READY PLAYER ONE is coming to theaters on March 29th, and it’s no secret that I’m super excited for Steven Spielberg’s latest blockbuster! In fact, I’m currently reading the source material again (for the tenth time or so), to further hype myself up for the movie Vault Dwellers! If you’ve somehow been living under a rock, watch the trailer to familiarize yourself with the film’s concept!
For the uninitiated, READY PLAYER ONE is based upon the dystopian sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline. In the not too distant future, our planet is in rough shape: Wars are being fought over dwindling resources, the global population is suffering through energy and environmental crises, and everything has generally just gone to hell.
In these troubled times, humanity’s lone saving grace is the OASIS: An immersive virtual reality world on the internet. The OASIS allows people to work, go to school, and/or escape from reality by exploring a limitless digital universe, inspired by its creator’s love for 1980s pop-culture!
And hidden within the OASIS is a contest: Three keys must be found to unlock three gates, and the person who obtains the hidden “easter egg” will win complete control of the OASIS and a massive fortune! Unfortunately an evil corporation (IOI) is out to win the contest by any means necessary, so it’s up to a scrappy group of “gunters” to stop them!
If successful, Spielberg’s film could very well open the floodgates for more video game adaptations. And while the vast majority of past video game movies have typically been terrible (e.g. HOUSE OF THE DEAD, DOUBLE DRAGON, SUPER MARIO BROS: THE MOVIE, MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION, et al.), we may finally be on the cusp of a new era of legitimately good ones!
With the impending release of READY PLAYER ONE (as well as the new TOMB RAIDER), yours truly began brainstorming on other possible video game properties that might make for an entertaining cinematic experience. Submitted for your approval, here are five games (in no particular order) that I think should be adapted for the big screen.
Released in August of 1986, Nintendo’s Metroid was an instant hit on the original NES! The game allows players to explore the open-ended world of Zebes as bounty hunter Samus Aran. Your goal is to upgrade your weaponry as you carry out a mission to seek and destroy the “Mother Brain!”
Filled with a variety of monsters and headlined by a bad-ass female protagonist, it is actually pretty surprising that Metroid has yet to make the leap to the silver screen. And with (currently) a dozen followup games across various consoles, there’s plenty of cool storylines to mine for future movie sequels too!
Closest Thing You Can Currently Watch: The CRITTERS Series (1986 – 1992) features two alien bounty hunters trying to eradicate an invasive species of deadly creatures called “Crites.”
GRAND THEFT AUTO
Created by Rockstar Games back in 1997, the original Grand Theft Auto was meant to be a racing game. However, due to a glitch, anytime players ran over pedestrians or crashed into other vehicles, every police car on the map would immediately (and violently) pursue them. Over two decades later, and Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise has gone through an astounding evolution, introducing various characters and storylines that all take place in the crime-riddled streets of Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City!
A crime-thriller based upon the series (particularly Grand Theft Auto III) that features over-the-top car chases and gun fights seems like it would be a guaranteed winner. And yet, a Grand Theft Auto movie has not yet come to pass.
Closest Thing You Can Currently Watch: THE HIDDEN (1987) features law-abiding citizens suddenly becoming violent criminals after being possessed by an evil being from the cosmos! Car-theft, car-chases, bank robberies, and frequent fire-fights ensue! Also check out Ron Howard’s GRAND THEFT AUTO, an epic car-chase flick produced by the legendary Roger Corman!
PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES
Developed by PopCap Games in 2009, Plants Vs. Zombies is a popular tower defense game that has since been nominated for various awards, and generated several sequels and spin-offs. With the release of both WRECK-IT RALPH movies, and ANGRY BIRDS, there’s a definite niche for animated video game films that Plants vs. Zombies could easily be a part of.
I’m not entirely sure I’d pay good money to see “Crazy Dave” Blazing utilizing a variety of plants to defeat the rotting forces of the evil Dr. Zomboss, but then again, the possibility of seeing pole-vaulting and bungee-jumping zombies on the big screen is sort of enticing…
Closest Thing You Can Currently Watch: There’s nothing quite like this out there, but I will say that PARANORMAN sprang to mind. It’s a great film featuring a young societal outcast who can communicate with the dead, that has to save his town from an evil curse! Other zombie oddities you may want to watch: FREAKS OF NATURE pits humans, zombies, and vampires against alien invaders, and WARM BODIES is a surprisingly watchable zombie twist on Romeo & Juliet.
Though considered controversial by some, Gonzo’s Quest has garnered itself somewhat of a cult following since its debut in 2010. This slot arcade game contains a heavy dose of animated adventure, and would certainly make for an interesting live action adaptation.
But should the (currently nonexistent) Gonzo’s Quest: The Motion Picture be a light-hearted escapade about conquistador “Gonzo” Pizzaro (the real-life half-brother of Francisco Pizarro) and his quest for wealth? Or should it head into exploitation territory and be a grim APOCALYPTO-style thriller that is more historically accurate? My vote is for the latter!
Closest Thing You Can Currently Watch: Werner Herzog’s 1972 epic AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD and 1988’s EL DORADO both focus upon Spanish conquistadors going mad during their doomed quests to find El Dorado, the fabled lost city of gold!
Before you point it out, I am fully aware that there are several animated features and a terrible (yet entertaining) live-action film adaptation of Street Fighter. However, its been twenty-five years since STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE, so isn’t it time someone took another crack at it? Debuting in arcades in 1987, Street Fighter allowed players to duke it out as either Ryu or Ken. Then in 1991, Street Fighter II came out and changed everything! Offering up a larger variety of playable fighters, each with their own special attacks, the game generated countless remakes and sequels!
The backstories and motivations of the characters are already well established, so there shouldn’t be too much trouble in writing a screenplay that brings the colorful cadre of international fighters together. Honestly, a studio just needs to take a chance and find someone who is passionate about the Street Fighter franchise to bring it to life. If another live-action MORTAL KOMBAT film can get greenlit, then STREET FIGHTER should also have a fighting chance!
Closest Thing You Can Currently Watch: Obviously there’s STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE (that was tragically actor Raul Julia’s final film) and STREET FIGHTER II: THE ANIMATED MOVIE. Mortal Kombat has always been one of Street Fighter’s most notable competitors, so you could also scope out MORTAL KOMBAT and its disastrous sequel, MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION. Also, while it has nothing to do with the video game, the STREET FIGHTER films starring Sonny Chiba come highly recommended!
So what do you think Vault Dwellers: Do any of the video games mentioned above deserve a shot at being adapted for the big screen? Are there any others you’d rather have seen listed, or would like to see pop up in a future list? I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment below with your thoughts!