Gaming has been adapted for the small and big screen to a varied degree of success throughout the years. While the earlier attempts often enough lead to almost exclusively bombs rather than the intended hits meant to capitalize on the popularity of its source material. Gaming was not impacted by the early failings of Hollywood but has kept growing to capture the interest of more and more people across the globe. Now if you game Ramses Book, Pokemon, Valorant or Elden Ring take your pick, it no longer seems to matter, Hollywood may have cracked the code for how to make a successful gaming adaptation.
Super Mario Bros. (1993) MetaCritic score 35
If you had the misfortune of catching this movie when it came out expecting to see your favorite plumber only to be treated to Bob Hoskin’s Mario and Dennis Hopper’s “Bowser” running around a gritty New York rather than the Mushroom Kingdom. Perhaps you have an inkling to what was the common issue with these adaptations.
Doom (2005) MetaCritic score 34
The Rock helms this attempt at capturing the magic of one of the most beloved FPS franchises in history. The film fell horribly short as once again the story was far from what you could experience in the game and turned out to be just another run of the mill action movie. Even its star has called the movie a “stinker” in an unfortunate tweet creating some backlash from the fans of the gaming series.
There are of course bigger failures to mention literally anything by Uwe Boll who plagued the industry with his abysmal gaming adaptation for years, notably we have such gems as Alone in the Dark sitting on a whooping 9 over at MetaCritic. And don’t get me started on the Resident Evil movies.
Gaming adaptations have been on the rise lately with movies such as the quite decent Uncharted movie that even if not critically acclaimed did a fair amount at the box office. Or the successful adaptations of The Sonic franchise which thankfully had some major dental adjustments made to the main character before the release of the first film. What Hollywood seems to have grasped may be that you do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the stories you play.
But there is a fine line to thread, while the stories in many cases are enthralling and in some instances better than what is found in movies or television, the parts in-between will be hard to adapt. While struggling thru a horde of enemies or being stuck at a puzzle can be wildly entertaining as you’re playing a game, it would make for pretty drab entertainment for the viewer.
Seemingly no-one has cracked this until now with the HBO show The Last of Us based on the Naughty Dog hit game with the same name. In The Last of Us we follow Joel and Ellie as they traverse an apocalyptic America ravaged by an outbreak of biblical proportions. With the stellar Pedro Pascal as Joel and the impressive Bella Ramsey as Ellie, we have been treated to a show that not only stays true to the original story but at times improves upon it.
The Last of Us is currently sitting at an impressive 84 over on MetaCritic and is pushing its viewership to new heights with each episode. I for one cannot wait for season 2.
Only time will tell if this is a true shift in how Hollywood handles these gaming properties or if this is just a one off. We do have the latest attempt at the Mushroom kingdom coming up with the impending release of Super Mario Bros. Movie with Chris Pratt as Mario sounding an awful lot like, well just Chris Pratt.