It'd be stupid to think that we have enough whole video game films to actually validate as being some sort of quality cinema. So instead the best we could muster so far is just mere moments and flashes of genius that we return to or remember in video game films. Here are the top 10 greatest moments in video game film history.
10) Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within: Aki Ross wakes up from a dream and moves.
No this isn't the start of a joke list (that's much later). While FF:TSW was a total goose egg of which hurt Squaresoft possibly greater than any other venture in this business there was still something so awesome about seeing the first few screenshots of their project. Who can still remember the close up of Aki Ross screenshot years before the film came out? As it slowly revealed that the film was going to be less about Fantasy and more about Sci-Fi it pretty much put a few dozen nails in it's coffin. Some people might defend it to be a good film if you don't see it as a Final Fantasy film. I might be inclined to agree but it being only $9.00 NEW in my local bargain bin, it's hard to argue with logic like that.
While it still has it's place in history for probably being the biggest single video game movie flop ever I think it was still pretty amazing the way that Aki Ross moved in the film. You never seen anything in so much detail before in 3D let alone more photo realistic 3D. Even though mo-cap will most always be complete stilted shit, they did pretty well here. While everyone else had the benefit of short hair or ponytails (which probably saved a LOT of animating time) Aki was the real 3D star of the film being far more fluid and smooth than most of the other human characters. It took nearly 2 console generations to surpass the 3D detail present in FF:TSW.
It might have been a bad video game movie, but it did what no other video game movie did at the time. Make a 3D film that was more real world than any other CG movie at the time.
9) The Wizard: Super Mario Bros. 3 is introduced.
I know that The Wizard was from my joke list, but when this film was going to come out, anyone even remotely related to gaming was going apeshit over this film. This was light years before we wanted the gaming medium legitimized in the mainstream culture, the reveal of SMB 3 in a MOVIE of all damn things was like going to E3 when you were a kid. This movie wasn't for everyone, as much as Christian Slater and Fred Savage might try to bring in some sort of familiarity, it was for US the gamers. This was basically the first mega game trailer because when that game hit the screen...you pretty much lost it all.
8) Tomb Raider: The Robot Training sequence.
We want tits.
That's basically all we need. While there was a big huff over Michelle "Man Hands" Rodriguez not being cast because he breasts weren't as large as her digits; Angelina Jolie was the perfect choice for playing Lara Croft. Personally on a visual scale, I could never really draw a direct likeness with Jolie and Croft. Jolie's look is just too distinct and while Croft had similar emphasized attributes that Jolie possessed, Croft was far more convincingly represented by Mike Turner's interpretation in the comics IMHO. Likenesses aside there might have been some speculation whether Jolie could pull off the British accent or the action sequences.
The only thing that I really liked from Tomb Raider Movie was the first intro sequence. No character building, no crazy revelations, just pure action. You know that she raids tombs, but that's in the damn title. While the robot wasn't a dinosaur it certainly fought better than one. At the time it was one of the best choreographed fight scenes in a video game movie or even an action movie. It had enough physics defying movement to look like a video game on the move, but not enough to just totally cheese you out on believing it. It was cool, it was hot and all without having to specifically tit it out for us.
7) Resident Evil: The Laser Room
I'm sure that most of you remember only one thing from Resident Evil: The Movie. Alice Matrix kicking the dog in the head. While this almost set up an expectation of this bad habit to be reoccurring when you saw the trailer thankfully that was the only incident. Quite a few disappointments all around for this film. Little to no reference to actual Resident Evil content and a Licker taking the place of Tyrant for the end antagonist. Like FF:TSW RE: The Movie was a good film but for being a video game film it fell short of expectations. However the film wasn't a total abortion.
In an effort to almost force video game movies to be taken seriously they put some real gore into the film. The Laser Room was a sweet experience for any movie goer to see because it was tense, you were at the edge of your seat, it was a first taste of something actually going wrong for the protagonists in the film and resulted in some pretty fantastic deaths. Checkerboard Laser grid has hella priority over anything else. It's nice that the result of said laser room actually made it into RE4 which goes to show that perhaps it wasn't all that shitty. The only gripe was that Colin Salmon aka ONE had to sacrifice his character for a death worthy of any Predator.
6) Final Fantasy Advent Children: Cloud Vs. Sephiroth.
Like the worst kept spoiler in gaming history, Cloud vs. Sephiroth was totally expected even if it was cryptically revealed. In this thank you letter to all the FF Fans/Suckers (take your pick) we get an eye candy experience and a battle that was as cool as seeing the Omnislash the first time (once again coolness factor determined by own personal preference). While I could say what made this scene awesome, I think the more important question is #6? #6 ON A TOP TEN LIST?.
