Video games don’t get good adaptations. That’s been well-established over the last thirty years. But with The Last of Us wowing critics, is it time to start asking for more? Resident Evil’s next film looks suitably cheesy, but could it be better?
It’s a difficult question to ask. What makes a movie good? The new Mario movie has received terrible reviews, but is popular with fans and is breaking all kinds of financial records. It is not a good movie, but it doesn’t have to be. It is doing exactly what it set out to do.
The Last of Us was well received critically. But how could it be any other way? It has a good storyline, and an adaptation is fairly easy. The original game was already so filmic. It is the perfect video game adaptation, because the video game portions didn’t get in the way of the story.
Resident Evil doesn’t have that benefit. The stories are cheesy and over-the-top, the dialogue is anime-inspired, and has all the subtlety of a Hooters restaurant. They could do a Last of Us-like TV show or film, with very serious people doing very serious things… But then it wouldn’t be Resident Evil.
Not everything has to be high art. I’d love a Mario movie that actually tries to be something. It’d make half as much money, and only people like me would go and see it. I’d love to see a Resident Evil film that takes itself far too seriously as well.
But what both these IPs need and have always needed is to be allowed to be themselves. Let Resident Evil be insane. Let Mario be facile. They better reflect their source material that way.
I would suggest, then, that there isn’t necessarily a problem to fix. Resident Evil films have always been a bit cheesy, and usually it is other decisions that make the film suck. Like the casting in the last live action movie.
Resident Evil: Death Island will be bombastic and probably a bit stupid. And it’ll have a million problems. It’ll get absolutely no love from critics, and fans will tear it apart too. But that’s Resident Evil. Look at how the games are received, and you’ll find exactly the same issue. Nobody hates something more than fans of those very things. See Star Wars.
Perhaps then, a straight adoption across mediums just doesn’t work unless they’re already mostly there anyway. An anime or graphic novel based on Danganronpa is already most of the way there. It would be harder to make a video game adaptation of it.
People want what they want. A serious Resident Evil film is easy to suggest when you don’t have to work out how to make that happen. So much of the debate around video game adaptations comes from a place of “Make a Mario movie, but make it good” with no more thought than that.
And because it’s so vague, it’s not going to go away any time soon. Only when they finally get what they want will they learn to be careful what they wish for.
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