International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: On
Games and Movies
Videogames and Hollywood have never really got along all that well.
The games industry keeps making awful games that cash in on blockbuster
movies, and in return, Hollywood likes to make absolutely sure that
any movies that even looked at a controller once are absolute flotsam!
What I want to ask is why? Why cant we play a good videogame
and then watch a good movie about the same characters weve
grown to love and care for over our spare time?
I guess we had better start with looking at how its gone so
Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Starring The Rock
In the beginning, there was DOOM
Well thats not entirely
accurate, but Doom certainly kick-started the entire FPS genre. The
game is often classified as Horror, but the combination of there being
almost no story in the game aside from a couple of paragraphs supplied
in the manual and the fact that any tension is immediately destroyed
by the fact youre soon armed with a Massive Chainsaw simply rendered
the game a mindless bullet ridden gunfest! Not that thats a bad
thing. However, of all the games that could be adapted into a movie,
Doom wasnt exactly high on my list.
The story of the movie goes that archaeologists found remains of some
kind of teleporter thingy that sends people to Mars. Since youre
already on a planet by virtue of a temperamental alien machine that
nobody really understands, the brass decided they might as well go all
out with the old horror movie clichés by performing illegal
military experiments on people, oh well. Within the first five seconds
of screen time the shit has hit the proverbial fan and a team of Space
Marines led by the Rock are sent out to investigate and deal with the
The Space Marines themselves are introduced in their barracks discussing
what theyre going to do on leave, from that one conversation I
had arranged the entire team in the order of which they were going to
die (With one exception, one of them was revealed to be a self harming
religious fanatic later, but I couldnt have known that.) There
was the Pervert, the Asshole Black guy, the Nice Black Guy, the Naïve
rookie, the Guy-With-An-Actual-Backstory, and The Rock
no military expert, but Im pretty sure not even your mundane current
day Earth Marines allow such neurotic and messed up people into the
military. You would at least expect them to frown upon them talking
about gang rape in everyday conversation.
Anyway, the Space Marines sweep through the facility and find nothing
with the exception of a distraught scientist holding a severed hand,
breathing erratically, who proceeds to even rip his own ear off in front
of everyone else
In strict adherence to all the most retarded
things you could do in a horror movie, they decide to take
him to the medical room and wrap him up in a blanket
In real life
even if you discount the Zombie Virus Protocol, if you find
someone in that state you dont leave them on a bed to their own
devices, it was a severed hand for gods sakes.
And so the extravaganza of stupidity begins! Everything from the marines
splitting up, to running off to the toilets to surreptitiously betray
the others in a dark and gloomy toilet cubicle
Do the marines
actually employ the most stupid people that society has to offer? (well
at least that parts realistic).
And thats not even the worst of it! While examining the remains
of the aliens that used to live on mars and spouting truly awful expository
dialogue, the sympathetic marine with a backstory discovers that the
aliens were humans who had an extra pair of chromosomes that gave them
super-powers, rather than
After that cavalcade of awfulness, things get even worse and the only
surviving marines are the one with the backstory and the Rock
Who has just gone a bit insane and started killing absolutely anyone
in the facility in order to contain the outbreak of infectious monsters
and shot all of his remaining teammates. The good marine wakes up and
we are treated to the only attempt at originality in the entire film!
Its done in first person.
In a loving homage to its gaming roots, the film has an entire scene
filmed in the style of a first person shooter, with nothing but the
marines arms on display and his gun pointing out at whatever horrible
creature is around the corner
As good and quirky this idea is;
its still not perfect. The games work with this viewpoint because
the player is in control, when you watch it on a big screen as a movie,
it either gives you motion sickness or looks tame and boring. In a real
game the camera tends to move around really quickly, checking every
corner, every hidey hole, every angle in order for the player to remain
aware of their surroundings, which can get really confusing if youre
not the one holding the mouse (or control stick if youre silly
enough to play an FPS on a console.) Causing what we like to call Blair
Witch syndrome. In order to avoid this, the camera moved very little,
this coupled with the fact that there was only one camera angle actually
destroyed any tension the scene would have had and left me glad to actually
see the characters face again.
If we have leaned anything from this first movie, it is that sometimes
what made the game good will not translate over to the big screen. And
that the shortcomings of a game that people tolerated in the original
may become painfully apparent when it is adapted to the big screen
You may notice this trend as I go on!
Directed by Steven E. de Souza
Distributed by Universal Pictures (USA) and Columbia Pictures (Everywhere
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Just as Doom was instrumental in creating the FPS genre as we know it,
Street Fighter was instrumental in creating the one-on-one fighting
game as we know it. The game gave you a range of varied and quirky characters
and simply placed him, her or it into an arena with an opponent to beat
the tar out of. It wasnt perfect, some of the characters were
wildly overpowered, some of the moves allowed certain characters to
simply mash the buttons to beat their adversary and the only story the
game had was a short paragraph for each character in the games manual
(and nobody ever reads those! The only reason I read through mine was
when I was trying to work out how to perform Ryus Ansatsuken move
when I had dug the SNES out of the dusty corner of my room a couple
of years ago!) So how on earth could they expect to create a movie based
on something that doesnt even have a proper story? By making a
story as execrable as is humanly possible so nobody could possibly even
think of trying to follow it should not come to mind first.
Well, after several shots of tequila to prepare I sat down and set the
DVD to play
And now I know how Vietnam vets feel! You werent
there man! You havent seen it.
