Movies adapted from games are usually nothing more than marketing exercises – in other words, they’re terrible. Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Doom come to mind. I’m sure a longer list is a Google search away. There are some exceptions, though. Resident Evil, for instance, was a pleasant surprise, and the studio responsible for the franchise, Screen Gems, will take Last of Us to the big screen. The movie of last year’s award-winning PS3 game will also have Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, The Grudge) as a producer.
And no doubt it’ll be 3D, so what will make Last of Us worth the $15 in admission? Here are some don’ts and dos.
1) DON’T: Use the same plot. I love the game, but because it’s a game. The story’s escort/road-trip/apocalyptic thread is derivative of at least a dozen movies. The movie without the gameplay will be like a book adaption without the depth. Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” was great, the movie wasn’t.
DO: Keep one of the clichés but not all. The road-trip journey plot will work. It’s simple and allows for an epic Heart-of-Darkness adventure. But do away with the scarred mercenary and the save-all-humanity girl with whom he forms a bond and ultimately redeems him. Instead, let the MacGuffin be mundane. No higher purpose, at least on the onset. Perhaps all he wants is a chocolate bar or an old scratched-up DVD movie. In a world gone to hell, what good is money? What good is anything but a little bit of pleasure? And then let the layers pile on from there.
2) DON’T: Cast Ellen Page as Ellie. She’s got another game.
DO: Cast Mailie Williams. Ellie needs to be a little tough, a little tomboy.
3) DON’T: Show national landmarks overgrown with ivy (unless it’s Wrigley Field).
DO: Show lots and lots of non-landmarks covered with ivy, and collapsing, and rusting.
4) DON’T: Spare the bullets.
DO: It’s okay for the film to ponder the meaning of humanity, but I need to see the infected get wasted en masse.
5) DON’T: Let the same artists who created the mutants in I Am Legend create the infected.
DO: Hire Peter Jackson’s crew instead.