Browsing all articles tagged with The Matrix

Why is it so difficult to find decent video games based on movies?

It’s probably based on unrealistic time constraints and the fact that publishers are pretty sure that people will buy any old shit. But instead of researching why and presenting my findings in a clear, concise and compelling fashion,  I’m going to talk about 3 movie based video games that have provided me with more enjoyment than their cinematic counterparts.

Alien 3

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“Fuck your ideas, David.”

The film: Following the double-whammy of Alien and Aliens, Sigourney Weaver was in a great position to negotiate the terms for making Alienss. Her requests allegedly started with no guns, but whether they also ran to no hair, no aliens and no script remains to be seen. Basically, Alien 3 was a text-book example of the dangers of star power, meddling producers, no agreed script and a bullied director (David Fincher – what were they thinking?) After several interesting changes of direction (the infamous wooden planet, a William Gibson penned stab) the producers settled on an approach that aimed for the middle – and still fell well short.

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OK, so when you look at it now…

The game: In a time before the miracle of ‘synergy’ ensured a consistant experience between different ‘media streams’ (re. crap game comes out at the same time as an average film), the Alien 3 video game makers could presumably work unhindered. They obviously decided that a game where you run away from a bunch of rapey slapheads while being shouted at by Brian Glover wouldn’t be much fun, and created an experience that was good in every way that the film wasn’t. Alien 3 the game had loads of weapons, loads of aliens to use them on and featured Bill Paxton’s sample, which was no-brainer, but a commendable one. I borrowed a friend’s SNES and this game and played the living shit out of it. Alien 3 was amazing.

Result: The restored version of Alien 3 on DVD wasn’t too bad, but, then again, shingles doesn’t seem so bad 10 years on. The AvP films have also been released in the interim, and were so bad that they could make you remember terminal illness through rose-tinted glasses from the afterlife.

The Matrix

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Second hardest vicar in cinema history.

The film: One of the major problems with The Matrix sequels is that by the end of the first film they’ve essentially created a Superman, albeit one you might see down the bus station, sulking. So when they came back for part 2 they were faced with a common problem: how do you pose a threat to Superman? You could either labour him with the kind of problems that affect mortal men, like in Superman Returns (an unexpected kid, a girlfriend with a large forehead), or just unravel what you accomplished in the first film. The theme of choice also played a large part in the sequels, at least I think it did. They mentioned it enough. Maybe the obsession came from the Wachowski brothers’ inability to make a good one?

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Party like it’s 1999 with graphics from 2006.

The game: Imagine a Matrix sequel that didn’t involve attending a huge, stupid rave, didn’t involve awkward conversations about choice and half-hour lectures from Colonel Sanders about, well, whatever that scene was about. Imagine if it just cut to the chase while removing the fat.

The Path of Neo not only allowed you to re-enact the good parts from all 3 films while moving beyond the films in a way that was actually quite decent. Along with Drunken Master 2 inspired scraps and B&W dust-ups in pagodas, when you reached the end, instead of ‘winning’ by lying down and allowing yourself to be fingered by Agent Smith, he turns into a massive monster made of cars and starts throwing shit at you. This scene was supposed to be a joke, as confirmed by a comical introduction from the Wachowski brothers, but they only helped to dig a bigger hole for their films by displaying more passion in 20 snark-filled seconds than they managed to muster in both of their Matrix sequels.

Result: The Matrix sequels are a perfect showcase for computer graphics and, by the same token, are robotic and lifeless with barely an ounce of passion. The Neo game was something of a rough diamond, showing that video game conventions were probably better suited to telling a story that was so clearly video game inspired.

Goldeneye 007

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Second hardest catalogue model in cinema history.

The film: Timothy Dalton was ahead of his time as Bond. People generally weren’t ready for scenes of violence commited by a man who didn’t look like he spent his weekends in the window of C&A. In this regard, Goldeneye was a step backwards. But in every other way it took the series forward in the most entertaining way possible – including the best 2 Bond girls evvah. Goldeneye may have dated slightly with some obvious model work (not just from Brosnan) and by not featuring villains in turbans, but it was clearly the best of the Brosnans, as evidenced by director Martin Campbell’s return for Casino Royale.

