Could A Video Game To Film Adaptation Ever Work?

Daria Paterek

After the recent release of the Uncharted trailer, I wanted to reflect on the legacy and commercial success of video game to film adaptations. Super Mario Bros was the first movie based on a video game, which began a long legacy of video game adaptations. This later spawned iconic titles such as Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil. But video game adaptations are not slowing down anytime soon, despite mixed receptions. Mortal Kombat and Werewolves Within are titles released in 2021, with Uncharted and The Mario Movie coming out in 2022. The consistent release of video game to film adaptations has made Daria ask: could a video game to film adaptation ever work?

Upon initially watching the Uncharted trailer, I had mixed feelings. While the film takes inspiration from Uncharted 4, the trailer also merges elements and storylines from other Uncharted games- which is a bizarre choice. The casting also seems like a strange decision. In Uncharted 4, Nathan Drake is 40 years old, while Tom Holland looks half that age. Casting was the most common critique in the comment section, which despite majorly positive reception, has 21,000 dislikes. The movie trailer also reuses sequences from Uncharted 3 and 4, completely shattering the canon of the series.

these games do not have strong storylines, as they rely on experience rather than character/plot development

Video game to film adaptations often don’t work well. But why is that? Firstly, video games are an individual experience. In particular, titles such as Mario and Sonic are all based on user experience, and there is often not one linear way to play them, which can lead to awkward storylines in movies. Also, these games do not have strong storylines, as they rely on experience rather than character/plot development. Contrarily, the basis of a movie is a storyline, which doesn’t translate well in game to film adaptations.

Secondly, movies have time restraints, while video games can last anything from 10 to 60 hours, so the storyline and character development are cut dramatically. Lastly, these adaptations have dubious casting decisions. The most obvious and recent example is Chis Pratt, who will play Mario in the upcoming Mario movie. 

An alternative substitute to film adaptations could be video games to TV series, like The Last of Us adaptation. Since a TV series would be longer, the storyline would be adequately developed, there would be room for character development, and the experience would be more immersive to viewers (e.g. the success of The Witcher). Alternatively, a Black Mirror: Bandersnatch approach could be effective. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was the perfect balance between experience and interactivity.

why should directors push themselves to make them masterpieces?

Yet it is unlikely that these adaptations will stop. Despite low reviews from critics, video game adaptations perform incredibly well at the box office. The 2016 Warcraft adaptation, which achieved a 28% Rotten Tomatoes score, grossed over $439 million worldwide. With such a financial incentive, it is improbable that these adaptations will end.

I doubt that a great video game to film adaptation will ever be made. But since these movies are easy to make and are almost guaranteed successes, why should directors push themselves to make them masterpieces?

Daria Paterek

Featured Image courtesy of Anton Fenix via Flickr. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image.

In-article video 1 courtesy of Playstation via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

In-article image 1 courtesy of @Imp_Animator via @twitter.com. No changes were made to this image.

For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.


Leave a Reply