I want someone to tell me the last time Hollywood delivered something on the scale of Last Of Us? A movie that is, in all intents and purposes, epic and large, but still somehow intimate. Or think about the narrative arc in the Telltale Walking Dead games. When was the last time a film got you SO invested in their characters that when one of them passed, you felt actual sadness and guilt within your own self? The medium of video games has evolved so far in the last decade, and none of us could have seen it coming. I would even go so far as to say, they video game world has surpassed motion picture in the sense of the scale of what it can deliver, and just how hard hitting that delivery can be. It is what that in mind that I decided these are 7 things Hollywood could learn from video games right now.
Set Piece Moments
Movies have some major set piece moments. The moments when something huge happens and you are just awed by it. The problem is, on film they feel plastic and fake, and in games, those moments feel organic. So what is the difference?
This leads to point two….
Games know to throw these thing at us now and again to keep us entertained and hooked. Hollywood blockbusters throw set piece moments at the audience about one every thirty seconds. If they dialed that back a bit, they would find their actual set piece moments have that much more impact.
Just look at the above scene from one of the Uncharted games and slowly realize, you have not seen an action scene that cool in forever (Mad Max being the one exception right now). Pacing needs to be dialed back and evened out. All set piece moments all the time deter from said moments having impact.
You know what else helps with that……
To gaming’s credit, some video games have forty plus hours to work on the development of a character, where most Hollywood movies only have about two hours, tops. One can understand why character development would be that much harder under those constraints.
Regardless, if you look at the evolution of a character like Laura Croft from the Tomb Raider reboot, you can feel that character change and numb and get harder across the adventure. But Hollywood forces character development like that, or avoids them altogether, and we end up having characters we know very little about (and as a result, care very little about).
And it doesn’t just apply to good guys, either….
Enemies We Actually Fear
Sorry to keep citing Last Of Us, but I want you to think about the clicker enemy types in that game. Now I want you to go through all the movies you have seen in the last decade and tell me ONE enemy who inspired as much fear. Can you find one? No, of course you can’t, and that is just my problem here.
From zombies to nazis to enemy soldiers, Hollywood bad guys have all fallen into the same blueprint. The end result is an audience who does not feel connected to not only the heroes, but has no concern about the droves of generic bad guys as well.
This leads wonderfully to my NEXT point. How about some freaking…..
So this year, we are getting a new Jurassic Park, a new Terminator, a new Mad Max, and a new Star Wars. While those are all franchises we love, you still spot what is wrong here, right? There are NO original scripts and specs being sold in Hollywood anymore. Everything is a reboot of a remake of a sequel.
Now I know, right now games are suffering from this problem, too, but think on a larger scale. One great example of the indie game, Limbo. Tell me the last time you saw a movie as atmospheric and haunting and lovely as that game (while also being as wholly original)?
Exactly my point, which leads to our closer, which ironically is….
Okay, this is the one that inspired the list. There are few things as annoying as going through an entire movie, only to get some hack, lame, weak ending that makes everyone walk away happy. We all know real life is not like that. Life is full of tragedy and pain, and rarely has the lame, story book endings we normally get force fed in Hollywood films.
But games know this. Posted above is the ending to the game Braid. Can you say holy shit? Now THAT is a plot twist, and one Hollywood writers should really learn from. Give us more movie endings like that, and you will have people walking away from theaters stunned, and in the best way possible.
So step it up, Hollywood. Gaming is lapping you right now, and you need to catch up or admit defeat. Speaking of games….