Contradicting Popular Opinion
It’s a mad (mad mad mad mad) world.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a coworker about the suicides, murders, and murderers of our neighborhood. The classic U of C nutcases came up, namely the “Lipstick Killer” and the duo of Leopold and Loeb (who were the inspiration for the film Rope as well as others).
The coworker asked if anything this wonky ever happened when I was living in the dorms. I replied, “I saw no muders nor rooms where murderers used to be. . . But I lived in the same building Carl Sagan used to live in.”
She replied, “Who is Carl Sagan?”
“Billions and billions?”
“. . .”
“. . .”
“Cosmos? The Demon Haunted World? Astronomer?”
Nothing. I started listing off other scientists, living and dead, whom I thought were famous: Richard Feynman, Richard Dawkins, Steven Jay Gould, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, ladies’ man Erwin SchrÃ¶dinger, etc.
She only recognized Stephen Hawking, because “he was on The Family Guy.
Needless to say, I was depressed for a bit, in my realization that other people weren’t scientist groupies. Why is it that more people know of Paris Hilton than Richard Feynman? Is there a person out there less interesting and less accomplished than Paris Hilton?
I was thinking about this thing when I read that Joust was being made into a movie.
At first I thought that this was more evidence that the world had gone completely barmy. Surely this was a case of the film industry outpacing satire. What next? Tetris the movie?
After some consideration, though, I came to the conclusion that Joust is brilliant! Picture it, a movie where gladiators ride emus and fight vultures! I’m sure they’ve already got Samuel L. Jackson signed on to the picture. “I’m so sick of these goddamn knights on these muthaf*ckin’ flyin’ ostriches!”
Who wouldn’t want to watch that thing?
Generally speaking, the video games that get turned into movies are the ones that are derivative of movies. Mortal Kombat is just a sci-fi version of Enter the Dragon. Tomb Raider is just a female Indiana Jones knock-off. Resident Evil is a Romero homage coupled with some poor man’s Cronenberg body horror.
Tons of video game is much stranger and more interesting than these things. Katamari Damacy, for example. From its wikipedia entry:
The game’s plot concerns a tiny prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has playfully destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly larger objects, ranging from thumbtacks to schoolchildren to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to become a star.
Even the most mainstream of video games tends to be a little odd. Look at Sonic. He’s a super powered hedgehog that fights an evil scientist who traps animals inside of robots. Pacman is about a wheel of cheese who takes a magic vitamin in order to eat ghosts. I’m not even going to try to make sense out of Toe Jam and Earl. As my friend Sam Eccleston used to say, “Good video games are like bad drugs.”
Even video games based on movies tend to shove in some extra oddness. Let’s have some examples: that old Back to the Future NES game where you had to collect clocks and dodge girls with hula hoops; the NES version of A Nightmare on Elm Street wherein our hero punches snakes; the Jurassic Park game where you could fight as a Velociraptor.
So maybe these aren’t good games, but they certainly are strange.
Anyways, back to movies based on games. It seems that the weirdness is never brought to the big screen. The only truly weird video game flick I can think of is Super Mario Bros. It’s almost as strange as the video game, but the game’s shenanigans are cheeky and fun. Yeah, and the movie’s shenanigans are cruel and tragic. Which. . . makes them not really shenanigans at all. Evil shenanigans!
So maybe Joust is a good thing. Maybe Break Out: the movie would be a good thing too. Or Kaboom. Or Dig Dug, Bubble Bobble, or Wrecking Crew, or Sonic Spinball, Flicky, or Madden ’98.
The Popcorn Junkies, minus me, did a feature. The theme? Top 5s. I would have participated, but I just finished up a list column. Since there wasn’t really a wrap-up, I would just like to say that Caroline Hagood is the unofficial winner of the project for mentioning eXistenZ. She loses some points for not having the proper case to all the letters of the title.
Hey! Somebody else remembers Hybrid Heaven.
But there’s no need to fear it, no one will here it, sad songs and waltzes aren’t selling this year.
It’s a good thing that I’m not a star. You don’t know how lucky you are.