Why So Serious?

Christopher Nolan is one of modern cinema's most visionary and talented filmmakers. This was obvious from the first time audiences saw Memento, and was confirmed when he delivered the equally excellent Insomnia and The Prestige. Batman Begins was a revolution for the comic-book superhero, taking the origin story of one of the most iconic characters and placing it in the context of a serious, masterful, worthy drama that explored the ideas of legacy, duty, redemption, righteousness and honour. So when Nolan's much hyped follow up Batman film, The Dark Knight, hit cinema screens last year, nobody would have been surprised to be watching an excellent film. But what the film did was so much more; it again took a potentially camp concept (a superhero dressed up as a Bat fighting a chaos loving Evil Clown) and turned it into the best crime epic since Michael Mann's Heat in 1995. Seriously, this film had everything: Stunning IMAX camera work, great action scenes and production value, a powerful and exceptionally rousing musical score by two master composers, a visionary director working with an excellent, hard hitting script; and last but certainly not least, an unfaltering ensemble of performances by great actors. Christian Bale brought a sense of honour and pain to Bruce Wayne. Aaron Eckhart capatalised on his promise and all-American everyman charm to bring us Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent as a man torn apart by loss. Maggie Gyllenhall delivered a romantic interest performance of considerable restraint. Gary Oldman's Gordon is the best performance he has given in recent times, an extraodinary portrayal of a man bound by law and an unshakeable need for justice. Veterans Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are simply brilliant in comic relief roles. And of course, the standout showy role went to the late, great Heath Ledger, who won a thoroughly deserved Academy Award for his spine chilling performance as The Joker.

This was the best film of 2008, and should have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, especially as two of the nominees were the highly overrated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Reader. As it was, it was rejected for a shot at the top prize, a travesty of modern cinema.

Why do I go to such great lengths to stress what most people know, and take for granted? Well, I was talking to a friend recently who bemoaned the lack of a video game license for The Dark Knight. I shared his sentiments at first, but then reconsidered when I thought about it sometime later. Why would you spoil cinematic perfection with a video game that could potentially sour the source material, a la Batman Begins.

And to elaborate further, I looked at the list of all the films that have been honoured with the Best Picture prize at the Academy Awards. Only three of the winners have ever had  videogames based on them, one of them being The Lord of the Rings; Return of the King, which swept the Oscars in February 2004. This was an obvious exception to the unwritten rule, as Return of the King was also a blockbuster film that was heavily marketed and had all sorts of licensing agreements attached. The other two, incedentally, were The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two (even though the connection between Godfather 2 film and game is sketchy at best) I mean, would anybody really buy figurines or a video game based around A Beautiful Mind?

And really, how would a video game of The Dark Knight be any good without any of the elements listed above? It works as cinema, NOT as a video game. EA cancelling it was a good move.

Inspired by this topic, I thought about which Best Picture Films would work the best (and worst) as modern console video games (please note these are more recent winners):

WORST

5. Crash
Drive around as Chris Ludacris Bridges in a stolen car, harass Sandra Bullock's racist digital likeness and beat up goofy Brendan Fraser in dramatic mode a la Gods and Monsters. Oh, and shoot an innocent Mexican girl with blanks whilst playing as an angsty Arabian shopkeep. Fun.

4. Schindler's List
 Steven Spielberg's masterful Holocaust drama as source material for mass entertainment? I don't think so.

3. Shakespeare in Love
Let's prance around in ye Old Shakespearean times with Ben Affleck and Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, collecting hearts and playing through a stupid and thinly veiled rip-off of Romeo and Juliet posing as a biography of the Bard. Oh, and there will be amusing catchphrases and minigames with Geoffrey Rush. Yippee! Not.

2. A Beautiful Mind
Russell Crowe as your avatar. Need I say more?

1. Driving Miss Daisy
The film charts a life-long friendship between an angsty (becoming a running trend?) white upper class woman and her black limousine driver. They explore racial tensions of the time and get along splendidly. This game would be the equivalent of an abortion.


BEST

5. Million Dollar Baby
Okay, so it's really depressing at the end. But Clint Eastwood's boxing saga has the potential to be such a great sports game due to its story and the multitude of fights and enemies to beat down. And there's the potential for alternate endings! :)

4. Gladiator
The Roman Gladiator Epic has been done a few times now as a game, but why couldn't we get a game based on the film that started it all. Oh, and Russell Crowe as your avatar. Need I say more...?

