, it’s obvious that these kinds of films and games are here to stay.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen an increase in video game cinematics.

The Mighty Cut Scene

Since the dawn of the PlayStation (which in my opinion pretty much birthed the modern in-game cinematic), games have offered cut scenes throughout the game both as a reward to the player and as a means of telling the story. Quite a lot, however, has happened since we moved from CDs and cartridges to Blu-rays and SD cards.

Newer media has allowed more room for recorded videos to be placed within games, especially PC games, which have very few memory limitations. Certain games have even gone so far as to exceed the length of a standard TV show in a single scene. Most notable to me is an old title for the PlayStation 2 by the name of Xenosaga that contains a cut scene over a half hour long.

The Metal Gear Solid franchise also blurred the line between movies and games. From the first game in the series (where the credits play through the beginning exactly like in a film) to more recent introductions, the series has become known for having significant breaks from gameplay in order to set up the plot.

For audiences who play games for their single player stories, these are great moments. Those interested solely in gameplay may be disappointed. That said, as technology allows for more to be shoved into each title, cinematic scenes are following the same trend as movies in becoming progressively more elaborate.

Real Acting

It’s not exactly news to anyone at this point, but video games are also starting to lean more toward the movie spectrum in their actual production. Characters are now almost always voiced with the exception of mobile titles and retro-styled games. Highly advanced models also have a tendency to use real people to model the physics in the same way CGI characters are rendered for big screen films.

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Kevin Spacey as Jonathan Irons in the mega video game franchise Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Picture: The Guardian)

Few video games have captured the same level of acting quality seen in the box office; although there have been signs of improvement. Comparing something from the early 2000s to something released now at least shows that budgets have gone up. Admittedly that may be part of the reason video games cost over $50 without the bonus content.

Story Extensions

The final realm of crossover comes in movies whose plots extend as a result of the games made to go with them. Perhaps one of the greatest examples is a game based on the Chronicles of Riddick for the Xbox titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. Not only did it build on the movie’s plot, but it actually had decent gameplay.

It was also a rare instance in which the movie protagonist’s voice actually took part in the game’s creation. The unusual enthusiasm was certainly a big bonus to both the franchise and for movie video games alike. A few other titles have made respectable shots at video game adaptations, including Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

At other times, video games have been made before the movie in an effort to promote the film. In other instances, the video game franchise was a perfect fit for a movie, as was the case with the Lego movie, which was a mashup of the various Lego video games, most of which were very successful.

Up and Coming

Which brings us to Warcraft, a movie that’s been on its way for years, in what hopes to break the cycle of really bad video game movies. Warcraft, slated for release in June 2016, is based on the popular franchise started by Blizzard and not only covers the backstory of the games but also has an unusual tie in: anyone who goes to see it is given a copy of the hit MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

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A poster for the 2016 film adaptation Warcraft [Picture: Brockpress]

As a word to the wise, if you’re planning to take advantage of the offer (I think it comes with a free month as well), you’ll need to subscribe to their game if you want to keep playing. Although Blizzard is a pretty reliable company, they’ve had no shortages of stolen accounts through the years. It may be advisable to sign up on their services with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to protect yourself from any mishaps.

Here’s hoping Blizzard can break the unfortunate record of video game movies. After all, at this point the highest rated video game movie is actually Angry Birds, with a dismal 48 percent freshness rating.

Got a favorite video game movie? Tell us about it in the comments.

About the Author:

Caroline is an entertainment blogger – her regular blog is Culture Coverage – who enjoys watching movies and, naturally, playing video games (in moderation, of course!). She hopes this post will get you thinking about the current landscape of movies and gaming and also give you some ideas of what to watch next.

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