Traditionally, video games — no matter how much fun they may be to play — have not made the best movies. Just look at a few of the movies based on popular video games: Super Mario Brothers, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter. Not very impressive, to say the least. But, anyone who’s played a more recent video game will likely see the possibilities inherent in them. Increasingly, video games — once considered merely a means of escapism for pre-teens — are becoming almost cinematic in their scope and plots. Playing a video game nowadays is nearly the equivalent of an interactive film experience. So, naturally, this new crop of game-based films have the potential to be excellent; or at least, to surpass the previously low standards of Mortal Kombat.
Prospective release: June 15, 2001
Director: Simon West
Film Company: Paramount
Based on the popular video game series, the Tomb Raider movie promises to deliver action and over-the-top fight scenes in spades. Those who have played the games will be familar with the series’ increasingly buxom heroine, Lara Croft. And fans should certainly be pleased by the news that their favorite pixellated sex symbol will be played by flesh-and-blood sex symbol Angelina Jolie.
Directed by Simon West (Con Air), Tomb Raider was filmed in such remote and unusual locations as Iceland and Cambodia. It also appears that the adventurous vixen, unlike in the games, will be aided by a small cast of allies. Among them will be technical wizard Bryce (Noah Taylor, Almost Famous) and her father, Lord Croft (played by Jolie’s real-life dad, Jon Voight).
Everyone involved has been tight-lipped so far about the plot for the film, but the main villain will be a character named Powell, played by acclaimed Scottish actor Iain Glen. Based on the explosive trailer, this movie looks like it will deliver high-voltage adventure, cheap thrills, and a sexy star — which is really all that Croft fans want. Perhaps the only disappointment is that Jolie’s semi-famous brother James Voight won’t be playing her love interest in the film.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Propective release: Summer 2001
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Film Company: Columbia Pictures/Square
Another lucrative video game series gets the big-screen treatment, but the adaptation of this popular role-playing game will be in animated form. Since each of the games in this seemingly infinite series has featured an entirely different setting and cast of characters, director/screenwriter Hironobu Sakaguchi (who gamers know as the director of all the FF games) chose to write an original script for the movie.
The movie will take place on Earth in 2065, and reportedly features a complex plot including alien invasions, magic, science fiction technology, space battles, and even religious undertones. Pretty audacious for a CG-animated film based on a video game, but it appears that game manufacturer Square is investing over $140 million dollars into making this project live up to its promise. With some of the most impressive CG effects to date and a cast of voice talents including Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi and Ving Rhames, The Spirits Within should be an epic worthy of its video game forebear.
Prospective release: 2001?
Director: Paul Anderson
Film Company: Constantin Film
A movie based on the most popular “survival horror” game franchise ever might seem like a good idea, right? And it should’ve been child’s play to convert this creepy, high-tension game to a creepy, high-tension big-screen feature. But, believe it or not, the movie is now three years into its pre-production phase, and things are still looking shaky.
After three years, the script has finally been written by Paul Anderson (Mortal Kombat). The new plot, by all accounts, strays pretty far from the game: there are none of the characters from the games, none of the same locations, and very few of the same monsters.
To make things worse, the plot involves an out-of-control supercomputer and a cadre of mad scientists who mutate into zombies. Not promising. the only confirmed cast members so far are model/actress Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) and Girlfight‘s Michelle Rodriguez, though at times wild rumors have flown that such diverse stars as Arnold Schwarzenneger and Jason Patric were being considered for the flick.
Prospective release: none set
Director: Ralph Zondag
Film Company: Artists Production Group
The latest in the trend of future video game-based feature films, the Nightmare Creatures project, is apparently not yet in production, but several key figures have been confirmed for the film. The two games in the Playstation series have focused on the exploits of evil genius Adam Crowley, who unleashes a menagerie of genetically-engineered monsters on London.
There’s no word yet on how closely the film will follow the games, but with Ralph Zondag (Disney’s Dinosaur) on board to direct, it should at least be visually stunning. The script adaptation will be written by Matt Cirulnick, whose credits include the soon-to-be-released Dimension Films projects Total Recall 2.
Archived article by Ed Howard