Video game bioshock
Since the success of this year's "Rampage" and "Tomb Raider," fans and directors alike have begun looking to other video games for potential adaptions. (Image via Indian Noob)
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Video game bioshock
Since the success of this year's "Rampage" and "Tomb Raider," fans and directors alike have begun looking to other video games for potential adaptions. (Image via Indian Noob)

It worked for ‘Tomb Raider.’

With the releases of “Rampage” and “Tomb Raider,” movie-goers saw an interesting duo of successful movies this year, and what makes these movies unique is their basis: video games. The two movies currently hold places within the top 25 on the yearly movie charts and have earned a combined total of almost $700 million.

Although this doesn’t make them the most successful movies ever, they are also two of the top 10 grossing video game adaptions, with “Rampage” holding the No. 3 spot. “Prince of Persia,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Resident Evil” also hold high ranks on the list.

But what made these movies so successful as opposed to other video game-based movies of the past? Good video game adaptions have several similar components: strong dialogue, proper length and an understandable plot that adheres to the video game itself. Leaving out any of these components dooms the adaptation to a boring failure.

Additionally, changing or abandoning the plot is really a betrayal to the game’s loyal and loving fans when the biggest benefit of a video game adaption is the previously established fan base.

But finding video games that actually have the potential to keep those three important components intact is difficult because of the length and complexity of many games’ plots. The good news is that they are out there!

After a lengthy search, here are five video games with promising potential for a movie adaption.

1. “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”

Zelda is one of the most popular video game series ever, and the “Ocarina of Time” is a long-standing favorite. It has an immense fan base dating back to 1998 when it was the best-selling game of the year. Some fans support the idea of a TV series in order to fit the whole plot, but others argue that a “Lord of the Rings”-style trilogy would be sufficient.

The plot of the Ocarina of Time is simple enough to be condensed without killing character development or creating a confusing web of backstories. The game takes an average of 30 hours to play through, but not all game elements are necessary to support the main story.

The story has the perfect balance of adventure, action, mystique, good vs. evil and a hint of magic. The characters and events support strong dialogue and discourage boring lag-time between major scenes. Plus, the hint of romance between Link and Zelda adds another level to the fandom.

Video game legend of zelda ocarina
One of the best reasons to adapt video games to movies is that they bring an established fanbase, and few games have larger followings than “Zelda.” (Image via Business Insider)

Link must embrace his destiny and protect the pieces of the Triforce from the evil thief, Ganondorf. Princess Zelda helps Link concoct a plan before she goes into hiding from Ganondorf and stows the Ocarina of Time. As the story progresses, Link recovers the Ocarina, opens the Sacred Realm, gets some super cool gear, saves Zelda from a crystal prison and defeats Ganondorf once and for all in an epic battle.

“Ocarina of Time” would be a great project for a director like Peter Jackson to take on because he did such an incredible job adapting the lengthy “Lord of the Rings” books for the screen. Fan favorites for the leading role of Link include Ross Lynch and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and many favor Zendaya for the role of the princess Zelda.

2. “Bioshock”

“Bioshock” almost had a chance at the big screen in 2008. Gore Verbinski was eight weeks away from filming when producers abandoned the project because they didn’t know whether the high-budget, R-rated film would do well. Granted, $160 million for such a creepy, violent film might not have been the best investment back in 2008. But 10 years later, it’s a different story.

“Bioshock” features a unique setting and a morality-based story line. With the additional intrigue of a fallen utopian society, alterable DNA and plenty of hard-core action, the plot has strong potential for a movie adaption.

The story follows Jack, the survivor of an airplane crash, as he navigates through a destroyed utopia. Jack discovers his surprise heritage and also has several experiments done on him during his entrapment, adding both intrigue and a bit of grotesqueness to the plot. The player gets to choose many of Jack’s actions that influence the outcome of the story.

Possibly the biggest draw to fans would be the mystery of which ending directors choose because “Bioshock” has two. The ending depends on what moral choices the player has Jack make throughout the game. So would Jack succumb to the evil pressure of his environment or be the hero who rescues everyone instead?

Obviously, Gore Verbinski would be the best candidate to direct this movie because he already has a vision for it, and his inspiration for the project has probably grown over the past decade. The original cast list included Oscar Isaac, known for “Ex Machina,” as Jack; but based on previous roles and appearance, I vote for Ben McKenzie if the movie ever gets a second chance.

3. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”

Over 100 million people have played “Call of Duty” since 2007, giving it one of the biggest fan bases in the world. “Call of Duty” has action, an existing story line that makes sense and the potential to condense that story line to a bearable time limit.

The game combines the reality of a first-person shooter game with realistic elements of warfare and action. The “Modern Warfare” plot line digs through a mess of Middle Eastern politics and nuclear weapons. The second installment continues the story following Joseph Allen as he joins the CIA and deals with Russian retaliation to a terrorist attack.

The final installment leads players through the mess of European and Indian politics while World War III rages in the background. The story ends three months after the war, when two soldiers take their final revenge in the Arabian Peninsula.

Video game call of duty
The video game “Call of Duty” is slated for the silver screen in 2020, featuring actors Tom Hardy and Chris Pine. (Image via Instant Gaming)

With the wide range of characters, settings and action scenes, there’s no doubt that a well-directed version of these games would go far in a movie setting. Because all three games pack so much into them, a trilogy is definitely possible if done right.

“Black Ops” is also extremely popular, and fans of both versions are in for a treat. Earlier this year, news leaked that Tom Hardy and Chris Pine would be starring in a 2020 movie version of “Call of Duty” by Activision Blizzard Studios. Both actors have played strong roles in action movies, like in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which makes them great choices for another action-packed movie.

With a large budget and the important elements already in place, the “Call of Duty” movie has great potential for a best-selling video game adaption.

4. “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves”

“Among Thieves” brings both an awesome setting and strong Indiana Jones-style action to the table with a unique plot that would catch viewers’ attention if followed properly.

After accepting a job to steal an ancient lamp, Nate, the main character, is pulled into a journey to find the treasure of Marco Polo’s lost fleet and the legendary Cintamati Stone. Players explore tombs, temples and caves in search of the stone and the lost city of Shangri La before facing a final battle that’s wonderfully catatonic. Sprinkle in the hint of romance between Nate and Elena, and you have a movie that interests just about everyone.

It’s definitely an edge-of-your-seat kind of story and one that would transfer well to a movie set. The game already has dialogue, a strong, understandable story line and the potential to be adapted to a reasonable length because it only takes an average of 12 hours to play through.

The setting and style scream for Steven Spielberg to direct this video game adaption if it’s ever made. The themes and action scenes are right up his alley of expertise, and Spielberg has a knack for making every movie incredible.

Allan Ungar recently made a 15-minute fan film in honor of the game and cast the favorited Nathan Fillion as Nate. Obviously, it’s a short, low-budget film, but it’s been well-received by fans who are already asking for more. If anything, it has paved the way for a bigger production to take place.

5. “Infamous”

The biggest movies on the charts right now are superhero movies, which makes “Infamous” another great adaption candidate. This game develops as a superhero origin story following Cole Macgrath, a bike messenger who develops the ability to harness electricity after being exposed to an explosion he’s partially responsible for.

After mastering his powers with the help of his best friend, Zeke, Cole defends the city against several attacking forces and restores power to the damaged area of Empire City.  His next mission is to recover the object that caused the initial explosion before it can be used for further evil: the Ray Sphere.

In the final battle, Cole faces a major plot twist when his rival turns out to be an alternate timeline version of himself. Like “Bioshock,” the game’s ending depends on the moral choices made throughout the game, which would give a movie adaption lots of flexibility. Cole can either be a hero in the end or he can give up on the city and be infamous.

With their well-received directing in two “Captain America” films and “Avengers: Infinity War,” the Russo Brothers are a perfect option to direct this kind of superhero-themed movie. Major casting would require one hunky hero and a chubby, humorous side-kick. Fan picks for Cole range from Sam Worthington to Damien Walters, but Stephen Amell is also a great candidate. For the portly, un-super Zeke, Seth Rogen is another fan favorite for both appearance and acting style.

Based on what’s trending and its existing strengths, “Infamous” has one of the highest chances for success as a video game adaption. Plus, with over 1 million copies of the game sold in the first nine days of its release, there’s a promising fan base waiting to see how their individual choices match up with a movie version.

Writer Profile

Carrie Christensen

Pensacola Christian College

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