From Cutscene To Celluloid: An Introduction

02/07/2017  By  Ashley Herald     No comments

Video game movies (in this instance, films adapted from video games, particularly those made via Hollywood) have a notoriously bad reputation. One need only take a look at the scores on Rotten Tomatoes to get an idea of how beloved these films are:

15% – Street Fighter (1994)
19% – 
Doom (2005)
34% – Resident Evil (2002)
34% – Mortal Kombat (1995)
20% – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) 
5% – Super Mario Bros. (1993)
18% – Assassin’s Creed (2016) 

For those who aren’t familiar with the scores on Rotten Tomatoes, the percentages for each film represent the reviews that gave the film a 60% or higher. It’s the percentage of critics who felt the movie was barely average or better.

Meaning, those are the percentages of critics who wrote a review for the film, and thought the movie earned better than a D-. That’s not a rigorous standard, folks. “Barely not fail” is not a high bar to jump over, but the majority of critics felt those flicks didn’t even manage that.

We can speculate as to why this is the trend. Maybe it’s that since video games are interactive, they don’t necessarily require much character development, and that doesn’t translate to film very well. Maybe it’s because the adaptation of a video game has multiple creative visions to accommodate – the game studio, the movie studio, and the director, to name just a few. The reasons could be myriad. We could speculate on this…

…or we could write about each of these movie series in the context of the time they were made, the creative pressures that molded them, and whether they successfully stand alone apart from their source material.

Welcome to Front Row Central’s newest column, From Cutscene to Celluloid. We’re going to examine live action adaptations of video games and the stories of their production, to see why their often intriguing premises don’t always pan out into great films, and to see what qualities they have that might have gone overlooked. Maligned though they are, there may still be something to enjoy, even if it’s just the story of how they came to be.

If you’re curious about what that might look like, then I invite you to check out our first entry: Doom.


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About Ashley Herald


Ashley Herald is an avid lover of science and science fiction, sociology, cinema, and other things that start with an "s" sound. When not writing for Front Row Central they pursue graduate degrees. You can follow them on twitter: @ash_words

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