I recently broke down ten of the greatest video game adaptions, but this time I'm going to switch gears. Instead, I'm going to talk about what games would make great movies, and what would need to be done to keep the adaptation intact with that game’s lore and characters. Keep in mind some of these properties may be in rumored production, or have been in the past. There are no heavy details at this point in regards to production on said properties, so I'll just let my imagination run wild. Enjoy!
The world of Bioshock is ideal for film, as its watery depths offer a grandiose vision of corruption and terror. While the plot twist of the first game would be somewhat difficult to translate into a film, the world of Rapture has plenty to offer in its eccentric characters and philosophies. There’s the chance to introduce new characters that reflect these philosophies and present them elsewhere during the events of the first Bioshock game. While there were plans to make Bioshock into a movie, the production has been hanging out in limbo for some years. If the picture ever gets picked up again, it's clear that David Fincher or Guillermo del Toro would be able to recreate Rapture into film. Both directors have shown great skill in creating dark atmospheres with equally intriguing plots and political themes (with Fight Club and Pan’s Labyrinth, respectively). Both directors would have to establish the rules of the game’s world, and how those rules lead to absolute chaos. But from there, the story would be able to take off in a grand mix of thrills and horror.
Silent Hill 2
We already have two Silent Hill movies, but what about a loyal take on perhaps the Silent Hill series’ darkest game? Out of all the Silent Hill titles, Silent Hill 2 presents the most disturbing and horrific story of one man’s journey in finding his dead wife. While the story would have to be exact to the game, what would equally be as important in an adaptation is the game’s environment. As James travels through the town of Silent Hill, fog shrouds his sight in each turn, preventing him from being fully aware of what dangers may appear. Silent Hill 2 is the sort of story that would translate into a slow-burn art film (like The VVitch or A Ghost Story); for it’s this sort of lingering progression that allows the emotion of the game to seep into the player (or in this case, the viewer). Combined with a minimal score and dark characters, you’d have a horrifying experience with a Silent Hill 2 film adaptation. For something like this to take off, someone like James Wan would be able to masterfully handle the property. When you look at the intricate steps in editing and storytelling that took place in such films as The Conjuring or Insidious, it’s easy to see how Wan could translate those skills into a much more sinister and dreadful depth.
Part science fiction adventure and part comedy, a Portal adaptation would be a blast. What’s essential with Portal (outside of its fun gameplay) is the witty dialogue of its characters. That goes to say, the ideal way to adapt Portal is to recreate the first game, making sure to include its iconic villain GLaDOS. On par with HAL 9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey, it’s GLaDOS’ dialogue that makes for a continuously hilarious and intriguing adventure during the character’s journey. Christopher Nolan or JJ Abrams could take on Portal, given both director’s experience in the realms of science fiction. The world of Portal (or specifically, the facilities of Aperture Science), match the clean metallic visuals we’ve seen Abrams do in his Star Trek movies, or Nolan’s spacey environments from Interstellar. Both directors could also expand upon the background details of the game’s protagonist Chell, offering a little more info into her origins.
Devil May Cry
Given that the Devil May Cry anime never went beyond one season, it would be awesome to see another story from the famous demon slayer. The story could be anything outrageous that placed our protagonist against a variety of demons, just as long as the character of Dante was ideal to the games. In this case, it would be essential to think of who could play such a role. The first two actors that immediately come to mind are Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds. Both stars have played in big action roles, while offering plenty of humorous banter (especially Reynolds in his iconic role as Deadpool). When it comes to directors, I’d put my money on the Wachowski siblings, or even Robert Rodriguez. The Wachowski’s have been able to display some kick ass action in the past (The Matrix), while Rodriguez has shown his skill at intense action and humor in his own work (Planet Terror).
Gears of War
This would be a straight-up big budget action flick. I’m talking flashiness and explosions like the Fast & Furious series. The immediate director that comes to mind is Michael Bay; for Bay has shown in his Transformers movies that he can create big battle scenes. With the technical innovations that Bay has used in displaying the Autobots fighting the Decepticons, this could easily translate into the humans fighting The Locust. It could come off with a mix of real actors with CGI like Warcraft (or could be a full-on CGI movie). But Gears of War is all about the action. And while there may be some drama tucked away in pockets throughout the games, the most gratifying feeling is watching that chainsaw gun go right through a monster’s face. This moment to moment adrenaline is what one should expect from a Gears of War movie, and something that Michael Bay has shown throughout his entire career he can handle.
