There are two things that really inspire people artistically. The first occurs when something is incredibly good. You can bring up several directors and comedians on Wikipedia and they’ll have a small section dedicated to other directors, comedians and philosophers who have inspired them to greatness. Fantastic writing charges me to keep trying.
The second is when someone takes something you love and screws it up.
For example, there has yet to be a truly amazing movie about the Punisher for one. Thomas Jane’s The Punisher was probably the most successful of all three (yes three) Punisher films, and yet was not a huge success. It has garnered a cult following and was financially successful, though not a box office smash. The first and third, starring Dolph Lundgren and Ray Stevenson respectively, were not amazing commercially nor critically. The irony is that Garth Ennis produced some incredible source material with the Punisher Max imprint. I own almost all his work on the Punisher and it is applause worthy in its execution.
How good was Ennis? Even the origin story, the stereotyped, boring birth of the hero, rocked. Garth Ennis’ Born took place during the Vietnam war, with Captain Frank Castle leading his men on patrols into the jungles and dealing with military bureaucracy. Instead of life-long lessons in the middle of puberty, we get hard edged tests of morality that Castle already knows his answers to.
It’s incredibly bizarre that someone has taken the time to create a magnificient, powerful character with intriguing stories. And no one has yet to do him justice on the screen.
Of course, the Punisher is not the only character or franchise to get shafted by the Hollywood machine. And for some of these, Hollywood is trying to correct the problem. The recent reboot of Conan did so poorly, they’ve actually asked Schwarzenegger to come back. If they decide to make the new movie about King Conan, it will be interesting to see if Arnie’s experience as the Governor will be relatable on the big screen.
But the most recent failure that has prompted me to say something is Silent Hill: Revelations 3D.
The first movie was alright. It was a horror franchise, which lowers the bar of expectations. But it was reasonably faithful to the source material and visually appealing. The story made some sense. A lot of it was based on the first game, but they were willing to take elements of other titles. It was also financially successful, earning around $97 million out of a cost of $50 mill.
The most recent movie took the majority of its basis from the third game. And apparently, it has failed the test badly. The critics, who weren’t really impressed with the first one, were not as forgiving the second time. It is not yet a commercial success, although with a price tag of $20 million, it is somewhat likely to at least earn back what it cost. What’s even more scary is the fact that this movie happened to have some decent acting talent to it, including Carrie Anne-Moss, Sean Bean and Malcolm McDowell.
It is a Halloween miracle that they decided to skip the second game, which so happens to be my favorite. Which means its still open to development. Silent Hill 2 flourishes on the elements that can be better related on the big screen. Character development, dialogue. An intriguing story of guilt and personal demons over the monsters and cults.
So I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at script writing, a different media compared to the short stories and novels I am used too. With the right actor and right script, Silent Hill 2 could smash the video game-movie stereotype over its knee. Done wrong, my soul will be murdered. The cause of death? Cynicism.
The sad fact is, whomever is picked as the director will have more power than the script writer would. And video game inspired movies always tend to attract real bottom-of-the-barrel directors. Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson for example.
Ideally, a growing number of people are determined to prove that video games are art, and I am among them. The problem is that this definition has failed to be carried to another media. But art is universal, it should be able to be crafted beautifully on the big screen. There must be a way it can transition, and well. Until it can, Roger Ebert is being proved correct in his assertion that games cannot be art.