Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hitman movie gets whacked by the critics

Well, this seems like it is pretty much official: The Hitman movie is getting smacked hard by the critics. As one reviewer put it, it is Uwe Boll bad. So far, Rotten Tomatoes has it pegged at 13% fresh, and that number is likely to not improve to much as the days and weeks go on and once again, the unwarranted perception that the narratives of video games don't have depth or emotional content.

Last year, I wrote about the reasons why video game movies generally fail, and I came up with 5 general guidelines studios and producers should use if they want to make a successful stand alone film from a video game property.

1) Choose games that are plot-driven, but not extremely long.
2) Ban Uwe Boll from getting near another game-based movie.
3) Cast your movies well.
4) Spend the money on getting a good script before going further.
5) Make sure people outside of the gaming demographic would want to see it as well.

Now Number 5 is of tantamount importance here, as those involved would actually have to put in the time and effort to actually make something a bit more universal in appeal and not just something that is all explosions and no story.

But I realized that there should really be a number 6 on this list, and I think it is perhaps the most damning problem of them all: the involvement of people who are intensely interested in getting a particular vision on the screen.

After all, you have to admit that a lot of good adaptations are the result of the director and screenwriter (amongst other people) having true passion for the work they want to film, and I don't think very many of these video game based projects (barring Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), start with that level of commitment. I don't believe that the people involved want with every fiber of their being to tell these stories, and tell them well. When you set out with crass intentions, well, you shouldn't be surprised when the end product has those same hallmarks.

As someone who has played and loved the Hitman series, I know that if someone who had that same love for the series had written or directed that movie, a good movie would have been made, because there was indeed enough quality narrative material in the games to do so.

And I remember when there was a time when a good movie based on a Marvel comic seemed like an impossibility. Someday there will be someone who can actually manage to translate a great game into a great film, but I don't think that will be for quite a while. And just a friendly warning: in the next two or three years, there are certainly going to be a lot of attempts, but I am not very optimistic about their chances.


SinisterDan said...

I know that you and I have discussed this before, but I think that you're making it too complicated.To me, there really only one item for that list;

1) Do the film makers take the material seriously, and then produce it accordingly?

In many cases where they are exploiting a name to wedge into a perceived demographic then the answer is no.If the answer is yes, the they'll get better writers, tighter directing, better casting, etc...

I had hoped that this movie would do well; I'm not a huge fan of the games (lack of playing time) but I'm a huge fan of Tim Oliphant from his work in Deadwood. I was hoping it would give him a boost.

MC said...

Or in the case of Uwe Boll, it is a tax scam.

I do remember you saying the following almost 2 years ago: "The people who produce most of our films and television long ago abandoned any love for original ideas or strong scripts."