The story tries to follow every single character, but if there was a
protagonist, it would have to be Guile, played by Jean Claude Van-Damme.
Yeah, the dude with the blonde Mohawk and the American flag tattooed
on his shoulder is being played by the Belgian guy who isnt even
trying to hide his accent
thinking of which, where the hell is
that Mohawk? Or his signature Sonic Boom special move?
These were just a number of the pointless omissions in this movie. And
while Ive always been in favour of removing extraneous elements
of stories in order to further the plot, I finally realised that there
was a point at which that stopped being a good thing. Namely when the
omissions dont actually help the plot or the movie in any way
This movie actually tried to take itself seriously! Do you honestly
think you can actually have a proper action movie about an Indian guy
who can stretch his arms and legs, a green man monster thing who can
electrocute people and a Hawaiian sumo wrestler? (Dont even get
me started on that last one!) They tried to tone down the first two
examples, but that still doesnt help.
What resulted more resembled a hastily written fanfic written by a nine-year-old
in his lunch break! The fact they cast Kylie Minogue as one of the main
characters only further confirmed that fact.
This movie tried to fit absolutely everyone in. This made the movie
feel cluttered and disjointed; especially when they had to change entire
characters in order to shoe-horn them into the film! Dahlsim for instance,
is an Indian guy who can extend his arms and legs to attack his opponents
from a distance and belch fire with the power of Yoga. He is now a scientist
reluctantly working for the villain of the movie. The viewer is treated
to a solid minute of screen time in which he even looks like his videogame
counterpart because his hair has all been burned off and he doesnt
have a shirt on
This doesnt help the film, and simply made
people like me get up and scream "What the hell! Seriously! Dude!"
before unleashing a tirade of obscenity that could burst eardrums and
tarnish silver, were a rather eloquent bunch when we are angered
This was a movie from the early nineties school of movie adaptations,
where the screenwriters treated the original source material as merely
a series of mild suggestions at best, and a urinal at worst. They created
their own movie, shunted approximations of the characters in and then
included a few in-jokes about the source material, such as Ryu using
a move that would look a little similar to his trademark Hadoken special
move if you removed the impressive blue fireball
As I say, these
do not make the fans of the original feel like they are appreciated,
it makes them realise that whoever made this movie was simply cashing
in on the games original popularity. And thankfully, that practice is
frowned upon a little more nowadays.
If they had followed the game a little closer, actually made the characters
resemble the hilarious caricatures they were, the movie would have been
about them joining a fighting tournament with the villain M. Bison as
the reigning champion, every one of the entrants has his or her reasons
for joining the conflict, and the whole thing would end when several
of the more sympathetic characters realise they dont have to fight
amongst themselves and team up in order to thwart the villains schemes
which involve cheating their way to the top of the competition behind
Why couldnt they have done a movie like that?
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
Distributed by New-Line Cinema
Starring Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby and Bridgette
Just as Street Fighter was instrumental in creating the one-on-one fighting
game as we know it. Mortal Kombat expanded upon the idea by adding gore
and violence to the genre. This sounds pretty much perfect for a movie
adaptation, make a martial arts movie with the occasional flamboyantly
Sounds simple right?
WRONG! The problem with gore in movies and videogames is that in videogames
it looks fake, whereas movies have always strived for realism; somehow
I dont think they would allow a movie to show Johnny Cage get
his arms ripped off and then get thrown into a wall of spikes
The grainy sprites from the games gave the horrific violence a comical
feel, if they tried to replicate it on the silver screen it would probably
end up with something resembling Saw, except if Saw was actually entertaining
okay, maybe it would have rivalled Citizen Kane and Casablanca as the
worlds greatest movie, but only with an 18 certificate, and that would
cut off almost everyone who enjoyed the original game. The unfortunate
thing about gamers is that only twelve year olds actually find buckets
of blood and the ability to rip someones heart out fun.
The story follows Liu Kang a Chinese martial artist, Sonya, a Special
forces policewoman (or something) and Johnny Cage, an actor who does
his own stunts. All three of these guys are called upon by Raiden, a
god of lightning to fight in the tournament of Mortal Kombat
With the fate of the world at stake, will this band of misfits triumph
over evil? Well, yeah of course they will, but you already know that.
Most of the movie follows the events of the tournament itself after
a quick introduction of all the characters and how they were all manipulated
by Raiden and the villain into boarding a mysterious and rickety looking
sailboat to whatever alternate dimension holds the tourney
Obviously none of the protagonists ever watched those educational programs
about how you shouldnt get in a strangers van. It may not be a
van theyre getting in this time, but the only real difference
here is between rape
and gang rape before being thrown overboard.
Maybe Sonya learned the secret art of the dentata in police training
or something. Either way, theyre now in a strange land filled
almost entirely by ominous looking mountains and fire
were greeted to a very familiar and welcome sight
The villain shows Sub-Zero off to the characters by having him fight
one of the villains minions, who spends a full thirty seconds showing
how strong and powerful he is by punching and kicking the air randomly.
Have any of you noticed that in any movie, the amount of time a disposable
character spends showing off is inversely proportional to his life expectancy.
This theory shows its true colours when the henchman decides to leap
in a flying kick at Sub-Zero
who casually freezes him in mid air
so he shatters on the ground in front of him. Awesomeness prevails,
antagonists are portrayed, and Ive taken a shot for another cliché.
