They say video game to film adaptations don't work. And for the most part, they're right. But I'm here to tell you, I have seen the light. And I know of a couple of instances when they did in fact, "work".
Firstly, work is relative. Subjective. What the movie-goer thinks is a "success" is probably very different from motion picture studio opinions and vice versa. I don't know of any film based on a game that went from game, to movie, to blockbuster, but let's not bite off more than we can chew. Baby steps.
Let's start out by discussing films that are based on video games, and are Watchable. Assassin's Creed makes the mark. The other movie that comes to mind is Warcraft. Box office success (or lack-there-of) aside, these are two films, based on video games, that were relatively well done, and enjoyable to watch.
Typically, these movies have to defend themselves against a two-headed monster. Those heads belong to the gamers or core-fans, and the casual movie-goer, or person that isn't already familiar with the franchise. Often times, pleasing one, pisses off the other. But nobody said playing this game was going to be easy.
I feel like part of the reason why it's so difficult to accimplish this feat is because when you take a video game franchise, particularly a successful one, you have bigger shoes to fill. People already have a certain degree of expectation, the film has to be at least as good as the game, if not better, to please the audience.
Maybe it's easier to work with a blank slate, than it is to take something good, perhaps great, and attempt to repeat that success. (Success the first go-around is hard enough, right?)
I have played Warcraft games as well as Assassin's Creed games in the past. I'm by no means an enthusiast of either franchise, but I do carry a high degree of familiarity with them. I was able to appreciate both of these films. For everything they were, and everything that they weren't.
So although neither of these films was considered a "box office success"...they're both decent films, plain and simple. Slightly different, since one is live-action and the other is CG Orcs, both I would say they're both of a similar...quality, or stature.
When it comes to the art of film making, it's often times a fine line between why these films did okay, and a film like Avatar, for example, absolutely crushed it. The difference is often times measurable, as opposed to night and day. But I say to you this...if you want to help dispel this rumor, that no film that came from a video game is worth while, give Assassin's Creed (as well as Warcraft) a go.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how enjoyable they are, as well as the fact that your degree of familiarity with the video games, has a minimal impact on the enjoyment you'll experience by watching the film adaptations.
Image: 20th Century Fox