The reviews are already starting to pour in about the new Assassin’s Creed movie. And they aren’t great. While you can tell which reviewers have no idea what the source material is, the ones who do, they’re still not rating the movie very high, so that’s really not a great sign at all here.
Which begs the question once again, one we knew we were going to ask if this movie failed when all signs made us believe that this was going to be the one to break the trend of bad video game movies: Should film studios still be trying to make video game films work?
To me, I’ve gotta be honest, I think the answer now is a resounding no.
This is Wikipedia’s list of video game-based movies from before Assassin’s Creed, all the way to the second Tomb Raider movie in 2003. Notice a trend here? NONE OF THEM ARE BETTER THAN A 5 OUT OF 10!!! Hell, out of 25 films on that list, only 4 of them got better than a 4/10 rating! That’s 16% of video game films since 2003 being at best a 4 out of 10! That’s absolutely pathetic! Especially the idea that none of these movies got better than a 5.0!
It’s been very clear over the years than Hollywood and all the major film studios just don’t know how to adapt a video game to the silver screen. And that might not even be their fault. Video games are an interactive medium, films are not. So it’s not so surprising that a non-interactive medium has some trouble taking an interactive medium and removing the interaction. A lot of how we as gamers get involved and engaged with the games we love is because we’re in control, we determine the path of the game and we even put our own stories inside the context of the game as we play. With a film, you can’t do that, you’re going down the most linear path and you have no option to change the course. The film usually gravitates towards a select few characters, so if you don’t like the main character, too bad, you’re stuck with this person till the very end.
The biggest thing though that really hinders so many video game films, is that quite honestly the writers and producers that take these licenses, they don’t have an iota of a fucking clue what they have. They skim through the basic plot and pay zero attention to the character progressions, backstories and especially the little things in the background that really established the universe the way that it is. They just look at the basic premise and then decide to do their own spin on it.
So let’s take an example and guess how a Hollywood writer would do it. Let’s take a game at random like say Mass Effect, because I’ll ruin something I love before someone else does. You know what Hollywood would do with a Mass Effect title? I’ll tell you exactly what a Mass Effect film would be about. The movie would not be about exploration, let’s get that right off the bat. The main character is a N7 soldier on a crew of predominantly humans with at best three aliens, a quip-loving one, a badass one and a sexy one that will fuck the main character at some point, because the writers will think a great way to get Mass Effect fans to believe they know the games is to have an alien fuck fest. The entire story will literally be that they’re attacked by an unknown race that they’ll make up specifically for the film, give them some bullshit backstory that makes them descendants of the Protheans (tell me they wouldn’t do that, I dare you!) and we waste two hours with a bullshit “I’m going destroy all of humanity!”, followed by some random explanation for how a single human ship can overcome a fucking alien dreadnaught and we win! That is how Hollywood would ruin one of my favourite franchises.
Hollywood when adapting any game movie takes a piece of the game and that’s their “gamer cred”. DOA is a great example, because as you see in the picture above, they did a beach volleyball scene. Yep! They had a beach volleyball scene in a DOA movie, because that’ll tell the fans that they know all about the series. The people who write these films do not read the entirety of the source material, they never do. All they want to do is get the bare minimum of the game’s story and universe, apply that to some cliche Hollywood blockbuster story, hire one (or if you’re lucky, two) well-known actor/actress so you’ll believe they were serious about the film (*cough cough* Assassin’s Creed, Michael Fassbender) and then spend the rest of the money on a shitload of advertisements so you can’t escape the film and cave in. It’s literally just about making money off a popular license, nothing more and nothing less.
So Hollywood, please do us all a favour and fuck off. Leave our childhood memories alone, leave our favourite games alone and fuck right the hell off. You’ve raped enough franchises, we don’t need you leaving anymore corpses in the ditch.