Adaptation Logic

Adaptation Logic (photo)

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Both “Alien vs. Predator” films were by and large disposable mash-up exercises, undone by plots that couldn’t convincingly meld the two series’ worlds and directors who paled in comparison to the ones behind the creatures’ original solo outings. But in theory, this marriage of H.R. Giger’s acid-blooded beasts and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s camouflage-happy intergalactic nemesis is a solid one.

For the best evidence of that fact, you’ll have to look to the game world — the 1999 PC/Mac title of the same name and its recent remake, which allows you to play as a marine, an alien or a predator. It’s a title that, like its predecessor, cannily plays to the strengths of its chosen properties, recognizing that both James Cameron’s “Aliens” and John McTiernan’s “Predator” feature scenarios and action tailor-made for the gaming realm. And this new game’s success at recreating the visceral excitement of its source materials raises an interesting question — what makes a film ideally suited, or wholly inappropriate, for video game treatment?

Games based on film licenses tend to be pretty wretched. Yet given the arrival of “Aliens vs. Predator,” a film-based game that not only works but, more importantly, makes logical sense as a project to begin with, it’s clear that some films are just a better fit for the interactive realm.

The more you look at the anomalies that have succeeded in both film and games, the more it becomes clear that they share a few common traits. These aren’t hard and fast laws, and there are still countless examples of films that, though seemingly perfect for a game adaptation, wound up with horrific PC or console iterations. Here are some obvious — and yet far too often ignored — truths about the way to go about making games based on films.

03122010_SimpsonsGame.jpgThe first thing game developers looking to adapt a film should ask is: does it have any action or drama that naturally lends itself to gameplay? The “Alien” and “Predator” films blend action, horror and suspense, making it easy for their games to blend firearm conflict, hand-to-hand combat, stealth action and survival horror scares. Making a faithful adaptation means making a game that’s also faithful to traditional gameplay mechanics — no tinkering or random changes to the properties necessary.

This may also be why something like EA’s 2007 “The Simpsons Game” — notable for its story’s meta-gaming critique — was just a ho-hum diversion. It couldn’t overcome the fact that Homer, Bart, Lisa and Marge just aren’t meant to be fighters. Forcing Matt Groening’s clan to navigate punch-kick-shoot sagas makes no sense, a situation that plagues just about any adaptation of a film or TV show that doesn’t have action somewhere near its core.

Because so many popular game genres revolve around high-octane battle, films with slam-bang set-pieces and chaotic mayhem are often the surest fit for translation. But that’s not really enough — that action translates best when it speaks directly to a particular gaming style.

03122010_aladdin.jpgThe 1993 Genesis classic “Aladdin” thrived because the film’s various centerpieces all involved running, jumping and magic carpet-riding that fit the mechanics of a “Mario”-style platformer. James Bond’s stylish intrigue, fast-paced gunplay and globetrotting fit a first-person shooter’s need for one-against-many odds and a range of environments for large-scale firefights — a prime reason “GoldenEye 007” for the N64 remains one of the all-time great console titles.

And though its track record is more than a tad spotty, the “Star Wars”‘ sundry iconic action elements — lightsaber duels, spaceship skirmishes, force-power fights — make the franchise adaptable to numerous types of different games, whether they focus on just one of those dynamic components (as in the Gamecube’s excellent starfighter title “Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader”) or meld different styles into an omnibus-type effort (like “Star Wars Trilogy Arcade,” replete with a lightsaber showdown with Darth Vader).


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.