Maybe you've seen the Assassin’s Creed movie, and been underwhelmed. You may also have seen the World of Warcraft film, and felt that, yes, they definitely tried. Or you may have sworn yourself off cinematic-gaming crossovers entirely, reasoning, not unreasonably, that there will never be a film based on a game that justifies you spending time in a movie theatre, as opposed to, say, sitting in an all-white room contemplating the life decisions that have led you to that point.
But defeatism be damned! Here at PC Gamer we think there’s still scope for games and movies to make the sweetest of love, the offspring of which need not be a wrong-faced disaster. For this feature, some of the finest minds on the team set about pitching their dream movie projects based on popular PC games. And we have not shirked on detail. Here you’ll find directorial suggestions, casting picks and potential plot twists. Plus some truly terrible taglines. On with the show...
Dark Souls 3 - Tim Clark
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling as the unkindled one, Jessica Chastain as the Fire Keeper
I’m so excited by this idea that I bullied the rest of the team into coming up with their own movie pitches just so we’d have to do this feature. Obviously Drive director Winding Refn is the master of bracing visual style over conventional narrative coherence, which already makes him the perfect director for my artsy Dark Souls 3 passion project. He’s also a dab hand at dizzying ultraviolence involving , which will pair perfectly with Miyazaki’s none-more-brutal approach to ye olden combat.
What you might not know, is that Refn has already served up a prime slice of mediaeval misery in the form of Valhalla Rising, which was essentially Apocalypse Now but for vikings. That starred Mad Mikkelsen as a one-eyed warrior, called, uh, One Eye, who actually looked Hollowed for most of the movie. He also in over two hours. Perfect! But for this I’ve decided to cast Ryan Gosling, who definitely won’t be allowed to say “Hey girl, the one thing I can’t block is you”, in a bid to lure the Drive crowd into theatres. The joke will be on them when he spends the entire film clad in armour. The only semblance of plot will come from Jessica Chastain whispering ethereal but confusing advice back at the Firelink Shrine. Cue all the Oscars.
Tagline: “Everyone died.”
Fahrenheit - Samuel Roberts
Director: David Cage
Starring: David Cage (David Cage), Topher Grace (Lucas Kane), Alan Alda
David Cage directs himself directing the film version of Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy as it’s known in the US. This disastrously meta picture begins with Cage , to instruct you on how a film is watched. Following that, we watch a very sober and Fincher-esque intro, where protagonist Lucas Kane (Topher Grace) appears to have killed someone in the bathroom of a diner, and tries to clean up the evidence before anyone finds out. Everyone thinks they’re about to watch an atmospheric if slightly formulaic New York crime drama.
What actually ensues is two increasingly baffling hours of illuminati nonsense that only makes a tiny bit of sense in the eventual six-hour definitive edition. It’s a straight up adaptation of the game’s narrative, and that’s the reason critics are bewildered upon release. Imaginary giant insects—voiced in a cameo role by the great Alan Alda—chase Lucas Kane around an office. Critic Mark Kermode is particularly livid at a scene where Lucas tries to have sex with his ex by playing the guitar well. There’s a really boring bit set in a police station basement where claustrophobic detective Carla has to walk through a basement without completely losing her shit.
While booed during its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Fahrenheit’s eventual release on Netflix prompts it to find a cult audience, who lap up its near-total madness and eyebrow-raising attempts to be Lynchian. A Room-esque phenomenon is born: people hold global simultaneous screenings of Fahrenheit, and fans campaign retroactively to get Tilda Swinton an Oscar nod for her role as the dead psychic grandmother who is actually the internet. David Cage successfully secures the financing to make a dramatisation about the making of Fahrenheit. In the first scene, David Cage directs himself directing himself to explain how watching a film works.
Tagline: “A David Cage film, based on the interactive film directed by David Cage.”