Unlike the massive turd Street Fighter was, Mortal Kombat realised that
if they just made an approximation of the games formula and simply gave
the gamers exactly what they wanted, to see their favourite characters
fighting each other on the big screen, they would be happy. The film
itself is awful, but in a way that was still fun to watch
know if you understand exactly what I mean
But I enjoyed this
movie, the acting was pretty bad, the script is wooden and trite, and
the special effects really havent aged well
But that theme
tune man, that theme tune.
Somehow when those techno chords ring out with the announcer screaming
MOOOORTAL KOMBAAAAAT! You cant help but love this film. It knows
its based on a videogame, and is not ashamed of it. The fact the
movie opens with it, and the tune comes back several times throughout
the film, I found myself becoming excited, I felt like I was ten years
old all over again. The gleeful anarchy just worked so well
was a bad movie, but it wasnt trying to be anything else, it knew
what it had to do, and it decided to do it really, really well
I cant believe Im actually saying nice things about a videogame
movie. But it does show something about the conversion process. Compared
to Street Fighter, this film looks like Citizen Kane! However, when
comparing the two games, Street Fighter has always been, and always
will be, ball crushingly better than Mortal Kombat. The latter simply
gaining notoriety for the pixelated blood and the fatalities. When youre
twelve years old you dont care about character balance or difficulty
curves when you can send squares of red flying from your enemies with
every blow, and then watch a glitchy animation of Kano tearing a slightly
bigger, pulsing square of red from the enemys chest at the end
of the bout.
It just goes to show, while what makes a game great cant always
help the movie. Interesting characters, well developed plotlines and
cool plot twists arent always needed for a game to become popular,
the likes of Tetris, the Mario franchise and Pong for example. This
movie simply took what would convert over, martial arts, magic powers
and cool hats, and ran with it.
So all that remains is that we all link hands and sing along
da da da da da Dunn dunn dunn MOOOORTAAAAAALLL KOMBAAAAAAT!
Directed by Corey Yuen
Starring Jaime Presley, Devon Aoki and Holly Velance
I have never owned a Dead or Alive game
I take pride in that.
For those of you not familiar with your VG pop culture, the first Dead
or Alive game introduced the concept of "Jiggle Physics" to
And were not talking about the characters car
The game itself is another one-on-one brawler, just like the last two
reviews. Why these games are so popular when there are so many perfectly
good story based games out there I have no idea. But as beat-em-ups
go, just as Street fighter achieved fame through balanced and nuanced
gameplay, and Mortal Kombat through Gore and guts, Dead or Alive did
it through titties.
Gameplay wise, Dead or Alive is nothing more than a button masher ,
but unlike Street Fighter which had a token Female character in the
form of Chun-Li, The majority of Dead Or Alives characters are
girls, and all of them have at least DD breasts, and not a single one
of them even thinks of wearing a sports bra
Give me a few minutes
while I resist the urge to make a joke about gamers specialising in
playing the game with one hand
Now, by no means, Dead Or Alive is not the only game to have jiggle
physics. Some of my favourite games of all time, Soul Calibur 2 and
Ninja Gaiden, have exactly the same. And there are many games out there
that strive for realism, even anatomically. But it really says something
when the newest incarnations of the game dispense with all the male
characters entirely, and the genre changes from Beat-em-up to BEACH
BLOODY VOLLEYBALL!!! And that the head designer, the man behind the
entire concept, has faced criminal charges for sexual harassment at
work. These games are insipid, they exemplify every negative stereotype
gamers have, and they dont even make up for it by being any good.
So guess how much I wanted to watch this movie?
After weeks of masterfully crafted procrastination, I finally managed
to steel myself and pluck up enough courage to actually allow the DVD
into my computer
I feel a retraction is in order, I described the games as insipid, but
the movie adaptation is better than that, its merely bad! As I
watched this movie, I played a drinking game with my cheap Co-Op brand
Rosé wine, every time there was a plot hole, a special effects
failure, a blatant story cliché or anything just plain retarded
that happened I took a shot of the stuff. I shall tally my results throughout
The story goes as follows
Princess Kasumi of some Japanese ninja
tribe (Who all speak English for some reason) leaves the settlement
in order to find her brother, Hayate
However, in doing so she
will become an outcast to her people, a Shinobi. <Scene result: Two
shots, one for the outcast plot device, another for the
mistranslation of the word Shinobi (It actually means High level
Ninja). I spared myself two more for the fact the idea of an entire
clan of ninja is really stupid and the terrible fight scene in order
to pace myself>.
We are next introduced to Christie, an ex-wrestler who fights off a
band of pirates from her private yacht. And Holly Valance (I think her
characters name was Tina, I had already stopped paying attention at
this point.) Who fights off three members of Interpol while carefully
hiding her breasts from the camera. <Two shots, one for the hilariously
contrived nature of the fight scene, and another for the annoyingly
bad CGI on the towel that had to magically cover her shame>.
Are you noticing a trend here? It keeps going for most of the movie.
The three girls are each visited by some kind of magic Shuriken which
manages to impale some random inanimate object without hitting any of
the contestants. <one shot for each appearance, and anther each time
for the fact I was already wishing whoever threw them would just aim
for their face.
