Videogames: The Hollywood Game

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Despite a wealth of failure, movie execs continue to court the lucrative gamer market.

For nearly two decades, Hollywood has sodomized many a videogame’s dignity by widely assuming that gamers were dribbling basket cases that would watch any movie even remotely associated with a popular videogame title. The failure of most of these films to be received as anything more than exploitative dreck by both critics and fans has left many out-of-touch execs scratching their hairdos.

The spectrum of terribleness runs wide—from the earnest silliness of The Wizard and Super Mario Brothers in the ’90s to 2008’s slick but forgettable Hitman and Max Payne flicks, it still seems difficult for Hollywood to get it right.

That’s not to say no one has ever come close. 1995’s Mortal Kombat actually did a good job of capturing the essence of the game’s mystical storyline while retaining enough cartoony action to suck in the average moviegoer, and more recently the Resident Evil franchise managed to mill out three fairly successful films. And, by all indications, the Peter Jackson-produced, Neil Blomkamp-directed movie based on Halo looked to be fairly mindblowing based on test footage made available on the net in 2007. But, alas, movie-studio bullshit stalled the production, which, as of press time, is still in limbo.

But just because most videogame movies are garbage (half of them seemingly made by German über-scheisse peddler Uwe Boll) doesn’t mean Hollywood has stopped trying. XLR8R takes a look at some of what the studios have cooking, for better of for worse, in the near future.

1. Far Cry (June 2009)
Why: This first-person shooter isn’t as well known as Halo or Call of Duty, but has still managed to sell over a million copies due to its slick gameplay and bright island-hopping visuals. Oh, and the unabashed blowing up of shit.

What’s up: Mysterious ex-military man Jack Carver, who now runs a charter-boat business in the South Pacific, takes a journalist to a nearby island in search of her missing uncle only to become embroiled in a secret plot to engineer super soldiers! Oh my!

What’s up: Mysterious ex-military man Jack Carver, who now runs a charter-boat business in the South Pacific, takes a journalist to a nearby island in search of her missing uncle only to become embroiled in a secret plot to engineer super soldiers! Oh my!

Who: Directed by Uwe Boll (surprise!) this one stars Til Schweiger, heretofore known to American audiences as Heinz Hummer in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Schweiger will also appear in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds later this year.

Chances of success: Crap director. Crap cast. Crap story. The chances of this going over well is pretty succinctly stated in the movie’s title.

2. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Out Now)
Why: Street Fighter has been the biggest name in fighting games for over 20 years now, with a colorful array of characters rich in backstory and seemingly ripe for the money-grubbing.

What’s up: Concert pianist Chun-Li (in the game, she’s a cop…) learns martial arts real quick-like and tries to save her father from the evil business man, Bison, who has kidnapped him for his… connections? W. T. F.

Who: Smallville’s Kristen Kreuk stars as the large-thighed heroine along with Michael Clarke Duncan and the weird longhair from the Black Eyed Peas.

Chances of success: After the first comical attempt at a Street Fighter movie starring JCVD in 1994, you would think there was nowhere to go but up. You would be wrong. This one was enjoyed by few, vilified by many, and will have been forgotten by most by the time you read this.

3. Tekken (Fall 2009)
Why: Where Street Fighter rules in 2D fighting, Tekken is the big dog of 3D brawlers, and has been since the first PlayStation debuted in 1995.

What’s up: This is a doozy. After WWIII, the world is run by corporations instead of government, the biggest of which is the Tekken Corp. headed by evil Japanese industrialist Heihachi. In order to keep the peace, Tekken sponsors—what else?—a martial-arts tournament! Did we mention that Heihachi’s son is a demon? Yeah…

Who: The biggest name is here is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Heihachi, best known for playing pretty much the same role in the Mortal Kombat films.

Chances of success: An overcrowded cast of nobodies fighting an evil corporation likely won’t float. Director Dwight Little’s experience on such shows as the X-Files and Millennium gives us hope, however.

4. Prince of Persia (Summer 2010)
Why: The Prince of Persia series was rebooted in 2003 to much critical acclaim and has since gone on to sell millions.

What’s up: A prince (of Persia) and princess (presumably also of Persia) team up to retrieve the mysterious Sands of Time, (which control… time) from an evil vizier.

Who: Blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer is overseeing this one with Harry Potter IV director Mike Newell behind the camera. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular prince with Sir Ben Kingsley taking on the role of the nasty nobleman.

Chances of Success: Based on the track record of all those involved, this one has the best shot of knocking it out the park.

5. Bioshock (Summer 2010)

Why: With its unique story, look, and gameplay, Bioshock became one of 2007’s biggest hits, garnering several Game of the Year awards.

What’s up: A mystery man survives a plane crash in the ocean near the entrance to an undersea utopia-gone-awry called Rapture, which was built by visionary scientists in the ’40s. Our mystery hero must navigate the now-overrun-by-mutants Rapture and discover the truth of how he ended up there in the first place.

Who: Pirates of the Caribbean helmsman Gore Verbinski has teamed up with Gladiator scribe John Logan to bring this epic to the screen. No cast has been announced, but rumor has it that the film will appear visually similar to 300.

Chances of success: High. The city of Rapture will be the real star of this film and will surely manage to suck in millions of fans of eye candy, which we definitely are.

On the Horizon
More game-film collabos to watch out for.

Metal Gear Solid: Series creator Hideo Kojima has publicly stated that this is happening, but little is yet known about it. Christian Bale is, however, rumored for the role of Solid Snake.

Lost Planet: David Hayter, who was involved in Watchmen and X-Men (and also voices Solid Snake in the Metal Gear series), is scribbling this one down as we speak.

God of War: This blood-and-guts tale of vengeance against the Greek Gods is ripe for the screen. A script has been submitted and X-Men’s Brett Ratner was slated to direct at one point, but that's no longer the case.

Castlevania: Paul W.S. Anderson of Mortal Kombat fame will direct this tale of medieval vampire hunters.