Rocket League - James Davenport
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Picture this: Rocket League in the vein of Space Jam, but instead of starring those outdated, phony toons, it’s a mashup of your favorite players from across the sports spectrum facing off against the biggest internet personalities in the car soccer match of a lifetime. It’s the Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, everything is made of shiny metal, and all the old sports (except tennis) are outlawed. It’s the athletic singularity, a future in which the line between esports and sports is blurrier than ever. The physics simulation of Rocket League (The Final Videogame) is realized through new technologies and cultural priorities, and so to settle the worst debate of all time (are esports real sports?), some of the best esports and old sports players are thawed from their cryogenic state and asked to settle the argument the only way humans know how: violent, loud, corporate-sponsored competition.
Few of the athletes will have proper acting training, so it’ll be a stilted, awkward journey from start to finish with enough CGI and green screen effects to anger the angriest of angry message board regulars. The press tour will be terrible, all personality stifled and funneled through a robotic PR slant. Interviews will be archived and referenced for decades, memes will sprout from the soil. Lebron James will cry at some point. There will be a poster where PewDiePie’s abs are too good.
I’m sure director Yorgos Lanthimos would find a way to turn the concept inside out—he’s known for absurd, bleak satire (, ), so I have faith he’d lose faith in the pitch and transform it into an unbearable, avant-garde blockbuster masterpiece that succeeds despite its anti-capitalist message. Because no matter what, it’s soccer played with cars, and who can’t get behind that?
Tagline: "The only real sport is death."
Stardew Valley - Phil Savage
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bill Murray (Lewis), Owen Wilson (The Wizard), Jeff Goldblum (Linus), Anjelica Huston (Marnie)
I don't really feel the need to justify this. It's such an obvious match: a twee slice of American life to accompany Anderson's surreal, off-kilter style. It's basically Moonrise Kingdom, but there's a farm. Even the subject matter fits: an encroaching corporation, beaten back through a sort of self-inflicted gentrification. It's about as middle-class a game as exists, and thus a perfect fit for the director of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. Admittedly, there is no psychiatrist for the characters to monologue at, but I'll accept some artistic licence. It's not as if Fantastic Mr. Fox was entirely faithful to the original.
Casting shouldn't be too hard either. It's just a matter of matching Anderson's regular troupe with the game's villagers. Bill Murray seems like a good choice for Lewis, the mayor of Stardew. He'd work well as the village's elder, and would really sell the quiet scandal of his secret relationship with Marnie (Anjelica Huston). Owen Wilson is The Wizard, Jeff Goldblum is Linus and Gene Hackman is George, the cantankerous old man. And what of the farmer? Moonrise's Jared Gilman is still a bit young, and Ed Norton and Jude Law probably too old. I'd make them the two competing store owners, Morris and Pierre. Perhaps instead, like Tony Revolori in Grand Budapest Hotel, the farmer should be a relative unknown—reflecting his anonymity within the village. The soundtrack is almost 90% ukulele.
Tagline: "Seeds don't only grow crops."
Full Throttle - Chris Livingston
Director: George Miller
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Ben), Noomi Rapace (Maureen), Mark Hamill (Ripburger)
The theme of LucasArts adventure game Full Throttle is one that could easily be tweaked to make perfect sense today. In the game, traditional vehicles like motorcycles are being replaced by hover vehicles, but substitute self-driving electric cars and you’re not that far off from reality. Full Throttle feels atmospherically close to the original Mad Max, a world on the brink of an apocalypse, where society is still partially functioning but there are insane brawling biker gangs everywhere. So, Fury Road’s George Miller seems the perfect director for the brutal road battles and dark humor. Plus, you’d need some long, awesome action sequences to take the place of a lot of the puzzle-solving: I don’t really need to see Ben repeatedly kicking a wall to get that goddamn hatch to open. However, I demand the battery powered bunnies make it into the film. That’s non-negotiable.
I originally thought of casting Bruce Campbell as Ben, leader of the Polecats—he has the lantern jaw, and also I love him and want him to be in everything—but in the game Ben has sort of a quiet, rumbling dignity that is occasionally trampled on to great comedic effect. Campbell, I think, is too overtly clowny for that. Noomi Rapace would make a good Mo, tough, smart, and independent—and also I love her and want her to be in everything. The best thing is, Mark Hamill could easily reprise his role as Ripburger! He’s almost old enough now to actually look the part. The game’s soundtrack, by The Gone Jackals, still entirely holds up too.
