Film adaptations of famous games

An adequate approach to the topic of adaptation should begin with a definition of the phenomenon that is increasingly being observed in culture and pop culture...

An adequate approach to the topic of adaptation should begin with a definition of the phenomenon that is increasingly being observed in culture and pop culture - namely, intermediality. We speak of it when we deal with a situation in which particular media interact with one another, and therefore use their features and/or content to create a hybridized form of speaking about a particular story. In the context of film adaptations based on game stories, we have to notice that this procedure is not rare in the world, because games being at the same time scripted forms, leave space for filmmakers, who are eager to transmit game content in a modified (or in an exact copy - then it is a screenplay) form. It must be admitted that this is a quite treat for fans of the game. First of all, because film adaptations can be evaluated from the perspective of the knowledge of the original story (or also borrowed, because we have to keep in mind that intermedia is a form so extensive that it overlaps with many media; sometimes having its roots in comics or books, only then in the game, and further in the film). I'm sure all of us know someone who will write "cool, but the comic is better" on a movie review forum. This is why the creators of adaptations derive from games. They are aware that a fan of the game would love to see a movie that talks about the game. This is what intermediality is. Talking about another medium through a medium.

Super Mario, which means where did it start and why did it start badly?

In 1985, when people heard about this now world-famous title, no one expected that the game would reach such heights of popularity. The game has had not only many sequels, but also a TV series and a movie, which seems impossible from the perspective of a very simple and undeveloped storyline.

The plot of Super Mario involves a pattern of the protagonist (Mario) moving through different worlds in order to defeat enemies and rescue a princess who has been kidnapped. Thus, the narrative of this game is based on a very banal scenario, so we are left to ask ourselves - could such a simple game have been used to create an intriguing adaptation? Rather not, but nevertheless the producers sensed a very easy potential profit and then in 1996 Super Mario Bros. The Movie. came. Admittedly with a varied and modified storyline, it failed to gain any appreciation from both critics and fans of the game. It was even criticized and declared an unnecessary product of the film industry. In doing so, it basically became a pseudo-adaptation, as the interactions it had with the game seemed negligible. It should also be mentioned that while the film was being made, there was already a TV series called The Super Mario Bros! Super Show!, but this one, for a change, conveyed the game's atmosphere significantly and presented the expanded world presented in the game. It is unfortunate that the film product did not realize or expand on the game's vision. Instead, it modified the basis of the story so that it ceased to be visible at all. However, let's not lose hope. Maybe we'll live to see a worthy remake yet.

Need for Speed as an inspiration for The Fast and the Furious, something not every movie fan knows

Haven't you ever wondered where the idea for a movie with a leading racing theme actually came from? The answer is obvious. Fans of racing-themed games have surely watched the well-known series The Fast, which, as is not commonly known, originated from the famous Need for Speed series. Why not commonly? Because, unfortunately, not even all fans of the series are interested in the release dates. Many people quite unknowingly comment on film forums, being convinced that Need for Speed is a version of the movie. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first film in the series was released in 2001, while the game appeared in 1994. Only later can we talk about mutual inspiration of these two media, because it happened more than once that a new installment of the game was created simultaneously with shooting scenes for another part of the film series. It is, therefore, a perfect example (but a rare one at that) when intermediality manifests itself in two related works at the same time; one could even risk saying that they complement each other.

As you can guess, probably the most fan-pleasing common denominator of the game and the movie are simply the cars. Their ever-changing model base, improvement of older versions, and at the same time tuning are inseparable elements of the production and quite a feast for racing maniacs.

Resident Evil - the game series that started the film series

In this case, the well-known phrase "as many people as many opinions" is definitely true, but the film adaptation of this title should be mentioned at least from the perspective of the action production. Die-hard fans of the game approached the subject of the upcoming film of the same title with a characteristic wink and a slight unease. As usual - in the end - there were those who praised the film, but also those who explicitly criticized the film's depiction of the game's plot. The first in the Resident Evil (Japanese: Biohazard) series of survival horror/action games was released in 1996.

It quickly achieved high ratings and interest, which led to the imminent production of the film, which came out in 2002. The production focuses on action from the very beginning of the film. The director, Paul W.S. Anderson, did his best to make sure that the conventions and style captured the feel of the original and he certainly succeeded. After the successful realization of the first part and as the continuations of the game series were released, other film adaptations began to be produced - maybe not as successful as the first one, but each time referring to the story of the game and not forgetting about its important elements. In total, we have seen 9 film productions, including 3 anime.

Are final film adaptations of games a common occurrence?

It is safe to assume that such procedures are becoming more frequent. In the multitude of productions of both games and films as separate creations, intermediality seems to exist in order to implement proven patterns and schemes, to meet the expectations of fans of a given medium and to ensure a certain interest from the start. Among the many game adaptations we can find a wide range of genres, because we have in this group horror, action, adventure, thriller, sci-fi, fairy tale and many, many others. From the well-known productions we can still mention, for example, such as:

  • Mortal Kombat (1995),
  • Silent Hill (2006),
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001),
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005),
  • Assassin's Creed (2016),
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010),
  • Max Payne (2008),
  • Hitman (2007),
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie (1996),
  • Ratchet and Clank (2016), etc. etc.

Movie adaptations of games will always be difficult to make, because as we mentioned at the beginning - there will always be die-hard fans who will say that the game/comic is better. And rightfully so - many of the productions listed here and those we didn't include in the article have no reason to exist because of their poor representation of the original medium, and that's not what it's all about.

Maybe you have some interesting examples of when a game met with a poor transfer to the cinema screen? Or maybe on the contrary - do you know any titles that make you positively surprised with the realization?

European Funds
European Funds Logo