Video game movies: an oxymoron I, and many, really fail to grasp the appeal of. By now, it’s common knowledge that video game movies are almost always pretty weak. Is there a great video game movie currently in existence?
“Detective Pikachu” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are basically the gold standard at this moment. They’re currently sitting as the No. 2 and 3 highest rated movies based on video games, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Both are trailing only “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in the genre in terms of critical success. I haven’t seen “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” I’m sure that it is a totally passable and fun watch, but yikes.
After the three movies I’ve already mentioned, the list quickly devolves into a who’s who of historic flops and cheesy tales that never came close to matching the quality of their source material. “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li” is a movie that exists. First of all, why? But also, why is it oft-forgotten and completely disposable?
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, critics don’t know everything that’s good or not. I would argue that with many films, critics miss the mark more often than they tap into anything worth considering. I’d be lying if I said that the animated “Pokémon” movies weren’t at least pretty charming. But there is something missing from video game movies from top to bottom. What’s missing is the biggest reason for the success of video games: immersion.
Immersion, in the sense that the player is literally controlling the art they are consuming, is the single most appealing aspect of video games. If you were to sit down and watch three hours of video game cutscenes, you’d likely be bored and you’d be missing much of what the game creator wanted you to experience. You know — the actual game!
Some mediums lend themselves to collaborating with other mediums. Music videos come to mind. But you, the consumer, didn’t make the music that the video is accompanying. However, you do craft your own experience when you’re playing a game. If you strip that critical part of video games away, you’re left with a hollow, less personalized experience.
No one I’ve ever talked to wants there to be a canon way to experience a video game. The fun is in making the experience something unique to your play style and path. This is why video game movies are unlikely to ever resonate completely with audiences and critics. They give answers that no one wants and they take away what makes the source material interesting and special.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at email@example.com.