3. Unforgiven
Another Clint Eastwood film that won Best Picture. This one has the potential to be a GUN or Call of Juarez style Western Revenge Story.

2.  No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brothers thriller has a little action and plenty of suspense, and has potential to work as a solid action title. The assistance of evil villain Anton Chigurh would help, as the game could explore his other exploits as well as tracking down the film's protagonist Llewellyn Moss.

1. The Silence of the Lambs
A wonderful, confronting thriller that has so many scenes that could be translated to gaming levels. The prison scene with Jodie Foster could turn into a breakout, and you have the only gun! Hannibal could finally have his old friend Doctor Chilton for dinner. And there could be great mini games, with some guava beans, and a nice chianti. Fifififififififififififififififfffffffff.

If there's any others you think could work, just let me know and I'll post them in an upcoming blog.

17 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by NicBarker

Christopher Nolan is one of modern cinema's most visionary and talented filmmakers. This was obvious from the first time audiences saw Memento, and was confirmed when he delivered the equally excellent Insomnia and The Prestige. Batman Begins was a revolution for the comic-book superhero, taking the origin story of one of the most iconic characters and placing it in the context of a serious, masterful, worthy drama that explored the ideas of legacy, duty, redemption, righteousness and honour. So when Nolan's much hyped follow up Batman film, The Dark Knight, hit cinema screens last year, nobody would have been surprised to be watching an excellent film. But what the film did was so much more; it again took a potentially camp concept (a superhero dressed up as a Bat fighting a chaos loving Evil Clown) and turned it into the best crime epic since Michael Mann's Heat in 1995. Seriously, this film had everything: Stunning IMAX camera work, great action scenes and production value, a powerful and exceptionally rousing musical score by two master composers, a visionary director working with an excellent, hard hitting script; and last but certainly not least, an unfaltering ensemble of performances by great actors. Christian Bale brought a sense of honour and pain to Bruce Wayne. Aaron Eckhart capatalised on his promise and all-American everyman charm to bring us Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent as a man torn apart by loss. Maggie Gyllenhall delivered a romantic interest performance of considerable restraint. Gary Oldman's Gordon is the best performance he has given in recent times, an extraodinary portrayal of a man bound by law and an unshakeable need for justice. Veterans Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are simply brilliant in comic relief roles. And of course, the standout showy role went to the late, great Heath Ledger, who won a thoroughly deserved Academy Award for his spine chilling performance as The Joker.

This was the best film of 2008, and should have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, especially as two of the nominees were the highly overrated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Reader. As it was, it was rejected for a shot at the top prize, a travesty of modern cinema.

Why do I go to such great lengths to stress what most people know, and take for granted? Well, I was talking to a friend recently who bemoaned the lack of a video game license for The Dark Knight. I shared his sentiments at first, but then reconsidered when I thought about it sometime later. Why would you spoil cinematic perfection with a video game that could potentially sour the source material, a la Batman Begins.

And to elaborate further, I looked at the list of all the films that have been honoured with the Best Picture prize at the Academy Awards. Only three of the winners have ever had  videogames based on them, one of them being The Lord of the Rings; Return of the King, which swept the Oscars in February 2004. This was an obvious exception to the unwritten rule, as Return of the King was also a blockbuster film that was heavily marketed and had all sorts of licensing agreements attached. The other two, incedentally, were The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two (even though the connection between Godfather 2 film and game is sketchy at best) I mean, would anybody really buy figurines or a video game based around A Beautiful Mind?

And really, how would a video game of The Dark Knight be any good without any of the elements listed above? It works as cinema, NOT as a video game. EA cancelling it was a good move.

Inspired by this topic, I thought about which Best Picture Films would work the best (and worst) as modern console video games (please note these are more recent winners):

WORST

5. Crash
Drive around as Chris Ludacris Bridges in a stolen car, harass Sandra Bullock's racist digital likeness and beat up goofy Brendan Fraser in dramatic mode a la Gods and Monsters. Oh, and shoot an innocent Mexican girl with blanks whilst playing as an angsty Arabian shopkeep. Fun.

4. Schindler's List
 Steven Spielberg's masterful Holocaust drama as source material for mass entertainment? I don't think so.