Why it's so "low" is as a movie it's a toss up into the air whether it was well done or not. After all the belts and zippers...I mean whistles; it really does boil down to a thank you letter to all the FF7 fans and then video game fans and then...well that's it. The next in line would be anime fans; in fact it'd probably appeals to more anime fans than general video game fans. However just catering to a single demographic that's even narrower than some sub-genres of film really makes this film suffer a bit. Ideally speaking, a film should be enjoyable on it's own; not because it's attached to nearly a decade of nostolgia. While some people try to bank on that feeling, I don't think it was as ever as blatant as FF:AC
The other major hurdle is against it is that as a video game movie; it doesn't represent the genre all that well. Yeah I know RPGs are hard to adapt, I mean afterall it's about the storyline. However when FF:AC seems more like a typical anime than something distinctly video game, you begin to wonder if this film was already made beforehand but at the last minute decided to replace the characters with FF7 models. As if to admit to their lack of video game roots in the film; take for instance one of the few defining gameplay elements in FF7 not being present in the battle. Yuffie holding the box of materia is like a kid wondering why she couldn't bring their game console to the birthday party...because there's no place for gaming at the party when there are other things that deserve more attention.
5) Mortal Kombat: Johnn Cage vs. Scorpian
One could argue that Mortal Kombat was the first good video game movie. When I mean good I mean not bad...as in "Doesn't like feel like you're being raped by a baseball bat covered in barb-wire." While some of the fights were pretty cool, like the Liu Kang vs. Sub-Zero fight, it still lacked a certain something. Showcases of actual special moves or power were seperate from the actual fighting. Actual fighting such as Sonya vs. Kano or Liu Kang vs. The Black Guy dies second didn't actually showcase anything video gamey. Even the Sub-Zero fight showed elements that were not originally in the game. However when it came to Johnny Cage vs. Scorpian, it was like someone actually got it.
Somehow...I don't know how they still did it, they managed to balance film elements with video game elements in this fight. The Harpoon was used in both a great way but different enough so it didn't show the one-dimensional trick pony that it really is. They had an awesome fight scene that just kicked mass amounts of ass. A fatality that could have been horribly done but didn't screw up. And best of all...even adding the right bit of video game wit with Johnny Cage's signed photo burning up at the end of the scene. As if nodding to the MK itself saying, "Yeah we know what we're doing. It's a video game film not just some film based upon a video game."
4) Street Fighter the Animated Movie: Chun-Li shower scene
Ok this was from a potential non-serious list as well, but hear me out. I'm sure that 99% of us have seen Chun-Li naked in one form or another. Whether through poorly drawn fanart or hentai doujins, aside from Mai and the DoA cast, she's basically the most molested video game character in hentai history. However it's always been a sort of weird fascination ever since she appeared on the scene in SF2. There's just something that attracts all the boys to her, perhaps a subconscious similarity to princess Leia with her hairbuns. Perhaps a little of yellow fever. It might be because she has that hair done up, much like movie prudes who let down their business hair, take off their glasses and are just sex machines wanting a good bang. Perhaps it's because it's long legs or we can see her underwear if we pause just correctly during her spinning bird kick. Whatever the reason we are still attracted to her (or at least hate her for being so overrated).
The shower scene in Street Fighter the Animated Movie is monumental because it basically legitimizes her nudity. It's basically if someone acknowledged a side heavily debated topic in some franchise as canon. It's the real world equivalent of waiting for a playboy pictorial of some never-before-nude celebrity or some sort of nude sequence. What makes it even better is that is given the opinion of DOA's Igataki getting up in a huff over his "daughters" it's like Capcom not only doesn't give a shit about their creation being nude, but they fully encourage it. Go ahead, fuck my daughter, I'll even pay the bill for dinner! However many times a gamer has busted a nut over unofficial art of Chun-Li, at least this time we can do it without the guilt of going to an outside non-sanctioned source. Those are official tits people. Enjoy them while you can.
3) Doom: FPS Mode
There hasn't been many games that are so ingrained in reality with consideration for making a film out of it. There has always been a some element of fantasy that made some aspects of a film unadaptable. Whether it be the costume design of Super Mario Bros. the movie or Street Fighter; or a fantastical element such as the Shadow Boss of Double Dragon. In the end a video game film often hinges on a seemingly innocuous characteristic that is either so badly represented or so blown out of scale, that the film suffers more than it should from something so small.
Doom is sort of an odd duck. There's nothing special about the protagonist aside from being a space marine. A noble profession for the future I envision but what makes Doom great for adaptation is that it's storyline is simple. Start off with Rambo, add in a bit of Hellraiser, a dash of Event Horizon and a shit load of ammo and there...you have Doom. The fact that the only fantasy element in this series is the creatures from hell, shows that this movie could work. This movie can work. Hell has been something explored in movies for decades. This FPS adapted into a...wait.
First Person Shooter?
Ok I guess a bit too simple. I mean as much as the fantasy elements are in check therein lies the rub. How fun is it going to see a film about space marines killing the demons of hell on an abandoned space facility? Sounds like a great film. But how is anyone going to even recognize this as a video game film as opposed to say...Ghosts of Mars? Aside from the Chainsaw, the BFG and some recognizable enemies, there's hardly anything that would make this distinct from every other movie out there. HECK THEY DIDN'T EVEN MENTION HELL ONCE in the film! While we gamers want our video game movies to be able to blend into the cinema landscape; we still want our genre to be recognized. Perhaps Doom was a bit too non-special.
