By John Gaudiosi
Paul W.S. Anderson is one of a number of Hollywood and gaming creatives that can be seen on Starz Entertainment's new videogame documentary, "Hollywood Goes Gaming," which is in heavy rotation across the movie network. This exclusive interview is from outtakes not seen on the show. Anderson, the man behind the original Mortal Kombat movie and all three Resident Evil films, talks about his process of bringing games to the big screen. "What I've tried to do in all the adaptations that I've done is really immerse myself in the world, so I'm well aware of all of the different story lines and all of the back stories that exist," said Anderson. "Then I try and carve out an original story told within that universe. I think that's an important approach, because it allows you to tell a story that is a little unfamiliar to the gamers. There is nothing more boring than seeing a movie that is a straight adaptation of a videogame. A lot of hardcore gamers complain that videogame movies don't stick exactly to the games, but frankly that would not be an enjoyable experience because if you've already played the game you know exactly what's going to happen."
Anderson said that although he's usually played the games before he chooses them as an adaptation. That process can be slow.
"I'd spent a long time playing the Resident Evil games because I'm a slow game player," said Anderson. "I don't have magic fingers. I'm put to shame by a lot of young kids, but I'm diligent. I put in the hours. So I get to the end of all of the games but it can take a long time...it might take me a week to get through a game."
When it comes to choosing which games to bring to the big screen, Anderson, who has the option for a Driver movie and also produced the recent box office bomb, DOA, said he's looking for a good milieu.
"The thing about Mortal Kombat, for example is that it was heavily influenced by certain movies like Enter the Dragon, and therefore it was kind of an easy adaptation to turn the game back into a movie," explained Anderson. "Resident Evil was heavily influenced by the Romero zombie movies that I loved as a teenager. There was a whole six or seven years where there was just a new zombie movie every week it seemed. And no one had made one of those movies for 15 years. So when we came to adapting and making Resident Evil, we weren't just tapping into the audience for a particular videogame, I felt we were reinventing an entire genre of movies that just hadn't been done for a long time."
Anderson, who's been a gamer all of his life, said he believes games, as an art form, are still in their infancy.
"When I was playing Pong or Asteroids, that was the equivalent of the very first short silent movies like The Great Train Robbery," said Anderson. "They were primitive, but boy they were captivating. Games are now at the stage that movies were when Talkies were introduced. They have much more sophisticated stories because in that hour and a half you had a lot more dialogue. When you look at some of my favourite games from a while ago, the acting was bad and the dialogue was terrible. Games now are more sophisticated and quite often they use well-known actors to voice character. The dialogue is better the actual narrative is better, as well."
While the focus on "Hollywood Goes Gaming" is on that buzzword—convergence, Anderson believes games and movies will remain separate, but equal forms of entertainment.
"I love movies and I love videogames, but I don't think there is some kind of a hybrid art form between the two," said Anderson. "I think you go see a movie because you want to be told a great story. If you see a scary movie, you want to be scared, you want twists and turns, you don't want to know what's coming, you don't want to make decisions. Sometimes the joy of going to see a scary movie is a character does something that you just wouldn't do. And the same goes for gaming. I play a lot of World of Warcraft and although there are thousands of other people playing with me in this virtual world, I don't want to see them. I don't want to know there's a guy behind that dwarf. It throws off the illusion."
Anderson said that while on the surface there are many similarities between movies and games, they are kind of deceptive.
"There are animated sequences in games that look like movies, so there's a tendency for people who really aren't into games to think they are the same kind of thing," said Anderson. "But I think just the process of playing and interacting with a game make it necessarily different from the movies. I wouldn't know why you would want to combine the two."