In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson said he doesn’t buy into the superstition that adapting video games into critically acclaimed movies is impossible. The remark is quite an audacious one, not only because the vast majority of video game adaptations up to this point have flopped, but also because Anderson has got one in the works himself.
Interestingly, he spoke with EW to celebrate the 25th anniversary of another video game adaptation he had directed, Mortal Kombat. Based on the popular arcade-style fighting game series, this picture – though widely regarded as a cult classic – currently sports a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Even if the past has indicated that good video games do not necessarily make for great movies, it does not – so Anderson believes – dictate that a successful adaptation of the medium must be impossible to pull off. “Lots of books get adapted and the adaptations don’t work,” he told EW, “but no one is saying book adaptations are cursed.”
Of course, video games are a bit different from novels. Where books and films present a story to passive observers, games demand their audiences to become actively involved with the experience happening on screen. To be sure, elements of interests can overlap. There are many games, for instance, which have featured stories the likes of which would make for good movies if adapted word for word.
As far as his own work is concerned, however, Anderson likes to take the opposite route. Both Mortal Kombat and Monster Hunter (not to mention his Resident Evil films) are, at the end of the day, action-based video games in which story takes a back seat to the combat. And by choosing these types of games over narrative-based ones like, for instance, the Uncharted or Last of Us series, Anderson is able to chart his own course.