Films based on video games have historically had very little success.
From Street Fighter to Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (or, as I like to call it, Street Fighter: The One Without Jean-Claude Van Damme), movie studios have never quite succeeded in making a film based on a video game that is as fun to watch as it is to just play the video game.
That hasn’t stopped filmmakers from trying, though.
Case in point: FarCry, the latest film from Dr. Uwe Boll, one of the busiest directors working today and the undisputed king of video game-to-movie adaptations (with nearly ten movies based on video games to his name).
Now, I’ll admit up front that I’m a little afraid of Dr. Boll (hence, my referring to him as a doctor even though he has only received a doctorate in literature and is not, in fact, a medical physician).
The filmmaker is not a fan of his critics — once even challenging a few of them to a boxing match in which he put the proverbial smackdown on a collection of pudgy writers with no athletic ability. I’m a pudgy writer with no athletic ability. The man frightens me.
That said, FarCry was not that bad of a movie — honestly.
It’s not a great movie and it’s not even that good of a movie — but by the Raging Boll’s standards, it wasn’t insultingly bad.
Based on the popular 2004 first-person-shooter, the movie stars Til Schweiger (Inglorious Basterds) as Jack Carver, a former German solder who is happily retired and living as a boat captain in a small coastal community.
Meanwhile, Valerie Cardinal (played by modern-day scream queen Emmanuelle Vaugier) is a reporter hoping to uncover the dark secret of a mad doctor (Udo Kier) and the island he uses to perform experiments in genetic manipulation.
Kier, no stranger to the role of villainous sleezeball, is attempting to create the perfect super solder. Unfortunately, while he has created bulletproof skin and increased the solders’ strength, speed and endurance, he still has a little problem with being able to control his test subjects.
Naturally, action movie logic dictates that the ex-solder boat captain gets pulled into the machinations of the mad doctor through the help of the enterprising journalist’s insistence to follow the story — even into the mouth of certain danger.
From there, things go pretty much as expected. There are pithy one-liners, exploding helicopters and even a wisecracking sidekick in the form of Emlio, a chubby caterer played by Chris Coppola.
Also, look for a cameo from chief extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain.
Schweiger is not bad as an action hero. While his part in FarCry doesn’t rank up there with my favorite roll Schweiger has ever played (which would be SLC Punk‘s Mark, the crazy gun-toting rich friend of Matthew Lillard’s Stevo), the Austrian-born actor manages to be charming and charismatic — requisites of any likable action star.
Unfortunately, Schweiger’s charm isn’t enough to save the movie from its siller elements — such as genetically-modified super solders covered in white body paint that look less like Captain America and more like the human statues that clog up street corners with their panhandling.
In the end, it comes down to the fact that Uwe Boll does not stretch his talents with this film. Thanks to the cookie-cutter nature of the story, FarCry is a bland, mediocre movie that barely manages to rise above Saturday-night Syfy Channel made-for-TV movie status.
With new video games being released every week, though, there will never be a shortage of games for Dr. Uwe Boll to look to for inspiration and another shot at quality filmmaking.
Never one to get in the way of moviemaking, I have a few video games that I think are ripe for the picking for Dr. Boll’s celluloid cabbage patch. Here are some hypothetical films that I’d love to see Dr. Boll put his spin on:
Pac-Man — Jonah Hill stars as a yellow HAZMAT suit-clad space miner struggling with addictions to both little white pills and spontaneously generated fruit baskets. As he battles his inner demons, he must also face the vengeful ghosts of the multi-ethnic space miners he replaced after they died due to becoming lost in the mine’s mazes.
Duck Hunt — Josh Brolin is The Hunter, a good ol’ boy from Texas who enjoys hunting ducks with his wisecracking canine companion (voiced by Chris Tucker). When a mysterious virus turns the world’s duck population into deadly killing machines, The Hunter is America’s best chance at salvation. Armed only with an orange and grey laser gun, it’s always duck season for The Hunter.
Dance Dance Revolution — Society has sunk into a dark totalitarian regime this side of Orwell’s 1984. All forms of expression have been outlawed and creativity is punishable by death. It’s up to Johnny B. Smooth (Zac Efron) to save the populace with the only weapon he knows: dance. Using every tactic in his arsenal — from The Shuffle to The Robot to The Running Man, Smooth will bring about revolution with his dance — or make a fool of himself trying.
Tetris — When Steve Jackson (Jason Statham) was falsely accused of murdering his wife, little did he know he was about to become part of the cutthroat world of prison block building. Forced to compete in the nationally televised competitions, Jackson has two choices — build walls out of the highly combustible, oddly shaped bricks he has been given or be shot by the prison guards. In order to escape, he’s going to need to build a way out jail — one brick at a time.
Robert Saucedo thinks filmmakers should just stop trying to make movies based on video games. Will anything ever get any better then “Super Mario Bros.: The Movie”? Visit him on the web at www.robsaucedo.com.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.