Sunday in Depth #3: Videogame Movies

angry-birds-movie-3[1].jpgI just watched the trailer for the film Assassin’s Creed, so this Sunday in Depth will be about the entire premise of movies based on video games, and this seems like an apt time as The Angry Birds is hitting theatres in less than a week and Warcraft is premiering in June. No video game movie has ever really been great, which is a pity because so many video game movies are being made. But this post is not going to be about the losses of the past, but will rather focus on what this ‘genre’ has to do to get on its feet and what these three upcoming movies can do to be ‘good’ movies. I have therefore made a list of three of the things these three upcoming movies really have to get right in order to succeed.

Number 1: Story. This is the case for absolutely every film. The story has to be interesting and carry the rest of the film. So for a movie like The Angry Birds Movie, where the plot is not really defined in the game, the movie has a group of characters and a premise and now has creative control to d whatever they want which will probably be fairly easy. On the other hand a movie like Assassin’s Creed already has a very defined plot from the video games and now has to use that story and hopefully tweak it a little and make it into a good cinematic experience. Warcraft though really needs to work hard and make sure there is a well-defined plot and interesting story, which the Warcraft games don’t really have as much as the Assassin’s Creed games and therefore needs to develop.

Number 2: Characters. This is yet another point in which The Angry Birds Movie has a fairly easy task. The Angry Birds Movie seems to yet again get a boost from the fact that the game is so undefined and that the screenwriter has so much artistic freedom. But for the other two films, the characters in the film cannot just be taken straight out of the game and thrown onto the big screen. A video game does not require the same character development and arc as other medias as the audience plays for the character, so it is the screenwriter, director and actors task to add that to the film. This will probably prove the hardest for Warcraft as many of those large orcs are mostly just large brutish war machines in the games and now need a serious retouching for the film.

Number 3: Action Sequences. Not every video game movie has to have action sequences, but the three that I am discussing do. Now, this is the only of the three where Warcraft really seems to have the easiest as the action sequences just have to be well-executed fantasy sequences, much like the Lord of the Rings. But The Angry Bird Movie might actually have it the hardest here as the game’s very unique ‘action sequence’ has never been on the big screen. The movie’s suicide-catapult scenes are going to be hard to execute in a movie, and require a lot of creativity and strong animation. Assassin’s Creed also has quite a challenge here as the video games have a very unique combat style and to bring that style on the big screen requires great effects, production design, and direction.

So far The Angry Birds Movie is getting decent reviews with a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, but this may still go significantly up or down before the premiere, but we’ll just wait and see. My prediction is that Warcraft will get rather poor reviews and that Assassin’s Creed will get decent reviews.


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