Why don’t game – movie adaptions work?

SuperMario movie

Yes, I’m going to be talking about “that”…

So I was researching for my Double Dragon gaming retrospective and looking over what this gaming franchise had brought to us. Aside from the obvious games, I finally got to the Double Dragon movie and that got me onto this topic here…why don’t game – movie adaptions work for the most part?

Now there are the odd and very rare exceptions I admit. As there are a few pretty decent movies based on games or even movies inspired by gaming as whole. But for this I wanted to highlight a few of those films based on games that were just terrible and try to work out why?

So lets just dive into the very first mainstream movie based on a game…

Mario movie

Super Mario Bros: Holds the distinction of being the first movie based on a game…and often said to be one of the very worst too.
Based on the Nintendo franchise of the same name and released in 1993. Super Mario Bros was a critical failure with many reviewers detesting the film. During an interview with The Guardian, Bob Hoskins was asked; “What is the worst job you’ve done,” “What has been your biggest disappointment,” and “If you could edit your past, what would you change?” Bob replied; “Super Mario Bros” to all three of the questions.
Movie fans hated the film, game and Mario fans hated the film…nobody liked it.
The tagline was; “This ain’t no game.” Very true, it was hardly a film either.

Still the failure that was Super Mario Bros didn’t stop more films based on games coming.


Double Dragon: The film that lead me to write this article. Released in 1994 and (obviously) based on the popular game series.
I actually never saw this film before deciding to write this…yes that’s right, I actually watched this film just to do this. It was not worth it, aside from a few notable names, this has nothing to do with the game series. The effects were pretty decent but the plot and dialogue were just plain terrible.
I really, really tried to find a favourable review of this film but the best I could find was a 2 out of 10 score. Again, that was the best one I could find.

Next up is another movie based on a fighting game.


Street Fighter: No, not that awesome Sonny Chiba film. This one was based on the hugely popular Street Fighter II and released in 1994. This one starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Belgian martial artist turned actor with a very thick Belgian accent, playing the “all American” Colonel Guile…yeah, I’ve lost you already eh?
It also starred the amazing Raúl Juliá in his last big screen performance before his untimely death. That is how bad this film is, it killed Raúl Juliá.
I was a big Street Fighter II fan back then and was really looking forward to a film version…this was just plain terrible and an insult to both Street Fighter fans as well as film fans. Having to endure this film was worse than being Hundred Hand Slapped by E. Honda.

Seeing as Street Fighter had a movie, so did its main gaming rival, two in fact.


Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: Released in 1995 & 1997 respectively. Yes I’m tackling both of these abominations at the same time. Now I’m fully aware the first film holds some merit among game fans and is liked by many. Personally I think it’s a load of old arse gravy with the sequel being even worse, and that’s some achievement.
There was even a third film planned, but it was never made due to the poor box office of the other two films. So there is a silver lining there, we were saved from another terrible game based movie.

You know what I feel was the main problem with all of these movie – game adaptations? The very simple matter of that these games didn’t have much plot to hold a movie.
Super Mario Bros games were always about a Princess being kidnapped and having to be saved by Mario.
Double Dragon was about your girlfriend being kidnapped and you having to rescue her.
Street Fighter II was about some fighters from around the world punching each other in the face.
Mortal Kombat was about fighters from around the word (and even different dimensions) punching each other in the face.
See what I mean, there is no plot to base a film on. These overtly simple plots may work in games but not in films. But of course, some game – movie adaptions tried to add plot to the already existing one with varying success.

Films like; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and it’s sequel; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Which used the pre-existing game IPs but added to them and they turned out pretty decent.

But the flip side to that coin is when they would take a game IP and change it so much, you wonder why they even bothered to use the IP to begin with.
Films like; Resident Evil, Hitman or Max Payne. Were films which took basic elements of the games, but changed everything else so much that the films did not represent the games they were based on. Of course, this does not make them bad films in of themselves. It just leaves you asking why bother using a known IP if you are going to change things so much it no longer resembles the IP you are using?

There are even directors who have forged a career from making bad game – movie adaptions. I give you, Uwe Boll.
Does this man really need an introduction? With films like House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark (and a sequel), BloodRayne (and two sequels), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Postal, and even Far Cry. Uwe Boll has made more games based films than anyone else and even managed to attract some famous names to appear in his films like; Christian Slater, Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, plus others.
Uwe Boll has never made a good game based movie, he’s infamous for his terrible directing. Yet he just keeps making them and attracting stars too.

