Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cinematographer: Claudio Miranda (Tron: Legacy/Oblivion)
Composer: Disasterpiece in collaboration with Daft Punk
Who better to bring to life this beautifully crafted 8-bit sci-fi gem than Refn? Striking contrasts of color can be found in each of Refn’s films thanks to mid-color blindness, a disability that could only transcend the forlorn vistas of a broken planet devouring the technologies of civilizations that once dwelt upon it. Refn’s affinity for silent protagonists and their circumstantial need for change is also a perfect match for our hero, the Drifter, an alien forced to seek out the cure to an unspecified disease that slowly kills him as he progresses through the game. The world of Hyper Light Drifter is saturated in addictive ambiguity that begs exploration. Why are the bodies of desecrated titans seen scattered across the world? Why have four species of aliens become nearly extinct? What is the desecration that plagues the Drifter’s thoughts? There’s a story to be formed in those questions, and alongside the visual genius of Claudio Miranda, it’s sure to be a good looking one. I’d enjoy it if Disasterpiece came back to amplify what is already an exquisite soundtrack, but with Daft Punk’s experience in mixing a sweeping orchestra with percussive synths. Now picture the opening of the game in live action, The Drifter ascending the steps of a structure to face three oncoming titans, only to see them eviscerated before his eyes. Why is this not already a thing?
Director: David Fincher
Cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/The Social Network)
Composer: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
It’s no secret that David Fincher has a problem with humanity. Most of his films are explicit tales of humanistic horror reflecting the baser compulsions of our darker selves. Something tells me he would love to film the debasement of humanity in which grim abductions and slavery implemented through severe brain washing take place, all seen through the eyes of a boy compelled to reach the center of it all. I always thought of Inside’s style as "Pixar having a bad day," and Jeff Cronenweth’s mastery of motion and dark spaces would do quite well in bringing this to life in live-action. We might as well complete the “frequent collaboration” circle and invite Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to the mix. Their industrial sounds would bring subtle intensity to the boy navigating the vast mega structures lying abandoned throughout the game world. Fincher isn’t afraid to disturb, and nothing could be more disturbing than seeing a boy flee would-be killers loading other humans into pods, only to find himself surrounded by a range of deadly experiments and horrifying machinations born of nightmares.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men/The Revenant)
Composer: Max Richter
Gareth Edwards is no stranger to films involving colossal beings. From aliens to Godzilla, all the way to the infamous Death Star, Edwards has not yet failed at giving us jaw-dropping perspectives on things of incomprehensible size. The Forbidden Lands in SotC have no shortage of extraordinarily sized creatures and places, but what is depiction without gravitas? Emmanuel Lubezki would honor the many decrepit ruins surrounded by breathtaking vistas, as well as the slow but menacing approach of the dwelling Colossi. Imagine the live-action showdown between Wander and the Colossus with the stone sword, backed by the somber, heart-ripping score of Max Richter in the background once the fight is finished, when we realize that the death of a Colossus is nothing to feel jubilation for.
Director: Taika Waititi
Cinematographer: Reed Morano (Handmaid’s Tale)
Composer: Damon Albarn
I played Oddworld for the first time in 1997 when I was a wee young lad. I wouldn’t find myself playing it again until the New ’n’ Tasty remaster in 2014, but that gap in time hadn’t wavered my memory of Abe, the clumsy enslaved Mudokon who winds up spearheading the revolt for freedom by trying to save his own skin. I think Abe’s ignoble intentions would be a playground for Waititi, someone accustomed to showing quirky characters develop from powerless to empowered. His comedic range would be a breathe-easy parallel against the monetization of turning Abe’s people into food by the malevolent Glukkons. Paired with Reed Morano, the woman behind the visceral horrors of Handmaid’s Tale, we might just find ourselves laughing in shock. I want to see Abe running from his captors through rusted, steaming factories of Rapture Farms, accidentally killing both them and his own people to the sound of old-school Gorillaz.
Director: Edgar Wright
Cinematographer: Bill Pope (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World/The Matrix)
Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh
Oh baby. Do I really need to explain how Edgar Wright’s legendary pacing, razor sharp editing, and rapier’s wit would benefit the eclectic, psychopathic tendencies of the citizens of Pandora? This is a world where people use guns as napkins before shooting the latch to a locker holding bigger guns before an oncoming shootout. This would be an action lover’s dream if shot by the man that showed us one of the most influential fight scenes of all time, making us all wanna learn how to bend backwards in slow motion. And with Mark Mothersbaugh coming fresh off Thor: Ragnorok’s soundtrack, which had a fresh mix of 80s synth that helped shape the film’s awesome Flash Gordon-esque theme, he would no doubt be capable of concocting an adrenaline fueled soundscape to match the comedic slaughter taking place in the corrupt wastelands of Pandora. You might not know it just yet, but you need this team-up’s version of Claptrap, because there’s no way he’s not accidentally killing a horde of psychos at some point in the show.