Samus Aran is one of the universe’s greatest bounty hunters, tracking down space pirates and defeating numerous bad guys in her way. The immediate mastermind I would count on for this adaptation is James Cameron (I mean, we don’t have to go any further than Aliens to see why this would work out so well). Cameron has an excellent history of working in science fiction, whether that’s presenting his characters in a more realistic setting, or creating his own fantasy worlds. He has also shown great care for a large portion of his characters, which would allow him to present Samus as a fully fleshed out person. All Cameron would have to do in this case is present a new story for the famous bounty hunter (or recreate one of her classic stories from the games). And after carefully placing in some of her iconic villains, you’d have an absolutely sci-fi epic adventure.
Shadow of the Colossus
Things get a little tricky when we talk about Shadow of the Colossus, for while the game itself performed extremely well with both fans and critics, the actual adventure and gameplay would be tough to translate for a film audience. This is because unlike other titles on this list, Shadow of the Colossus isn’t pumped with as much physical moment-to-moment action. So much of the game focuses on the protagonist riding horseback and slaying each colossus as he comes into contact with them. It’s because of this kind of gameplay and story that a little more work would have to be done, resulting in more of an indie arthouse adventure film. The atmosphere and emotion in facing the colossus is what would be essential to the story, and to do that, I can’t think of anyone else but Alejandro González Iñárritu to take on the directing role. Looking back at his recent work with The Revenant, Iñárritu was able to display such profound action pieces that took place in cold isolating settings. That sounds a lot like Shadow of the Colossus, and with some extra research, Iñárritu could capture the dark and somber nature of the game and its protagonist’s journey.
The great thing about recreating Fallout is that a director wouldn’t have to be that concerned with any given storyline; what they would need to focus on is how the world of Fallout is unique in its retro-futuristic nature. Having the right visuals to create a world that somehow has survived after the bombs would be key to creating the various cultures within the Fallout games. When it comes to these key features, I would trust the likes of Luc Besson. In both Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets and The Fifth Element, Besson presented two sci-fi worlds full of life and intriguing characters (both important for a Fallout movie). He’s shown the ability to inject life into his settings, which makes for a big part of why Fallout is so entertaining. Not only are the characters you come across funny or charming, but the world itself is such a unique place, with each location having its own story.
Hands down David Cronenberg would be the ideal mastermind behind creating a Dead Space movie. Whether he would be adapting from the first Dead Space game, or creating his own story, it’s the legendary tone and visuals of Cronenberg that would be able to bring the horrific aliens known as the “Necromorphs” to life. The director’s rich history in body horror would allow for this film adaptation to let loose in all its horrific gore and dismemberment. Given his work with such films as The Fly and Videodrome, Cronenberg knows exactly how to masterfully gross out and disturb his audience. Dead Space would be an opportunity for the director to not only unleash some pretty grueling visuals, but also dig into some twisted psychological storytelling.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda series is known to have some of the most magical worlds in video game history. It’s totally possible to adapt one of its unique stories (whether we were pulling from Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask), but the stories would have to practically be 99% faithful to the original journey. The Zelda worlds are a delicate one, set with unique creatures, lore, and environments. So if a director were to take on a straight-up adaptation of one of the existing game titles, they may be able to play around with their own artist touches, but would have to keep to the core values The Legend of Zelda. All that said, it’s absolutely possible to create a Zelda film that plays into the game’s lore (without actually touching upon any of the existing stories). It would be essential to keep the mix of playfulness and thrills that Link partakes in with each tale. And to portray such a hero and adventure, I’d specifically call upon Guillermo del Toro. Specifically, while the tones are much different, I think about the worlds that del Toro has created in both Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. These two fantasy worlds both play around with light and dark elements, presenting their own blends of chills and joy. Given that the director is a true auteur who takes his time to fully embody and appreciate the work he is creating, it’s possible to see him taking the time to recreate the ideal Zelda world.
There you have it—agree or disagree with me? Or perhaps there are any games you think would make for great adaptations? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Michael Pementel is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing Program. When he isn't writing for Film Daddy, he writes full time for Metal Injection and New Noise Magazine. He has also written for Alternative Press, Film Inquiry, and The Curator. He's the Social Media Manager for death metal record label Ultimate Massacre Productions. When not writing, he enjoys a hot cup of black coffee, a good book/video game/film, and to cuddle with his fiancée and cat.
Follow Michael on Twitter @pementelm.