Despite enough Wiki entries to keep the Manga market busy re-imagining with the added insertion of octopus tentacles and school girls getting raped until Disney comes knocking with Snow White Hollywood still persists in trying to turn bits and bytes into bank roll and bums on seats. The gamer coin is one prone to being thrown at anything canon flavoured and Mario coloured, so with a new generation of gamers learning to RTFM on forums across the web the landscape is ripe once more for the sewing of misery seeds in the guise of films based on games.
For every Pokemon; The Movie there is a Prince of Persia, the audience approval dictated to by number of nods a licence will allow whilst trying maintain a modicum of ‘serious film with pathos and that’ that snacks of deluded Oscar nominations. Cartoon based fodder will always fair better, even Sonics hoggy hubris appealing to those still kicking it 2D style or under twelve. But real action releases still fall way short of anything less than disappointing, so to that end we have five of titles that, whilst all good sense and reason demands they and their kind be buried at a crossroads beneath Eric Clapton, they are nevertheless majestic in their moribund of mistakes and mis-stepping manhandled mirth…
5 – STREET FIGHTER
Released: Dec 23 1994
Cost To Make: $35,000,000
Box Office: $99,423, 521
The daddy, the boss, and the big bad wolf himself, Street Fighter has to be the first entry in the list, coming in at the fripperies at number five. Van Damme’s Street Fighter may rank high in the minds of those who care as the standard-bearer, the de facto fall guy called upon when required to give evidence against the film industry in its handling of games and their licence. A unanimous travesty, it speaks much of how highly the film is thought by being both loved and hated for the same things and in equal measure.
Having Kylie jump about a bit helped and Gomez gunning his best M. Bison every time the camera even threatened to look at him never loses its appeal through repeated viewings, his delivery one of an actor who took one look at the hand-delivered turd wrapped in one hundred-dollar bills held in the hands of the naked concubine before him, shrugged, and snorted his way to the final boss fight. From a Balrog more ball-sack than boxer and a Blanka straight out of a PDSA appeal video for Aids-riddled Pugs, the studio behind the script seemingly had ‘bad guy does bad stuff…and that’ as an outline and knocked off for the rest of day.
Setting such high water marks in the pantheon of cinematic tie-ins it opened the floodgates for any director with enough clout to buy a license and enough sense to employ only those actors who clearly have no idea what the hell is going on to take the mantle of Movie-Game Tie-In That Doesn’t Suck, creating a sub-genre of films whose sole redeeming feature boils down to ‘better than Street Fighter, but that’s not saying much’.
4 – RESIDENT EVIL SERIES
First Film Released: March 15, 2002
Cost To Make: $33,000,000
Box Office: $102,441,078
Perhaps closer to actually being a film than most the Resident Evil series has stoically took the cramped, claustrophobic camera angles of its early games and re-invented a Gears Of Evil hybrid, and has sustained a fair amount of flak from the mouth breathers nailing their colours to the Fan-Boy post. Thankfully the films have taken a massive body swerve of practically everything to do with the games themselves, wrote a bare bones script along the lines of ‘Zombies…guns…Milla Jovovich…Credits’ and threw it out for the derision of most.
And rightly so, with wobbly set-pieces and enemies adhering to the Bond Villain school of logistics that look even more obviously wrong once the CGI gets slapped on top and Weskers taking off his glasses, anti-Horatio-style. But to their credit and lauded applause the director and holders of the purse strings have shied away from such over-complications as plausibility as they Geppetto their way through five installments of fan-bait where in-depth explanation makes way for tits and science is always the bad guy.
They started out well enough, a vague attempt to disguise the blatant shoe horning of Leeloo into the undead drivel. But since they destroyed the Hive in the first film and blew their load with the Nemesis in the second they’ve just been scraping whatever bits they can find off the cutting room floor from films where anyone gave a shit and dubbing over the result. Worse than a Russian film about hope the films are now an entirely separate entity that nonetheless is part of the Resident Evil universe, yet as apart from the other titles in the series of disposable dead as the games are to each other, giving whichever director getting the next turn of the wheel an almost blank vista and cheque with which to create his own inspired Romero rip-off.
With only the vaguest of constraints as to what absolutely has to appear (zombies, Umbrella and unashamed racist sub-characters) the Resident Evil films are still some way from being the leading light of zombiedom Capcom set out to create way back with the very first game. And with no other studios apparently capable or bothered enough to try dipping their bread in the undead gravy train, they’re somehow still managing to come second in a one horse race.
3 – Silent Hill
Released: April 21, 2006
Cost To Make: $50,000,000
Box Office: $97,607,453
Yes, it’s set in a town called Silent Hill for the most part, and yes, there is a Pyramid Head lurking around, knocking on doors and tearing flesh from barmy bit-part players. But for all the fog and forgettable surroundings there’s only a showing of a wooden sign near the beginning of the film to link this film to the quintessential Konami classic.
Sean Penn turns up looking for his missus with a bunch of dodgy cops he’s trying to convince of his wife’s sanity to – despite her kidnapping their kid and SUV and running off in the middle of the night to a deserted town of her dreams that somehow holds the power to curing their childs night-time walkies along cliff edges.
