Why Video Game Movies Suck, According To Man Of Steel’s Screenwriter [Spoilers]

Why Video Game Movies Suck, According To Man Of Steel’s Screenwriter [Spoilers]

One of the men responsible for the much-talked-about ending of the latest Superman movie has commented on what happens in the film, saying, “We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial… It’s not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren’t just doing it to be cool.” And screenwriter David Goyer also has some thoughts on why video game movies tend to be, uh, terrible.

Goyer recently gave a lecture as part the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters' Lecture Series last night and -- according to DigitalSpy -- discussed why video game movie adaptations have largely been creative failures.

"I think the reason is actually pretty simple: most good video games are about immersive environments. If it's a first-person shooter you are the character. Most games, and this is changing, tend not to have strong characters. If you think about video games you think about how cool that level was, I did this or I did that.

"You realise that if you're adapting an environment or a milieu for film, a video game actually does a better job of it. A film will never do as good a job or immersive a job as the video game."

Goyer cites the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie as one that has a shot at delivering a strong character. But who would we be talking about, Desmond in the present day or an Assassin from a previous time period?

The screenwriter's aren't totally off-base but they feel a little oversimplified as to the particular appeal of video games.

[via DigitalSpy]


  • Is the ending seriously the biggest complaint towards the movie?


    1. Superman CAUSES all of the problems in the movie. He literally “protects” Earth from a threat that only exists because Superman is on Earth. I tried for ages to work out if there was actually some reasoning behind this, perhaps it’s a metaphor or it parallels the current western political climate but nope; Superman just ignores it.

    2. Superman continually shows no regard whatsoever for human life. It looks cool but he throws giant explosive things into buildings constantly. At one point he destroys several buildings so he could take a shortcut. If the imagery of 9/11 wasn’t enough, let’s have that image stretch through to the horizon.

    3. The writing is terrible. Anything any Kryptonian says is utter rubbish. They talk with a breathy wisdom that would sound ridiculous if Ian McKellen were speaking it. Dialog meant to resemble a real, poetic conversation just comes off as clumsy. The humans aren’t much better:

    E.g. (actual conversation without paraphrasing)

    Clark is hiding in a school closet, entire student body and teachers are staring at the door

    Clark Kent: The world’s too big, Mom.

    Martha Kent: Then make it small. Focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island out in the ocean. Can you see it?

    Clark Kent: I see it…

    Clark sheepishly comes out, hugs Martha. Kids don’t even laugh

    4. Jonathan Kent.

    5. The film is a mess in terms of themes, intention and basic story. Certain action scenes are undeniably well-directed and designed but the Goyer-Snyder team clumsily fumble their way through the drama. We’ll get dramatic scenes complete with manipulative swelling music and extreme close ups of shit like tears when there has been literally no explanation for the scene. It just comes out of nowhere with jarring, emotional exposition that didn’t even need to be there in the first place. Clark’s presumed fears and insecurities as a child never even manifest as an adult.

    6. No secondary character matters at all, Lois Lane is a combination of ignorant, arrogant and crazy. Amy Adams tries as hard as she possibly can to make Lois seem like an intelligent character and if Amy Adams can’t do it…

    7. At the end of the movie, the U.S. Army (original defenders of the earth) tell Superman that they are watching him. Superman then flies into space and destroys a satellite, launching it down towards the earth in a terrifying display of omnipotence. (Superman is stated to be “not an enemy” by the Colonel)

    8. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus. Superman is Jesus.

    I can’t see how anyone could have thought the ending was the biggest problem. Furthermore, this was the last movie this guy wrote. Why should anyone listen to him?

    • It wasn’t a satelite.
      It was a drone.
      A political statement by those who made the movie against the government using drones to spy on US citizens.
      Did you not get that?

    • all i can really see from people who claim to hate that movie is a bunch of comic fan boys having a winge that their golden boy didn’t manage to pull an implausible rabbit out of his arse and save they day with out harming anyone or damaging anything.

      clearly they were attempting a more human superman who whilst powerful cant just magically make everything okay without cost.

      but yea i’m going to go over each of your points now

      1. super man causes all the problems, why because he was sent to earth as an infant had had literally no say in the matter that makes him and earth an unwitting victim of circumstance.