Tagline: “Can’t beat a Corley.”
Bastion - Wes Fenlon
Director: Tarsem Singh
Starring: Finn Cole (The Kid), Morgan Freeman (Rucks), Saoirse Ronan (Zia), Lee Pace (Zulf)
If you can nail “Kid just rages for awhile,” the rest will follow. First, that requires a director who can render Bastion artist Jen Zee’s vibrant, dreamlike landscapes, a world broken but still beautiful. Tarsem, the director of stunning fantasy film , was the first name that came to mind—in fact, it was the idea of Tarsem directing a Bastion film that convinced me this one needed to happen. You could create Bastion’s world with mountains of CGI, like the recent Warcraft, or you could go Tarsem’s route—The Fall is one of the most unbelievably beautiful films ever shot, yet even its Escher staircases and seemingly impossible vistas were shot .
Second, you need the voice. A voice that can carry a film, speaking when the protagonist is silent. Pathos, humor, gravitas. Morgan Freeman is the perfect Rucks and the perfect narrator. The film will open with his voice before a single frame appears and be the last thing we hear as we fade to black, relaying the Calamity and the Kid’s journey to rebuild the Bastion as a dreamy fable. Finally, you need the kid: someone who looks the part, strong and stoic and able to convey emotion with few words spoken. Peaky Blinders’ Finn Cole is a relative unknown, but I think he could pull off the role. I almost went for John Boyega as The Kid—his role as Moses in Attack the Block made him perfect for the role—but I just can’t see him in the white wig, and The Kid needs his white hair.
It would take a fine writer to turn The Kid from a silent protagonist to a mostly silent protagonist, to give Zia (an understated Saorsia Ronan, doing most of her acting with her eyes) and Rucks and Zulf (Lee Pace masking a broken heart with confident charm until his sobbing breakdown in the climax) complete character arcs in the span of a couple hours, but I think it could be done. Writer and director would have to strike just the right balance of sadness for the broken world and hope for the new one. I figure the combat will mostly take care of itself. Just give Cole a hammer and let him wail on dudes in weird blue costumes every 20 minutes or so.
Tagline: “They broke the world. It’s up to The Kid to rebuild it.”
Monkey Island - Tom Senior
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt in a wig (Guybrush Threepwood), Benicio Del Toro (Le Chuck), Jennifer Lawrence (Elaine), Jim Carey (Stan the Salesman)
Monkey Island is a great self-aware piece of comedy with a great love of pulp pirate lore. The Pirates of the Caribbean films gave us funny pirate adventures, but without the necessary self-deprecating streak, embodied in MI by its bumbling hero Guybrush Threepwood.
Edgar Wright's visual inventiveness and fondness for pushing the fourth wall would make him a good guy for the director's chair, and his ability to get a decent comic performance out of Micheal Cera in Scott Pilgrim gives puts the kid into frame as Guybrush. I'm conflicted here, though. Cera is great at insecurity, but Guybrush is funny because he has seemingly infinite reservoir of self-belief that pushes him into dangerous situations. Chris Pratt has the comedy chops, but is too cuddly and likeable. A young DiCaprio in confidence-man mode comes closer. In the end I settle, unsatisfyingly, on Joseph Gordon Levitt in a wig, if only to tie him up in an effort to stop the live-action Akira movie from ever coming back.
Other roles are easier to fill. Del Toro's emerging cragginess and capacity for menace makes him a good choice for the bad guy position. His repurposed Jack Rafferty croak, combined with an enormous fake beard, could give us a villainous Le Chuck with a good sense of comic timing. Stan the Salesman is the role Ventura-era Jim Carey was born to play, and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy-esque no-bullshit persona could be a good foil for Guybrush’ idiocy.
Tagline: “Discover the truth in a world where humans fight like cows.”