The shuriken has an invitation to the "Dead or Alive" tournament
held on some millionaires private island
All the contestants
must board a plane and then fight each other in an orderly fashion in
order to win
However, in a twist nobody could ever see coming,
it turns out the millionaire has been using magical technology to gain
all the contestants power and skill in combat
If youve noticed that the whole previous paragraph is almost exactly
the same as the plot of Mortal Kombat, you would be totally right. At
this point I just stopped keeping track of the shots and just started
chugging from the bottle
But no amount of alcohol could wash this
Just as the original games were a rip-off of Street Fighter, this movie
was a rip-off of Mortal Kombat. And just as Mortal Kombats movie
adaptation watered down its over the top Gore, this movie managed to
somehow water down its over the top soft-core pornography nature.
And despite all its attempts to emulate it, Dead or Alive forgot one
very important element, Mortal Kombat at least managed to be entertaining.
This was a movie that tried to show off the actresses assets every step
of the way, every scene was an attempt to show some leg, arse, or as
much cleavage as the 15 rating would allow
However, even in my
adolescent, slightly-drunken-at-this-point state, I failed to find a
single scene even the slightest bit libidinous throughout the entire
movie. I kid you not. This movie is anti-porn. It was a celluloid cold
shower! A movie that fails to achieve its goal of juvenile titillation
with a scantily clad Holly Valance, Devon Aoki and Jaime Pressly in
the main cast must have been doing its very, very best effort to fail.
Maybe it was the terrible Wire-Fu, the unspeakably bad dialogue, or
the woefully bad choreography in the fight scenes that did it. Whatever
it was, it failed
at everything it tried to do,
the fight scenes failed to excite, the ladies failed to excite, the
story failed to excite
I guess that means theyre being true
to the source material at least.
This film was pornography without the nudity, and an action movie without
the action. It wasnt unspeakably, bad in a way that you can poke
fun at, like Street Fighter. It was simply a steaming pile of mediocrity
that failed to excel in any way possible. Not good enough to enjoy,
not bad enough to laugh at. If the girls had simply got their kit off
every now and again I might have tolerated it, as it was, I hope the
games follow this turd into the fiery pit of anonymity.
Directed by Paul Anderson
Starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius and James Purefoy
Finally. A game that isnt a beat-em-up! Finally, a game that actually
had a coherent story, one that only followed two characters. This means
the movies going to be good right?
The original game kick-started the "Survival Horror" genre,
and pioneered the now obsolete use of pre-rendered scenery in order
to create more detailed graphics and sound than had ever been done before.
This created one of the most tense and dramatic games for its time.
If you had read the footnote right there, you would have seen that the
technology at the time had its limitations. Resident Evil took the gaming
community be storm by taking those limitations and using them to its
advantage. The pre-rendered backgrounds meant you couldnt change
your view, so if you couldnt see round a corner, you had no choice
but to edge up to it slowly and hope nothing was hiding round there
This coupled with the lack of analogue control sticks meant that controlling
your character felt a lot like driving a cheap RC car. Up made them
creep forward, down made them move backward, left or right made them
turn round. If a zombie jumped out
at you from the side you had to either slowly turn away from them to
run away, or slowly turn towards them so you could use the five or six
bullets you were given to fight them off.
Needless to say, Im not sure it would have made the movie any
better either. The movie starts with a load of exposition about your
typical evil corporation who, for some reason, have a massive underground
lab for biological weapons
As per horror protocol, one of the
fancy test tubes gets broken by a shady character who will be revealed
in a shocking twist later (Heres a hint, its
always the love interest). In response to this, the A.I. system that
controls the place starts killing everyone in a bid to contain the virus.
Now bear with me, this may seem pedantic, but if your corporation deals
with things like the T-virus, which turns people into shambling corpses
animated by nothing but the desire to eat the flesh of the living, then
maybe you would do well to invest in plastic test tubes instead of glass
ones that tend to shatter so dramatically
Or in the very least
NOT HAVE THE LABORATORY WITH THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS IN IT BE CONNECTED
TO THE SAME AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM AS THE OFFICES. Who have they been
hiring for Gods sake?
You will probably also have noticed that this film has almost nothing
to do with the original game apart from references to Umbrella Corp,
Racoon city and the Zombies. Which I will admit is no bad thing. Having
to spend five minutes watching the main character run around trying
to find the piece of the statue to open the door to the next room would
probably make your eyes bleed.
Anyway, we soon meet the protagonist of the film, who apparently was
an employee of Umbrella Corp who has lost her memory; she accompanies
a SWAT team down into the evil laboratories in order to shut the evil
computer down. This all goes to shit when almost all of the SWAT members
are killed by what I can only describe as a "Magic laser hallway
of doom." You know the drill, lock your prey inside a hallway,
and have lasers run down it
Every government facility has one
Anyway, they manage to reboot the evil computer, and manage to shut
down all the machines that held all manner of horrible creatures (Maybe
they were being run off of the same extension chord or something
Either way, its not long before they meet their first zombie.
Why oh why cant we have a movie where the characters have actually
played one of these games? The method is simple, if they are acting
weird, you stay away from them, if they dont answer in any human
way, shoot them once in the head. Its not hard! And for Christs
sakes why is it that if someone says "one step closer and Ill
shoot" they always mean "Heres your chance to get within
biting distance of me before I even think about doing anything!"
God I hate horror movie characters.
