It’s well documented that the history of video game movie adaptations has been a mixed one, to say the least. But, with recent hits like Netflix’s Arcane and Castlevania series, as well as the promising(?) appearance of a Super Mario movie on the horizon, we may finally be turning a corner.
With a bright future ahead of us, I’ve decided to enlist the directors of 12 dream video game movies and TV shows, which I think Hollywood would obviously be foolish to pass up. Sure, most of these games would benefit from being left exactly as they are, but let’s have a little fun, shall we?
James Cameron’s Titanfall 2
Let’s start big. And blockbusters don’t get much bigger than Terminator, Aliens, and Titanic when director James Cameron is at the helm. Arguably the best first-person shooter campaign ever created, Titanfall 2 will be an incredible sight to behold in his hands – a time-travel subplot, a man’s heartbreaking relationship with a sentient AI, a ton of mechs – it has all the features. Cameron Action Movie. We’ll have to rush him and finish his 17 Avatar movies first, but I think it’ll be worth the wait.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Director of both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow is a master of the modern war movie. Put the already cinematic story of 2007’s Modern Warfare in his hands and we could be looking at something special. She is well versed in the stories of the darker, more veiled side of war that looks beyond the front lines and where governments do not have the best interests of their people in mind. All Ghillied Up, the shooter’s standout mission, contains all the trademark tension of a Bigelow action sequence, and I love seeing it on the big screen.
What Remains of Edith Finch by Mike Flanagan
Let’s scale things down a bit from global conflicts to family conflicts. The Remains of Edith Finch is the story of a cursed family told through a variety of beautifully crafted vignettes. Most of all though, it is sometimes irreparably sad. Director Mike Flanagan is largely known for his horror movies and TV shows – and while Edith Finch isn’t exactly a horror game – there’s something about this fit that works. Maybe it’s the heart-wrenching family drama at the heart of his Haunting of Hill House adaptation or the character-filled titular house that takes place in it, but a similarly structured limited series focusing on each member of the Finch family sounds great to me. .
David Lowery’s Shadow of the Colossus
Also mournful in tone is Team Ico’s 2005 masterpiece Shadow of the Colossus – perhaps the first truly cinematic game I remember playing that would translate well to the big screen. One man’s journey through the corridors between life and death is a theme filmmaker David Lowery is no stranger to in his previous films, including A Ghost Story and The Green Knight. At the core of Shadow of the Colossus is his eye for marrying majestic spectacle with two sides – quiet moments of human emotion. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this combination ever since I saw Dev Patel wandering around in the mist before coming face-to-face with an apparently gigantic giant in The Green Knight.
Ari Astor’s Silent Hill 2
Set in the world of A24, let’s give the modern king of horror a story that sinks its teeth into. Ari Aster’s Inheritance and Midsomer are two horror stories that will surely stick in the mind of anyone who saw them, so why not give him a game that gave it to anyone who played it? Silent Hill 2 is still as terrifying as it comes 20 years later, and Astor’s ability to transport us to a place we deeply love, weave it into one’s overall grief story, and leave our brains permanently scarred will do the trick.
It blows my mind that there hasn’t already been an Overwatch TV series, especially when you see how successfully something like Arcane adapted the world of League of Legends. Overwatch is full of character and I can’t think of a better game than to run into two Daniels of Daniels fame. The phenomenal Everything Everywhere At All One was once a showcase for their eye for the inventive work and effects work that would bring Overwatch’s heroes and their myriad abilities to life. The film also showcased the warm heart at the center of Overwatch and a delicate touch while navigating a dysfunctional family dynamic. There’s also the fact that I’ve seen one half of the directing duo, Daniel Quan, tweet about Overwatch on more than one occasion. Let’s do it, guys.
Denis Villeneuve’s Deus Ex Human Revolution
How organic does a human body have to be to be considered human? It’s a question that underpins not only the plot of Deus Ex Human Revolution, but also Denis Villeneuve’s stunning cyberpunk sequel, Blade Runner 2049. An eternally dark world where the sky is lit only by the lights of mega corporation towers and private companies oppress the populace, Deus Ex shares much of its DNA with the original Blade Runner world. Take the visual palette of 2049, add a whole load of yellow and gold to it and throw some of Dune’s fight choreography into the mix and I think we have a winner here.
Hotline Miami by Gareth Evans
Picture this: the classic fight scenes of The Raid, but with an 80s synthpop score and a lot more animal masks. You’ve just imagined Gareth Evans’ Hotline Miami. Sprinkling Dennaton Games’ ultraviolent kill rooms with Evans’ Indonesian action movie-inspired choreography would be a flavor possibility. Also, he already has video game adaptation experience with the crime drama Gangs of London, based on the PSP action-adventure of the same name. However, I’m not sure if it will be live-action or animated in an effort to honor Hotline Miami’s distinct art style. Gareth is a better filmmaker than me. He can do that little bit.
Richard Linklater’s Bully
Fun fact: Rockstar Games once produced its own film. Granted, it was the ill-advised Danny Dyer hooligan vehicle The Football Factory, but a film nonetheless. That longstanding interest in filmmaking is reflected in their long list of acclaimed games, and Bully is the first of three I’d like to see made. And who better to lead this project than the master of suburban school drama, Richard Linklater? I’m imagining a fun teenage tapestry with cliques at Bulworth Academy getting the shocked and confused treatment with some hormonal Everybody Wants Some! escapades thrown into the mix. I enjoy it a lot.
Red Dead Redemption 2 by Paul Thomas Anderson
Now, he might need a trilogy here to tell the entirety of Red Dead Redemption 2’s sprawling epic, but the temptation to pair my favorite game with my favorite filmmaker was honestly too much to resist. Paul Thomas Anderson has already made a western-by-proxy with 2007’s There’s Blood, and you can see a lot of Red Dead in it. Oil money runs through both stories, but the most similarities can be found in its characters – Dutch van der Linde is Daniel Plainview’s answer to video games as he fools an entire group of people to help him acquire personal wealth. A small prospector’s camp called Plainview can also be found on Red Dead’s map that bears a striking resemblance to Daniel Day-Lewis at the start of the film, so you’d have to think Rockstar would be happy to give it their blessing. one
Matthew Weiner’s LA Noire
It writes itself to be honest. Half the cast of Mad Men has already appeared in LA Noire, so let’s bring the gang back and send TV show creator Matthew Weiner to 1940s Los Angeles. Mad Men is renowned for its sense of time and place, so there’s no one I trust more than Weiner to tackle Hollywood’s Golden Age as a different case each week. The open-world detective thriller’s world-building and plot were stellar, but its gameplay often left a little to be desired, so perhaps television was always meant to be its home. Let’s make sure that artists don’t duplicate every aspect of their facial expressions.
Parappa Rapper of the Lonely Island
Andy Samberg taking foul-mouthed lyrics out of Parappa the Rapper’s mouth. What else do you want from me? The Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop is one of the decade’s most criminally overlooked comedies with a 21st-century spin on the Spinal Tap formula. Now it’s everyone’s favorite rapping dog’s turn to get the Lonely Island treatment. I don’t know what the plot of the film will be. I’d like to see a dog rap something. They could have recycled the Karate Boy from Popstar for the Chop Chop Master Onion scene. Just a thought. Maybe a bad one.
Well, those are just my dream video game adaptation pitches. What movie or TV show would you like to watch? Let me know in the comments below.
Simon Cardy will also be set to play the open-world game of There Will Be Blood. Follow him on Twitter @CardySimon.