It seems recently that everyone begun to scoff at Dreamworks for deciding to take on the long-running Need For Speed franchise and turn it into a movie, a deal that has looks to have publisher Electronic Arts buzzing with delight. Many gamers are laughing -- the idea a movie can be made from this racing franchise seems absurd.
There have been very few games-turned-movie that have been successful in the past. For example, both the Tomb Raider and Resident Evil films enjoyed financial success. However, both were criticised by gamers largely for having little to do with the games they represented, or not representing the characters adequately or at all.
In the case of Need For Speed, the general idea is that this movie has already been done. Universal’s highly popular “The Fast and the Furious” franchise has what looks like a sixth movie in the works. Add to that the plethora of other racing and car movies out there, we could ask ourselves do we really need another racing movie?
From my various experiences with the Need For Speed franchise, the memory that I hold is lazy days and some great soundtrack, with the occasionally frustrating race. While I honestly did not realise that there was a story worth retelling in these games, it seems Dreamworks has found something worth using. That is a concept that I just can’t fathom.
Consider games such as Heavy Rain or L.A. Noire - games that are virtually interactive movies in themselves. To make a movie out of these games on one hand would make sense - they’ve essentially provided a whole script, the characters, events, and pulled it together in an experience that is easily transferable to screen. But if we begin to pull the interactive elements from these games, would they still be as enjoyable?
What makes games so entertaining and engrossing for us is often not the storyline on its own, but the interaction we have with the characters, and our chance to explore the environment, even if it is limited. Perhaps most importantly, we get the chance to not necessarily decide what we get to do, but how we do it. Do we take out this enemy using some quick maneuvers and a pistol, or calmly walk out with a fully-automatic rifle? Perhaps this horde of zombies should be taken out with a grenade instead of a series of shotgun blasts.
Like choose-your-own adventure books, a game can become a gamer’s own movie experience, especially when coupled with great cinematics, background story and well-written characters. If it weren’t for the fact that most video game movies are just completely off the mark when it comes to how they understand the characters or story, I would be inclined to believe that video-game movies aren’t well received because they take the control out of our hands. We only get to experience one possible series of events when we know that there are other ways things could have been done.
Or perhaps directors and producers just don’t know what we want in movies about our games.
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