A Book by Christopher Carton
Videogame-based movies have a spotty history, at best, and a chronicle of them can easily be mistaken as a list of 100 of the worst films that have ever been made. I honestly feel like it has only been a recent phenomenon that decently produced films based on the medium are starting to come out, which is a shame considering we have nearly forty years of them chronicled here. A Guide to Video Game Movies by Christopher Carton takes a stab at being an exhaustive list of this particular wing of cinema. The book is divided up by decade, each highlighting something like ten of the biggest films of each particular era and a page summarizing the rest. Pen and Sword releases a number of these mass market pop culture books at any given time, usually about comics or cosplay, and this is perhaps the best one that they have done that I’ve read so far.
“Have you ever wondered if that game you love was made into a movie? Flip this book open and find out! Explore the fascinating journey of your favourite video games as they make their way to the silver screen! This comprehensive guide contains information on over forty big-screen adaptations of popular video games, including the histories of the series that inspired them. Covering four decades of movies, readers can learn about some of the most infamous movies in video game history, with genres such as horror, martial arts, comedy and children’s animation ensuring there’s plenty of trivia and analysis to keep gamers hooked.”
I’m not going to lie, the majority of this book’s contents are two decades worth of Uwe Boll, a universally panned director’s, absolute worst misses in all of cinema – a fact that one cannot deny when looking at any list of films from this era. It was Boll, more so than any director save Paul W.S. Anderson, that championed making video game films no matter why poorly they were constructed or recieved. Highlighted as well are some particularly bad films like the 90’s Super Mario bros. and Street Fighter films that have become cult classics largely due to nostalgia. At the end we start to see the dawning of the video game film as a serious genre, with such movies like Sonic the Hedgehog and the most recent Mortal Kombat film – admittedly not stellar films by any means, but adequate and fun nonetheless. Perhaps we are about to enter the golden age of the video game film? Only time will tell.
For a low-entry point quick read like this, you can’t really go wrong with how this book is formatted. It’s very informative and exists as a quick reference book rather than some sort of deep scholarly analysis. Honestly if that is what someone is looking for, I can not imagine that “video-game films” would be a topic that many film scholars would flock to doing thorough discourse on. Based on the nature of what this book is and the target audience, I’d say this is a successful book. If a cohesive history of this type of film is something you have been wondering about, this is probably the best book I’ve seen on the topic.
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NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.