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What The Flick: The new era of video game movies is here

By Zaki JufriMovies - 12 May 2016 12:00 AM | Updated 13 May 2016

What The Flick: The new era of video game movies is here

Hands up if you remember playing Super Mario Bros. on your Nintendo games console back in the ‘80s.

Guiding two moustachioed Italian plumbers across the television screen, collecting gold coins and mushrooms while avoiding Goombas and Koopa Troopas is child’s play to say the least.

But watching the game’s live-action 1993 adaptation on the big screen is particularly loathsome.

Watching Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo ham it up in blue and green pyjamas, battling an over-acting Dennis Hopper in the universally derided movie is an experience you do not want go through again – no spawning again here.


Fast-forward 23 years later, it seems that film studios have not learnt their lesson when Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Peter Dinklage try to relive their childhood in ‘Pixels’. 

MORE: 10 best and worst video game movies

Hollywood had always had a chequered history when it comes to bringing video games to the big screen. 

Between comic books, literature and TV shows, filmmakers have nailed the art of bringing beloved properties to the silver screen to a T all except the video game. 

Only watch this for the Singapore cityscapes

Movies such as ‘Street Fighter’ (1994), ‘Mortal Kombat’ (1995), ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ (2001), ‘BloodRayne’ (2005), ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ (2010) and ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ (2015) all bombed either critically, financially, or both.

The only game-to-movie adaptation worth shouting about is the long running ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, which has spawned four sequels, including one more in the making.

Although it is perhaps the highest earning game based series – earning US$915 million (S$1.2 billion) worldwide – it is far from the critical darling (with an average 35 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

One of the biggest reasons why video game movies are reviled is that they depend too much on spectacle, with plot and character development taking a backseat.

Too often, these movies also frame themselves as direct adaptations of their source material and not as films (as an art-form).

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy is a perfect example of how a filmmaker can approach a genre movie by framing it as an action/crime/psychological thriller first and a superhero movie second.

But not every movie can have a Chris Nolan.

RESET: 2016

2016 might just be the year that Hollywood is finally pushing the reset button on the genre. 

After years of dismal box-office takings and critical bombs, film studios are finally changing tack, roping in top-notch talent and aligning themselves more closely with game publishers to bring their creations to life.

First among these is the big-screen adaptation of Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment’s breakout success, ‘Angry Birds’, which will hatch on 26 May. 

Featuring the voices of Peter Dinklage, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader, ‘Angry Birds Movie’, we will finally find out why the birds are so angry. 

The games have been downloaded more than three billion times since it first appeared on the App Store in 2009, and it is first mobile game to be adapted into a movie.

Blizzard Entertainment is bringing its beloved 20-year-old fantasy game 'World of Warcraft' to the big-screen with the much-anticipated ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’ (opens 10 June).

Directed by Duncan Jones of ‘Moon’ and ‘Source Code’, the movie stars Rob Kazinsky, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster and Travis Fimmel.

The movie departs from the game’s lore and takes us back to the beginning of the ‘Warcraft’ story. Jones who is an avid WoW player himself, said that every deviation was done to make the best possible movie.

“Warcraft will introduce the idea of heroes on all sides. It’s two different perspectives on a conflict and a war that’s unavoidable,” Jones said at the recent PAX East gaming convention in Boston. 

He added, “What Blizzard has always done well is draw from things that we feel like we know very well, whether J.R.R. Tolkien, Marvel Comics or Star Wars, and synthesize those and turn them into something new.”

Developer Ubisoft is taking another stab at the silver screen this year with ‘Assassin’s Creed’ (opens 21 Dec).

Michael Fassbender plays Callum Lynch in 'Assassin's Creed' trailer

Expectations are high for this movie given the calibre of its talent. Directed by Justin Kurzel, who directed the excellent ‘Macbeth’, the movie boasts a stellar cast including Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard.

Speaking at CinemaCon in April this year, Fassbender promised audiences will get to see a "compelling story, rich characters and breath-taking action sequences."

Ubisoft is so committed in seeing its properties on film that it even set up its own film and TV division, Ubisoft Motion Pictures in 2011.

Alicia Vikander is the new movie Lara Croft

The French outfit is following up its foray into filmmaking with a ‘Splinter Cell’ adaptation starring Tom Hardy as well as a ‘Ghost Recon’ movie produced by Michael Bay.

The game developer is also working to turn its hacker adventure ‘Watch Dogs’ into a film, with fans clamouring for Tom Cruise to play protagonist Aiden Pearce. 

Also, Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is booting up to play video game heroine Lara Croft in a ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot, taking over the reins from Angelina Jolie. 

The new movie, which will be directed by Roar Uthaug (‘The Wave’), will see Vikander as a young and untested Croft, in what the Hollywood Reporter describes as an origin story that tracks Croft’s first adventure.

Zaki Jufri writes about the arts, entertainment, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture for

Movie Photos

11 photos
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
  • Warcraft: The Beginning 2016
Warcraft: The Beginning
  • Warcraft: The Beginning

  • Rated
    PG13 /
    Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • Language
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