Video game inspired movies and television series are nothing new, and in the past have been a hit-and-miss with some being pretty fantastic and fun stuff (Arcane and The Cuphead Show) and some down right awful attempts (Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros). I think the first video game inspired show was a Pac-Man cartoon series, and that’s going back.
Last week, the entertainment site IGN posted a list of more than 40 video game movies and shows now in different stages of development.
Some of these, if they are handled correctly, could yield some good thing. There are five video game projects I’m especially curious about, staring with one I don’t see on the IGN List:
Earthworm Jim: Beyond the Groovy
This trippy space earthworm video game protagonist, first created by Doug TenNapel in 1994, had his own two-season animated series just a year or two later. He has been voiced in the past by Dan Castellaneta (the man behind Homer Simpson), but it looks like this new interpretation has a new voice. Some are saying it’s prolific voice actor Vic Mignogna, but I haven’t found anything beyond the chat room rumor. Someday, I would still love to hear a Bruce Campbell-voiced Jim. That would be, without a doubt “Beyond the Groovy.”
The bloody isolated utopia-turned-dystopia world of Rapture may finally come to life in a live-action Netflix movie, but that is all we know. No director, writer, or actors are attached to this project yet. There was supposed to be a film directed by Gore Verbinski released in 2010, but that never happened.This game’s story of how the creation of a perfect world run by the best minds could go horribly, horribly wrong has so much potential. If it is done correctly, it could be the perfect storm of addictive storytelling and visuals that are both disturbing and gorgeous. However, you have to get the right minds behind it. Otherwise, just like the city of Rapture, it could descend into creative chaos.
The post-nuclear retro cool game series of Fallout has many, many fantastic characters and worlds to explore. Fallout: New Vegas is my favorite of the series, but every game is filled with creative wonderment that hops from nifty to nightmarish. Everything about this game can be used to create a great series. There could be a killer soundtrack, horrifying mutant animals, and an endless arsenal of characters and sets. There’s already a handful of fan-made and funded series that managed to bring in some fairly big names. The only actor so far attached to the upcoming Amazon series is Walter Goggins. Personally, I would be happy if they did an entire fun noir series based on the synth detective Nick Valentine. Hopefully, Nick will have a place in the vault.
The table top role-playing game Cyberpunk: 2020 was pretty prophetic when it first came out in 1988. The dystopian and deadly world of megacorporations, bioengineering and techno-centric violence seems a little too eerily real today. When the video game Cyberpunk: 2077 was appropriately released in 2020, it was both a visual masterpiece and glitch-filled gripe-fest for players. The story itself is beyond dark, wild and exciting, and ideal for its upcoming anime form. The series is an original story of a young streetwise kid in Night City who chooses to become an outlaw mercenary (aka Cyberpunk). I will admit, they had me at “Cyberpunk anime.” This one is supposed to come out on Netflix this year from Japan’s Studio Trigger, so keep an eye-out, even a bioengineered one.
And last, but not least…..
We’re a Borderlands-loving family, and both my daughters have spent some significant cosplay time on cel-shaded costumes from this game. My oldest also built her share of Borderlands-inspired weapons and props, including a full-sized Claptrap. It stands to reason I have some very high expectations of director Eli Roth’s take on it. The crazy Gearbox comic-like space western game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is filled with off-beat humor and over-the-top action. Roth seems like someone who genuinely has fun making his blood-soaked adventures, and I hope his love of filmmaking is a good fit with the Borderlands aesthetic. On June of 2021, production officially wrapped, but I have heard very little since. If this image of Claptrap released on wrap day is any indication, it will look great:
There are more than enough video game properties to inspire filmmakers for decades to come. Let’s hope the take advantage of some of these stories, and treat them right.