based on its title, hollywood goes gaming seemed like the perfect viewing to kick off our video game movie month. a closer look unfortunately reveals that: 1. this is a starz documentary. b. the running time is therefore 59 minutes long. iii. uwe boll and shia “the beef” labeouf are one of the first people interviewed. and fourthly, clips from the (visionary) movie 300.
although it’s not entirely a waste of time. like most documentary of its type, hollywood goes gaming is a soft ball, self-congratulatory starz special on the incestuous relationship between hollywood and the gaming industry. it’s not so much about movies based on video games but more the mutual benefits between the two. the 300 clip in the beginning first seem odd but in its own sheltered way, it does eventually prove to have a point in existing in its forced conclusion.
the first half of hollywood goes gaming has most of the interesting stuff, with stories of pong, atari, the last starfighter and tron 1. my favorite tidbit here is that tron was not nominated for special effects at the oscar because the consensus was that it cheated with computers. a tradition that is still going on these days i’m sure. computers, what a fad.
then for no reason, we are shown footages of sony’s surf’s up: the game, with talking head footages of jerry bruckheimer and the beef. i’m just a casual gamer, so i may have missed the coyote ugly game and the wall street: money never sleeps: the game.
although random, this is supposed to segue into movie tie-in games. they just didn’t quite find any good examples for the segue. fortunately it follows with another fascinating tale during those early days of hollywood gaming intercourse. after the e.t. movie became a huge success, the movie license was sold to atari for $25 million dollars. at one point, the game license for kramer vs. kramer was sold, but i don’t think we ever got a kramer vs. kramer game. which is a shame cause imagine a tootise dress up sim game, or a rain man gambling/casino game, or some kind of point and click adventure game based on out of africa.
the catch though, is that they only had five weeks to make the game, which i guess is more than enough time for the asylum to make two movies, but not really quite enough time to make a good game. the punchline here is that after academy award winner steven spielberg saw footage of the game, asked, “can you make it more like pac man?” i also love that they show what happened to all those unsold/returned e.t. cartridges but i won’t spoil it for you.
next are some random scenes of the rock doing motion capture for the game spy hunter. just in case you forget that he was supposed to be in a movie version of spy hunter directed by john woo. the game came out but the movie was never made. by the way, i thought spy hunter is a driving/racing game, since the rock is more human than a car, i don’t know why he was doing motion capture.
things get pretty standard from then on. there’s mention of the hugely popular nintendo and super mario bros. and everyone was surprised that the movie is a flop. it feels more like a selected roll call of movies based on video games from 90s on, with nothing really interesting to say. the talking heads here include paul w.s. anderson, the husband/wife directing team who directed super mario bros., the producer of mortal kombat speaking as some kind of video game movie adaptation expert, which speaks more about the quality of video game movies than anyting else. clive barker also shows up.
which brings us to uwe boll, whose every other output is based on one video game or another. having seen only bloodrayne, i don’t think i can honestly say he’s the worst director of all time. nor is bloodrayne the worst movie i’ve ever seen. hell, it’s not even the worst video game movie i’ve ever seen. and i do find him funny that his defense of bloodrayne is that it’s not worse than elektra and catwoman. fair enough. the overall tone is pretty gentle and polite.
i am kind of surprised that kim morgan seems to look at uwe boll movies as some kind of guilty pleasure. i wonder if she’s seen any asylum movies.
tomb raider…blah blah blah…lara croft…blah blah blah. hey they should reboot those movies. oh what?
hollywood goes gaming ends with more roll call of random footages of movie based games. most of them are either great movie/horrible game or horrible movie/great game combo. the only thing worthy of note here is that the director of jack, and the john grisham adaptation the rainmaker, francis ford coppola, objects the godfather video game.
there is kind of a priceless edit here, with the narrator saying “while some directors reject it, other
whores directors embrace the technology…”
another thing i didn’t realize was that the unique game dragon’s lair was made because director don bluth needed money to make his next movie after secret of the nimh flopped. in a way, it kind of mirror john woo’s video game-only sequel to hard-boiled, stranglehold. i don’t know if a hard-boiled 2 made now could ever live up to the reputation and expectation. and i’m sure many would argue that stranglehold is the best thing john woo did in the last 10-15 years.
like some of the posts here, they don’t seem to know how to end what they started, so they went with a pretty weird and forced utopia conclusion where games and movies are more and more like each other (hence the numerous clips of the visionary movie 300) and it’s supposed to be a good thing. i always think of that as a bad thing, silly me.
there’s a good feature length documentary to be made about the hollywood-game industry lovefest. there are no mention of superman 64, goldeneye, doom, and with the ps2 controller on the poster, the lack of any of the finaly fantasy games or movies is a pretty glaring omission. and the candidates of interviews could have been more selective (skip the random movie stars, the mtv correspondent, the g4tv personalities, and the beef, but always keep kim morgan). but i guess hard hitting and brutally honest are not qualities you look for in a starz inside documentary.
hollywood goes gaming is currently available on netflix instant.