Director: Steve McQueen
Cinematographer: Anette Haellmigk (Game of Thrones)
Composer: Danny Elfman and Russell Shaw
There are deep seeded levels of personal anguish set in the world of Nosgoth. There’s Kain, a nobleman-turned-vampire, accidentally offsetting the extinction of his kind by causing a time paradox, then murdering his son Raziel for developing a physical transgression he becomes envious of, creating soul-sucking wraith hellbent on righting the wrongs of his father. It’s heavy stuff, but Steve McQueen loves heavy lifting when it comes to storytelling. Their encounters would destroy a nail-biters fingers if shown by Anette Haellmigk, the woman that gave us every horrifying detail of The Viper’s duel against The Mountain in GoT. If Danny Elfman and Russell Shaw of the wonderful Fable soundtracks came on board, and adopted a more sinister tone for the series, we’d finally have a depiction of vampires that’s more in touch with their darker, fantastical side.
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cinematographer: Natasha Braier (Neon Demon/The Rover)
I know the first Condemned was an Xbox exclusive, but the second game wasn’t, so I’m considering the universe fair game. I thought Jennifer Kent did a wonderful job with The Babadook, implementing harrowing psychological terror to represent a mother’s grief. She’d be an exceptional candidate to build a world where The Hate is turning ordinary citizens into beings of horrific violence, all while following the hunt for several renowned serial killers in places that I believe literal serial killers would be terrified of. Natasha Braier’s sleek visuals would give some much needed character to those dark places, amplifying what little light there would be to serve as ports in a storm of visual anxiety. While Moderat is not a group that often does soundtracks, they remain one of my favorite minimal electronic artists. One of their songs was featured in the recent film Annihilation, during a pivotal point towards the end. I believe that track alone justifies their place as composers. If you haven’t heard their stuff, do yourself a favor and look ‘em up.
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049/No Country for Old Men)
Composer: Michael McCann
Since we’re more likely to receive a visit from aliens than the release of Half-Life 3, let’s milk what we’ve got and make what little dreams we have left come true. Fukunaga gave us Beasts of No Nation and True Detective. He’s an artist that derives character poignancy from rigid thematic elements such as multiculturalism and the violent collisions it creates. The oppression of City 17 by the creatures of Xen, as well as their fascist human loyalists, would feel all too familiar in his hands. And Deakins is to cinematography what Yoda is to the Jedi. A dystopian hell mingling with inter-dimensional beings would have people smashing their keyboards to screenshot every frame if he got his hands on this. With Michael McCann lending sound to those images, allowing the atmospheric ambiance of Deus Ex to spill into the series’ highly regarded industrial horror, the potential for television achieving a new golden standard seems pretty high.
Director: Joss Whedon
Cinematographer: Bradford Young (Arrival/Solo: A Star Wars Story)
I know Marvel bled ya dry, Joss, but it’s time to come back and make us feel things. I’m sure many would argue the universe of Dead Space is absolutely not the place they want him to do that in, but think about it. Joss is a prolific aficionado of horror, capable of chiseling genuine humanity from the most outlandish hopeless situations. It’s often bitter sweet, which is a perfect way to handle Isaac Clarke’s journey to the abandoned USG Ishimura in the depths of space to find his girlfriend. Bradford Young’s insanely beautiful work on Arrival is a testament to his command of intimate moments within unsettling locations. Nothing screams intimacy like being a necromorph’s midnight snack. Throw a dash of Lorn into the mix, and you’ve got an oddly grounded space horror punctuated by dark electronic pulsations feeding Clarke’s aggressive paranoia.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cinematographer: Fabian Wagner (Game of Thrones/Sherlock)
Composer: Howard Shore
Why not Dark Souls, you ask? Well, while I would love a live adaptation of that game, I believe it’s predecessor holds just as much, if not more, intriguing layers of ambiguity to its lore that come across as more focused. I know Denis Villeneuve is fast becoming the new godfather of sci-fi, but that’s exactly why I want him lending his talents to such an inspired universe. His complex world building and distinct extension of character through environments would pave an intoxicating path to Boletaria amidst the colourless fogs of chaos. If we were given his vision through the eyes of Fabian Wagner, the beautiful soul that gave us “Battle of the Bastards” in GoT, we would undoubtedly have cinematic gold on our hands. Imagine witnessing a throng of dreglings and undead soldiers rushing our hero along that godforsaken bridge in the Boletarian Palace, just before the emergence of the rightfully feared red dragon. Explicit violence is best accompanied by symphonic arrangements if you ask me, and I can think of few who do it better than Howard Shore. Let’s get him back on those Lord of the Rings vibes, but make it darker. Way, way darker.