Apologies for this polemic, but it’s been a busy week at The Digital Fix preparing for The Last of Us, which premieres next week, and while reading about the TV series, something got my goat. What is it that’s irked me? Well, it’s the press talking about The Last of Us ‘breaking the videogame adaptation curse’.
Why am I so bothered by this? Well, it’s not because I think the horror series is bad. I’ve watched The Last of Us, and I loved the show. If, for whatever reason, you need proof, just read what I wrote in my The Last of Us review. No, what annoys me about this particular crumb of discourse is just how lazy and boring it is.
It’s basically the same turgid headline attached to a thinkpiece that’s so worn out you can practically smell the mothballs on it. Honestly, it feels like we’re trapped in a mind-numbing loop where every time we get a new videogame movie or show, we have to have the same discussion.
Maybe it’s like the horror movie, The Cabin in the Woods: if we don’t complete this ritual, the old gods will end the world. Although, to be honest, that’d be more palatable than reading yet another breakdown of why ‘this is the thing that’s broken a curse that patently doesn’t exist’.
Yeah, I said it. The videogame adaptation curse doesn’t exist, and it hasn’t for a long time, if it ever did. It is just an old journalistic cliche that does a huge disservice to a number of excellent videogame movies and TV series.
Now I won’t lie, videogame adaptations aren’t always good. Trust me, I know. Did you have to look Michael Fassbender in his beautiful blue eyes and talk about Assassin’s Creed? I did. I know how bad these projects can be. But for the most part, recent videogame adaptations have been loads of fun.
The Sonic The Hedgehog films were both great reimaginings of the bouncing blue blur. I know loads of people who enjoyed Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider adventure movie, and the live-action Pokemon movie Detective Pikachu was a riot.
The same’s true of the small screen as well. The recent Arcane Netflix series was based on League of Legends, and that got rave reviews.
Now, there’ll be some people who read this and think, ‘ah yes, but what about the Mortal Kombat movie or Uncharted? What would you say to that?’ and my answer is, ‘what about them?’ Every single genre has its stinkers.
Look at action movies from last year. I didn’t like The Gray Man or the 355, but I don’t go around pretending that the entire action genre now has some weird curse on it, do I? No, I don’t because that would be weird.
Now some will say, well, videogame movies of yesteryear were bad but again, who made you the arbiter of that? I know someone who’ll passionately defend the original Super Mario Bros movie, and not out of some sense of irony. They just genuinely like the film.
If you managed to make it this far into my screed, well done. You’re one of the real ones, and I hope you’ll take my words to heart. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a videogame adaptation curse, and we shouldn’t have to have this conversation every time Hollywood remembers that videogames exist.