But even though this sub-genre of films never seems to please anyone…they keep on coming with more game based movies.
Films based on Price Of Persia, Silent Hill and even Need For Speed. But it does not end there, we have a film reboot of Hitman: Agent 47 a well as Warcraft, Angry Birds (really, Angry Birds?), Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft (I love Minecraft…but a movie?) and plenty of other game inspired movies coming over the next few years.

Games have changed over the years. From simple plots like Mario having to rescue a Princess to multilayered stories of Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect, etc. This means at least there is more meat for films to be based on, but that does not mean these future game based films will be any good does it?
But then there are still those games that simply do not have a plot but are still being turned into a movie…


Seriously, Angry Birds…the movie?

So what are some of your favorite game based movies to love or hate?
Comment below.


All remakes “suck”.

It’s true, every single movie remake “sucks”.


That seems to be the case if you ever read any post on any remake on any film based site/forum. So it must be true eh?

To be honest, this whole “remakes suck” argument is asinine as even somewhat ironic seeing as most of the arguments against remakes are rehashed/remade from previous arguments.

But I thought I’d take this opportunity to give my view on the sub-genre that is the movie remake and cover many of the arguments and points that continually get brought up again and again.

First off, are there bad remakes? Yes, of course there are. But here’s a newsflash for you…there are bad original films too. Point being that the fact a film is a remake is not a worthy reason for a film being bad. Yet if you go by most people’s opinions that is EXACTLY the kind of argument you will find.
When a remake is announced, even before filming has begun and before anyone has even seen 1 second of film. You’ll find comments similar to “this will suck” on pretty much any movie forum based solely on the fact it’s a remake.
Yes that’s fair right, damning a film based on nothing other than the simple fact it’s a remake.

Just like original films that have both good and bad in them, so do remakes. I can think of plenty of remakes that I enjoy just as much and sometimes even more so than the originals…but I’ll get to these later.

If you really are dead set against movie remakes, then so be it. But you do realise a simple fact that you do not have to watch them right? Really, if the idea of remakes upsets you so much, you feel the need to let the world know over the interwebs. Then just do not watch them. This rule is not exclusive to remakes either as you do not have to watch any film, remake or other.

Often you’ll also see the point of “remakes are lazy”. Are they?
OK, so a remake has not been written from the ground up and often based on pre-existing ideas, stories and characters. But even so, there is still a hell of a lot of work that goes into a remake regardless. It’s not as if a film is a remake and all the filmmakers have to do is click their fingers and there you go, a remake. There is still writing going on, pre-production, filming, post-production, etc. there is nothing “lazy” about a film remake.
But on the same subject, I’d like to ask why remakes get accused of being “lazy” as they are based on pre-existing material…but films that are based on books, comics, plays, etc do not get the same label despite the fact they are also based on pre-existing material? Did anyone call Alfred Hitchcock “lazy” for taking the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch and turning it into a film? Nope. But why not? The story already existed, as did the characters and setting, etc.

Tying into the last point, what about long running stage plays? They get different actors and directors all the time. Technically if you go to watch a play that has been running for lets say the last 20 years several times over that 20 year period, you are often watching a “remake” of the original…yet these do not get the same disdain as movie remakes, but why?
I mean, Cats (the musical) was first performed in 1981 and still runs today. Obviously today it’s not the same show it once was with new performers, directors, effects, etc. This one stage show alone has undergone many, many, many different revisions over the last 34 years…yet you don’t get people damming the new Cats as it’s a remake of the original 1981 performance do you? Cats is just one example of many stage shows that have been remade over the years too.

Also what is with the splitting hairs when people that are anti-remake actually like a film that is a remake, but do not like to admit the film they like is an actual remake. Here’s some examples:
John Carpenter’s The Thing: Often cited as one of the best remakes ever (and it is)…yet that anti-remake brigade that like the film will state this is not a remake but in fact a “re-adaption” of the original story that the original film was also based on, technically that’s true yes. But if you really want to play that game, The Thing is still not “original” if it is based on a pre-existing story and still qualifies as being a remake.
How about one of my favourite films, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs: Here you’ll find the overtly zealous QT fans argue against this film being a remake. So just go and watch Ringo Lam’s City On Fire from 1987 and tell me that Reservoir Dogs is not a remake. Even after Quentin Tarantino himself has admitted Reservoir Dogs is the American version of City On Fire, those stubborn QT fans will get around calling the film a remake by stating it’s an “homage” not a remake.
Sometimes even the directors of the film itself refuse to call the film a remake. Like with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho: While the film was in production, the director refused to call the film a remake and stated it as being a “re-enactment”. Not only was Gus Van Sant’s Psycho a remake, it was shot for shot the same as the 1960 original…which itself was not original as it was based on a novel.
Even Tim Burton is guilty of this with his take on Planet Of The Apes: Where Tim himself refused to call the film a remake and instead opted for the term “re-imagining” as he did again later with Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Really, what is the problem with the term “remake” these days and so many people from fans to even directors trying to bypass the word remake with other buzzwords instead like; “re-imagining”, “re-telling”, “re-adaption” and so on?
If you are retelling the same story…it’s a remake so just call it a remake you pompous arse.

