Video Games That Should Be Movies and Who Should Direct Them

In the never-ending movie news cycle, adaptations always seem to rise to the surface in popularity and notoriety. It used to be that the hottest properties were book adaptations. Then came the era of comic book adaptations. That was followed by television adaptations before the pendulum came right back to comic book adaptations. In the midst of this fervor for known quantities video game adaptations saw a brief push towards the top. However, most of these adaptations have either sucked or were Uwe Bol movies. Since the tides will once again shift back to video game properties, I made up a list of games that could make great movies... only if they were in hands of a certain talented director. Because we all know that someone like Paul W. S. Anderson gets the gig the movie is destined to suck. With that in mind, here is part one of my list of great games that deserve to be in great hands:

Dead Space - James Wan

Horror games have been the most successful properties adapted into movies and Dead Space is the perfect opportunity to keep that ball rolling. The game is a mix of EVENT HORIZON and ALIEN, but would probably do best in the hands of a director who revels in intense gore. I might consider Ridley Scott for this gig, but he seems more interested in epic movies these days. James Wan seems to have a better grasp on the small and personal scares that made SAW and DEATH SENTENCE so intense. He’d do a great job making one scary undead alien terrifying enough to make audiences piss their collective pants. There are definitely other capable directors out there (Gore Verbinski, Rob Zombie, or Duncan Jones); however, for my money Wan can not only make this movie scary, he’ll also make sure that the characters have enough story to tell to keep the audience engaged.

Brutal Legend - Edgar Wright

If you don’t know of this game then you weren’t missing much in terms of gameplay. From heralded game designer Tim Schaefer, Brutal Legend was a heavy metal strategy game that was poorly executed despite a great story and solid voice-acting. The cast included the talents of Jack Black, Tim Curry, and Rob Halford (all of whom should be brought back). This game really deserves a director that understands video games, comedy, and heavy metal music. Immediately, the director that came to mind was Edgar Wright. Thanks to his fantastic work with SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD I get the sense that he clearly gets video game culture. That is a key component to getting this property right. Not only that but his work with HOT FUZZ shows that he can handle action scenes that require a comedic undertone. Finally, his efforts with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would make him an ideal fit with a talent like Jack Black.

Halo - JJ Abrams

The Halo series has been in development hell for years now. It’s a great property that is being way too micro-managed by its keepers (Microsoft) and would need a big name to wrangle control. Considering that Peter Jackson couldn’t reign this property in (you know, the guy who got Lord of the Rings perfected), it would take a larger than life director to take this on. That’s why on the top of my short list is J. J. Abrams. Not only did he deliver great action shows like Alias and Lost, he directed the surprisingly good Mission: Impossible III as his first feature.

But, that’s even the film that had me convinced that he was the right choice. It was his ability to reboot STAR TREK after decades of poor writing and stupid TV shows that convinced me he is the only guy for the job. Abrams has the skill to handle the action involved and the pedigree to make much needed changes to the property to make it a great movie. Blind adherence to canon was the downfall of many STAR TREK movies and would be the main challenge with making a great Halo film. Abrams is the guy to make sure that Halo is a phenomenal movie made the right way.

Left 4 Dead - John Carpenter and Barry Jenkins

One of the best new game series to arrive on the scene was Left 4 Dead from the Valve Corporation. This co-operative survival horror shooter was designed with movie fans in mind. It borrows heavily from your favorite zombie movies and keeps its length at just around an hour per level. In this situation, I’d like to see two very different directors paired up to bring this project to life. First, I’d recruit John Carpenter to handle the horror and the action sequences. While Carpenter’s filmography hasn’t aged well, his work with the F. E. A. R. games has me convinced that he has some magic to share with the world.

I’ve paired him up with indie director Barry Jenkins because I think that Carpenter might need a hand creating modern and intelligent characters. Left 4 Dead features well-rounded protagonists that don’t speak a lot; but, when they do, act like real people would. While Jenkins only has one credit to his name, his work with the characters in the mumblecore treasure, MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY, would make for a fascinating new dimension to this movie. Obviously, the biggest challenge would be to get these two directors to work collaboratively. However, since this is all in my imagination, I can promise you that everything would work swimmingly.

