He is a video game enthusiast who happens to be an online writer. You can find him geeking out over different games when not writing.
Successful video game movie adaptations are as rare as Pikachu Illustrator card. But there are specific titles in the gaming industry that could turn into horrible live actions despite their fame.
But first, what’s the matter with video game movies, anyway?
Why Video Games’ Movie Adaptations Suck
The problem is that video game movies are made by selfish non-gamers. Hollywood doesn’t trust young directors when spending millions of dollars on movie adaptations. So, they choose an experienced and probably middle-aged director who knows a lot about cinema—but none about games.
The outcome is often a failed effort to fit a game’s story or characters into the traditional framework of films.
One of the most disastrous movie adaptations of all time is the 1993 Super Mario Bros. It was a mixture of hilariously bad ideas and, of course, a box office failure.
But when asked about his awful decisions, the director said, “The thing that I’m most proud of is the originality of [the movie], because that all came from our head. You know, we created all those characters.”
Most directors are too selfish to remain loyal to the original stories, lore, or personalities of the adapted material. It probably makes them feel less of an artist. So, as the Mario example, they often change so many things about a beloved franchise that it’s unrecognizable and, therefore, doomed to fail.
Speaking of “doomed,” another terrible video game movie is the 2005 Doom starring Dwayne Johnson. Make sure to check it out if you want to learn how to ruin a successful franchise in 113 minutes.
Award-Winning Games That Should Never Turn into Live-Action
You might think a brilliant director, a bunch of fresh actors, and a large company to fund the project would result in an excellent video game movie adaptation. But that’s just not true.
There are specific games in the industry that would turn out to be awful, unwatchable films no matter how hard you try. And here’s a list of them.
#5. Mario (Never Again)
Anything about a relationship between a plumber guy and a hot girl reminds me of adult movies. So, you cannot pitch the idea of making a Mario live-action to me—especially after the 1993 disaster.
Of course, Nintendo is working on a new movie that comes out in 2022. But thankfully, it’s an animated one. So, we might dodge another horrible adaptation.
Here’s why you cannot make a Mario live-action that actually sells:
- Little to no gamers play the game for its plot.
- Mario’s and Luigi’s appearances are against Hollywood standards.
- The movie would struggle to find the right audience. (Should it be made for kids, adults, or both?).
- It would never be able to balance nostalgia and novelty.
#4. Red Dead Redemption
Unlike games like Mario, many gamers do play Red Dead Redemption for its plot. But that doesn’t guarantee a successful movie adaptation.
An RDR movie would be one of the most generic Western films of all time about a badass outlaw shooting everyone in the forehead while being a nice and caring guy inside.
It is fun to play the Rockstar’s masterpiece because the plot and gameplay are unmatched by any other game. But the film industry has already tried its hands on too many cowboy gang stuff.
Other reasons why an RDR movie adaptation would suck:
- The game characters are too generic for a movie. (And if you’d change them, it wouldn’t be an RDR film anymore).
- The game's impressive features are everyday events. We praise Red Dead Redemption 2 for its realistic details. But that wouldn’t help create an exciting movie. You can’t show a long scene of a cowboy skinning a poor bear, hoping that the audience would go crazy.
- The movie would be either too plot-oriented or too action-oriented.
#3. Grand Theft Auto
Looking for video games that would make a horrible movie adaptation? Take a look at Rockstar’s games. (Bully, Manhunt, and GTA come to mind). None would be a successful live-action—and they tried it with the 2008 Max Payne, which got 15% on Rotten Tomato’s Tomatometer.
But Grand Theft Auto is a unique entry into the gaming industry. It is so controversial that you’d never be able to turn it into live action unless you changed everything about it.
Imagine a movie about a bunch of criminals who run over pedestrians, rob banks, destroy cop cars, and talk about murder as if it were the most natural part of life. And all that is happening in a fictional city that is way too familiar for Americans.
That doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
More reasons Rockstar should never fund a Grand Theft Auto movie adaptation:
- It would either look as goofy as the 2021 Free Guy or as dark as the 2007 No Country for Old Men.
- You’d only be able to cover specific aspects of the game, which could piss off the fans.
- The game’s plot doesn’t support the moral high ground. So, you’d either make a controversial nihilistic movie or make something no gamer could relate to.
- Chaos plays a significant role in the Rockstar’s masterpiece, which is often against blockbusters’ linear plots.
#2. God of War
Gamers would love to see a God of War live-action. But the standards are so high that no company would pull off a successful adaptation.
Unlike other entries on the list, it makes sense to invest in such an adaptation. The plot is already cinematic, the characters are super-interesting, and the fanbase is huge.
But think about it. You need an Avengers-like cast, Avatar-like CGI, as well as a Cristopher Nolan-level director. Even if you have it all, it’s still risky to go for a God of War movie.
Note: Rumors have that Prime is negotiating a live-action series based on the franchise.
More reasons it’s not a good idea:
- Casting the right actor for Kratos is nearly impossible.
- The gameplay is brutal. So, movie producers might want to tone it down, which would eventually ruin the outcome.
#1. Elden Ring
Elden Ring and God of War share the same faith: They are too good for Hollywood adaptations.
The biggest issue with the Elden Ring movie would be the main character, though. You have a Tarnished that doesn’t speak and can have several unrelated looks. So, you’d have to make a film about, well, a dull, unknown person.
Of course, you could go creative and give the main character a personality. But it would not be an Elden Ring movie anymore.
More reasons a Hollywood-esque adaptation of the Souls series could fail:
- The game is known for its addictive gameplay, and the plot has never been the franchise’s focus. And video game movies have proved to be incapable of turning good gameplays into enjoyable films.
- You’d have to create a Lord of the Rings-like lore to cover the story. But it’s unlikely any company would spend that much money on a video game adaptation.
- The game’s storytelling style is closer to anime shows, not films. So, the transition could be challenging.
Honorary Mentions: Please Don’t Turn These Games into Live Actions
It’s easier to list video games that could lead to disastrous adaptations than those that would actually make watchable films.
So, here are some honorary mentions that deserve their own specific listicle.
Video game movie adaptations are already bombarded with negative reviews (except for Sonic the Hedgehog). The last thing we need is another CD Projekt RED tragedy to ruin the industry’s reputation even further.
We’ve had enough of zombie apocalypse movies. So, maybe save Days Gone for another time. Yes, the game was an enjoyable experience. But it has nothing to offer to the cinema.
Plus, everyone is excited for the Last of Us series. And it’s unlikely a Days Gone movie could beat the Naughty Dog franchise’s adaptation.
A boring film about hackers who can ruin your life with the touch of a single button? No, but thanks. Watch Dogs is too unrealistic for a live-action adaptation. Hacking into people’s phones or government facilities is so easy in the game that makes you question why technology is still relevant in the future.
What Did I Miss?
Are there any other video games that you think would suck as live actions? Let me know in the comments so we can talk about it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Mohsen Baqery