5 Advantages Video Games Have Over Hollywood
I have a friendly rivalry with our movie guru Pete Vonder Haar...and by friendly rivalry I mean I've tattooed a reminder to murder him for his beat onto my chest so I see it every morning when I wake up. It's not fair, I tell you! He gets to go to movie screenings, and get cited by other journalists, and grow a real beard, and stuff. By contrast, one of my highest-rated columns involved steampunk dildos.
Not sure which industry to blame for this one.
I console myself by being the staff video game reviewer, which while not as glamorous is still pretty awesome. They come right to my door; I don't even have to leave the house. Nintendo, Square Enix and other big boys of the geek world have my name on a list to send free stuff to. That's a good deal.
Yet, sometimes I remember that I just don't have the legitimacy that Pete has with his Hollywood blockbuster reviews and distinctive style. So in a state of utter and complete pissiness, today I present you with five things I've noticed that video games have over the Hollywood elite.
Name a cinematic remake that topped the original? The 1990 Night of the Living Dead? Maybe Cronenberg's The Fly? The rest are generally unnecessary crap that everyone hates but still goes to see because the American moviegoing public is a lot like Charlie Brown, with Hollywood being Lucy holding the football. We keep hoping, but no dice. Even when they do a shot-for-shot copy of the original like with Van Sant's Psycho, no one is happy.
I can think of at least two reasons the remake was better.
By contrast, video game remakes are almost always better than the original, and fans clamor for more all the time, to the deaf ears of game makers. Look at the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV that utterly blew away the original, and it was the third remake at that. Or take Super Castlevania IV on the SNES. Here it was given the IV to make American audiences think it was a sequel to Dracula's Curse, but in Japan they knew it for what it was: an incredible reimagining of the first game.
Hell, I put together an entire list of games I keep hoping Nintendo gives the updated DS treatment too. It's a consistent and excellent phenomenon because fans like seeing classic stories given new life with the latest technology. Sure, there are misses...Chrono Trigger comes to mind, as does Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, but the complaint against those titles is that they didn't change enough. It's the opposite of what happens in Hollywood.
What do movies by Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich and almost every other big-budget action flick have in common? When they are released, they are going to derisively be called mindless popcorn fare. There are very few action films that ultimately break free of this stigma.
Not pictured: An in-depth discussion of Objectivism.
When it comes to video games and the opposite trend, you have to look no further than BioShock. The series is constantly applauded by critics for its amazing depth, plot twists and philosophical explorations. Those things are all there, true, but they make up maybe an hour total of the 20 or so hours you'll play the game. What makes up the other 19? Shooting murder mutants and setting them on fire with pyrokinesis.
Now, I'm not taking anything away from BioShock. It's my favorite non-Batman game series, but if you made a film with 1 percent deep philosophy and story and 99 percent murder and explosions, I'm pretty sure folks like Pete would call it destruction porn drivel. Put it in a video game and it's like Thomas Aquinas.