For decades there was the rock solid presumption that it was impossible to make a good comic book movie. There were periodic attempts and with the notable exception of Superman, they pretty much all managed to fall out of the same hideous mold. Then Spiderman broke the pattern and it’s hard to find a comic book these days that hasn’t been adapted into film.
Video games, Ebert’s lawn notwithstanding, will get over that hump at some point, when filmmakers quit trying to make a movie that acts like a video game (the first person perspective in Doom was just embarrassing for everyone all around) or just don’t take games seriously in the first place. How many directors making comic book movies in the eighties and nineties felt a need to come out and say that they didn’t actually like comic books? Was it just Tim Burton? Because that pisses me off about three directors worth even 20 years later.
The hard part about picking games that could break the mold is in making sure to not just make a list of the games with the best cut-scenes of the last five years. Just because Assassin’s Creed is described as cinematic doesn’t mean that it would actually transition in any meaningful way to cinema. There are also top notch games that would lose much of what made them unique in a transition to film. Mass Effect springs to mind as a game that if filmed would just end up being another in a pile of space operas. It’s sort of like how adapting The Punisher to film never really works because there’s not a terrible amount to distinguish it from the other ten films each year that have the same plot outline.
So here, in no particular order, are the five video games that in the right hands would make the best adaptations to film, along with the mix that would make them work
The Legend of Zelda: The Neverending Story crossed with Stardust
Thief: Blair Witch crossed with Robin Hood
Planescape: Memento crossed with Pan’s Labyrinth
Deus Ex: The Matrix crossed with Children of Men
Fallout: The Road Warrior crossed with Brazil