Video Game Movie Curse: How Did Jumanji Solve It?

Jordan Samuel Jordan Samuel
Expert Contributor
January 16th, 2018

Content Editor, Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast

Video Game Movie Curse: How Did Jumanji Solve It?
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Video Game Movie franchises have had issues translating their source materials on the big screen, with Hollywood taking advantage of their popularity and trends in the industry. Our Jordan Samuel dives into the history and future of these adaptations, with success stricken in Jumanji sequel.

Over the last several years, there has been a disconnect from Studios and pushes in bringing established video game series onto the big screen. Various adaptations including the recent Assassins Creed and Warcraft have disappointed audiences, with heavy reliance on prior knowledge. Hollywood has forgotten what made these series necessary in the first place, instead focusing on the story elements of popular titles.

Various films are in development as the gaming industry has expanded in new areas, as niche IP's are getting chances on the big screen. Can the video game curse be lifted? or be stuck in limbo for the next several years.

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The Video Game Movie Curse: Has Hollywood Beaten It?

Universal Pictures

Video Games are the most significant entertainment industry in the world, with millions of hours and investments spent on providing interactive experiences for audiences. Over the years Hollywood has been trying imitate this success with big-budget adaptations of source materials, all of these projects have fatally crashed to the ground. Thus creating the term of a Video Game Movie Curse, with studios all rushing out cheap cash grabs to audiences. Recent stinkers include both Assassins Creed and Warcraft, which relied on enticing blind fans of the IP into cinemas and forgetting to introduce movie-goers.  All those films shared something in common with incredibly low budgets and overblown story additions, losing the mark entirely of what made them accessible in the first place. Pushing us into to impossible situations, and rewarding us for completing levels.

I play games like 'Street Fighter' for their intense experiences, making those impactful punches and winning that trophy. But, the 1994 movie adaptation just cannot replicate those experiences, instead just relied on taking iconic characters and transferring them into a generic GI Joe inspired action story. Instead, the film's director Steven E.de Souza focuses on delivering an action vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme, and racial stereotypes completely missing all the tension seen in the competitive fighter. It was competent film putting seats in theatres but embarrassed many fans of the material. A statement from the Video Game BAFTAs claims "Story in a game is like a story in porn films. Its expected to be there, but not that important" and Street Fighter is at the front of those statements.

Despite being a terrible adaptation of the source material, and throwing away a rich tapestry of ideas. Street Fighter paved the way for Mortal Kombat, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Resident Evil to hit the big screen.  Majority of these adaptations made their money's worth and stood against established film properties. But at what cost? Alienating fans of source material and appealing to the everyday filmgoer. Hollywood found a way to exploit fans, with lavish marketing campaigns and appeal from a younger demographic. It was a different time back then, with gaming culture slowing creeping into the masses, and becoming household names across Europe and America.

Walt Disney Studios

During the 1990's alone Hollywood released adaptations of Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat and Wing Commander, earning modest amounts on shockingly low budgets. They all succeeding in transforming interactive adventures onto the screen but lost identities in the process, with the historical terrible Super Mario being the worst offender. Even actors Bill Hoskins and Leguizamo, calling it the "the worst thing I ever did" and admitting to being drunk on the set. Despite these known facts, Hollywood has insisted on keeping bringing these interactive experiences on the big screen.

Nostalgia lead Hollywood became obsessed with adapting video games, which lack any weight and substance. A ridiculous idea because filling a two-hour film with giant monkeys, and doesn't make for thrilling viewing. Turning a classic title like "Doom" into a boring horror fest, with no connection to the source material and hell-inspired graphics. Wreck-it-Ralph got it right by pushing 80's icons into a fully breathable world and transforming them into side characters for our protagonist's adventure.

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Similarities to the beginning of the Comic Book genre, are uncanny with previous adaptations lacking the charm and success of their later cousins. As the gaming industry moves towards more cinematic experiences, more exceptional lines are being crossed, making the idea of adaptions pointless. Despite these changes, Hollywood is developing multiple feature films based on classic video games, including Mario, Sonic, Pokemon, and Minecraft all coming in the next two years.

Sony Pictures

2017's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle might have cured the video game movie genre, it received stellar reviews from various websites including ours for providing substantial family entrainment. Embracing the more ridiculous components of gaming, from NPCs to difficulty spikes and powers. The film did all this while telling an original story and not reiterating on generic adventures seen in the genre. It succeeded because instead of adapting storylines from the most significant video games, it embraced the wacky rules. Turning straightforward plot ideas into an interactive experience, understanding their addictive and frantic nature.

Hopefully, all these projects will be inspired by Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and finally break the issues seen in the past. I have faith in the future of disastrous genre of movies.

This is only the first level. Do you agree? Do you believe the curse has been lifted? Are there any video game properties, you feel deserve to be adapted in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

Jordan Samuel is the Content Editor of ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel

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