Movie Reviews

  • Video Game High School

    Video Game High School Banner

    So many video game movies are such serious affairs. Not so much serious as in humorless conversions (though those certainly exist), but serious as in serious business: the producer stands by checking off things that will make a successful video game a successful video game movie. Hitman, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Doom, the list goes on. And generally these fall flat, they don’t ring true to the built-in gamer audience and they certainly don’t draw in regular movie-goers.

    I recently rewatched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which isn’t really a video game movie, but thanks to a snappy script filled with gaming references and action scenes that pay homage to the 8-bit classics of our youth, it bucks the system. Instead of a video game based in reality, Scott Pilgrim is reality based in a video game. This idea inspired me to find at least one other entry in this genre, and I discovered Video Game High School.

    You get what you expect in Video Game High School: a high school about video games. Set in a world where e-sports make headline news and its players are superstars and celebrities, VGHS imagines a Hogwarts-like school where potential prodigies are invited to learn about music games and try out for FPS Varsity. While not as sharply written or acted as Scott Pilgrim, it still manages to be a really fun two hours.

  • Grandma's Boy

    Grandmas boy PosterStay with me for a moment. Yes, I’m reviewing Grandma’s Boy, the lowbrow comedy produced by Adam Sandler five years ago starring Allen Covert. Yes, its connections to video games is loose, but when I started reviewing movies a few years ago, I didn’t just want to write about crappy game-to-movie adaptations (see Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life). I also wanted to write about movies about video games, even if they’re just used as a backdrop and MacGuffin (see Grandma’s Boy).

    But buried beneath all the gross out humor, pot smoking, and before-he-was-famous-but-still-fat Jonah Hill, there’s actually quite a bit of video gaming in Grandma’s Boy. Some of it is flat-out hysterically wrong, but a small chunk is actually interesting video game history.

    So here’s my review of Grandma’s Boy, focused mostly on the relevant video game aspects of the film, without forgetting Freaks and Geeks’ awesome Linda Cardellini.

  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Prince of Persia Sands of Time Movie PosterHere we go with another video game adaptation, this time with Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Released last year, it is based on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Windows game of the same name from way back in 2003. Creator of the series, Jordan Mechner, actually wrote the film, so we at least have a bit of pedigree here.

    I don’t really ever feel the need to watch movies based on video games, so I’m usually seeking them out on purpose to rip on them. The Sands of Time is no exception, and while I fully expected the movie to suck, I was surprised to find that it was actually not terrible, but still not a very good “adaptation” of a series I’m very familiar with.

    The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal in all his shirtless manliness, plus Gemma Arterton as the damsel and Ben Kingsley in yet another video game movie after Bloodrayne. I’m not a big film nerd, but even I recognize that Kingsley is a pretty good actor that takes a ton of bad roles. I question his sanity.

    Here’s my thoughts on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

  • Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider Cradle of LifeI don't watch a lot of video game movies, they're generally bad, especially if you're familiar with the game series, then you're just up for disappointment. For better or worse, I've only played a few hours of the Tomb Raider series, and that was only the first few games, so I don't have a lot of expectations for another Lara Croft film. I watched the first one in college back in 2002 and have absolutely no memories of it except for Angelina Jolie.

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is the original's 2003 sequel starring Angelina Jolie and Gerard Butler. Butler managed to film Tomb Raider 2 in between the now classics Reign of Fire and Timeline (I'll admit, I kind of enjoyed those two). The movie was panned by critics and performed relatively poorly at the box office.

    I'm writing this as I watch the movie, as sometimes it is possible to do two things at once, especially when one of them is watching this bomb that I've had from Netflix almost two weeks.

  • Hitman

    Hitman CoverHitman was released in theaters in late 2007 and was based off the popular Hitman video game series. There have been four Hitman games made so far, but none since 2006. Kind of surprising they didn't try to time another game for the film release, and even more surprising that there hasn't been a sequel in three years. Hitman the movie stars Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Robert Knepper, and Olga Kurylenko.

    This is my first movie review on a real video game based movie, while the Last Starfighter is full of corn and charm, Hitman attempts to be a serious imagining of game to film. I'm not really that familiar with the series, unfortunately. I've played the second one, Silent Assassin, a bit, but mostly just watched my roommate in college sneak through it. I love the concept though so was excited to get Hitman in the mail the other night. Nothing formal, just some things I noticed.

  • The Last Starfighter

    Last StarfighterThe Last Starfighter is a science fiction film about a teenager who beats an arcade game, which turns out to be a recruiting tool for an endangered alien race and leads him to become a starfighter pilot. I saw this movie for the first time a couple weeks ago and thought, "I want to write about this." It's 24 years old and incredibly outdated, but it's one of those films that I wish I had seen as a kid, because I know it would have been truly magical.

    This is going to be an informal review of the movie, I'd rather just discuss it and talk about some things I noticed. You may be wondering why the heck a video game website is doing movie reviews, and I'm kind of wondering that myself, but because of its video game themes, I think it is appropriate.

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