Who'll play Pac-Man?

Fri, May 21, 2010, 01:00

With Prince of Persiain cinemas today and a new Resident Evilon the way, film adaptations of video games are all the rage. JOE GRIFFINpitches movie ideas inspired by classic games

YOU CAN’T make it through a year without hearing news of a new movie based on a video-game. While some offer shallow fun ( Tomb Raider, Resident Evil), many – if not most – are disastrous. Still, the more optimistic gamer will know that many games would make good films if they were done right. This exercise in optimism requires overlooking previous atrocities in the subgenre. So when reading the following, try not to think about Super Mario Brothers, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive, Max Payneor Dungeon Siege.


This one’s easy: The invading alien game could be transformed into a science fiction epic of mammoth proportions. For this apocalyptic opus one would need a tough, uncomplicated leading man (Russell Crowe, for example) and a director who can conduct sprawling set-pieces. Also, because the film is based on an ancient game, an ironic sense of humour wouldn’t hurt. The ideal man for the job would be Paul Verhoeven, director of Starship Troopers, RoboCopand Showgirls.


A deceptively simple endeavour, Paper Boywas symbolic of a more innocent time when video-game avatars weren’t space marines or hyperactive hedgehogs, but humble teenagers working part-time jobs. A film adaptation could be a sweet coming-of-age movie starring the likes of Zach Efron and directed by Chris Columbus (director of Harry Potter,writer of Home Alone), or a slapstick comedy by Peter and Bobby Farrelly ( Kingpin, Dumb and Dumber).


Picture the scene: a majestic ship with a cargo of men, women, children and Bibles arrives on shallow waters as the lush foliage of the new world heralds a second Eden. The classic PC strategy game asked players to make decisions that would advance art, technology and civilisation in the face of famine, disease and war. It could be translated into a sprawling birth-of-a-nation drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Terrence Malick.


The low-fidelity platform game followed the trials and tribulations of a lowly miner (see what I mean about humble characters?). It could easily be the premise for a blue-collar comedy-drama with a social heart. I’m picturing Timothy Spall and Dylan Moran as the miners, with Martine McCutcheon and Anna Friel as their wives. Pass the megaphone to Mike Leigh or Looking for Eric’s Ken Loach, and you’ve got yourself a bitter-sweet comedy with heart.


Still present on countless computer desktops, this is a strategy game that depends on logic and trial and error: trip the wrong mine and it’s game over. For this modern war thriller Kathryn Bigelow could direct an intense young commander, as he negotiates his platoon through various mine fields. Twitchy Jeremy Davies could play the lead. Try to imagine it as something like The Wages of Fearor The Hurt Locker, except, you know, with mines.


As Geoffrey Pac (Bill Paxton), owner of Pac-Man Pharmaceuticals, starts to get high on his own supply, it falls to his overlooked wife to step out of his shadow and steer the company from bankruptcy. Anne Hathaway stars in this funny, sincere celebration of women in business, written by Nora Ephron and directed by Jason Reitman.


Icky horror movie The Human Centipedemight be seen as an adaptation of the Atari classic, but it lacks the momentum of the arcade staple. No, Centipedewould be a fast-paced horror/action movie starring an insanely overqualified Donald Sutherland and directed by Sam Raimi ( The Evil Dead). Sutherland would play a vain scientist whose Frankenstein-esque creation (a speedy, rapidly growing centipede) threatens civilisation.


A space-station defends itself against a relentless meteor shower, using just a cannon and a finite number of missiles to defend itself. A claustrophobic thriller in the tradition of Das Bootor Crimson Tidemight work, starring Denzel Washington or somebody with a similar air of authority. Because this is science fiction that deals with man’s war with nature, one director was born to make this film: James Cameron.