Can Video Games Translate Onto Screen?

Need-for-Speed-UK-quad-posterFilms based on video games have long had a chequered history. Super Mario Bros. (1993) is still a running joke/nightmare [delete as applicable] amongst film and video game fans alike, whilst some video-game-to-film adaptations never even see the (studio) light of day (see: Peter Jackson’s attempts to make a film based on the award-winning Halo series). If you reverse the transition, video games based on films also have a reputation for shoddy design rushed through development to coincide with, or even precede, the release of the film.

So are they cursed? The new Need For Speed film, which is based on a game consisting of driving customized cars really fast without stopping except for concrete barriers, is currently sitting on a 26% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes yet a 70% audience satisfaction rating as well. So, 12 Years A Slave, it is not. Yet if all the audience wants is a shallow, fast, easy ride then video games do have the potential to make exciting films.

Logically, the linear, extravagant nature of games like Need For Speed or Call of Duty (imagine a film of that?!) based in a heightened form of reality, would fit nicely into a 90-120 minute slot. However more open-world games like Mass Effect or that most extravagant of games, Grand Theft Auto, would make pretty dreadful films as they rely on a great degree of interactivity between medium and physical being.

In conclusion, video games based on films will never win the hearts of film critics (though this could be due to inter-medium snobbery from the critics themselves). However, in the case of Need For Speed at least, they do win the hearts of average audience members after a long day of work in need of a fun-filled, adrenaline-pumped, action-packed, ridiculous, stupid, brain cell-decimating piece of entertainment.


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