Video Games

Video game movies are still bad. Here are a few suggestions to change that

Last year did not end the decades-long streak of bad video game movies, but I have faith that the Chosen One is still out there – somewhere – waiting to be adapted.

I didn’t see “Assassin’s Creed,” but critics gave it an impressive 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I suspect Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard did what they could, but great actors can’t save a lousy script. The games aren’t even that good. They are just popular. There’s a difference.

And dear God, did anyone else see there’s another “Resident Evil” film coming out. It’s is the sixth one, and it comes out three days after the seventh core game. The film series almost lapped its 21-year-old parent franchise. Paul W.S. Anderson may be the heir apparent to Uwe Boll, who is apparently retiring.

Boll invented the “Assassin’s Creed” approach: Great actors will surely solve the video game-to-movie problem. He had Ben Kingsley play Rayne’s father in “BloodRayne,” a delightfully bad adaptation that even spawned a few sequels – including one about Nazis, I think.

My boss actually threw a wrench in this column by pointing out that the “LEGO” films, based on the “LEGO” games, are pretty funny. But I am going to contend that those are remakes of Danish plastic bricks, not video games, and thus we are still looking for a true champion.

To that end, I have some suggestions. Disclaimer: Games that are already incredibly film-like, such as “Beyond: Two Souls,” “Heavy Rain” and “Life is Strange” were left off, as adapting them would be pointless. They all have great stories, though. Play them.

‘The Last of Us’

I’ll admit that this is cheating, as a film adaptation is already in the works. But it appears to be stalled due to creative differences between the game’s developers and the adaptation’s filmmakers. This is probably a good thing. I want them to get it right.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better video game story in the last five years, and its brevity would lend well to a film. You can’t adapt something like “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” or “Grand Theft Auto V” because there’s 75+ hours of gameplay that has to be capped at two-and-a-half hours. Too much would have to be cut.

‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’

That is, unless we are talking about my all-time favorite game and muse “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.” A chopped-down version of the Light Side storyline would have been a much better film than “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Fight me.

I suppose longer games like “Knights of the Old Republic” could be turned into a trilogy. If Peter Jackson can stretch the 300ish-page “The Hobbit” into a trilogy of three-hour films, why can’t Disney give us this?

‘BioShock: Infinite’

Any “BioShock” movie would do, if done well of course, but I prefer “Infinite.” Like “The Last of Us,” it’s beautifully packed into a tight package. And unlike it, the story is complete and does not leave the door open for a sequel. “Infinite” would be a quick one-and-done movie.

However, it is unlikely that “BioShock” godfather Ken Levine would ever let it happen. He already quashed a previous attempt to adapt the first game, and has since walked away from one of the greatest franchises in the last 20 years.

‘LA Noire’

This may – may – be my favorite Rockstar game. “The Warriors,” “Red Dead Redemption” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” are up there, but “LA Noire” delivers a powerful story to go along with the developer’s trademark sandbox gameplay.

This story was so good that I skipped some of the open-ended mayhem in favor of rushing to see what happens to protagonist Cole Phelps. At times, actually playing the game was almost cumbersome. I really just wanted to know what would happen, not to necessarily make it happen.

The game used motion capture performances from real actors. It’s only been about six years. Round them up, do a movie. I’d show up with bells on.


Like “The Last of Us,” this is cheating. Reboot artist J.J. Abrams is almost certainly doing “Portal” and “Half-Life” films. The details are just being ironed out.

But this franchise, perhaps more than any other, needs to be treated with the care Abrams gave “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” It could be really good, and it could be really bad. I am particularly worried about poor casting or dialogue for GLaDOS, the computer system that taunts players as they solve “Portal” puzzles. Scarlett Johansson would not be a bad choice. She pulled off the voice-only role in “Her,” but maybe that’s also a good reason for her to not repeat it in “Portal.”

But I do have faith. I trust Abrams with “Star Wars,” which is to say I trust him with my very existence, so perhaps “Portal” will be the breakthrough adaptation we’ve been waiting for.

‘Street Fighter’

I kid. Never again. “The Legend of Chun Li” was truly the worst film I have ever seen.