Friday, 14 December 2007

Games that become movies

When a director sits down and spills his thoughts about taking a much loved computer game, and twisting it into a movie, the vast majority of us will cringe.

It is something that is very often frowned upon by any sensible gamer, as the examples so far have been contorted and mangled so badly beyond recognition, it is frankly embarrassing to watch. This is especially the case with films such as Tomb Raider, where Lara Croft is rather 'Americanised', and made to be as unsubtle and sexist as possible, making her some kind of 'girl power' Nazi. She is not like this at all in the games (the earlier ones anyway), where she might prefer to sneak about a bit, and won't immediately turn away/kill a flirting gent.

It's not just Tomb Raider that has been butchered on the silver screen though. Doom is possibly one of the worst sins ever committed to film in the history of recording. There was one interesting bit at the end, where they filmed about ten minutes through a first person perspective so it would be a little bit true to the game. Whilst it was a nice touch, it did get a bit boring, as whilst first person views might immerse you in a video game, in a movie, you miss quite a lot of the experience, being limited to some muppet's eyes.

Resident Evil is also a series that I have a particular hate for. I thought the concept of the game was survival and escaping a horde of stumbling mutant weirdos. It is about utilising basic human instincts and surviving. Why then is there a futuristic special forces team walking about a futuristic facility with laser death rays and an irritating AI computer voice? Maybe I am being picky, but it did not seem to fit into the Resi universe at all.

When I heard that they were releasing a Hitman movie, and that the role of agent 47 was rumoured to have been given to Vin Diesel, I very nearly went postal. Somehow the 'anti-Bond' xXx actor seemed very inappropriate for the role, as he didn't exactly look subtle, as a silent assassin should. Instead they cast Timothy Olyphant, which made me want to drown puppies, and then, possibly go postal.

The thing that I have against Timothy Olyphant isn't that he is a bad actor. I felt that he was very good in Die Hard 4. The thing is, when shaved bald and made to look like 47, he was not a look-a-like for a hardened assassin who shows no mercy, but more of a contestant for 'baby of the year'. He looks nothing like the part he was supposed to play, having too much of a young face.

A better person to play the role would have been David Bateson. 'Who?' you may ask? The fact that you don't know him is probably the sad fact that he was never a likely candidate (not being a Hollywood actor). David Bateson was actually the voice of 47, but also the guy they based 47's model on! Surely this makes him perfect for the role because he IS 47.

Even though I had my gripes about the lead character, I still decided to go and see it, as I do love the games. I went in with an open mind, and came out with mixed feelings. It was really odd, I actually enjoyed a movie based on a video game. The thing that I decided early on though, was not to compare it to the games, as it really doesn't stay true to them. The 47 I know wouldn't necessarily slaughter a room of people, only one of them being his target. Needless to say, it was still cool. There are also some plot differences which do not make sense if you religiously follow the story lines of the games.

A nice touch were several references to the games throughout. The pose in front of the neon lit billboard where 47 cradles his sniper rifle on his legs (seen here) was perfectly re-enacted by Olyphant. Little bits like this made me smile inside, as well as the rather cool set action pieces.

If you go to this movie, do not go in expecting to see an accurate portrayal of the game, as it is not that. It is however a very entertaining movie that I would recommend to action movie fans and computer game fans a like.