So now, all because of their own stupidity, they have to fight their
way out. And after many more encounters with zombies and bad special
effects. They escape and are greeted by a government cover up and sequel
hook. Oh, and you get a glimpse of Milla Jovovichs Vagoo for good
Maybe its because Ive played so many games where I have
calmly and methodically mown my way through thousands of shambling corpses
From Timesplitters to Half-Life. But this always annoys me in every
movie Ive seen. And the fact that this is a movie made to attract
people who have played these videogames just makes this unacceptable.
If you see someone acting in a feral manner, you shoot them in the head.
How many times do I have to say it. If it turns out they didnt
have the living dead lurgy, then they had to have something to make
them want to bite people didnt they?
There is no way to take this kind of movie seriously, after Shaun of
the dead was released, zombie hordes seemed to lose their seriousness.
Even the Resident Evil franchise itself decided to dispense with them
entirely when they reached number 4.
Directed by Simon West
Starring Angelina Jolie.
The libido of the gamer is an interesting thing. Feminists quite rightly
dont like the fact that women are constantly portrayed as nothing
but objects of desire, inert creatures that exist to do nothing but
support a pair of tits for us boys to look at
This form of thinking
is what we call "FHM syndrome". However, when you look at
the likes of Lara Croft, you know what most boys are thinking about,
but if you tried to oggle this girls tits she would probably snap
you in twain.
What is it exactly with the warrior woman we geeks like so much I have
no idea? Your average football watching lad will have a poster of a
pin up girl in a French maids outfit, while your average geek will have
a girl in a conveniently torn up spacesuit and a ray gun in her hand.
Seriously, we have such an obsession with girls that could kick our
ass. Samus Aran, Lara Croft, Alyx Vance, Joanna Dark, Wonder Woman.
No wonder Tomb Raider became so popular!
Tomb Raider was one of the first games to attempt to sell itself through
sex appeal. The graphics of the 32-bit era werent very good at
giving our dear Lara anything other than cube shaped breasts and polygonal
thighs, yet somehow the seed was planted and thousands of early teenagers
were given their equivalent of an Amazon goddess to worship. The first
true matriarchal society, but with a fictional character
The gameplay was mediocre at best, fiddly platforming sections combined
with awkward shooting mechanics did little to stem the tide of thirteen
year olds with holes in their pockets. Theres not really much
more to say about the game
Go to Google and do an image-search
for Lara Croft to see why it became so popular.
The movie on the other hand, was surprisingly not that bad. Apart from
one shower scene and a couple of wet T-shirts there was nowhere near
as much fanservice as Dead Or Alive. And the movie itself was much more
If you wanted a basic summary of Tomb Raider, Id suggest "Indiana
Jones with Boobies". The fact Harrison ford didnt want to
play Lara for some reason still baffles me
Lara Croft (Played
by Angelina Jolie no less), is an eccentric millionaire archaeologist
who after an extended fight scene in a tomb (who would have guessed)
with what turns out to be nothing more than a robot with a jukebox in
its chest (Im not joking!) in some kind of training game Lara
has set up herself in her mansion, she finds a valuable artefact in
her mansion left by her father. The artefact turns out to be the first
clue to finding the ancient secret of time travel
And Lara finds
herself embroiled in an ancient Illuminati conspiracy to take over the
world, Yeah. In all fairness, if you expected gold youre not really
reading the right article, but in all fairness, its a lot better
than some of the drivel weve seen so far. Oh, and Lara gets to
see a pre-bond Daniel Craig stark bollock naked...
Theres really not much else to say. I was surprised by how little
skin Ms Jolie bared for this part, considering how much is demanded
as such by the fans. And the attempt at a genuine story is almost adorable,
like watching a child dress up in their mums high heels.
Tomb raider gave you a tomb, and then you raided it
to look at her tits as much as possible. In that respect, this movie
was pretty damned faithful. The sad fact is that rarely does a game
with a genuinely good story become profitable enough to warrant a movie
adaptation. Hence our almost criminal lack of the Eternal Darkness or
Grim fandango movies.
Fighter: The animated movie.
Directed by Gisaburo Sugii
Distributed by Toei
When my trusted and valuable audience read my previous article about
Street Fighter, the first question they always asked was if I had seen
the animated movie as well
this coupled with the fact I had received
a copy of the newest remake of the Street Fighter 2 game, I decided
to take the risk that this might be awful in the hope that I would uncover
a hidden gem. A genuinely good movie that had simply been lost in obscurity
due to a terrible live-action iteration and the insipid subjugation
of animation in western audiences
I was wrong. The movie was terrible. A boy can dream, but as Neil Gaiman
once said, dream in one hand, shit in the other, guess which one
fills up first!
What little story there is follows Ryu, who for some reason is now treated
as in control of the almighty Hadoken. An ability that makes him almost
unstoppable as an adversary, and one of the greatest fighters in the
Thats funny, I dont quite remember it that way
Down, Diagonal, Forward and then one of the punch buttons
not that hard to pull off. And it only did a little more damage than
a kick or two. Am I being pedantic? Maybe. But it was a sign of things
Especially between him and Ken.
A little more background is in order. The original Street Fighter 2
(dont ask where Street Fighter 1 went
Trust me.) predated
the concept of multiple costumes or colourings which allow two players
to be the same character. If you both wanted to be Zanghief, the massive
soviet warrior, tough luck, two players favour Chun-Li with her kick-spam
attack, too bad. But if one of you wanted to be Ryu, then you could
be Ken instead. He was exactly the same character, except he had a red
Gi and long blonde hair. They both fought in exactly the same way and
had exactly the same attacks
Neither the game nor the instruction manual said anything about them
wanting to stuff each other like Christmas turkeys.
