Thursday, 16 December 2010

Movies, Games and Videos

Heeeeeeeey! What up peeps? Long time no see, huh? Yeah, I had things to do! You're not my mum! Unless you are, in which case: Hi Mummy! Can I have a glass of chocolate milk?

Now, with that out of the way, let me tell you what has been happening in the exciting life of Mr. Kill. I've been working and playing video games and rolling deep with my homies and drinking (chocolate milk for me, and also chocolate milk for my homies).

I've been seduced by World of Warcraft again thanks to Cataclysm which is, sadly, fucking awesome. But more on that at another time.

Did you know that a Warcraft movie is in production, huh? I bet you're as excited about it as I am. Because I'm not. Ha! Videogame movies uniformly don't work, for a myriad of reasons that I'm not going to go into here because a) it's fucking boring and, b) I didn't want to do that much research.

What I would like to do, however, is have a look at some examples of this genre of movie and make snarky comments about them which distracts from the fact I am deeply insecure about my own sense of creativity and position in life. DOES THAT SOUND GOOD? NO? THEN LET'S GO!

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Oh dear. The first major motion picture to be based on a video game, Super Mario Bros. stands as a testament to the enduring ability of videogame movies to be crap. I would have loved to have been at the pitch meeting for that movie.

'So we wanna make a movie based on that videogame, Super Mario Brothers.'
'Super Mario Brothers? Hmmmm, I dunno. How would that work?'
'Well, we looked at all the imagery in the game, and the themes, and the idea that even the most unlikely of people could become a hero...'
'Yeah?'
'And we decided to ignore all that and make it about a race of futuristic human dinosaurs'
'FUCKING FUTURISTIC HUMAN DINOSAURS? Why didn't you say so? Where do I sign?!'

The flaws in this film are too numerous to mention, but I'll point out a few:

A lot of the movie is Dennis Hopper chewing scenery and wondering where his career went. Also, what is with the bleach blonde hair ridges? He looks like Annie Lennox.

There's some form of mechanical boot contraptions, which Bob Hoskins secures from a dinosaur transsexual. They allow him to bounce around for no good reason other than to fit in the 'Look! Mario is jumping like he does in the games' factor.

John Legui...Legoo...John Legozammo plays Luigi. Not that he's a bad actor, as such, it's just that the movie contrives to set up Luigi in a romantic entanglement. Now to be fair, it would have been a trifle odd to see Bob Hoskins putting his tongue in Samantha Mathis' mouth, but I feel the filmmakers overlooked one crucial aspect of the Mario universe, namely: Luigi is a filthy, dirty man and he is kept in a basement and he never gets anything good because he deserves to be treated badly.

Street Fighter (1994)

Oh Street Fighter. Street Fighter, Street Fighter, Street Fighter.

Where to begin? Let's start with the cast. Trying to recreate the roster of characters from the game was always going to be a tough call, but instead of focusing on two or three central characters, the producers opted for an ensemble cast and shoehorned in every character they possibly could. An ensemble cast works beautifully when you have A-list actors involved, but if you look at the cast of Street Fighter, it's like a who's who of who the fuck are you.

Also, Cammy features prominently. Fucking Cammy.

The plot of Street Fighter 2 was genius. A bunch of men and women with abilities bordering on magical fly around the globe, meet in a variety of locations and kick the shit out of each other. Hence the Street part and the Fighter part of the title. Genius in it's simplicity and throrough in its exploration of man's need to travel and punch.

Not so for Street Fighter, the movie. At this stage, I was going to point out some of the crappy elements of the plot, and decided to check out the wikipedia page of the film to refresh my knowledge. After reading the page, it occurs to me that the plot doesn't make a lick of fucking sense. Not one. Seriously.

The film begins in the fictional nation of Shadaloo, where a drug lord turned General named M. Bison (the M is for Marianne) has taken hostage a number of members of the Allied Nations, which in no way bears any resemblance to the United Nations. It's also refreshing to see that career opportunities are plentiful in Shadaloo. If you tire of your chosen job path as a drug lord, you can look to the military for a career.

Now this M. Bison cat is threatening to kill the hostages if the Allied Nations commander, William F. Guile, doesn't secure a $20 billion dollar ransom. Incidentally, the 'F' stands for Fanny. Bison asserts that if the hostages are executed, the world will blame Guile. Two things here: Firstly, M. Bison couldn't have been much of a drug lord if he needs to extort money from the international community. What was he dealing? Aspirin? Secondly, I hate to break it to ya Bison, but if you kill a bunch of hostages, people are probably going to blame YOU for it, not some other bloke.

Meanwhile, Ken and Ryu are fighting some dude and then another dude is a dude who dudes a dude. I can't even try and poke fun at the plot anymore, it's depressing me too much. It just does not...make sense. Seriously, check out the wikipedia page. I could cry.

Also, the fighting in it is shit. Which is a problem when a film called Street Fighter features a poor selection of both streets and fights.

The only saving grace is Raul Julia, who plays M. Bison. He also played Gomez Addams. No doubt he knew that the role and film were trash, but he was too professional to give it anything less than his best shot. Sadly, Street Fighter was Raul Julia's last film. What a note to end on :S

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

This is one of the better ones of the bunch, but it's still not very good. It's like shitting your pants just as you are leaving the house. Sure, the damage and embarrassment are limited, but you've still just shit in your pants.

