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Daily Reaction: Why the God of War Movie Could Fall Apart Before it Starts

November 28, 2012 Written by Sebastian Moss

Continuing the fine tradition of bringing celebrated game franchises to the big screen and making us all cringe with agony, it has been revealed that Sony are actively encouraging film makers to “reinvent” God of War for the movie. Daily Reaction’s Seb Moss and Dan Oravasaari discuss the problems that this could lead to, as well as whether there is any reason to hope.

Seb: There’s a war coming, and it’s not going to be pretty. Sony have basically given the studio free reign to do what they want with a beloved PlayStation IP. In fact, they’re even “encouraging [the writers] to make it different”. Why does this matter? God of War is one of Sony’s strongest IPs, and we all know what a hard time they’ve had building those.

As of June, God of War has sold 21,650,595 units since 2005 across its seven releases (including HD collections). It’s one of the few franchises Sony can release and be guaranteed to shift both software and hardware. It’s something they spent a lot of money on to achieve, and were very lucky that they did – but a movie that sucks or drastically moves away from the core plot puts that all at risk.

Kratos is a massive arse, even more so than Dan, but that’s why we like him (unlike with Dan). The whole point of his character is that if you didn’t hold the elevator doors for him he’d kill your entire family. I’m worried enough that they’re looking to make his character a bit more loveable in Ascension, but gameplay previews suggest they’re not exactly going to make him into someone who questions if he should really be killing this monster. With films, I can see them trying to make the character more ‘relatable’. He’ll probably be played by Bradley Cooper and have horrible punchlines – “Don’t be such and Ares-face”. This is a movie with a reported budget of $150 million, they’re not going to take risks by making the character a dick, they’re going to play it safe and make it like every other action movie you have ever seen. Ever.

Dan: The character of Kratos is not one you seek to be like, he is not a person who is envied, he is simply a person who will stand at nothing to get his revenge. Seb might hate his and my chiseled jaw line, but the one thing that can be certain is that Kratos is a relatable character for anyone who understands the depth a man can go for those he loves.

[GOW1 spoilers ahead]

The story of Kratos from the very first God of War game on the PS2, is more than enough of a plot to drive a decent narrative around a complete gorefest. While the title would probably not be shown as a Christmas special, there is nothing that can be done with the source material that would make it anything else, except maybe an indie film. The idea that Kratos is lead to kill his own family, and must wear their ashes as a constant reminder of the deeds he committed is enough to drive the plot forward for any movie. Much in the same framework as movies like Michael Douglas’ film Falling Down, it is not unheard of to have a movie based off of a single character having a complete break down. The relationship with the audience needs to only be sold through the concept of the pain Kratos must feel by the death of his wife and daughter, and people will follow as he cuts down each god to show we are not to be toyed with.

[Spoiler end]

Seb: Here’s the problem - Falling Down was a great movie, but heavily reliant on plot. Douglas wasn’t just going around killing people, there was reason behind his actions. That requires good writing. Unfortunately, action movies generally don’t have the greatest plots the best of times (Falling Down was a drama), and with this movie is coming from the writers behind such hits as Saw VI and Piranha 3DD I’m not going to hold my breath hoping for a carefully crafted look at how Kratos went from ‘normal’ violent army captain to walking bloodbath. This is a movie that will jump from slow mo footage of people being chopped in half to more slow mo footage of Kratos stabbing people – in 3D! – with some lame attempt at making him more relatable mashed in between.

Violence is a core aspect of God of War, it’s what immediately springs to mind when you think about the series. But behind it is a carefully crafted look at how Kratos has suffered, how his life has been a series of agonizing moments, punctuated by death and destruction. It would be hard enough pulling that off in a 2hr movie if the best writers in the world (Sony, we’re waiting for your call) were involved. Instead it has a team whose latest film was described as such:

Increasingly tedious displays of gore makes this torture porn home-invasion-horror more programmatic than provocative.

Awesome. That’s not what I want behind Sony’s most lucrative franchise outside of Gran Turismo (good luck making that into a film).

“Oh but they’d never let them ruin the franchise”, I hear you cry. Too late, the rights are signed over, the movie plans have been drafted, they can’t back out now.

I fear that this film will join the pile of horrendous game adaptations that Hollywood is so eager to pump out – Doom, Max Payne, Far Cry and so many other.

At least Uwe Boll isn’t involved.

Dan: Well the biggest issue that will befall the God of War movie is not just the fact that it could completely suck, but that it will be another representation of how games are just trash. As Seb pointed out, we are starting to see a pile up of horrible movies made out of gaming franchises, and those who see those films but not the games are going to only wonder why we play that trash. A gorefest without the heart behind it would just lead viewers to further believe the bullshit that games are strictly an immature medium supported by manbabies. Very few people outside of our industry truly see the depth of the medium in which we revolve, and while God of War is far from our Schindler’s List, it is not just just senseless mayhem. If the movie fails to capture the humanity of Kratos, and the chaos his tortured soul brings to the world just in order to make those responsible pay, they could be doing a disservice to everyone in the games industry.

Sadly, the issue with the movie industry is something that goes beyond the simple fact that converting an interactive experience into a linear one is difficult to say the least. The other factors that are rarely mentioned are just how little time investment moviegoers have in the films they choose to watch. When some gamers choose a title, there is a level of involvement that causes them to invest at least a few hours into learning about the game, yet for movies, most audiences pass judgment from a simple trailer seen on TV or just through word of mouth. This dumbing down due to time constraints and need to have simple junk food for the eyes leaves little room for the soul of a character, and gives us movies like Resident Evil: Retribution.

Are you excited to see the God of War movie? Is this the first game movie where people don’t want to see Nathan Fillion as the lead actor? Share your thoughts in the comments below, email us your 30 second sex games and pray to Seb and Dan on Twitter.

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