Everyone knows films about games are pretty terrible, but today a spark of hope has been ignited with the news that Valve is eyeing up Hollywood… while new Hitman news points to the most horrific film creation since Uwe Boll tried to film himself making a game. Holding back tears of joy and vomiting convulsions simultaneously, Daily Reaction’s Seb and Dan try to facepalm and high five, but get confused and end up slapping each other.
Seb: My brain is hurting from the conflicting emotions – Valve has revealed their film plans, while Fox has announced that they are squatting over the Hitman brand, preparing to spread their cheeks. We’re at a crossroads, before us we can see the promise of quality films about our favorite brands, but looming all the more prominently is a reminder of how Hollywood has no idea what they’re doing.
I’ll start with Valve so that I don’t get too angry too early. During a presentation with JJ Abrams at the 2013 DICE Summit, Gabe Newell casually mentioned that the pair were discussing making Portal and Half-Life movies. Abrams then told Polygon that “it’s as real as anything in Hollywood ever gets… which is that we are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas.”
This is incredibly exciting, not only because Portal and Half-Life have awesome stories that deserve to be shared, but because Valve wants to be very hands-on with the making of the films. They don’t want to just give Abrams the film IP rights and be surprised when he comes back in 3 years with a film called Portal to My Heart, starring Channing Tatum perpetually huffing for no real reason. With lots of lens flares.
Ideally, it means that Valve are going to be closely involved in every aspect, ensuring that Portal is very Portal-ly and Half-Life is very Half-Life-y. But the big problem there is that Valve are already slower than a PS3 install when it comes to game development – add in the fact that this’ll be a new industry they haven’t worked in, that there’ll be other stakeholders and investors and that Abrams will want a say… dear god, this is going to take a long time. I can’t help but be worried about a film where the actor is suddenly several years older in the next scene, simply because filming took so goddamn long.
Meanwhile, the new Hitman ‘reboot’ is chugging along merrily, refusing to pull the breaks, despite the abundance of poor souls lying on the track screaming for mercy. Although, you might not immediately realize that it’s a reboot, because the film is going to be written by the same guy as the last Hitman movie, the genius behind other classics like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and X-Men Origins: Wolverine starring Ryan Reynolds with his mouth glued together butchering Deadpool. It gets worse.
This Hitman won’t star Timothy Olyphant (who admitted he only did the first one to pay for his house after Deadwood was suddenly cancelled). No, it’ll star Paul Walker. Paul Walker. Paul Walker as Agent 47. That’s Paul Walker. The guy that’s not Vin Diesel from The Fast and the Furious and absolutely nothing else. I’m sure his baby-blue eyes will appeal to some, but he looks like he couldn’t hurt a fly if it killed his mother and ate his cookie. It gets worse.
The director, Aleksander Bach, has never made a feature film before, this is his first. To his credit, though, he has done some ads, such as this one about men around the world orgasming and then rubbing white cream on their face to look rejuvenated – “What men want” apparently.
The depressing thing about all this is that we all know that out of today’s news only one film is actually going to be made, and they probably won’t even bother shaving Paul Walker’s head.
Looking at all of the details surrounding a movie like Hitman, it sparks the question, ‘why would they reboot it?’ Well, to answer it simply, money. The original film had a budget of a whopping $24 million, which is along the same lines of other quality movies like Piranha 3D, but still a decent amount for films that do not require as many special effects. Still, Hitman was able to pull in almost a $100 million worldwide since its release, which goes to show that with a relatively smaller budget, studios are able to get an easy return on their investment with little to no risk. Something that really shows the limited appreciation for the games industry ability to produce quality products that could be used in any meaningful way (i.e.Resident Evil).
Sadly, the biggest issue that surrounds the conversion of an interactive based medium, like video games, to a passive one, like film, is the relationship we have with the cast members. During the event at DICE, Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams talked about the need for dialog between characters to drive the plot and give it meaning, but also discuss the passivity of the protagonist (you) standing by watching people interact, instead of being a participant. Meaning that there is a cast of members playing roles in the games we play, and that we rely on them to push the plot in ways we simply cannot, with our given level of control. Although, in movies, we do not normally take on any roll in the film, we simply watch in a passive mode – a mode that allows us to dissociate ourselves from the situation, and simply care about the actors.
This ability to interact has become increasingly improved with dialog trees, and branching storylines, but is the simple ability to interact preventing us from completely attaching to a storyline? This is the big question that surrounds video games to movie conversions, as we bring ourselves into a story, we bring more than our decisions, we bring own our biases and relationships into the fray. When cast as a character who is supposed to be interacting with their mother or father, there is a bit of attachment, given the standard understanding of family roles, but they will never be your parent. Whereas, in a film, that character’s parent as far as you know, really is their parent. This relationship between how far we can dissociate ourselves from who we are and what we bring really is the problem between film and games.
Movies like Hitman usually work better for writers to work off of, because it can move away from the drama of relationships, and focus on the action aspects. Whether or not this is the standard, or an explanation of why we are seeing a ton of shit movie rip-offs, will require a ton more research, but to understand the real problems behind transferring between one medium or another can help us at least get it, whether we like it or not.
P.S. The Hitman reboot will probably suck.
Do you think the film industry will be able to find absolution with the incredible Paul Walker Hitman movie? Will Valve release a movie before your children have children? Should we reboot DR with Vin Diesel? Answer all this, and more, in the comment below, and listen to our Timothy Olyphantasies at Seb ‘n’ Dan on Twitter.
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