Why Is It So Difficult To Make A Good Video Game Movie? – Forbes
Assassin’s Creed, you were supposed to be “the one.” The cast and crew were incredibly talented, the locations were gorgeous and the costumes were lovingly hand-stitched. And, Michael Fassbender. But regardless of ability and effort, Assassin’s Creed still only scored a pitiful 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, failing to break the curse of the video game adaption.
Why? Why is it so difficult to adapt a video game into a good movie? Nobody is expecting Grand Theft Auto to translate into The Godfather, but why hasn’t there at least been a decent blockbuster yet? Resident Evil, Prince of Persia, Hitman: Agent 47; they weren’t supposed to be masterpieces but they should have at least been fun. Every video game adaption I’ve seen has been a joyless slog of terrible plots, forgettable characters and awkward references to the original game.
I’ve only played a couple of Assassin’s Creed games so I’m not too familiar with the franchise as a whole, but it always seemed to me to be a strange choice of property to adapt, especially with such a high pedigree of talent.
Assassin Creed takes place in a vibrant, detailed recreation of the ancient world, where you play as an oddly conspicuous assassin who’s really good at freerunning for some reason. There’s always an emphasis on historical accuracy (sort of) and the plots aren’t terrible by any means. By and large, I found it to be a very decent game. But for some reason, there’s an unnecessary sci-fi element inserted into this historical fiction, an odd genre clash that I couldn’t see working in a feature film.
And that tends to be a common theme amongst video games; bizarre storytelling choices that throw the traditional rules out the window. At their best, games can tell brilliantly deranged, disjointed sagas that simply wouldn’t work outside of the gaming world. At worst, convoluted, confused nonsense that you’re not even listening to because you’re desperately smashing buttons to skip the cutscene.
These weird narratives tend to make perfect sense at the time because you are experiencing them, not passively sitting and watching. Illogical and melodramatic twists hit you hard, because this is your story. You’re deciding how to cope with the situation, not questioning if it makes sense in the first place.
The protagonists of gaming narratives tend to be blank slates, with zero personality and sometimes, not even the ability to speak. And when the protagonist’s personality is well-defined, the actions of the player often violently contradict them. Characters can have unsettlingly casual conversations while running through scores of pedestrians, while self-righteous heroes slaughter innocent goons by the thousand.
An interactive experience is difficult to translate into a straight narrative. So which game has a story that would fit smoothly into the three-act structure? Which character would be genuinely compelling to watch on screen?