Games meet movies

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Games meet movies

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Video game-based movies first hit the box office in 1993 with “Super Mario Bros.” and they have struggled ever since. This first in a long series of disappointments would receive a critics rating of 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Although it would be easy to criticize nearly every aspect of video game-based movies, the stories of most games don’t lend themselves to being turned into films with any sort of comprehensible plot – certainly not Super Mario Bros.

This year, four movies will be coming out based on video games: “Ratchet and Clank” (April 29), The “Angry Birds Movie” (May 20), “Warcraft” (June 10), and “Assassin’s Creed” (December 21). Despite the measly record-high of 44 percent on Rotten Tomatoes for video game-based movies, achieved by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), I have high hopes for at least some of these films about to be released.

Unfortunately, the first film of the year will likely be something of a disappointment. The “Ratchet and Clank” games rely heavily on earning and modifying new weaponry in order to battle your way through closed-course levels. Although the gameplay is enjoyable and the extent to which one can personalize their experience is well developed, the plots are not. Even during the games themselves, levels rarely connect to one another or further the story in any meaningful way. The characters Ratchet and Clank have some depth that slowly develops throughout the series, but likely not enough to support an entire movie.

If any of the four upcoming films is lacking in character backstory, it’s “The Angry Birds Movie.” This isn’t necessarily detrimental to the success of the movie, because the characters can start from scratch.

Looking at the current cast gives some hope to the quality of the movie, with stars such as Jason Sudeikis, Peter Dinklage and Kate McKinnon voicing some of the birds we know from the popular app, created by Rovio. Obviously, obstacles exist for a movie based on such a simple game. In the myriad Angry Birds games produced, there has rarely been a discernible or memorable plot. However, like the character development, this just means that writer Jon Vitti could take the story in practically any direction so long as the antagonists are quirky, green pigs. “The Angry Birds Movie” has potential, but at this point< it’s difficult to predict due the flexibility of essentially every aspect of the film.

The next video game-based movie of the year, “Warcraft,” will be a monster in the box office regardless of movie quality. The fan base has grown ever since the original Warcraft game, “Warcraft: Orcs and Humans,” came out in 1994. The total number of people subscribed to “World of Warcraft,” Blizzard Entertainment’s popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) surpassed 100 million by 2014. The total hours logged by these players is an absolutely staggering 5.9 million years. The Warcraft universe contains both plenty of story depth to draw upon from the games and thoroughly developed characters with intricate and interwoven backstories.

From the trailer, it appears as though the movie is CGI heavy, and the orcs are definitely approaching the uncanny valley. The main concern is that “Warcraft” will take itself too seriously for its own good. The games’ dialogue typically has a goofiness about it, which is entertaining, but which I can’t see translating into a movie successfully even if it’s predominantly action based.

Coming out on Dec 21, 2016 will be “Assassin’s Creed,” starring Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, a modern day man who explores the memories of his assassin ancestor Aguilar. There have been several well-received installments based on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, such as “Assassin’s Creed: Lineage” and “Assassin’s Creed: Ascendance,” which is a good sign for the largest production up to date. It’s still too early to say and no trailers have yet been released, but looking at the screenwriters’ (Bill Collage and Adam Cooper) previous films, it seems like “Assassin’s Creed” is going to be a mildly entertaining movie that will be enjoyable and popular, but will be nothing profound.

As for hard predictions of these four, “The Angry Birds Movie” will be best received, and its Pixar-esque qualities will help popularize it with kids and the adults who bring them. It also helps that of the video game-based movies, the Angry Birds fan base doesn’t have much to nitpick about between game and movie. The highest grossing of the four will be “Warcraft,” due to its immense fan base and devotion to the franchise. On top of that, it appears to be a fantasy story that wouldn’t alienate those who haven’t played the games, something “Assassin’s Creed” and “Ratchet and Clank” might have to worry about.