Movies based on video games have to be the bane of any gamer’s existence. They can never seem to get them right for some reason. Seriously, how hard can it be? I honestly believe that the people who write the scripts for the movies have never even touched the game. When people can post fake movie 3-minute trailers on YouTube that impress me more than a full-length Hollywood, that’s when a little red flag should go up that says “something is very wrong here”. Thankfully, it seems like our troubles might finally be over, but that remains to be seen. I’ll get to that point later. First, I want to share some examples of video game movies to date. You know what they say: misery loves company.
Let’s take a look at the classic NES game of Super Mario Brothers. While most of the original NES games didn’t really give us much to go on story-wise, there was some basic fundamental background information that was universally known about each game, and Mario was no exception. Basically, you have two Italian brothers that are plumbers. They end up in the magical world of the Mushroom Kingdom where the evil, lizard-like King Bowser Koopa has kidnapped Princess Toadstool and turned the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom into blocks and other various objects. The two brothers have to make their way through Bowser’s forces, defeat the evil king and rescue the Princess. This isn’t the most well-rounded story ever thought up, but it lays a foundation. So, what did Hollywood provide us with: a Brit and his adopted ¼ Italian brother who somehow fall through a portal in the wall of a sewer that leads them to a parallel New York style city (not a kingdom) a la Judge Dredd.
The city is run by President Koopa and all of its inhabitants evolved directly from dinosaurs. Only one person has been changed from his original form, and he’s been made into fungus (not blocks) yet is still able to understand human speech and help the brothers. Koopa wants to merge the two worlds that were split when the meteor that “killed the dinosaurs” hit the earth and created this parallel dimension. Goombas go from being little red mushroom looking creatures with no arms and fangs to being giant humanoid lizards with tiny heads. Bob-ombs (which didn’t even appear until SMB2) go from being living explosive creatures to little plastic explosive wind-up toys. On top of everything else, Mario Luigi can’t naturally jump great heights, which is practically their biggest trademarked ability. Instead they have to rely on super-jump boots that are powered by Bullet Bills and are given to them by a large black woman wearing red spiky plastic leather, who also happens to be a bouncer at a bar (well I guess that’s a slight upgrade from being a snaggletooth giant red fish). I mean, hell, the Princess doesn’t know she’s a princess until almost the end of the movie. And people wonder why this movie only has a score of 3.8 out of 10 on IMDB.
There are many video game movies that I could go through (and almost did when I originally wrote this blog post): Street Fighter (a movie which, to this day, I’m still convinced was the true cause of Raul Julia’s death), the Chun-Li movie, Double Dragon, Dead or Alive, Tekken, etc. But the fact of the matter is that practically every one of them is distorted into something unrecognizable once the movie studios get their hands on them. For me, Mortal Kombat probably comes closest to remaining true to the game’s story, and even then there wasn’t that much information to go on. There were still some differences when it came to the movie compared to the game’s cannon story, on top of the fact that they threw in some extra concepts from further along in the series that weren’t in the first game. That I honestly didn’t appreciate. There’s no need to rush things when you’re telling a story, especially one that already has an establish lore. You know what happens when you rush things? You get Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and don’t even get me started on the atrocity! It’s like they took Mortal Kombat 2 and 3, mixed them together, threw half of it away, ate it, crapped it out into a dumpster, shoveled it out and called it a movie. I choose to believe it never existed.
Ok, now that we’ve waded through a sea of tears and broken promises, let’s get to the light at the end of the tunnel! See, the problem with these other films is that the video game companies gave away too much of their creative control to the movie studios, writers and producers. In the end, all the game companies really provided were a potential title for the movie and the names of the characters (if they’re lucky). Writers and production companies take a generalized overall concept and then throw in whatever ideas they think the public would like to see, and they’re usually wrong. What they don’t realize is that nowadays when it comes to videogames, the work is practically done for them! Modern day video games are basically movies in and of themselves; no more guess work to be done. If a game doesn’t have a good story, it’s hated just as much as a bad movie. Enter Assassin’s Creed!
Ubisoft has gotten to be one of the biggest video game companies to date, and Assassin’s Creed is their frontrunner. In fact, they’ve been doing so well that they even created their own movie production studio. As of right now, they have a deal going on with Sony that would permit them to make an Assassin’s Creed movie for the big screen while allowing Ubisoft to retain almost all the creative rights to the film! Do you know what this means? It means that the people who made the fantastic storylines for the game series get to do it for the movie as well! Now, a lot of Hollywood studios are saying that this is an outrageous concept. According to them, they are the professionals when it comes to making movies. They honestly believe that Ubisoft will fail because they don’t know what it takes to make a movie, and they believe that Assassin’s Creed will never see the green light. Frankly, I disagree. As I said, video games like Assassin’s Creed are heavily story driven and they even include cinematic cutscenes to enhance this movie-like quality. I think this is right Ubisoft’s alley, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.
If this movie ends up being made and does well at the box office, you best believe that this will be the start of a creative revolution for video game companies and their would-be movies. Just look at Advent Children! Square Enix was in charge of the movie, and it was great! It held true to the story, it felt like a part of the game, and it didn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. And, hey, if Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, which was made by Ubisoft, can pull a 7 out of 10 with IMDB, that’s a hell of a lot better than any other scores you will find when looking at other video game movies. Even Advent Children barely beat it with a 7.3! I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this story, and you can rest assured that I’ll be keeping a close eye on its progress, Hollywood movie studios be damned!