Why Video Game Movies Suck, According to Man of Steel’s Screenwriter

Illustration for article titled Why Video Game Movies Suck, According to Man of Steel’s Screenwriter

SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF MAN OF STEEL.

One of the men responsible for the much-talked-about ending of the latest Superman movie has commented on what happens in the film, saying, “We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial… It's not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren't just doing it to be cool.” And screenwriter David Goyer also has some thoughts on why video game movies tend to be, uh, terrible.

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Goyer recently gave a lecture as part the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series last night and—according to DigitalSpy—discussed why video game movie adaptations have largely been creative failures.

"I think the reason is actually pretty simple: most good video games are about immersive environments. If it's a first-person shooter you are the character. Most games, and this is changing, tend not to have strong characters. If you think about video games you think about how cool that level was, I did this or I did that.

"You realize that if you're adapting an environment or a milieu for film, a video game actually does a better job of it. A film will never do as good a job or immersive a job as the video game.”

Goyer cites the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie as one that has a shot at delivering a strong character. But who would we be talking about, Desmond in the present day or an Assassin from a previous time period?

The screenwriter’s aren’t totally off-base but they feel a little oversimplified as to the particular appeal of video games.

(via DigitalSpy)

DISCUSSION

fernandojorge
Fernando Jorge

Ha, remember that singularity scene in Man of Steel, when Lois the general and Superman magically reach a conclusion on how to stop the machines. Gosh.

Anyway, I think the problem isn't specifically lack of strong characters, because going by that comic books wouldn't have made it either. Yes comic book characters have had long and complex storylines, but that long history is ignored in the movies. What the movies use is the basic premise, it stands on that.

Do games have a strong premise? Comic books are already known and popular, even with people who don't read comic books. The idea of a super hero is popular. They can sell on that, on a guy who dresses like a bat or a man with a robosuit, because those are strong premises (for action movies).

Now with video games, yes there are strong premises, but more often than not the strength of the premise lies in the gameplay, NOT in the setting. The setting is often something lifted from other media.

Take Uncharted. Why do they want to do anything with it? There's no draw to Uncharted as a movie. It's a guy who hunts treasures, we've seen that a million times before. The draw of Uncharted is to feel like a movie while you're playing every second of it. That's the gameplay strength of it, the big and complex scenes where a building falls apart and you're still controlling the character, a moment where other titles would resort to cutscenes.

You take away control and you don't have anything exciting anymore.

Same for Mass Effect. Yes it has interesting fiction, but only if you, the player, explores it. Else, the core premise, isn't anything special. People in the future living with aliens trying to stop a big baddie. The draw of Mass Effect is in living in that world, exploring it, changing it.

How many games out there have a very interesting core premise? A premise that can stand on its own without the game. It isn't necessarily the immersive environment, though that's the case for some games, not the lack of strong characters, once again the case for some games. It's the lack of a premise that can be sold without the draw of playing it.