I'm not going out much on a limb here by stating that there have not really been any artistically successful film adaptations of video games. The Resident Evil series comes the closest, and for all that it's a fun time, it really fails to capture either the cheesy horror homages of the original game or the more solid body-horror of the rest of the franchise. Beyond that, the cupboard is pretty bare.
However, there appear to be some glimmers of hope on the horizon with films like...
Sly Cooper It's weird how almost no one seems to be willing to try and make a light-hearted animated video game movie despite the fact that the most successful video game film, if not adaptation, of all time is Wreck It Ralph. That's finally changing with Sly Cooper, based on the classic PS2 title Thievus Raccoonus. Kevin Munroe, who handled the last watchable TMNT film, is in the driver's seat, and you can see from the trailer above that he's got a handle on both the heist action and the banter between Sly and the gang.
The film is due out in 2016 after Munroe's other adaptation, Ratchet and Clank, comes out in 2015. Hopefully, between the two of them they'll show Hollywood that not every video game film has to be horror or edgy, and maybe, just maybe, Nintendo will get over how bad Super Mario Bros. was and we'll finally get the Zelda film we deserve.
Fatal Frame Not that there's anything wrong with horror game adaptations. One for the acclaimed and scaryFatal Frame series was just announced in July. The games are bloody terrifying as they make players travel through haunted locales taking on ghosts with a magical camera. Even the otherwise terrible Spirit Camera managed to be frightening when it worked.
The bad news about the announcement of the Hollywood debut of Fatal Frame is that producer Samuel Hadida is attached and his last effort, Silent Hill: Revelations, was criminally terrible. The good news, though, is that this is all slated to happen after a new entry consisting of novel, manga, game and Japanese film is completed. So even if this is just another American remake, it will likely have much stronger material to draw from across media and keep us from the weak characterizations of Revelations.
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Portal or Half-Life Last year the Internet exploded when J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell took the stage at the annual DICE gaming summit in Las Vegas. The director of Star Trek and the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII and the man behind games such as Half Life and Portal both announced that they were actively trying to work together both on games with input by Abrams and adaptation of Valve properties. Then they walked off stage and haven't mentioned it since.
However, earlier in March of this year, Newell joined a Q&A on Reddit and mentioned that the partnership with Abrams was still on. Especially because he said Abrams talked like the kind of person who works at Valve. It's hard to see where Abrams might have time to direct an adaptation of either of two of the biggest games in history with his schedule. Both would be monumental undertakings, but if it happens, it will be amazing.
Warcraft There has been talk of a World of Warcraft film since 2006, but it looks like there may finally be some real movement. Big names like Sam Raimi have been attached to direct. Even Uwe Boll made his bid, but Blizzard Entertainment made it clear they'd rather set fire to all their servers before they let Boll near their property.
Now the man at the head is acclaimed indie director Duncan Jones, who is promising a gritty but still PG-13 tale about the initial meeting between orcs and humans. The film will be a mixture of real sets and CGI, but the orcs will definitely be portrayed by actors for the realism. Jones has also said that he plans to incorporate several prominent and pivotal female characters, a nice touch considering that a 2008 Nielsen report found that women make up nearly 40 percent of WoW players.
The Last of Us This is definitely the film that has the greatest potential, the game being one of the most cinematically powerful ever made. The Naughty Dog zombie masterpiece of harsh survival has the game's own creative director, Neil Druckmann, carefully whittling the story down to its absolute slimmest in order to turn in a lean, hard-hitting script.
Raimi is one of the producers, though no director has been announced. Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones has been put forward as a possible name to portray Ellie, the young girl who turns out to be immune to the fungal infection that causes the outbreak. Whoever they find to fill out the roles of Ellie and Joel, with Druckmann himself keeping his baby on task, it has the potential to finally be the video game film home run we've all been waiting for.
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