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Never bring a klobb to a gunfight.

The game: Not really sure how to put into words just how good Goldeneye was on the N64. Basically, 1997 was a blur due to a perfect storm of this game and a ‘relaxing’ social habit. I invested countless hours with my equally aspiration-less chums running around pyramids in search of golden guns, and swearing at well-dressed Japanese midgets.

The single player was no slouch either. Despite offering little variation in terms of replayability it kept you hooked by offering solid mechanics and by dangling cheats at the end of maddening speed-runs through its levels. In fact the mechanics were so solid that few experiences in my life have been as satisfying as using a silenced PP7 to ventilate Russian soldiers with weirdly realistic faces. Goldeneye was a truly a game for the ages, often emulated, never bettered.

Result: Goldeneye the film was good at the time but its legacy is in heralding better things: a game that became a social phenomena – to the least social members of society – and a revolution for the Bond franchise.

Also published here.

1. Inception

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Christopher Nolan’s mind-fuck is more like a metaphysical version of Heat than The Matrix in a pressed-suit. In many ways a conventional heist film with one of the most compelling and unique ‘jobs’ ever put to film. But if you’re after a display of its meta-powers, it’s like Nolan went into every other filmmaker’s dreams, stole their good ideas and replaced them with shit ones. (At least, that’s how I’d like to explain how we’re halfway through the year and I only have 3 films in my Top 10).

Pick something at random, point at it and in all likelihood, Inception is probably more intelligent than it – unless of course you’re pointing at Bamber Gascoigne, Stephen Fry or that small child with the curly hair from the 90s that was really good at antiques. However, if you’re pointing at 1 and 3, you probably haven’t moved for 20 years and are either: dead, dreaming (Ooooooooooh), or intellectually outclassed by your belly-button fluff.

2. Lebanon

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A tour through one of the world’s most beautiful locations from the inside of a dark, damp, sweat-filled box. Thankfully, Lebanon, isn’t set in Judith Chalmers’ under-passage, but it is (one would imagine) equally haunting, scary and disorientating. Unlike said tour (still imagining here) the film is also incredibly exciting and equally moving. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before; unless of course you’re the director, who based it on his real-life experiences as a tank gunner in the Lebanon war, which, as shit jobs go, must rank alongside being Jamie Oliver’s toothbrush for sheer unbridled horror.

Despite the obvious hardship in revisiting his youth, Samuel Maoz’s filmmaking-as-therapy makes for incredible cinema that stays with you. It’s just a place you probably won’t want to visit again.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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In the past year, I’ve been confronted by 2 glassy-eyed people, both recommending books with such conviction that I felt a little bit scared. One of these books was Dianetics by Lionel Ron Hubbard, the other was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. One book’s filmic adaptation: Battlefield Earth, offered much in the way of LOL-age, whereas the other raised barely a chuckle. But what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo loses by not featuring a 9ft tall alien John Travolta with dreadlocks, it makes up for by being completely unshit.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Niels Arden Oplev’s film; it’s basically the immensely entertaining culmination of great work from all involved: It tells its tale in an engaging and confident way, is beautifully shot, well acted and keeps you entertained to the last frame. There’s not much more to be said really, except that despite undoing the good work that the Swedish tourist board have been doing over the years, with Abba and that Chef from the Muppets, the film made me want to visit Sweden, despite the now apparent risk of rape/murder/beer in hair.

4. Precious

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Another gruelling film which stays with you and forces you to think – though in the case of having to write about it, I’m left thinking: “If only Iron Man 2 wasn’t so crap”. The story of Precious, a girl growing up in Harlem in the 80s, is basically the last-word in cinematic hardship. And as the challenges she has to overcome get bigger, she becomes more emotionally resilient and, for better or worse (though normally worse),  you’re with her every step of the way.

Compared to what she goes through in the preceeding hours, Precious’ emancipation ends the film  on something of a high-note. Though if you’re expecting the strange, orgiastic dance scenes of of Mamma-Mia, you’d be way-off and probably have comparable problems to those of the protaganist. In short, it’s highly, but hesitantly, recommended.