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It is no secret that movies based on video games are flops, nine times out of ten. I bet you can count the number of video game-based films you enjoyed on one hand. Some have been so bad that their leading actors have regretted starring them until their dying day (Bob Hoskins in The Super Mario Bros., for example).
More recently we had Need for Speed with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, plus Assassin’s Creed back in 2016 with Michael Fassbender. The critics were not kind to either. Is it the script? Is it a lack of understanding about the stories of the games themselves? Is it the direction? Bad CGI? It differs from film to film, of course.
But if filmmakers wish to continue to try again (as they are with the upcoming, now delayed Minecraft movie and a Netflix series based on the Witcher series), they may find some success with some of these suggestions, providing they don’t cut corners and/or cheap out. Do it properly and the critics and fans alike may be surprised!
1. 'Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic'
If Disney insists on milking the Star Wars cash cow until it is blue in the face, they may as well employ some of the story ideas created in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series. As long as the writing and acting are on point, anything they come up with should be reasonably well-received by critics—though Solo proved the die-hard fans may be harder to please…
2. 'Grand Theft Auto'
It is actually remarkable that a definitive adaptation of this popular game series hasn’t been attempted already. I personally can see it working better as a TV series than a film series, with a lot of the missions adapted episodically. And each season could cover the storyline of each game. Seems reasonable? Now we just need someone to write it. Who would you cast as the leading man, though?
3. 'Crash Bandicoot'
We may have harped on about movies based on video games being flops but the same is hardly true for animated kids’ TV shows. Pokémon, for one thing, but also Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog have had adaptation after adaptation. What could be next in line? Why not the Crash Bandicoot series? It already has characters and worlds we all already know and love; just inject a storyline to follow and some humorous dialogue and you have yourself a profitable new series!
Okay, Tekken has been done already a couple of times in film format and the reaction has been “Meh” through all of that. That’s probably why any rumours of a Soulcalibur film adaptation have been dismissed.
This is another one where it could work better as a TV series, since there are so many characters with interweaving storylines. The plot has been done in this case, since the sword fighting games have very in-depth stories, which could be adapted into a season per game. The production team needs to ensure the dialogue, action, and effects are done properly to ensure a success.
Hear me out here—I know there was already a Hitman movie back in 2015 and even that was a reboot of the failed attempt at a franchise in 2007. But these are just examples of the adaptation not being done right. And perhaps the film format just doesn’t suit something like Hitman. Yet another that could be perhaps more impressive as a show—more time to explore character development and the obstacles facing each hit.
6. 'The Elder Scrolls'
Film fans are needing a decent high fantasy fix right now—all the good stuff in the genre is on TV or coming to it. World of Warcraft didn’t impress too many people with its film adaptation, but with The Elder Scrolls series, there may be a better chance.
But be true to the lore and established story and make it believable in the acting and writing. That is how to impress the fans, of which there are a huge number to disappoint if a film adaptation is botched.
7. 'Super Smash Bros.'
There’s something about such a huge crossover series like Super Smash Bros. that I can see working in a cinematic or at least televised format. Who loved The Subspace Emissary story mode in Brawl? The cutscenes alone were good enough to be threaded together, padded out with dialogue and choreographed fight scenes, and put out there as a movie in its own right.
For sequels or future seasons, take inspiration from the hundreds of games that inspire Super Smash Bros. in the first place. The sky’s the limit.
8. 'God of War'
Cinema is dominated by prequels, sequels, and reboots and a largely repetitive base of genres—that is no secret. What we are lacking is a story based on the mythologies of ancient times (unless you count all the Thor-related plotlines in the Marvel films, of course).
The God of War franchise popularised Greek mythology all over again and a faithful adaptation of the games could reintroduce it to film fans. Also… is it just me or could Conor McGregor easily play Kratos?
9. 'Mass Effect'
Okay, so there may be no shortage of sci-fi flicks out at the moment. But with such an acclaimed video game series like Mass Effect, there is potential to make a whole new space in that genre’s hall of fame.
The trick here will be making the plot substantially different from the famous science fiction films while still remaining faithful to the canon of the games, and then working in all the other things that make a movie successful on top of that.
Did we miss one?
For the video game-to-movie question comes a huge list of answers. We had to narrow it down considerably. But if you are insistent that another title should have made it to our article, let us know via social media!