The movies nebulous story follows all the other characters from
the game trying to find Ryu because hes really awesome for some
Including Ken, who seems to have some seriously homoerotic
implications as the flashbacks to their training together in Japan become
more and more intimate. Theres nothing wrong with Homosexuality
But if Im not mistaken, isnt Zanghief supposed to be the
The real problem with this movie was the fault of both Capcom and the
fans. The fans for demanding that every single character be included,
and that each fight they are involved in include at least one of their
iconic special moves
Its a sorry day that we see a street
fighter movie without a Hadoken or two
But who the fuck is Cammy?
And more importantly, who cares! This resulted in at least five scenes
in the movie that I would happily cut for the sake of pacing.
There are two animated movies, unless someone tells me the second somehow
manages to turn water into wine before heralding the second coming of
Christ, Im not interested
The only good movie about the
Street Fighter games was made by a bunch of nerds on the internet
Search for Street Fighter: The later years. You wont be disappointed,
unlike these other two abortions of movies!
You know what? Screw it! Im going to review it anyway!
Fighter: The later years.
Distributed across the internet by Collegehumour.com
"After a while the royalty cheques just stopped coming. I took
up this shitty job, every once in a while I pull out the old SNES, and
I beat the shit out of myself. It makes me feel better somehow."
This entry differs from all the others due to the fact that this isnt
a professional movie; it was made by a bunch of film students and released
on CollegeHumour.com in 2007. This just adds insult to injury for Capcom
when I found out just how much this movie beat the shit out of any of
the other efforts!
The story opens with a washed-up and down-on-his-luck Zanghief losing
his job as a caretaker at an arcade when a couple of gamers inadvertently
pointed out how useless a character he was (In all fairness... He was)
and finding Dhalsim who has taken up cab-driving to make some extra
They both decide that they should go back to the old ways
by rounding up all the other characters and starting a new tournament
with the help of a now wheelchair-bound M. Bison.
You may notice that this movie makes these guys all look a bit pathetic,
and you would be right. And in doing so, this movie became so much more
charming. This thirty minute show wasnt made by a bunch of suits
in an office somewhere trying desperately to sell more copies of the
game to us. It was made by a bunch of nerds like us who deeply loved
the games in their youth and decided to mock it for the amusement of
everyone. There is no way in hell Capcom would have sanctioned Vega
calling Blanka a "F**king electric Oompa-Loompa" or Guile
being a foul-mouthed Brooklyn hot-dog vendor who occasionally shouted
"Sonic-F**kin-BOOM!" in his fights. And most importantly,
Capcom are portrayed as the villains, milking the characters and their
franchise for money mercilessly in an evil corporate slave trade
Which is pretty much exactly what they do (The games were released in
1990, in almost twenty years theyve only pulled their trousers
up long enough to make two proper sequels. but NINE rehashes of Street
Fighter 2 have been released to the growing boredom of the general populace.)
This movie was made on a shoe-string, and in some places it shows. Vegas
mask is a cheap paper one, and he has a Freddie-Kreuger glove instead
of his wolverine claws from the game. But in some ways, that made me
like the movie even more, when something was out-of place or inaccurate
you could usually tell it was because they couldnt afford it,
or because it would be funnier. And because they were actually funny
you just laughed and waited for their next joke. Maybe its because
its made as a cheap fan-effort rather than a marketing ploy, but
this movie has been the best adaptation I have seen so far, and you
can feel the love the creators and actors had for the source material.
And there is something about the fact that they are the plucky underdogs
poorly trying to laugh off the fact that theyre scared shitless
that Capcom was going to pull a copyright infringement lawsuit on them.
I couldnt help but root for them.
Directed by Xavier Gens
Starring Tim Olyphant
Thank the Lord and all his wacky children! A game with a good story
and good gameplay gets the movie treatment! This ones going to
be good right? Right? Oh who am I kidding? Its going to be another
horrible concoction designed to rape all the memories of my childhood!
Wait a minute
This isnt actually that bad.
The original games revolutionised the concept of stealth in videogames.
All games beforehand like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell relied on
you skulking in the shadows, silently moving outside the guards field
The Hitman games shat on this concept by relying on
you putting sedatives in a guards tea while hes not looking,
stealing his uniform once hes out cold and then walking in as
if you owned the place.
The imaginativeness of some of the levels and the fact you could tackle
any level in countless different ways from silent sneaking, brazen and
bold fraud or just plain shooting your way to the target made the games
What made it a classic was the story. You were Agent
47, a genetically engineered super-soldier working for "the Agency",
a shadowy group who just gave you your missions and paid you afterwards.
You learn about 47s origins in the first game, and try to atone
for them in the second. Only taking jobs in order to pay for assistance
in finding and rescuing the kindly priest that took him in when he turned
to god in repentance for all the lives he has taken. In Hitman: Contracts,
we are guided though 47s mind as he undergoes hallucinations while
bleeding to death from multiple gunshot wounds. The plots behind the
games have never been less than excellent.
The slower, more contemplative nature of the gameplay was perfect for
a slower, more contemplative movie about a man who has been bred to
kill, even if he doesnt particularly want to do it. And while
it wasnt perfect, the movie at least made a bit of an effort to
try to deliver that aspect.