Sirens wail and darkness descends and a token character gets ritually burnt at the stake in a church so check for the anti-religion thing, but in a series where religion hasn’t so much been ignored as normalised like a carton of homogenized milk it’s only the collective cult inhabiting its hallowed quarters chanting along to the soundtrack of crispy-cop that comes even close to justifying a scene that could’ve been played out in a sports hall or Greggs.
With the town itself being the main villain in the game trying to convey such a premise to a passive audience requires a delicacy and touch most notable in black and white art house French films. And as they have the decency to balance the pretension with porn you can tolerate the feeling of not being fully involved with the action on-screen, the scenery and score pleasing between shots of mademoiselle minge. But with this we get a film based on someone’s idea of what The Grudge was about based on his brief read of the blurb on the back of the Hollywood remake.
2 – Double Dragon
Released: Nov 4, 1994
Cost To Make: $16,000,000
Box Office: $2,341,309
With two of the whitest Asians God would’ve wondered about facing up against a T-1000 with Vanilla Ice hair the scene is set for the mighty side scrolling giant Double Dragon to become the porn-film without porn it so obviously set-out to be. There are accents you can’t place and outfits so fetishistic you’re subconsciously waiting for the tearing of Velcro trousers that reveal the lead characters lunch dragging on the floor behind him, fight scenes choreographed to include insertion and penetration shots at every opportunity lest the director decides to move the scenes around.
Fight sounds are manly and grunted accordingly, and even the martial cries of ‘ha!’ ring loud and proud and not at all like a round-eyed schoolgirl of Asian birth when confronting a many tentacled thing dripping with lascivious splodge. There’s a plot involving a medallion and as much as Labyrinth tried there’s something about weird eyebrows that automatically mark the owner down as a bad’un, imbues them with the power to command all who fear such hirsute hierarchy and form gangs of strapping brainless bruisers, train them in the noble art of queuing patiently for the protagonists to finish wailing on their cohorts before stepping up to take their turn and testing how firmly set in their jaw their teeth are.
Some nods to the cannon and the cliché ‘heroes stand-off’ was seemingly enough to send filmmakers giggling into their nose candy at the prospect of how many gamers would shell out for a ticket on opening night. Learning nothing from this disaster Mortal Kombat applied the same rules and threw in a Lambert for good measure, and only managed to add weight to the thought that Highlander 2 would’ve been rechristened Mortal Kombat for all the difference it would’ve made and at least then we’ve had Sean Connery too.
1 – Alone In The Dark
Released: Jan 28, 2005
Cost To Make: $20,000,000
Box Office: $10,442,808
As almost every image I could find relating to this film proved the title to be not just one, but two big fat lies it seems fitting Alone In The Dark take number one spot on the Shit-List. Being neither Alone nor in the Dark for nearly 100% of the film Christian Slater is steered through this exploding mid-fuck of disambiguation and misplaced career choices that represents Uwe Boll’s finest directorial attributes with none of the usual things your Hollywood-addle.
d brain has come to expect in a film – like a main character you actually care about, for instance. Such a bold stance to take, for when was the last time you watched a film and couldn’t tell much less care who died?
As you catch yourself counting the number of people on-screen so you notice when somebody’s missing there’s a tiny respite in the knowledge that, in a film of this kind only ancillary characters die; at any point in the film you can wander away, grab yourself a snack, check out your forehead for blackheads and maybe have a go at flushing the bog, and when you come back you only need see the Slater or his sciency-bird Big Tits to know no-one crucial to the outcome of the film has stopped blocking the IKEA cut-out backdrop and pigeons.
There’s something about monsters and orphans and I think that’s meant to tie it in with the games, but if it wasn’t for the title there’d be nothing here to recommend as a way of spending two hours of your life you will never, ever get back. As a game-to-film translation it lacks even more, for nothing beyond the machinations of the minds of 4Chan has missed the mark so completely whilst still managing to soil the target so wholly no-one’s brave enough to go check it’s still breathing. Listen to the commentary, however, and it’s a Fried Slice of Gold, as the eponymous Uwe wittels his way through his thought process and reasoning behind each and every second of his cinematic master-piss without irony or shame.
Spoilers: ‘Money’ is the answer to both unasked inquiries; along with ‘How did this get the green light?’, ‘What’s Christian Slater doing to Big Tits; Arrgh, why aren’t there more lights on set!?’ and ‘Out of ‘anal rape’, ‘chimps fighting with knives’ and ‘throwing more money at the sucking black chasm of despair that’s gonna need a helluva lot more a bit of nip-slip for it to become even vaguely watchable, and some CGI’, which was the most likely decision taken by Uwe when trying to improve this artistic abortion?’
If you’re going to fail, fail big, and for Uwe his lot is indeed large; his commentary lauds and applauds his working of the tax system that has more of the Doctor No. than director Boll about it. His two dogs even get in on the track, their input and insight as invaluable as the content of the DVD disc itself. But for some true inspiration skip through until near then end, just after he’d waxed lyrical about European funding in the film industry, and hear his confused, almost broken ramblings against his detractors and nay-sayers, his betters and just about everybody else on the planet he hasn’t challenged to a boxing match and possibly the Swiss as well.
You’ll never hear Spielberg burn-out in a commentary like this, and for that reason alone Uwe should keep making his films; a fantastic travesty of bastardom to a man, but from House of the Dead through to Alone In The Dark, Far Cry and Postal, the Boll legacy will live long in the cinematic landscape. Because even the Garden of Eden needed a compost heap.