      2. Superman continually shows no regard whatsoever for human life, the only scene i rememeber where that was the case was when he flew through the seven eleven (grain silos don’t typically have people in side of them) and that was after zod was all up in is mums grill so under those circumstances he can be forgiven for not thinking quite clearly (again a more human superman)

      3. The writing is terrible, parts of it yeah the kryptonians came off as painfully stupid (worlds about to explode so lets totally give one of the few FTL capable space ships to a group of convicted traitors) and that Clark in the closet scene was cringe worthy. so yea the writing was pretty bad in areas

      4. Are seriously implying that Kevin Costner’s performance was anything other that stellar? really even in crappy movies he’s wonderful.

      5. i noticed this a little but it was usually followed up by a flashback to his childhood that explained it like the schoolbus etc, now flashbacks were horribly overdone and done in a way that made the film seem disjointed.

      6. to be perfectly frank i got the feeling that lois lane and the daily planet were just there to tick boxes and Snyder and Goyer were saying “this will be important in the sequel WINK WINK”

      7. that struck me as a declaration of “stop spying on me asshats”, i don’t know about you but i found a surveillance device in my house i’d smash it into a million little pieces myself without regard for how expensive it is.

      8, yea that was one scene and it was pretty annoying. but then again other movies do it and get a pass, it was way more in your face in Elysium (which pissed me right off as i was enjoying it up till that point mass effect 3 in movie form) so yeah the jesus thing is just lazy writing in what ever film it appears in and as a trope it should be unforgivable to use.

    • ‘Cause you’re wrong, that’s why.

      1. It wasn’t the best, but also wasn’t that bad.
      2. Maybe Superman feeling more obliged to be more involved in protecting his new homeworld after these events has more dramatic weight than him just randomly deciding to do so ‘because he is sssuper’ or ‘because he’s, like, just a really good guy’.
      3. Similarly, if he was already against killing, Zods death really brings him to a point of having a firm resolve on this now, rather than it just be a concept. It seems more believable cause he seems pained to do it the whole time. The whole effin movie he has been trying to negotiate with them and be all like let’s just co-exist and their extreme position forces him to act. How a bunch of idiots on the web complain about a lack of drama, but are so emotionally unintelligent they can’t see the emotional beats pointed out in front of them, is just sad.
      4. The city evacuates, just cause a bunch of idiots on the web say he kills heaps of civilians doesn’t make it so. Having civilians actually at risk of death, not being able to save them all, actually raises the stakes. The alternative is, ‘oh I’m falling but superman, like, catches errrbody so I’m, like, gonna chill til he shows up’. There’s no drama, no risk, unless people can actually die. He can’t save them all, he’s new to the job, he’s ssssssuper, but he’s not ‘the flash’ fast.

    • 1. I love this. It’s a lot more belieavable than most superhero plot tropes, and a lot more interesting. Also it reminds me of the first saga of DBZ, infact much of the movie reminded me of DBZ, something that I loved from my childhood. The Kryptonians basically had scouters even. And when they fought against humans I thought while in the cinema, ‘this is basically what a DBZ movie should look like, when the Saiyajins first come to earth and look for Kakarott’ (And let’s not forget that DB was partially inspired by Superman in the first place)

      2. I prefer this to the regular boyscout, personally. He does still try to protect people (the end is an obvious example). Plus it leaves room for character development, which is a good thing. If Superman is perfect from the get-go, the only new stuff we get in sequels is different villains, maybe some relationship stuff, too.

      3. THIS I *absolutely* do agree with. Pretty much all of the dialogue on Krypton was super grating, and I was worried about the rest of the movie. Once off Krypton, though the majority of the dialogue was perfectly fine.

      4. I don’t follow?

      5. I can’t really argue this, it’s been a while since I saw it, other than to say that nothing of the sort bothered me or even crossed my mind. I will agree that Snyder is an amazing director when it comes to action scenes and visuals (although there was one scene which sticks to mind as a missed opportunity), but he has room for improvement when it comes to drama scenes, and I think he IS improving, quite quickly. His efforts in this film were not fantastic, but more than passable.

      6. Mattered enough to me. It is a Superman movie though, why can’t the focus be on him, especially in the first one. I think that Lois had about as much impact in the film as Rachael Dawes in Batman Begins.

