In 1993, us gamers got our first glimpse at what hollywood thought of us and it was a punch right in the man business. Buena Vista Pictures along with video game giant, Nintendo, released Super Mario Brothers (The Movie). Nintendo had unleashed the video game upon an unsuspecting world almost ten years earlier and it took the world by storm. Countless hours, days and months were given up trying to save Princess Toadstool and the mushroom kingdom from the evil clutches of Bowser and his legions of Koopas and Goombas. The game changed the way we as a planet view recreational options as a whole, gamin now took precedent over playing outside. Hollywood smelled blood, thinking of the huge cash win fall, they launched the Mario Brothers onto the silver screen. It seemed like a no brainer, but there are many a slip twixt a cup and a lip. Widely panned by critics and hated by gamers, the movie bombed. The reasons for it's failure were many and varied. Not the least of which was the many deviations from the game and the movies dark tone.

Hollywood, determined to get something out of the gamers, followed up that fiasco with Double Dragon, based on the side scrolling beat em up. The game introduced co-op play allowing to players to fight side by side as twin brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee. Like Mario and Luigi before them the game was a huge success and the movie a dud. Still undeterred, Hollywood would take another crack at gamers with Street Fighter the Movie. Street Fighter, the game, was the first fighting game produced by the now legendary company, Capcom. It introduced the six button configuration that is now considered standard in games. Hollywood,in an effort to try insure a profit, secured the talent (HAHAHA) of Jean Claude Van Damme. The muscles from Brussels couldn't help Street Fighter and it sank faster than the titanic. The real tragedy of Street Fighter was not the poor execution but the fact that it was Raul Julias last film before he died.

Never ones to be deterred, Hollywood decided to give it one more shot. This time it took the hugely popular fighting game Mortal Kombat for a spin. Mortal Kombat, the game, was brought about as an answer to the Street Fighter franchise. MK used digitized actors and loads of graphic violence to create a massive controversy and outcry from parents. The gamers loved it and the game flew off store shelves and gobbled millions in quarters at the arcade. A movie was a given. Starring mostly unknowns and unheard ofs, Cameron Diaz got hurt during production and was replaced, Mortal Kombat was primarily a success. It even garnered a thumbs up from Gene Siskel. The reason for it's success was due to the fact the movie did not deviate from the game, it stayed true and gamers showed their appreciation. A less successful sequel was to follow. That was 1995. In the next five years only one other movie based on a video game would be released, the wholly horrible and indigestible Wing Commander in 1999. For a while, it seemed as if Hollywood had given up. The gamers made their voices heard, they weren't going to put up with the poor adaptations anymore. " Don't give us anything, if you can't make it good." they shouted from their couches.

In 2001, Hollywood listened and Lara Croft was brought to life in Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider the widely popular pc and console game revolved around the main character Lara Croft, an archaeologist and adventurer in search of ancient artifacts. Think Indiana Jones, but with really big boobs. The game was a huge critical and financial success and Hollywood jumped on it. Times and technology had changed since Mario and Luigi and this made the difference between Lady Croft and her predecessors. Games were now more story driven, they had plot lines, dramatic arcs and character development much like a novel. An interactive novel where the hero succeeds or fails based on player actions but a novel non the less. Graphics engines now allowed for shading, smoother edges and more colors making objects and characters seem more real. Gone were the days of stick figures and polygons. The job of bringing the game to life was made easier, moving from film was more like creating a sequel rather than building from scratch. All that needed be done was create a good story and replace animation with live actors. That is exactly what they did. The story was new yet familiar, an extension of the game. The choice to play Lara was almost a given, Hollywood already had a star making a name for herself, Angelina Jolie, who looked uncannily like her curvy game doppelganger. The movie hit theaters on June 15, 2001 and grossed 48.2 million its opening weekend and 300 million over all. A sequel was soon to follow and a genre was born.

In the following years, several games were adapted for the theater. Resident Evil came to life as a moderate success and progressively got worse through two sequels. The first person shooter Doom, crashed and burned despite a pretty neat first person sequence at the end and the star power of wrestler turned actor The Rock. Then there is the mounting crap fest from director Uwe Boll. Uwe has directed and/or produced a total of eight (8) movies based on videogames, one worse than the one before it. So bad in fact, I refuse to mention any here, if you are so inclined feel free to look them up on IMDB.COM and rent away. Just remember, I warned you. Uwe has even gone so far as to challenge his critics to put up or shut up and face him in the boxing ring for ten rounds. That should be an indication for you as to how bad his movies are.

Now, to Max Payne.

A third person shooter, you play as the protagonist Max Payne. The story begins with Max returning home one night to find his house filled with junkies and his wife and newborn daughter murdered. Shortly following the funeral, Max goes undercover for the DEA. Max is then framed for murder and all hell brakes loose as he tries to clear his name and find those responsible for his wife and daughters deaths. The game is very cinematic in its telling and play, borrowing much from the acclaimed Hong Kong director John Woo. The action is almost balletic and beautiful. The story deeply engrossing with its plot twists and character development. It has been there waiting patiently for the screen and Hollywood has finally found it. What they do with it is a different story. The film set to open October 17, stars Mark Wahlberg, Beau Bridges and Mila Kunis. Wahlberg, who I have to admit, has been a hit with me since giving up the Funky Bunch for acting, does look a little like the video game character he portrays and he has the star power to carry the movie, but is that enough ? The script was penned by Beau Thorne, his first and apparently only script. The story is there already, hopefully Thorne just lets it breath alittle. The helm is being taken by John Moore, whose films include two remakes, The Omen and The Flight of the Phoenix both of which so bad anyone who saw them should have their memories erased and the palpable Behind Enemy Lines. Hopefully, Moore can catch the intensity and pace of Behind Enemy Lines again and transfer it and more to Max. From his past efforts, all appearances suggest he is capable of delivering a good film if he has the right material to work with and he should have it here as long as Thorne doesn't get to creative.

Will it work or will it fail ? I don't know. What I do know is that I can not handle one more bad video game movie. In the early days it was almost excusable, there really was no material to go on. Now, with the writing that is put into games, there is no excuse. It should be easy, but then again so should the translation of book to film but that doesn't always work, take The Davinci Code for one. Phenomenal book, horrible movie.

Will Max Payne join Lady Croft at the top or Uwe at the bottom ? I guess we'll find out in October.


  1. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 at 6:09 AM  

    I think it'll be a good movie. Mark Wahlberg is a really good actor and he's one of my favorites right now! I bet he can pull it off... can't wait to see the movie!