If youve played the games before, the first thing youll
notice is that theyve dropped the cloning aspect of the assassin
training program that created 47, and if you havent, well
you wont. Okay, I can deal with that. Our friend 47 is sent out
to assassinate the president of Russia, after a perfect run that in
the games would have earned him a "Silent Assassin" rating
and unlocked a secret weapon (probably Silenced handguns, its
always them on the first level.) He is informed that a young woman saw
him and that he will have to kill her as well. 47 finds her in the street,
and, not recognising her at all, decides its not worth killing
Everything goes to pot for our numerical protagonist when
the media proclaims that the president pulled through and that is still
alive and well despite 47 practically blowing his head clean off when
he shot him. Suddenly 47 finds himself being hunted by the likes of
Interpol, the Russian Government and his own agency. On the run with
nobody to turn to, 47 ends up working together with the girl he was
supposed to kill.
Mildly formulaic I will admit, but I at least had a little fun watching
the head games unfold on all sides. As crime capers go, this one tried
to be intelligent, compelling and satisfying to watch. It wasnt
perfect, it was still a mildly pungent movie. But you cant say
they didnt try.
This movie seems to thrive on the idea of taking two steps forward before
stumbling one step back. For every scene where 47 outwits his opponents
or shows genuine finesse, there is a scene where we find out he hides
a couple of swords under his jacket. I could point out things like the
fact that they would show up on metal detectors or would be visible
even to the human eye. But that wouldnt portray the sheer stupidity
of these scenes in any way that does them justice. Thankfully these
scenes are in the minority, so this movie manages to come out in a good,
albeit tarnished light.
It may not be perfect, but its definitely a step in the right
direction, and hey. It could be have been a lot worse! At least they
didnt try to make it a PG rating.
Fantasy: The spirits within
Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi
Starring Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin and Ving Rhames.
Before I had the disposable income to afford more than one games console,
I used to have Nintendo consoles pretty much exclusively. This is the
reason why I have never played any of the Final Fantasy games. But its
up there on the list of things to do before I die between car-jacking
the pope-mobile and fist-fighting a bear.
The Final Fantasy games debuted in the 8-bit era on the NES, and it
paved the way forward for the RPG Genre. Almost all Japanese RPGs
are at least in part inspired by this series of games.
It wasnt until Final Fantasy 7 rolled out on the Playstation that
the series really took off. The deep and involved storyline combined
with the cutting edge FMV cutscenes and the gameplay that felt more
like heroin than electronics soon sent young gamers into an apoplectic
fervour over the games. So, they must be rather good I guess.
The film on the other hand
Theres a reason movies made in CGI tend to be overly stylised
and cartoony looking nowadays. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within taught
the film industry exactly why, in one of the industries most expensive
lessons since Waterworld.
Its called the uncanny valley. The theory goes that the more lifelike
something is, the more a person likes it
until the thing is almost,
but not quite perfect, when it looks okay, but theres something
not quite right about it
It puts you on edge because our fear
reflex assumes its some kind of predator out to trick us or something.
If you spend the entire duration of the movie assuming the main character
is going to unzip her face and reveal the mandibles underneath before
leaping out of the cinema screen and biting your nipples off
youre not exactly going to recommend it to your friends now are
The first thing I felt when I started watching this movie was an immense
feeling of sadness, sadness for the people that had to spend so many
hours of their lives working on animating the protagonists hair, sadness
for the writers who obviously had some kind of crippling mental deficiency,
but sadness most of all for the poor sods who actually paid money to
see this in the cinemas.
The Final Fantasy games have always confused newcomers to the franchise
by not actually being pure fantasy. Theyve usually been some kind
of horrible chimera of steam-punk or science fiction with fantasy elements.
For some totally inconceivable reason, they decided to totally remove
the fantasy part of the story from the movie. Making another bland science
Call me mental, but isnt it a bit silly to
remove the fantasy from "Final Fantasy", its like removing
the jam from a jam sandwich
And just like the resulting two slices
of bread, this movie was bland, boring and incredibly hard to swallow.
The story goes that for some reason, alien ghosts landed on earth on
an asteroid and have started worrying the human populace, driving the
remaining survivors into cities with force fields around them to keep
the phantoms out. The main character, Dr Aki Ross has been
infected by one of these ghosts and is going around looking for specimens
or the Eight Spirits in order to cure herself. Shes
found six already and the movie is the race against time to find them
and save Gaia, the planets soul
Yes, the planet now has
a soul. Most of the characters in the story are as surprised as we are.
But since the camera is focusing on Ross and her mentor who believe
this load of balls, it means they are obviously right and we have to
side with them over General Hein the dude in the awesome leather jacket
and control over a satellite based artillery platform
sorry mister Sakaguchi, you say hes supposed to be the bad guy?
Well I beg to differ! You see, in your effort to give him character
development whilst making the main characters as obnoxious as possible,
you made me root for him every step of the way.
But I digress. General Hein (or Mister Awesome Coat as I call him),
demands that the council give him permission to shoot the alien nest
with lasers until they are all dead. Ross suggests creating a magical
"kill all monsters" spell by collecting the last two plot
devices and swilling them together in her chest cavity where her alien
infection resides. The fact that everyone apart from Ross thinks shes
talking absolute bollocks means she has to start going renegade
like in every fucking movie out there!