Lara Croft is played by professional tits-on-a-stick Angelina Jolie, who effects an awkward English accent throughout. That is, of course, whenever her gigantic lips aren't flapping about in the breeze.

The film opens with Lara Croft in some sort of temple, trying to secure a diamond when she is attacked by a big robot. Luckily, Lara manages to rip out the robot's motivational circuits and it gets all depressed and just wants to lie in bed all day. She secures the diamond and it transpires that the whole sequence took place in a specialized training room inside her mansion.

Oh yes, in case you didn't know, Lara Croft is a toff. It would have been much more humourous had this film been called Lara Croft: Toff Raider, and featured Angelina Jolie riding around with a pack of beagles, wondering aloud where one can find a reliable silversmith these days and thoroughly misunderstanding the plight of the working class. But I digress.

The plot is the usual sort of non-offensive adventuring and derring-do (incidentally, what the fuck does 'derring-do' actually mean?) that makes it acceptable family viewing and centers around the usual 'messages from a disappeared father leading our heroine to a variety of exotic locations and implausible action set-pieces' scenario with an ending that's as utterly predictable as it is setting up a sequel. It's also worth pointing out that, until the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (which I won't mention here because I haven't seen it), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was the highest grossing film based on a videogame of all time.

It also features Daniel Craig. You know, James Bond with the wee swimming pants.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

I'm not going to dwell too long on this film. This is a weird one, this is. As much as a 'look at how fucking realistic we can make shit look, bitches' demonstration as it is a film, this movie suffers again from the rambling, incoherent plot disease that infects so many videogame movies. However, in this case it's not unexpected as it's related to JRPG's, which themselves are not known for having the most coherent of plots.

No shitting, but it is pretty. It was on TV again some weeks ago, and even after all this time it looks impressive.

The story features a future Earth which has been overrun by Phantoms, aliens which kill on touch. A scientist called Aki is trying to collect 8 spirit signatures, like some sort of ghostly petitioner, which will rid Earth of these aliens. At its heart, it's the common theme of touchy-feely understanding of spirituality versus man-made violence and destruction. And, unfortunately, the touchy-feely part wins.

Come on, I can't have been the only one who watched Avatar and wanted to see the Na'vi get their asses kicked? That dude with the grey hair and the scars was one cool-ass motherfucker. PEW-PEW! 'Your flying birds are no match for my tactical missiles, budgie boy!' BOOM! 'Your creepy hair tentacles won't protect you from a sniper's bullet, you gangly blue bastard!'


'Ha, ha! Stop crying, you fools! It's just a tree!'

Sigh.


Resident Evil (2002)

Last one on my list. I've seen others but writing about how terrible games are as movies hurts my very soul.

I saw this one in a cinema in Paris with French dialogue and English subtitles. Even watching Milla Hohohovitch running around saying 'Sacre bleu, le zombies!' couldn't really improve it.

The opening sequence, with a whole bunch of office workers being wiped out by a malevolent AI and a grisly sequence in an elevator, is unfair. Unfair because it's pretty awesome, and makes the remainder of the film pants by comparison.

The director Paul W. S. Anderson, who directed the brilliant and terrifying Event Horizon, eschewed any of the subtlety or creeping sense of dread present in the games in favour of a heavy metal soundtrack and guns. Lots of guns.

It features Milla Hohohovitch, also known as MultiPass weirdo from The Fifth Element, as Alice and Michelle Rodriguez as a mean-faced hardass with an indistinct sexual preference. So pretty much Michelle Rodriguez playing herself, then.

If you are familiar with the games, the film involves zombies and other nasties and I won't bore you with the details. All I would say is that the special effects aren't great. The zombies often look like the zombies from Michael Jackson's Thriller video, and there is a scene later on involving a CGI creature called The Licker (which, now I think about it, sounds like a ladies sex toy) and the damn thing looks like it was made on a Commodore 64.

There have been a number of sequels to Resident Evil, which have apparently been much better, but I don't care and you can't make me.

Honourable mention: The Wizard (1989)

This is one of the few films I can think of that, while not based on a specific videogame, features videogames heavily and didn't shit all over a game franchise that I loved.

It features a young boy called Jimmy who has been suffering from an unknown mental condition since the death of his twin sister. Jimmy doesn't really speak, is obsessive and always carries his lunch box. Not because he's a fat fucker, though.

Jimmy's mother and his step-father are very understanding of his needs and put him in an institution.

But luckily his older brother, played by Fred Savage, comes along and busts him out in order to take him to California. Point of interest, I always thought that Savage was a made-up name, it's like being called Mr. Beast. But then I met a guy with the name Savage, so now I know it's real.

They go across country and it transpires that Jimmy is a genius at videogames. Some skank they pick up along the way nicknames him 'The Wizard' (you see?) and suggests entering him into a gaming tournament called Video Armageddon, where he could win $50,000. Don't worry, easily frightened people, the world doesn't actually end, there isn't really an Armageddon.

They also meet a pretty dude who has a 'Power Glove' and makes a lot of fists. The homoerotic subtext is mindblowing.

In the end, Jimmy wins the contest, evades a runaway-child hunter (read: paedo), and stops acting like a retard.

It's a beautiful film. And it's pretty much a 100-minute long ad for Nintendo.

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