The woeful tales of “Super Mario
Bros.” and “Street Fighter” have taught studios that merely
slapping a name to a movie is not enough to bring in the fans of the franchise. Also,
the way games now unfold their stories more parallels that of a movie, with
characters and plot points actually meaning as much as a high score. And
there’s real talent behind these films who not only shaped the games but know
how to tell a tale.
While the number of “get-rich-quick” types of
movies have never diminished (I’m looking at you, “Angry Birds”),
there are probably a handful of upcoming movies that might actually surprise
you with the talent they have stacked behind the camera. Put that game on pause
and break open a new bag of Red Vines. Here are just some of the video game
movies looking to reset your expectations.
“The Last of Us”
This week, we got to witness one of the rarest
occurrences of all time — a video game on stage. The cast and developers
behind last year’s hit game, “The Last of Us,” put on a live
performance of select scenes from the game in Santa Monica: The single
performance demonstrated that the real weight of the game came from characters rather than pulling a trigger. What turned out to be only a couple of
scenes on stage may be our first taste of things to come on the big screen.
It’s a tale you’re probably familiar with by now —
mysterious disease, infected people roaming around in a murderous rampage,
civilization hanging on by its fingertips. “The Last of Us” starts
twenty years after the event that saw the world fall to a fungus, introducing
us to Joel, a man who lost his family, and Ellie, a girl who could be the key
to a new life for humanity. All they need to do is survive the wandering
marauders and the cannibalistic infected between Texas and a well-insulated
bunker of the Fireflies, a group fighting against the oppressive regime of the
What gives me hope about this movie are the characters
and focus of the story. While you would think this would be about stepping into Head Shot City, the plot of “The Last of Us” packs in plenty of
interesting character choices that blur the lines of morality. On top of that, the
relationship between that of Ellie and Joel could certainly hold the movie up on its own, as they each find the family that they lost in each other.
Neil Druckmann, the writer of the original game, returns with
Sam Raimi on board already to produce the film. And if you have been listening
to the Comic Con gossip, then you know that Maisie Williams of “Game of
Thrones” has been rumored to take on the role of Ellie. If they can get Rory McCann to play
Joel, I’m pretty sure people will start camping out for tickets months in
advanced just to see those two on the big screen.
To be fair, the idea of a “World of Warcraft”
movie has been bouncing around Hollywood ever since the game hit the market
back in 2004. A decade later, the company behind the billion dollar game
announced that the virtual world will be heading to a very real screen late
next year. Duncan Jones, the director behind “Moon” and “Source
Code,” will be directing as well as helping to pen the script of this epic
tale of light versus darkness.
Very little has been revealed up to this point about the
story itself, other than it will start with the conflict that first arose
between the two factions in the kingdom of Azeroth, the massive world where the
game takes place. There’s the Alliance, a group brought together by nobility
and honor made up of humans, night elves, dwarves, and your typical menagerie
of do-gooder looking to keep everyone and everything in order. And then there’s
the horde, a group held together through power and uneasy alliances. The story
behind this game is massive. Hundreds of
characters from every faction, race, and class line the history books, with new ones appearing with each expansion to extend this epic story of goblins,
dragons, and knights in legendary armor.
The fate of the movie, as well as Azeroth, has yet to be
seen, but having over 100 million accounts created for a single game means that
there will probably be a few people waiting in line opening day.
As the story goes, in 2005 a group of men dressed in
Master Chief armor walked onto the lots of some of the top film studios in LA
with a script for the “Halo” movie and a term sheet. Executives
had only hours to read the script and agree to the terms, no questions
asked. While still the stuff of
legends, the deal ultimately fell through. However, the series and the idea lives on
even today — it was no surprise that when Microsoft announced their original
entertainment initiative, “Halo” was at the top of the list of projects. But instead
of the big screen, Microsoft wants to bring the Chief straight to your TV.
“Halo: Nightfall” serves as a five-episode
connector between “Halo 4” and “Halo 5: Guardian,” where you
follow Jameson Locke and his team to investigate a terrorist attack on a
distant colony world. Even if you’re not familiar with the series, you’ll be
happy to know that the TV show takes a side step into the world of
“Halo” by introducing Locke as a new character who will appear in the
next game. Paul Scheuring, the creator of “Prison Break,” pens the
five episode arc that will lead into the next game and will have narrative ties
with another “Halo” series that will start airing
While Microsoft has recently shut down its original
entertainment studio, this experiment in narrative construct may prove
interesting as we see more and more games turning to a narrative television
model to tell a broader story. After watching the credits of your favorite
show, you might end up picking up a controller to finish the story.