3. Shakespeare in Love
Let's prance around in ye Old Shakespearean times with Ben Affleck and Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, collecting hearts and playing through a stupid and thinly veiled rip-off of Romeo and Juliet posing as a biography of the Bard. Oh, and there will be amusing catchphrases and minigames with Geoffrey Rush. Yippee! Not.

2. A Beautiful Mind
Russell Crowe as your avatar. Need I say more?

1. Driving Miss Daisy
The film charts a life-long friendship between an angsty (becoming a running trend?) white upper class woman and her black limousine driver. They explore racial tensions of the time and get along splendidly. This game would be the equivalent of an abortion.


BEST

5. Million Dollar Baby
Okay, so it's really depressing at the end. But Clint Eastwood's boxing saga has the potential to be such a great sports game due to its story and the multitude of fights and enemies to beat down. And there's the potential for alternate endings! :)

4. Gladiator
The Roman Gladiator Epic has been done a few times now as a game, but why couldn't we get a game based on the film that started it all. Oh, and Russell Crowe as your avatar. Need I say more...?

3. Unforgiven
Another Clint Eastwood film that won Best Picture. This one has the potential to be a GUN or Call of Juarez style Western Revenge Story.

2.  No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brothers thriller has a little action and plenty of suspense, and has potential to work as a solid action title. The assistance of evil villain Anton Chigurh would help, as the game could explore his other exploits as well as tracking down the film's protagonist Llewellyn Moss.

1. The Silence of the Lambs
A wonderful, confronting thriller that has so many scenes that could be translated to gaming levels. The prison scene with Jodie Foster could turn into a breakout, and you have the only gun! Hannibal could finally have his old friend Doctor Chilton for dinner. And there could be great mini games, with some guava beans, and a nice chianti. Fifififififififififififififififfffffffff.

If there's any others you think could work, just let me know and I'll post them in an upcoming blog.

Posted by BoG

I don't think Nolan will ever top Memento, but there is really no problem with it as long as he continues to make good films. Even if he made bad ones that would be ok, people still have faith in Denis Dyack's ability to make games even after Too Human.

Posted by TheKidNixon
Posted by CitizenKane

People are afraid to develop a video game adaptation of The Dark Knight because there is no possible way it will do the movie justice.  The movie is already an all-time cinematic classic and the hype for a game adaptation would be so ridiculously high that no company wants to take the risk of possibly being the one responsible for making the biggest movie-to-game flop of all time.  Also, with Ledger's death hanging over the film for all of time, nobody wants to have it dangle over a  video game or any other media, of any kind(with the exception of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which, like The Dark Knight, was already in filming stage when Ledger died).


Simply put, The Dark Knight is one of the biggest movies of all time.  Nobody wants to try to recreate the magic that Nolan & Co. created.
Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

I for one would love to play a Driving Miss Daisy game....That is, if they made it a Crazy Taxi clone.

Posted by Mushir

Am I the only who didn't really enjoy Batman Begins that much? I did like Dark Knight though.

Posted by HandsomeDead
Twilight said:
"Am I the only who didn't really enjoy Batman Begins that much? I did like Dark Knight though."
No, I thought Batman Begins was terrible. TDK was great, but still not Nolan's best or 2008's best either.
Posted by ninjakiller

Batman & Robin was cinematic brilliance.  i don't wanna hear you guys praising those pieces of shit Nolan films when B&R is out there.

Posted by HandsomeDead
ninjakiller said:
"Batman & Robin was cinematic brilliance.  i don't wanna hear you guys praising those pieces of shit Nolan films when B&R is out there."
I really enjoyed Batman & Robin because it was basically a comedy. I don't know why it can't be enjoyed for that rather than the whole grim and serious tone Batfans always seem to desire. Just chill out and have fun with it.
Posted by TheKidNixon

Batman Begins has some major issues (being sluggish at parts, some rote acting by most supporting characters, the dead emotional weight of the Rachel Dawes character,) but I'd say was still pretty enjoyable. Dark Knight is much better, obviously, though I'd say still terribly overrated; it has some of the same issues above, perhaps sans the issue of dodgy pacing save for some parts in the middle. Also,  find it amusing that Bale's Batman/Wayne takes really a backseat to the true primary characters of Dark Knight: Harvey Dent and the Joker. Easily the best "superhero movie" ever made, by a mile, but not in my personal top 5 of 2008.