Mega Man - Brad Bird

Mega Man is a classic franchise that deserves only the best talent. It would need someone skilled with action, as well as a sense of humor. Plus, if the movie was animated, no one could complain about who was cast as Mega or Dr. Wily. That’s why, I would pick director Brad Bird for the job. With his work on the RATATOUILLE, IRON GIANT, and, most of all, THE INCREDIBLES, Bird has shown tremendous skill with animated characters, humor, and action. There is no doubt in my mind that the animation would look tremendous, the story would be entertaining, and the hardcore Mega Man fans would not be disappointed. Plus, I’d bet a dollar that he’d find some way to sneak in Mega Man playing soccer.

Burnout Revenge - Justin Lin

Hands down, the best racing franchise of the last ten years is Burnout Revenge. This arcade style racer blends epic crashes, high speed action, and believably normal locations. The game doesn’t have much of a story. This was immediately why I thought of Justin Lin. Sure, the director is best known for racing movies and this might seem like typecasting. However, with the epic nature of Burnout’s crashes and competition, there is a lot of potential for a guy like Lin who seems to revel in car porn. He might need to consult with Michael Bay on how best to annihilate a car (Lin seems to like speed and agility over destruction). But, at the end of the day, his latest work in the FAST & FURIOUS franchise shows that he wants more than generic action in his car movies.

N+ - Joseph Kosinski

Some of you might be looking at this entry with no idea what in the world N+ is. That’s okay. N+ is an indie game that challenged gamers to aid a simple ninja as he attempts to sneak through treacherous puzzles. Most of the levels too less than a minute to complete... but they sometimes take weeks to navigate successfully. This is a game that you have to play over and over again until you’ve mastered it. N+ is overflowing with style, brutal violence, and simplicity. Perfect in the hands of TRON: LEGACY’s Joseph Kosinski. This guy has already shown aptitude with video games. The game is without a story which would give Kosinski ample opportunity to do whatever his heart desires. N+ is an almost unknown game that has nothing but upside in the hands of a director like Kosinski.

Tomb Raider - Sofia Coppola

This was the strangest of realizations that I came upon; so, bear with me a bit here. The TOMB RAIDER movies did their job of emulating the games as best as possible. Not a lot of risks were taken and safe mediocre movies were the result. What I would love to see with this franchise is a filmmaker with actual vision and balls taking some big time risks with Tomb Raider.

Sofia Coppola is perfect for this gig for several reasons. She had a flair for cinematography. Look over all of her movies, even MARIE ANTOINETTE, and Coppola has a great eye for color, scenery, and camera movement. Furthermore, I’d love to see who she would cast. Coppola has an uncanny talent of garnering interesting performances from unlikely talents. I was especially impressed by her work with Steven Dorff in SOMEWHERE. This pairing, Coppola and Lara Croft, will probably never happen. But, if it did, some interesting new ideas with the franchise would surely come to light.

DJ Hero - Gavin O'Connor

DJ HERO was one of the best movie games of this generation; unfortunately, thanks to a collapse in the public’s interest in movie games, DJ HERO is now a dead franchise. While the game had a very simple storyline, the general idea of competing for higher mash-up scores with competing is perfectly cinematic. In the grand tradition of movies like RAD, THE KARATE KID, and FLASHDANCE, DJ HERO could take a simple storyline and make it into cinematic gold. I picked Gavin O’Connor for this gig because of his work on MIRACLE and WARRIOR. This guy knows how to make cheesy concepts ring true and connect with an audience. Throw in an awesome soundtrack and this movie has tons of potential.

Limbo - Paul Thomas Anderson

When devised this list LIMBO was the most important game for me to pair up because it would be the hardest to adapt and the best game of bunch. If you haven’t played LIMBO then you are missing out on a fantastic side-scrolling adventure full of challenge, scares, and gun-wrenching action. Plus, it is without a single line of dialogue. There are several directors that could tackle this adaptation (Fincher, Nolan, or Del Toro), but I think Anderson would be the best fit. His masterful vision made the opening silence of THERE WILL BE BLOOD an epic accomplishment. He’d bring style, intelligence, and most of all, patience to this adaptation. This movie may not be a blockbuster; nevertheless, it would be a classic for the ages.

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