      7. My memory is a bit rusty, but wasn’t there some reason he had for taking down the satelite?

      8. I never drew this conclusion myself, but even so… So? Neo was Jesus in The Matrix, no one ever complained about that?

    • I didn’t like how dark ‘n edgy it tried to be. Doesn’t matter how much you darken the suit or remove the iconic red underwear, Superman is a boyscout who’s so overpowered he’s almost boring. The movie was overbearing and miserable, the only moment of levity was the “He’s cute” from the soldier at the end. Was it supposed to be funny? I don’t know.

      As for the collateral damage, it’s one thing to show civilians huddling into shelters like Pacific Rim, but another to have thousands getting wasted with no acknowledgement. We had a little scene where Lawrence Fishburne and a few survivors were caught in the blast zone but… do we even know who the others were? Why should we care about them? It also seems the Daily Planet got right back to business after a horrific invasion attempt by aliens caused a 9/11 x a billion. They’re even hiring interns!

    • Here’s my smaller review of why it was bad.

      1. I saw this with my two super hero obsessed sons and during the over-indulgent last scene, my 8 year old son leans over and says ‘is this nearly finished dad?’

    • 1. It’s not really fair to blame an orphan refugee for not knowing his origins. Or a dying civilisation not knowing the guys who caused all the problems would escape a few minutes later.

      Yes it’s a plot device, but you can’t call it Supermans fault.

      7. I believe he takes out a Drone not a Satellite but that’s a small difference. We have several surveillance satellites (Weather, Military, Geological Surveys, Communications) for every inch of this planet. The Fortress of Solitude just doesn’t work anymore, surely something, somewhere would see the Fortress form or see him zooming there constantly.

  • Picking the right video game to adapt is key. I think it’s a shame that most of the really story driven games with strong characterisation tend to get looked over when it comes to getting made into films. Though I guess if they did start turning things like Bioshock or The Last of Us into films people would still complain for the same reason people complain when books are turned into films.

    • Agreed – they only approach these projects if they think it can sufficently cash-in from a player-base. So you get popular series with a rather, well let’s be kind; non-cinematic plot (Mario), fighting series with the weakest of excuse plots (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat), or pure vanity projects (Tomb Raider, Milla Jovovich’s resident evil : starring Milla Jovovich).

      Still, it gives their writers another field to steal ideas from, so adaptions are gonna come.

      (Secretly, I’d love a Berserk movie. Very Fortressstyle dark future-prison movie, with killer robots, and then Evil Otto shows up… killing any chance of the movie happening. Nobody’s gonna have the guts to film a freaky smiley-face as the lead monster, let’s face it… I’ll always dream, though.)

  • i agree with Goyer’s sentiments. Video games require the protagonist to pace the action, while movies require an established pacing to make it work.

    In that, it requires protagonists to sometimes/often make bad choices in the interest of fun action. As a result, movies tend to play like God Mode because bad choices aren’t punished like they should be.

    Games, especially well written/good games focus on allowing the player well paced, intelligent choices and be a touch forgiving of mistakes in the interest of a payoff in 5 hours of gameplay, rather than 90 minutes of non-interaction.

    Strong characters are good, but I don’t think there’s a single game main character who has more depth than a good movie character, and I’m including Solid Snake in there. Conversely, movie to game adaptations tend to stink because we want to play the main character, but not necessarily BE the main character because that character is too predefined.

  • Does anyone remember when there wasn’t a Christopher Nolan version of Batman? Before then Batman was only amazing in the comics, any movie (or TV Series) made about him was complete trash. Most comic book movies up until a few years ago were terrible. It’s a fact.
    I think the same applies to video games, we have to go through the bad adaptions and hopefully ,at some point, video game movies will be done right.

    • Except the nolan Batman was shit… the heath ledger as teh joker incredible… but douche bale worst batman since george clooney…

      The biggest problem is they try to add too much into 1 movie… pick a comic or game arch and stick to the 1 path, dont try cramping 30 years of lore and 4 of the biggest story arch’s into one 90 minute movie.

  • I would argue that Man of Steel is only memorable due to the huge set pieces which separate the otherwise dry story, in the same way that the writer argues that video games are largely set piece driven and often separated by dry story.

    In my opinion, David Goyer isn’t exactly the most qualified screenwriter to be critiquing this sort of thing…

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