Monthly Archives: October 2009

If You Build It…

The secret stimulus that has allowed for a wide peripheral range of cinema success, specifically independent films with small budgets, visionary directors, and a dream, may be the next step for television and video games as well. That is the festival. Robert Redford’s Sundance festival in Aspen every year introduced the idea that when producers and film makers are brought together with fans and critics to appreciate and analyze the films that artists continue to have the impulse to make, it produces business.

The New York Television Festival started with exactly this concept, connecting the studios with the talent.

Anna Vander Broek at Forbes reports that this may be happening in the video game world as well, which at this point is just as full of artists and appreciators who make games and hope to see them fly one day.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/12/osmos-indiecade-activision-technology-personal-videogames.html

With the talent embedded in the hands and minds of the kids who grew up playing video games, we have to hope that a Scorsese or a Taranatino is working somewhere on his first masterpiece, and that fateful day at a festival where he or she is discovered may be in our future.

-Heather Struck

[Press Start] to Laugh and Cry

Movies and video games go together like ice cream and steak. Both are wonderous in their own respects, but mix them and the idea of a swirl cone with frozen chunks of rare cooked cow comes to mind. One would think that since movies and video games are each a form of visual media, both employing teams of writers, producers, composers and cutting- edge graphics, that the overlap would be natural. Yes…one would think.

Somewhere along that relationship, something goes terribly wrong, and you end up with a bowl of Angus n’ Cream (or maybe a Uwe Boll. HA…and seriously, if you don’t know the German producer of playfully terrible films that include BloodRayne and House of the Dead, go look at his IMDB profile and feel my hate).

Usually the trouble has to do with the fact that all the people involved in the production of films view video games as curious, and something the kids are into these days, what with their penny whistles and rap musics. They see the multi-billion dollar game industry-goldfish swimming around the bowl and they know that gamers are willing to drop 60 bucks on a new game because the art on the box “looks sick.” Still, they’ll be damned if they can figure out how to cram their paw past the water filter and snag that fish to produce any reasonably entertaining film product. Comic books have suffered the same relentless onslaught of cinematic atrocities, but now we have movies like Iron Man and The Dark Knight, which gives me some hope for movie ideas formed out of the stuff creative video games make.

That ember of hope has recently been stoked. Please note that I said “ember,” and it is in the form of a student-made film called Turbo. I must state first that this movie is by no means good, nor is it tragically bad. You at least see break lights flicker on before it goes rocketing off a cliff to join its foresaken video game brethren at the bottom of Bargain Bin Canyon.

Turbo models itself after one of the greatest video game movies of all time (which is not saying much), The Wizard, in which a kid wants to be the Best, plus he needs money, so he enters a tournament to risk it all against a semi-pro badass with a power glove. Oh yes, this was a time when a power glove actually carried significant cultural currency. Turbo, like The Wizard, is clichéd, predictable and riddled with bad acting, but there are highlights. One, it is only about 20 minutes long, and two, it’s free.

There may be hope, but here is something to think about. This is a list of every movie based on or peripherally about video games. If you can find the pony buried in all this shit then congrats, a gold star for you. Here is a hint, it is “King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters”.

-Travis Wannlund