Joined by a bunch of soldiers led by her former boyfriend, they find
the penultimate plot device and escape
and are betrayed by Mister
Awesome Coat, who has a plan to push the government into allowing him
to use his space laser by shutting down part of the force field around
the city and fighting the aliens off himself
like all plans involving
letting aliens into your home, this doesnt turn out well. After
getting most of the pointlessly forgettable side characters killed,
leaving only Ross, her love interest, and the mentor. The three go to
the nest and start looking for the final plot device
In a shitty scene in which Mister Awesome Coat dies because he tried
to use the space laser too many times
The love interest sacrifices
himself in order to kill all the ghost aliens, who, in a shocking twist
nobody saw coming
were ghosts from another planet
ends, and I assume Im supposed to have learned something about
All I learned was that hippies are twats and
that the world needs more orbital space lasers.
Why they chose to remove the fantasy element I have no idea, why they
made the entire thing in CGI when they could at least have used live
action actors to better effect, and why the whole thing had to be so
terribly written I have absolutely no idea either! There are probably
reasons for each one of my questions
But I dont care what
the answers are! This movie lacked gunblades, and for that it shall
soon be forgotten as just another bad movie based of a good videogame!
Directed by John Moore
Starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis
If I asked you where the term "bullet time" originated, you
would tell me it was from The Matrix right?
The term was coined by Remedy Entertainment when they made Max Payne.
A Film-Noir-esque John Woo style Gun-a-thon (and Im pretty sure
thats a real word now.) that took the games industry by storm.
At first glance, Max Payne is an unremarkable third-person shooter,
but then you click the right mouse button and everything slows down
Unlike the other games in the genre, Max isnt actually particularly
faster or more durable than any of his enemies, your only advantage
against your foes are your ability to aim under less pressure in bullet
time, and the ability to strategise in those precious seconds afforded
to you as they raise their weapons. Plus your ability to leap into the
air while firing your weapon in slow motion enabled you to perfect the
art of running into a hallway, and then diving halfway across just so
you landed behind cover. Mastery of these skills led to a surprisingly
cerebral game that would have made it relatively famous as it is
But I still havent said anything about the presentation.
Collecting evidence had gotten old a few hundred bullets back. I was
already so far past the point-of-no-return I couldn't remember what
it had looked like when I had passed it.
I would have laughed, if I could have remembered how.
The drama in-between levels played out in the form of a narrated comic
book, with each panel appearing as the action happened in the radio-drama
playing in the background. While the first game had typically over-the-top
bad acting (mainly because the voice work was done by the developers
themselves in order to save money) the writing managed to keep you enthralled
all the way through. This only got better in the sequel which put a
greater budget into the storytelling and moved the symbolism from Norse
Mythology to Paradise Lost. For god knows how many years I would quote
"It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven" to the
game rather than John Milton.
The movie took everything that was good about the games
them on a big fire or something. Seriously, where the hell did they
go wrong? It was all there! They didnt have to worry about the
conversion of gameplay to celluloid, the story was RIGHT THERE.
What exactly did the film have in common with the games? The name
Check. Dead Wife and Daughter
Check. Norse Mythological references
Err? Do CGI demon angels count? No, no it damned well doesnt.
The general trend of these movies tends to be taking the supernatural
elements of the games and trying to give them a basing in reality, presumably
in order to avoid confusing the more unimaginative audience members
or something. I can roll with that. So why does this game which has
a story about a cop who slowly goes off the rails and starts a murderous
rampage against the criminal underworld of New York while taking way,
way too many painkillers than is good for him suddenly have to involve
crazy drug-fuelled hallucinations of bat winged, things with burning
embers for eyes. Its not as if I dont think they looked
kinda cool, but they had absolutely no place within the confines of
I can imagine some wizened film executive sitting in his office with
a cheap prostitute under his desk explaining that since this movie was
based of one of those videotron things the kids like playing with nowadays,
then they must put in at least twenty minutes of footage with CGI monsters
in it. Then leaving the exasperated writers to try to make the idea
a little bit less nauseating.
While watching this horrible, horrible film, I paused it about twenty
minutes in, grabbed a pen and made a list of predictions for the end
of the movie. When the film ended I checked the list, every, single,
one of my predictions came true. Not because the story stuck to the
games plot or anything, it was just so infuriatingly formulaic
I almost soiled myself out of sheer boredom.
This movie took something quirky, fun, emotional and profound but with
a sense of humour and turned it into another cop-drama with absolutely
no distinguishing features to set it apart from other boring movies.
Maybe its because I loved the original games? No, Street Fighter
and Hitman hold just as big a place in my heart as Max Payne. This movie
was just plain awful, and not awful in a way you can even laugh at.
Street Fighter was so hilariously abysmal it brought a smile you your
face, Mortal Kombat seemed to be too silly for you to really hate it,
and Hitman tried to actually be like the original game it came from
The first two movies have been remembered, even if its for how
bad they were
Like many other terrible movies in this essay, I
can only hope this one will be forgotten to the depths of time sooner
rather than later.
If you enjoyed the games and want to see what made it good on the big
screen, then go watch The Matrix and Shoot em up in quick succession
and youd have a pretty good idea how this movie should have been!
© Jack Clarkson March 2009
Jack is graduating this year from the University of Portsmouth
Directed by Zack Snyder.
youve read the book, go watch the movie, you owe it to yourself,
and frankly, they deserve the price of admission
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