5 iconic video games turned into movies
From 'Assassins Creed' to 'Angry Birds,' here are 5 recent and upcoming video adaptations to geek out over.
As video games have evolved from simple pixels to immersive cinematic experiences, Hollywood has come calling. Like the comic books that inspired today's blockbuster superhero movies, the industry has pursued potential film franchises based on iconic video game characters. Below are five examples, both recent and upcoming, that make the case for digital characters to leap from the living room to the silver screen.
'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'
Lara Croft, the archaeologist-adventurer who has appeared in more than 11 video games since 1996, was finally brought to life on the big screen in 2001's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." Directed by British filmmaker Simon West and starring American screen star Angelina Jolie, the film revolves around Croft's attempts to retrieve several ancient artifacts, defeat a mysterious organization, and save the world.
She owns the role today, but Jolie almost lost out on the iconic character to actress Demi Moore and model Linsey Dawn McKenzie. The film also co-starred actor Daniel Craig as a rogue archaeologist, only a few short years before he would go on to drink martinis with Bond girls as 007.
While critics declared "game over" on the film, fans eagerly hit "start," with worldwide grosses convincing Paramount Pictures to launch a sequel in 2003. In March 2016, British actress Daisy Ridley, who will next be seen in "Star Wars: Episode VIII," confirmed that she was in early talks to star in a reboot of the "Tomb Raider" film franchise.
From the powerful mutant Magneto in the "X-Men" franchise to the egomaniacal genius Steve Jobs, German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender has never been shy about taking on roles that cover a wide range of genres. So it should come as a surprise to no one that since 2012, Fassbender has been working to bring to life the science fiction/historical adventure video game franchise that is "Assassin's Creed."
Helmed by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel and Arnon Milchan, a prolific film producer from Israel, "Assassin's Creed" will feature Fassbender playing a character who learns to harness the "genetic memories" in his DNA to relive the life of his 15th-century assassin ancestor. French actress Marion Cotillard ("Inception") and British actor Jeremy Irons ("Batman v Superman") are hinted at playing the daughter/father duo behind the technology that enables Fassbender to travel through time.
"The fans are really passionate: very specific and they expect accuracy and historical detail," Fassbender told Entertainment Weekly. "We’re really trying to capitalize and feed on and enjoy the fun element. We’re working hard to make this something special."
"Assassin's Creed" is scheduled for a Dec. 21, 2016, bow in theaters.
'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time'
Directed by English filmmaker Mike Newell and starring American actor Jake Gyllenhaal and English actress Gemma Arterton, "Prince of Persia" is based on the eponymous video game franchise from the late 1980s. The film revolves around a daring prince, a magical dagger, and plenty of the familiar swordplay, action and adventure that made the games so enjoyable.
As Disney intended "Persia" to follow in the footsteps of "Pirates of the Caribbean" as its next big franchise, the studio spared no expense on the copious special effects to bring the 6th-century world to life. Even Gyllenhaal, who says he played the game often in his younger days, admitted there was pressure to deliver something special to the fans. "What was really important was for me personally to bring some sort of realism into this world that is not always fully based on reality," he told SlashFilm.
Released in May 2010, critics pounced on "Persia," with film critic Rick Groen describing it as "too innocuous to be hated, too bland to be remembered." Fortunately for Disney, fans disagreed – with worldwide box office receipts crowning the film as the most successful video game adaptation ever made.
Can a mobile app that involves shooting birds into a fortress guarded by pigs translate into box-office magic? We'll find out next month when "The Angry Birds Movie" hits theaters.
There's reason to hope that "Birds," co-directed by Irishman Fergal Reilly and American Clay Kaytis, will succeed where other video game adaptations have failed. For one, the "Angry Birds" game is widely known around the world, with the original downloaded an astounding 3 billion times since its release in 2009. Second, this film has some rather top-notch voice talent on-board, including American actors Sean Penn, Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon and "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage.
Need one more reason to believe? "The Angry Birds Movie" was written by Jon Vitti, a key writer for such classic comedies as "The Simpsons" and "The Critic" and films like "Ice Age" and "Robots." Take your kids to this one and there's hope you'll actually have a good time, too.
Based on the beloved real-time strategy video game franchise, "Warcraft" is an epic fantasy film from British director Duncan Jones (son of the late rock legend David Bowie). The movie, using a variety of locations familiar to fans of the video games, revolves around the worlds of orcs and humans violently colliding. The impressive cast includes Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and actress Paula Patton.
Principal photography on the film actually finished nearly two years ago, with post-production lasting an astounding 20 months. Much of that time was spent working on the film's extensive visual effects, with American company Industrial Light and Magic reportedly adding over 1,000 computer-generated shots. German composer Ramin Djawadi, the man behind the music of HBO's "Game of Thrones," was also brought on to score the film.
Jones, who logged countless hours playing "World of Warcraft" in his younger days, says he aims to do right by its millions of fans. “I love games and I feel they’ve been sold short shrift in films so far,” he told the Guardian. “It’s my generation’s opportunity to right that wrong.”
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: