Tag Archives: Need for Speed

The Five Worst Video-Game Movies

Inspired by the imminent release of Hitman: Agent 47, Andrew Brooker takes a look at five of the most infamous movie adaptations of a variety of video games.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

In a couple of weeks, 20th Century Fox will release Hitman: Agent 47 to a world pretty much fed up of video games being turned into awful films and force fed to us. Most that have read some of my stuff, or listened to me on one of the many times Mr. Hughes lost his mind and invited me onto the podcast, know that I love my video games. Behind movies it’s my second biggest hobby (and arguably the most expensive) and every time my two favourite ways to waste time crossover, it should be a reason to celebrate. Sadly, this isn’t usually the case. More often than not, the films we are handed as we are told “it’s brilliantly close to the games, fans will adore it” turn out to be badly written, badly directed dusty clouds of dry spunk. This is where we find ourselves today.

So in a very scientific process, namely me and a buddy bouncing ideas at each other in the office, here are my five worst films based on video games.


5] Doom (2005)

Budget: $60 million

Gross: $55.9 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 19%

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dMA8NmdyW4]

So yeah, Doom. The mother of all games. The game that defined forever how we’d play games more than 20 years ago, was shat out as a movie a decade ago starring Dwayne Johnson back when we were just calling him “The Rock” and Karl Urban before he was Dredd.

My biggest gripe with Doom isn’t that it was bad, and it was pretty bad, it was how it took the game’s slight hint at a story and flat out ignored it. According to the game’s instruction manual, you are a lone space marine fighting to survive as Hell’s demons invade Mars and slaughter everyone. This was replaced with a group of space marines fighting to survive as a Mars base’s occupants are infected with a Martian virus and mutated. I mean, neither story is good, but is there really any need to switch out one bland story for another? Where’s the loyalty to the branding for Christ’s sake?

Adding to the terrible decision to make this film, we were treated to a spectacularly rubbish “first person shooter” scene that has us watching the film down the barrel of a gun that, as a fan, is beyond patronising and absolutely ridiculous. No other type of film insists on making us watch them like that. Fancy watching soccer film from the point of view of a stadium visit? With some fat unwashed screamy twat in front of you? No.

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, the man that also brought us:


4] Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

Budget: $50 Million

Gross: $12.8 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 6%

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zDsaCalcNE]

Urgh! So yeah, there was definitely going to be a Street Fighter movie on this list. And a film would have to work pretty damn hard to be worse than a film that included Kylie Minogue and a ginger Jean-Claude Van Damme, but The Legend of Chun-Li blows it out of the water.

Intended as the origin story of one of the most iconic Street Fighter characters, The Legend of Chun-Li plays less like a story of how the young fighter found her way in life and instead treats us to a powerpoint slideshow on alienating film fans and gamers alike as more than a few tired old clichés are dragged out from the dusty cupboard they should have been left in. The mention of another key character at the end, hinting that a film based around Ryu was in the works shows just how much they thought they had a franchise starter on their hands and just how out of touch everyone involved in this film actually was.


3] Need For Speed (2014)

Budget: $66 Million

Gross: $203.3 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYyvKqKwRco]

The one and only film that, at least according to Wikipedia, actually made money, tricking more than its fair share of gullible fools into thinking that it might actually be a good film. Sadly, we live in a post The Fast and The Furious world and a shit movie about a bunch of guys racing nice cars isn’t anything close to engaging anymore. Fast and Furious had to evolve to survive its flagging appeal and somehow Need for Speed still made a killing at the box office doing what Vin Diesel and Paul Walker were doing a decade and a half ago. And that would be ok, if it wasn’t so bloody dull!

Every one of us gamers saw just how bad an idea it was to try adding a story to the Need for Speed franchise with 2011’s disgrace of a game, The Run. So instead of trying something new, they simply put that same story to film, added a less than mediocre revenge story, stunt casted the pretty crap Aaron Paul and made a film that included Michael Keaton as a pirate radio running race organiser channelling Beetlejuice behind a mic.

The fact that this made a killing at the box office is only encouraging more of the same! In the next few years there are plans for a second Need for Speed film, as well as a film based on Sony’s Gran Turismo. And I blame everyone that added to that $203 million for that. It’s your fault!


2] DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Budget: $21 Million

Gross: $7.5 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luSqcSVGknU]

Dead or Alive, oh how I loathe you. If ever there was a video game franchise that needed to die, it’s Dead or Alive. The franchise so out of touch with modern game playing that it focuses more on jiggling boobs than it does fighting mechanics; and considering the amount of vitriol thrown at game developers at even the hint of a bit of sexism in their game nowadays, how Dead or Alive constantly gets away with it, I’ll never know. Between sex pest levels of gross purchasable school-girl costumes and its volleyball tie-in game, it’s the channel five porno of fighting games and it’s fucking awful.

You would think that this would made perfect fodder for a rubbish straight-to-tv, or nowadays, straight-to-itunes, movie and in that respect, this would be a barely passable film. But to put this awfulness up on that hallowed silver screen is beyond sacrilegious. This film that sold its audiences on appearances from Holly Vallance (remember her?), Jaime Pressley and Devon Aoki. You know, those women absolutely known for their fighting skills and their attention to perfectly choreographed combat and NOT for just being gorgeous. Yeah? Them.

I feel a little guilty for having this film on the list, because the game is just as bad. But Jesus Christ, I’ve never felt so gross playing a game or so skeevy watching a film.

Leaving us with:


1] Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Budget: $48 million

Gross: $20.9 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 19%

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAqoB17yQqY]

No one can try and write one of these lists without mentioning Super Mario Bros; not only the worst film based on a video game ever made, but generally one of the worst things ever put to film. An absolute abortion of a film that its star, the late great Bob Hoskins, distanced himself from. Calling the film a “complete nightmare” and admitting that if he had a chance, he’d erase it from his past, Hoskins was never shy about sharing his opinion on this terrible flick. With similar stories from co-stars John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper, the film has left a legacy of terrible stories of a troubled production and should forever be used as an example of how never to make a film based on a beloved property.

Setting one of the most colourful video games in history in what looks like the underground society from Demolition Man, trying for an adult theme and attempting to make it grounded and realistic is absolutely not the way to do the Super Mario Brothers, or its legions of fans, proud.

Extra special hate gets directed at this lumpy skid mark of a film since Bob Hoskins’ death a little over a year ago. In an attempt to up their click count, video game websites started running stories that the man known for playing Mario Mario had died, shitting all over a stellar career by shining a light on the man’s worst moment in film and not educating an entire generation of players who’ve never seen The Long Good Friday on an amazing actor who deserved much, much better than that.


Dishonourable Mention – Uwe Boll

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT1J65KHX8E]

I couldn’t decide which of his films to add to the list, so instead I’ll simply mention the man, the myth, the douchebag that is Uwe Boll. A man whose legacy to film includes ruining more than a few outstanding games as he does the filmmaker equivalent of shitting into his own hand and smearing it on our walls. The man’s filmography includes monstrosities like Far Cry, two Alone in the Dark films, three BloodRayne movies and Postal.

Recently, the gaming community breathed a sigh of relief as “Raging Boll” took to YouTube to announce he wasn’t making films anymore.

Good. Because I believe I speak for every game playing film lover when I say “Fuck that guy!”

You can hear the team talk briefly about their favourite and least favourite video game adaptations on our podcast released back in 2013. If you’d like to hear us do a new podcast on the topic, leave a comment below or get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or email at failedcritics@gmail.com!

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Failed Critics Podcast: Furious 7, John Wick and Occasionally Jokes

john wicikWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics podcast! Back down to our normal run time of just over an hour you’ll be glad to hear after our mammoth 150th episode podcast last week.

Regulars Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by Callum Petch and making his debut on one of our proper podcasts, the equivalent of us bringing in Jason Statham to our franchise I’m sure you’ll all agree, is Jackson Tyler.

On that topic, the team review new releases including the box office juggernaut Fast & Furious 7 (or Furious 7, or whatever you want to call it), revenge thriller John Wick, teen comedy The DUFF and the latest from Noah Baumbach, While We’re Young.

There’s also time to discuss the latest news which is, erm, well, there wasn’t really any. We also take a look back at the classic Jim Henson fantasy movie The Dark Crystal; Callum shares his LCD Soundsystem love with documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits; Jackson revisits the Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny; whilst Steve continues with his foray through the Harry Potter series.

Join us next week as we finally get around to inducting Jean-Claude Van Damme into our illustrious Corridor of Praise!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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Failed Critic Podcast: Need for Speed, Rants for Bants, Reviews for Booze

Jack O'Connell in Starred Up
Jack O’Connell in Starred Up

Strap in, shift gears, and glance to your right as the new Failed Critics Podcast speeds into view. Or something.

This week sees us review the latest attempt to make a worthwhile videogame-to-movie adaptation with Need for Speed, as well as our thoughts on Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem, and pre-release musings on the critically acclaimed prison drama Starred Up.

Triple Bill is also back this week, as the team choose their favourite pre-title sequences (and have a debate about what actually constitutes a pre-title sequence), and we even find time for a debate about Akira Kurosawa and Mike Bassett: England Manager.

We’re back next week with our now-traditional Summer Preview!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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Need for Speed

Need For SpeefIt’s a complete mess and totally insane, but Need For Speed is the best videogame-to-movie adaptation yet made and it’s a fair bit of fun, too.

by Callum Petch

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: yes, Need For Speed is the best non-animated videogame-to-movie adaptation that has been made and released at this moment in time.  Admittedly, when your competition for that prestigious crown includes Street Fighter: The Movie, DOA: Dead or Alive, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Bloodrayne, Postal, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Super Mario Bros., Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance, Hitman, two movies based on The House of the Dead, The King of Fighters, both Tomb Raider flicks, both Silent Hill films (although the first one had bags of unrealised potential), Tekken and Bloodrayne: The Third Reich; that’s not exactly saying much.  Nevertheless, it is true.  Need For Speed is the best non-animated videogame-to-movie adaptation given a Western release yet (take your time Ace Attorney, we’re in no rush, really).

Here’s something else about Need For Speed: it’s a complete and total mess.  Throughout the course of its 2 hours and 10 minutes (yes, you did read that correctly, Need For Speed has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes), the film wildly careens from tone to tone, through different corresponding levels of self-awareness, through its many plot points, with its cycling of characters, going through every level of “Aaron Paul is/is not interested in this movie”, from explaining away everything to just throwing its arms up in the air and going “I dunno!  This is just a thing that happens, don’t question it!”  I haven’t met a film this schizophrenic about its own nature and what exactly it wants to be in a long while.  And yet, I’m honestly not too hung up on that fact because it’s also kinda a lot of fun.  Both intentionally and unintentionally.

But we shall get to that.  The formalities, first.  Aaron Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, a down-on-his-luck mechanic who street races on the side to pay the bills.  Falling behind on the payments for his recently deceased father’s garage, he and his crew (consisting of Ramón Rodriguez, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek and Harrison Gilbertson) agree to fix up a Ford Mustang for an old acquaintance of Tobey’s, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper).  They don’t get along.  A lot of stuff then happens between that and what sets up the main plot: one of Tobey’s crew gets killed in a street racing accident (and you’ll figure out exactly who within the first 65 seconds, he may as well wear a glowing neon shirt that reads “HELLO, I AM GOING TO BE THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB FOR THIS FILM”), Tobey is framed for it, spends the next two years in jail and, once released, begins his quest for vengeance by…

I don’t really know, in all honesty.  His plan seems to be to hitch it across the country in time to enter a supposedly super-secret and possibly illegal race called the Something Stupid & Pretentious Or Other (they keep mentioning it but it kept slipping my mind, I know that it completely seriously involves d’-something) and beat Dino in it but the film never outright says.  Maybe we’re just supposed to think up what Tobey’s going to do to Dino ourselves or maybe the film just couldn’t decide for itself.  I’m leaning towards the last one thanks to the ending.  In fact, here’s something you must know about Need For Speed: the ending is unfulfilling and kinda garbage.  There are more loose threads here than a linen shop run by the world’s worst sewer and it aims to be happy and uplifting without actually providing any reason to be happy or uplifted.  If the ending makes or breaks a movie for you, then Need For Speed is likely to become your new least favourite film of 2014.  Only 300: Rise of an Empire wraps up worse in regards to films released in the last six months.

Honestly, though, a messy and unsatisfying ending is rather fitting considering the two hours that precede it.  See, Need For Speed is dumb.  It is super dumb.  It has a character on Tobey’s team who seems to have access to helicopters at will.  It’s a movie in which Michael Keaton plays the one man who seems to have power over all of the illegal street-racing in the country, who live streams about illegal street-racing on a seeming 24/7 basis whilst taking calls from viewers and listeners and whose identity is a total mystery… despite the fact that he can set up prestigious races and his face is constantly on display so you’d think at least somebody would have run a facial or voice recognition software on him and shut his ass down by now.  It’s a movie that sort of romanticises the concept of illegal street-racing (which would be controversial had movies not glamorised a lot worse and had one other major action series not already built its foundation on rooting for the crazed street-racers).  It is dumber than a lobotomised Big Brother contestant.  This is constant.

What’s not so constant is the movie’s attitude towards that dumbness.  Its self-awareness level fluctuates like crazy; one moment it’s completely in on the joke, the next it’s trying to abuse super slow motion for emotionally devastating effect (key word: attempts), the next it’s somewhere in the middle.  At the film’s midpoint, Dino effectively, no wait, he actually does put out a hit on Tobey and it’s played completely straight with no police interference whatsoever (seriously, the way that illegal street racing runs in this movie’s universe is quite literally the dumbest thing I have had the good fortune to experience in… man, I can’t even remember).  Near the end, a character currently held in military prison successfully convinces the guard watching him to get him an iPad so he can watch the final race and plays that for silly comedy.  One of Tobey’s crew, after the two year time skip, is reintroduced in a scene where he takes off all of his clothes in the middle of his work environment as he quits.  It should tell you a lot about this film that that was the scene that I the most baffled about.

Let me put this another way.  Do you remember the first trailer for this film?  The one where Aaron Paul monologues about vengeance over operatic wailing and you sit and wonder whether everyone involved is actually aware of just how ridiculous the thing that’s currently playing out before your eyeballs is?  Yeah?  OK, take that feeling and apply it to 2 hours and 10 minutes because that’s Need For Speed.  It feels like seven different movies being very awkwardly smushed together into one product and, quite honestly, it defies logic, common sense or any sort of coherent opinion.  I guarantee that you will leave the cinema in bafflement at the film you will have paid money to witness.  My brain is turning to glue trying to make sense of this film.  It really is.

Oh, and the score!  What in blue blazes was going on with the score of this film?  Did the guy writing it think he was writing it for some kind of inspirational Oscar bait?  Maybe an inspirational biopic about some important person’s life?  Because that’s the score we’ve got for this film and it’s the most mismatched score for a film I’ve seen since smooth heist jazz music backed Haywire.  Turns out setting the first trailer to opera was the marketers secretly trying to prepare us for the abject weirdness of the score to this movie.  There’s even the single strangest inclusion and interpretation of All Along the Watchtower I have seen since Battlestar Galactica!  Was anybody actually communicating with one another during the creation of this movie?!

So, it’s insane and the ending is utter crap.  Why am I advising you to go and see this again?  Besides so that, when you inevitably bring it up for your next bad movie night, you can smugly go “I saw this one in cinemas” towards all your buddies (I guarantee that this will become legendary on that kind of circuit in the coming years).  Simple: I had a lot of fun with this one.  I’ve seen a lot of films recently, good and bad, and most of them have either been really serious or really boring (and sometimes both).  There’s nothing wrong with serious movies, but sometimes I want to sit and watch something fun.  I want to laugh, I want to be excited, I want to be having a good time.  300: Rise of an Empire didn’t provide that, Non-Stop didn’t really provide that (because that wasn’t its intention for a lot of it), A New York Winter’s Tale should have been the kind of bad movie to provide that and it clearly wasn’t.  Need For Speed, though, provides fun.  It provides a lot of fun and whether that fun is intentional or unintentional changes by the minute but, in all honesty, is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

It helps that it has style oozing throughout.  Director Scott Waugh (whose previous claim to fame was the excretable and similarly muddled Act of Valor, so at least this is a step up for him) often shoots chases or races with cameras that are supposed to be POV shots of the drivers, with CGd Heads Up Displays and checks around the cockpit, like it’s a cockpit view mode in a videogame.  He likes to attach his camera to various aspects of the expensive cars as they drive or crash.  He especially enjoys seeing just how close his vehicles can get to the moving camera at very high speeds before they have to overtake.  It adds a flair to proceedings, makes the chase scenes feel alive and fresh even though nothing particularly new is happening in them.

On that note: none of the stunts in this film are performed with CGI.  Everything is achieved with practical effects.  Every crash, nudge, last-second near miss or spin is done with practical effects and really good stunt drivers.  So, no, do not expect to see any new or outrageous feats of automobile havoc out of Need For Speed.  Do, however, expect to be reminded of just how amazing and amazingly tense a good practical car chase sequence looks and is.  There’s an early section involving a race through traffic with three Koenigseggs that was nail-biting because I was sat there the entire time thinking “Wait, no, this can’t actually be real.  They can’t afford to even risk scratching the paintwork on one of those-OH GOD, NOW TOBEY’S IN ONCOMING TRAFFIC!!”  It sounds slightly sociopathic and sadist but it’s true: people become tenser and more involved in risky activities when there’s a chance that it can go horribly wrong for those involved, and that works gangbusters here.

Every collision, hell, every scrape, be it from one of the main characters or just some unlucky civilians, carries real impact from collisions being mundane, infrequent and done with practical effects (ie: actually crashing or rolling them).  And this is not even mentioning the final race which I would not be surprised to discover was just an excuse to smash some of the world’s most expensive and gorgeous cars up real good.  I could practically see the money burning away in front of my eyes.  Frankly, thanks to modern action films’ total embracing of CGI to enhance any and all action scenes, I had forgotten just how great a good-old-fashioned practical setpiece can be and I’d love for this film to be the start of a return to that end of the scale, rather than it be a one-off.

There is one other reason why Need For Speed gets a pass from me, despite it being utterly confoundingly stupid, and that reason is Imogen Poots as Julia, the woman who tags along with Tobey on his cross-country drive for… reasons (I’d like my brain to still retain some of its functions, so I’m just going to stop thinking about the plot side, now).  See, in a rare turn-up for the books of almost every action movie ever, Julia Maddon is a great female character.  Yes, she’s a badass driver, but that’s secondary to everything else about her and is revealed long after you get to know her.  And, yes, she’s introduced by having the boys make fun of the fact that she’s a woman and so obviously is ill-suited to their world of cars and fast, reckless driving, but the film quickly shuts down that line of thought as an unacceptable one too (whether or not the film briefly brings that thought back up sympathetically for a “terrify the passenger to death” sequence is down to personal interpretation, quite frankly).

Instead, she’s a character.  Not one with much of a backstory, granted, but she has personality.  A deep and consistent personality, one that doesn’t just revolve around Tobey every second of the film.  She’s manic, charming, snarky, strong-willed, capable behind the wheel, quick-witted (if not so great at following through with her plans) but also petrified of heights, not as accustomed to extremely reckless driving as Tobey and prone to doing silly things when panicked.  She feels rounded and grounded, an actual, three-dimensional character in a film that didn’t need one.  Credit should also be handed to Imogen Poots who gives it everything she’s got, seemingly also completely amazed at being given a well-written female character in an action film, in this action film of all sodding places, to play and determined to make the most of it.

In fact, I’m going to go ahead and call it, right now.  Action films made post-2000: this is now your new minimum gold standard when it comes to female characters.  She may not be Ripley, but Julia Maddon still kicks the arse of pretty much every female character you’ve come up with for the past decade and a half.  Need For Speed did this.  A movie based on NEED FOR GODDAMN SPEED DID THIS!  Are you seriously trying to tell me that a movie based on the Need For Speed franchise can outdo your female action characters?  Are you going to let that stand?

It also helps, to be fair, that Imogen Poots seems to be the only person capable of getting Aaron Paul to be consistently alright, striking up a nice easy-going chemistry with him.  Whether it’s due to nerves at this being his first big leading movie role or just not giving a single crap, Aaron Paul is not very good in this movie.  He over or under-plays damn near every single line, seems damn near checked out during several solo sequences of him driving a car and pulls the stupidest faces during the slo-mo serious dramatic scenes (although, to be fair, those are so overwrought that his hamming them up actually improves proceedings).  It’s a shame, really, and I’m hoping he finds a vehicle that he’s comfortable with or interested in or that stretches his skills soon because I’d love to see him have a leading man career.  Similarly, if you’re hoping for another wonderfully hammy turn from Mr. Dominic Cooper, then prepare to be disappointed as he’s barely in it and, possibly as payback for that crime, he doesn’t really seem to be trying; underplaying every line and acting very subdued.  Shame, really.

Need For Speed, then, is a giant and total mess that has no clue of what it wants to be, checked-out performances from its two leads, a stupendously baffling and incoherent plot despite its simplistic and barely-there nature and a ferociously unsatisfying ending.  It’s also huge amounts of fun, a great showcase of how even the simplest car chase can be livened up with a bit of style and a liberal usage of practical effects and has the new gold standard for post-2000s female characters in action movies.  In other words, what we have here, ladies and gents, is the definition of a mixed bag.  We also have a film that you’re actually likely to remember 48 hours after having seen it.  I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll still be thinking about Need For Speed long after this review goes up, even if it’s just to futilely try and make sense of the damn thing.

It’s got an identity.  That identity is essentially a Frankenstein’s Monster of other, often better movies, but it’s got an identity.  It’s also never boring and often a lot of fun which is way more than I can say for so many action films pumped out by Hollywood nowadays.  I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy Need For Speed, hell I don’t even know if I actually enjoyed Need For Speed, but you’re going to have an opinion on it, either way, and you’ll probably be glad you saw it.  You decide if that’s a good thing or not.

Callum Petch is hoping she can sock it to him one more time.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!