Edited by Alexander

I did think Slumdog was better. Dark Knight may have deserved a nomination, I hadn't seen any but one of the others. It should have got Cinematography for sure. The attempted introduction of Two-Face was one character too many; and while I get that he is also there to demonstrate the theme of corruption of good we get Dent turning murderous in the most unconvincing way after a few words from The Joker. I read this in a review in the papers back then and it's something I agree with wholeheartedly: the themes get in the way of emotional involvement, you get too many set pieces and moral dilemmas - they hammer home the messages but it comes at a cost. In Batman Begins I felt more emotionally attached to the characters, Wayne especially, and I felt did a better job of balancing character and themes.

Begins ended with "and you'll never have to", and that was the perfect ending, the whole thing felt... whole and complete. I didn't feel quite the same way coming out of DK.

Then there were a few other things like barrels on-board a ship and the MASS RIGGING of a hospital that go unnoticed (that's me just nitpicking) also the fact that the whole thing was a little longer than it should have been. Along with Bale getting sidelined a little, his Batman voice was absolutely ridiculous this time round.

Another thing to note is that Crash is not a great film by any stretch.

And BoG is right in that Memento is Nolan's best so far.

The reason why the best films often don't work as video games is because they have a narrative that just couldn't be translated to anywhere near the quality in video game form; often these games are not a developers IP (edit: lol rather never) and you are often tied to a plot that doesn't necessarily work. Yeah you could have arena battles straight out of Gladiator rendered in Unreal 3, but what made Gladiator great were the characters and plot as well as the brutal violence. A good Gladiator game would need to be far removed from the film it was based on.

Posted by TooWalrus

A Beautiful Mind was a great movie, actually. I did like Memento a whole lot, too. Gladiator was pretty lame, and No Country was... Well, every scene that didn't feature that badass killing people was incredibly boring.

Posted by Mushir
BoG said:
"I don't think Nolan will ever top Memento, but there is really no problem with it as long as he continues to make good films. Even if he made bad ones that would be ok, people still have faith in Denis Dyack's ability to make games even after Too Human."
Yes I agree. Memento was an amazing film. There aren't many films I watch twice the same week. Its up there in my top movies of all time.
Posted by existentnighthawk

No country for old men sucked balls tbh.  Batman (DK) WAS WAAAYYYY Fucking overrated. Most overrated movie in cinematic history. Honestly I did not think it was good, 6/10 if anything, being lenient.

Momento was dumb, figured out he was going in reverse, but it was just dumb...really, I dont know what but I did not enjoy it.

I admit SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was a FANTASTIC movie. So was CRASH, but I think Don Cheadle is like a god...so I might be skewed there. A BEAUTIFUL MIND was absolutely terrific, one of my favorite ever.

Posted by NicBarker

I'll address this all at once -
TDK - Masterpiece
Batman Begins - Great Movie
Memento - Also great film
Crash - Bad
Slumdog - Really Great, deserving of best picture
No country - absolute brilliance
a beautiful mind - totally undeserving of best picture, if a ron howard film had to win i would have gone with apollo 13 or frost/nixon.
gladiator - meh
batman and robin - the charles manson of contemporary cinema

Posted by TheGreatGuero

I was going to comment about Christopher Nolan's work, but now that I've seen your comment about Gladiator, I'm completely putting on the brakes to say, "DUDE, WHAT THE?!" Instead, I have to take a stand for Marcus Aurelius. He had a dream that was Rome. "Meh" is not it. "MEH" IS NOT IT! :(

Posted by AgentJ

You know what'd be an awesome game? The Shawshank Redemption. You could start out in a phoenix wright type game trying to prove your innocence, then the next part would be trying to beat off the "ladies", and perhaps a mass effect type dialogue system when writing letters to congress, talking to the warden/guard, and befriending redd. Of course, every night youd have to chip away at the wall under the poster while making sure no one is passing by, like a lot of stealth games. Finally at the end you have your character swim through a tube of shit and win the game!

Posted by NicBarker

shawshank would be an awesome game, but i did not include it here because it did not win best picture (got beaten by forrest gump!)

also, by saying gladiator is meh, i dont intend to undermine the achievements of one marcus aurelius. I just dont particularly care that much. no hard feelings. Oh, and btw, gladiator is a shitty movie that could make a good game. Oh, and in case i haven't offended your filmic sensibilities enough, I also hate blade runner!

just my opinion tho, dude, if you like gladiator or marcus aurelius or whoever the fuck, be my guest.