Until the FPS mode sequence.
Your opinion may vary but adding that basically made the film into a video game film. How it didn't suck great donkey sac was a Christmas miracle because they got it. It was like had a competent FPS pro as a consultant in production to say what worked and what didn't worked. It was possible the closest experience most of us will have to witnessing a FPS on a movie theatre sized screen.
A funny thing was that moment was a potential #2 until #3 usurped it's position.
2) Silent Hill: Pyramid Head Appears
When it comes to video game films, there's a certain pride in having some sort of big named actor or actress to join the cast. Perhaps they might be the one to make this movie awesome. Perhaps they might be the perfect looking person for the video game character to come to life. Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, The Rock, all of these people to whatever degree of Alphabetical-designated celebrity status was like a supernova of hope in the gamer's mind that perhaps THIS will be the actor who will finally bring some nobility to the fine medium of gaming. With the introduction of Uwe Boll perhaps what was more important is who was behind the lens rather than who was in front of it.
So we come to Christopher Gans.
And we come to Silent Hill. A franchise that is just ripe for the silver screen and the result? Unimaginable harmony. While we have few problems labeling genres of games, translating them into film is an entirely different experience. What is Super Mario Bros.? A Sci-Fi epic (perhaps given the setting of Galaxy)? Or a supernatural fantasy film? Even the relatively well done Mortal Kombat is hard to defined as just a "fighter" when obviously the film has so much else to present. However if you were to say horror, that's exactly what both the game and film are. It can't be any easier to show a behemoth of a demon with a metallic pyramid mask wreaking your shit. It could have been so easy to fuck up, but Christopher Gans in his vision managed not to. As if even the simplicity of genre classification was too easy a mark, he managed to truly bring a nobility of creativity and comparatively faithfulness, given the history of VG movies, to the source material to the film. Pyramid Head appearing on screen was as frightening as any other moment in horror history and once it did appear, you didn't think that he was a video game character. For this film, he was the lovechild of Jacob's Ladder and Conan.
And...the Number 1 video game movie moment is.....
1) The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: The entire film.
For the longest time gaming has been looked down upon as a hobby of geeks, nerds, anti-social suicidal serial killers and children. While the idea of gaming culture has always been trying to find an outlet in legitimizing it's place in society as a perfectly normal facet of life, as normal as literature, movies, television or any other entertaining medium through higher production values, more realistic presentation, better dialogue, adaptation into a film or *gasp* celebrity endorsement there is seriously nothing that furthers the agenda of gamers from changing the perception of gamers than King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters.
Yes I know these guys are middle aged adults holding onto a game that should have an age range of 5-8. In some ways it feels like a step waaaaaaay the fuck back into promoting the stereotype of gamers. However if you could ignore that visual shit just look at it. Look at what these people are saying. Look at who they are. They are the fucking BLUEPRINT for gamers everywhere today. A generation ago is when gaming culture formed and basically written how gamers act. The competition, the practice, the strategies that would make gamefaqs authors shit a brick. The skill, the talent, the mindset of gamers...it's all there 25 years ago as much as it is today. The drive to see the game, play the game, break the game, the drive to see people play the game, to see people win at the damn thing and strategize. To find the complexity in simplicity and enjoy the game for more than it represents. These aren't bad things because you have to see past the negatives and come out looking at what is accomplished here. They show that even gamers have normals well balanced lives outside of gaming.
How many times have you heard a gamer say "I played games all my life and look how I turned out." Pretty common eh? Pretty much the gut reaction to most negative comments about gamers that seem to pop up and discredit us as lawabiding citizens and not some videogame equivalent to the pedophiles in To Catch a Predator. However when have you ever explained yourself? When have you actually talked to someone to explain gaming to them and made them understand? It's hard enough to explain fucking instructions to anyone who's eager to find out how work their computer software but to have them sit still and absorb the idea and culture of gaming? Good fucking luck with that.
Well that is what KoK is. It is the explanation that all of us are trying to tell people but never quite gotten the right opportunity to do so. Where we can't keep someone to sit down with us for an hour and a half to explain gaming culture to them and why we like it; that commitment of that $10 ticket and that $8 in overpriced concession snacks basically affords to lay it out on people and lay it on thick. This isn't some lecture that they are forced against their will to listen, they WANT to listen to this. For better or for worse, they'll laugh, they'll cry, they'll cheer and above all else they will see gamers, the most hardcore of gamers exhibit the human qualities that they seem to fail to recognize in real life.
In the end King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarter is the best video game moment and best video game movie because it does what no other video game movie has ever done...put a human face on gaming. It gives a story that will engage the audience on such an emotional level, they finally have a protagonist they can relate to. In the end it shows that perhaps they shouldn't judge the gamer for it's place in society but the gamer instead.