Games of groans! 6 biggest video-game movie adaptations

Belgian martial artist and professional pretender Jean-Claude Van Damme. (Screen grab)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Games of groans! 6 biggest video-game movie adaptations

DUBAI: As the “Tomb Raider” reboot hits GCC cinemas, Arab News looks back at some of the best (or, at least, biggest — it’s a low bar) video-game adaptations. Turns out compelling, thought-provoking storylines — or even coherent, thought-tickling ones — aren’t always a major concern for button-mashers.
 
Mortal Kombat (1995)
It’s about as impressive as being known as the world’s coolest accountant, but “Mortal Kombat” is arguably the finest, or least-bad, movie adaptation of a video game thus far in terms of accurately reflecting its source. It helps that — despite the outrage its gory finishing moves sparked among easily offended scapegoat-searchers — the game’s premise (a group of fighters battling hand-to-hand to decide the fate of the planet) was so ridiculously over-the-top that all the filmmakers had to do was commit to a similar level of nonsense. They did.
 

Street Fighter (1994)
The makers of “Street Fighter” also embraced the silly. The game itself was a camper, more cartoonish affair than “Mortal Kombat” and the movie wisely chose the campest, most cartoonish action star around at the time as its lead: Belgian martial artist and professional pretender Jean-Claude Van Damme. The actor cast as his enemy, Raul Julia, brought a touch of much-needed craft to the proceedings. And Kylie Minogue was in it. Basically, peak-Nineties. 

 
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Possibly the closest a video-game movie has come to justifying the time and money involved. Director Simon West had a solid but unspectacular action-movie pedigree — remember “Con Air”? — background and produced a solid but unspectacular action movie. Angelina Jolie — then routinely ranked as the world’s sexiest woman — was cast as Lara Croft — routinely ranked as the world’s sexiest video-game character, to the chagrin of Ms. Pac-Man. Jolie actually did a good job of bringing Croft to life, putting in a performance that was way better than the film deserved.

 
Resident Evil (2002)
Another female video-game character much loved by those with an unhealthy interest in pixels, Milla Jovovich’s Project Alice is actually a refreshingly capable character who kicks ass without needing a man to ultimately step in to save her at the last. Jovovich’s onscreen presence elevates all six (six!) “Resident Evil” movies (just) above the level of trashy zombie/monster-slaying they’re striving for. Six, though…

 
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Jake Gyllenhaal! Ben Kingsley! Alfred Molina! Three heavyweight award-winning actors. So far so good, right? But. All three of these fine Caucasian actors were playing Persians. Not so good, right? And they were doing it in a movie apparently aimed at audiences that hate movies.

 
Silent Hill (2006)
The biggest wasted opportunity on this list, because it actually had some quality source material — a well-crafted psychological horror game — to work with. Visually, the filmmakers did a great job, capturing the eeriness of the titular foggy deserted town and producing some genuinely scary monsters. Unfortunately, due diligence apparently wasn’t a ‘thing’ for the casting director, and the film’s true horror lies in the acting.


What We Are Reading Today: Hard Ball: The Abuse of Power in Pro Team Sports

Updated 13 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Hard Ball: The Abuse of Power in Pro Team Sports

  • In Hard Ball, James Quirk and Rodney Fort take on a daunting challenge: Explaining exactly how things have gotten to this point and proposing a way out

Authors: James Quirk & Rodney Fort

What can possibly account for the strange state of affairs in professional sports today? There are billionaire owners and millionaire players, but both groups are constantly squabbling over money. Many pro teams appear to be virtual “cash machines,” generating astronomical annual revenues, but their owners seem willing to uproot them and move to any city willing to promise increased profits. 

At the same time, mayors continue to cook up “sweetheart deals” that lavish benefits on wealthy teams while imposing crushing financial hardships on cities that are already strapped with debt. To fans today, professional sports teams often look more like professional extortionists.   

In Hard Ball, James Quirk and Rodney Fort take on a daunting challenge: Explaining exactly how things have gotten to this point and proposing a way out. They are writing for sports fans who are trying to make sense out of the perplexing world of pro team sports. It is not money, in itself, that is the cause of today’s problems, they assert.

In fact, the real problem stems from one simple fact: Pro sports are monopolies that are fully sanctioned by the US government. Eliminate the monopolies, say Quirk and Fort, and all problems can be solved. If the monopolies are allowed to persist, so will today’s woes.