Back in 1995, an ambitious young director made a movie based on a popular video game franchise. The director was Paul W.S. Anderson, and the movie was called Mortal Kombat. Made on a meager $18 million budget (about $32 million today), the movie was surprisingly successful, making $70 million (around $126 million) at the theaters alone. Its success prompted studios to adapt many similar movies to the screen, from Resident Evil (also directed by Anderson, which was a success) to Street Fighter (which was a box office bomb). In spite of the repeated failures, studios have still not given up on turning games into movies – even story-driven titles like the upcoming Uncharted and The Last Of Us adaptations.
Sometimes, the studios are stubborn and don’t give up even after repeated failures – like in the case of these adaptations.
Agent 47 was born in the year 2000, becoming not just one of the best assassins in the world but also revigorating the stealth genre. The original game has grown into a franchise with eight main games, two spinoffs, even a casino game inspired by the original Hitman game that you can check out at https://www.luckycreekcasino.org. The backstory of Agent 47 was so intriguing that the IP’s owners decided it was a perfect story to put on film.
The movie Hitman was released a year after Hitman: Blood Money (in 2007), with Timothy Olyphant in the title role. The movie… well, it wasn’t exactly a box office bomb (thanks in a large part to its low budget) but it had a weak plot (remember, this was after the fourth game, so there was more than enough lore to build on) that was also confusing and lacked good taste. It had a lot of violence, though, enough for an R rating from the MPAA.
If at first, you don’t succeed, try again – this saying applies to video game movies, it seems. So, Agent 47 returned in 2015, this time with Rupert Friend in the title role. Once again, the movie didn’t exactly bomb at the theaters but it didn’t do very well either. And when it comes to the critics, it was bashed by all of them for its one-dimensional characters, uneven story, and weirdness.
Back in 2017, Hulu announced that it intends to develop a series based on the Hitman video games. Let’s hope that one will be better put together.
Wait, you might think, didn’t you praise the Mortal Kombat movie at the beginning of the article? Well, we did – the first MK movie was fun in its cheezy kind of way, with well-built martial arts scenes, memorable characters, and a great soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also had a sequel.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was released two years after the first film. Directed by John R. Leonetti, the sequel threw out a lot of the first movie’s lore – and most of the actors: Rayden and Sonya Blade were replaced, Johnny Cage was killed off right at the beginning of the story, and seemingly random MK characters seemed to just appear out of thin air (sometimes literally).
MK: A destroyed everything Anderson’s MK built: it had cheap effects, shallow characters, minimal plot, and nothing memorable except maybe its OST. It was so bad that the planned third movie was never made.
The producers didn’t even try to resurrect the movie franchise until this year. This year’s Mortal Kombat finally pleased most critics – albeit it’s obviously made with the fans of the franchise in mind – with over-the-top blood geysers and all the well-known video game one-liners. Still, it’s a B-movie, critics say, that could’ve used a bit more, ahem, story, plot, and character development.
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