Something else I often see popping up is the argument that the remake is not better than the original. But why does it have to be better? Why can the film not be judged on it’s own merits as it’s own film? Often a remake is not made in order to be “better” but more so to be different. This is why I enjoy watching remakes, to see what is done differently. Stories have been told and retold for centuries and often done differently over the many years. Not necessarily better…differently. Yet it is only movie remakes that get the bad rep. Does it really matter if a film is a remake as long as you enjoyed it?

What about the “this remake ruined my childhood” pathetic rant you’ll often see too?
How has a film “ruined your childhood” exactly? Lets be honest, your childhood has not been touched or affected in any way at all has it? “They ruined the original” is another one, again how? The original film is still the exact same original film it ever was and nothing has changed. No remake can ever change that. It’s not as if when a remake is released, all copies of the original film are destroyed. They have also not been “George Lucased” and altered in anyway either, the original film is still the exact same original film it was pre-remake.
Even more so, if you do not like the look of the remake…don’t watch it and go out and buy the newest special edition DVD/Bluray of the same film you already own about four times anyway and watch that again instead.

There’s more in the form of the other often overused argument of “Hollywood have run out of ideas” or “Hollywood only ever remake movies these days”.
First off, “these days”? Remakes are not a recent trend. Films have been getting remade since cinema was created. You can find remakes dating back to the silent era of filmmaking. There have even been famous and classic directors that have remade their own films like: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and then later remade as The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) again directed by Alfred Hitchcock…yes I know this is the 3rd time I’ve brought him up, but he is one of my all time favorite directors.
Also, how has “Hollywood run out of ideas”? Take a look at how many films are released each year, then look at how many of them are remakes…it equates to a small %.

adding onto the previous point too, you’ll also see comments of people saying that there are more remakes being made now than ever before. Yes I’ll agree with that…but only due to the simple fact there are more films being made per-year now then ever before. Movies used to have a much longer run at the cinema and this was pre-huge multiplex cinemas so there was less screen time overall to show films. Look at E.T. for example, had a cinema run of 1 year and 4 months and was not released on the home market until 4 years after it’s original 1982 release. Now a new film is at the cinema for 2-3 months before it hits the home market. These films are also being shown in huge cinemas with 20 odd screens showing more films in that shorter period. This faster turnround is due to the fact there are many more films being released each year. So yes, there are more remakes made now than before, due to the fact there are many more films made each year. The % of remakes has not increased, just the % of filmmaking overall.

Here’s another comment you’ll often see is when people damn a remake without knowing the film they are defending as being “the original” is in fact itself a remake anyway. With recent announcements of remaking the Brian De Palma classic; Scarface and Oscar winning epic; Ben Hur, you’ll find people saying how these classics can not be remade and that a remake would ruin the original…except neither Scarface or Ben Hur are original as they are both in fact remakes themselves. Believe me, there are plenty of other examples I could give too when someone damns a remake purely as it’s a remake of a film they like yet the film they are defending is itself a remake.

I have no problem with people offering an opinion on a remake at all. But how about you actually watch the film first and with an open mind then judge it on it’s own merits, instead of jumping on the anti-remake bandwagon as soon as a remake is announced?

So that just about wraps up my anti-anti-remake rant. How about those good remakes I mentioned earlier?
Well just off the top of my head and these are film remakes (I’ve not previously mentioned) I personally found to be great on their own merits:

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Cape Fear (1991)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Departed (2006)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
Evil Dead (2013)
Father of the Bride (1991)
Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
The Fly (1986)
Halloween (2007)
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011)
Heat (1995)
House of Wax (1953)
I Am Legend (2007)
Insomnia (2002)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The Jackal (1997)
King Kong (2005)
Mean Machine (2001)
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Ransom (1996)
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
True Lies (1994)
Vanilla Sky (2001)
The Woman in Red (1984)

Those are just a few remakes I thoroughly enjoyed, and there are plenty more too. Are they “better” than the originals? I really do not care either way. They are films I enjoyed and still do to this day that just so happen to be remakes.


Hollywood can recycle films all they want…as long as they make them entertaining.