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From Cineplex to Console: 26 Movies That Should Become Video Games

From Cineplex to Console: 26 Movies That Should Become Video Games (photo)

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Cinema and video games provide excitement to audiences in two very different ways. The thrills that come from watching, say, “The Dark Knight,” come from the unexpected twists and turns of its story. Games, on the other hand, let you embody a story’s main character. You’re a mostly passive observer with a movie like “Avatar” whereas playing BioWare’s “Mass Effect” games not only puts you in the middle of the action, it also lets you shape the main character’s personality and the saga that’s unfolding around you.

Still, video games overall could use some of the nuance, story sophistication and tonal variation that movies enjoy as a matter of course. And, lately, it’s been impossible to walk out of a certain flicks and not think, “There should be a way to play in that world.” Take “Inception,” for example. Nowadays, it’s a given that tentpole Hollywood films come out with game development deals as part of their package. However, many cinematic classics or cult favorites could also make the jump from projector to polygon and become fun games. We’ve assembled a list of films that need to be pulled out of unplayable limbo and given new life as button-based experiences.

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1. “eXistenZ” (1999)
Directed by David Cronenberg

The Movie: This psychological thriller offers that a throbbing, tumor-like growth will become the future’s next hot game console, a portal to a new massively-multiplayer online game called “eXistenZ.” Playing it requires players to physically plug into bio-organic consoles, gets tested. When a killer threatens the life of the game designer (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), she and a bodyguard (Jude Law) go on a voyage that blurs the boundaries of reality and gameplay.

Why an “eXistenZ” Game Needs To Exist: It’s got the requisite chasing, running, hiding and shooting going on, but “eXistenZ” also film draws on cyberpunk trappings that would make great game elements: jumping between a virtual world and real life, a shared reality as a giant level/maze meant to be solved and the fusion of man and machine. Plus, it’d be a game about a game within a game so there’s room for plenty of

Who Should Make It: Grasshopper Manufacture. The dev studio run by Suda51 (a.k.a. Goichi Suda) made a grade-A mindf**k with “Killer 7,” a gory, bizarre mystery that debuted on Nintendo’s family-friendly GameCube. Suda’s since gone on to make “No More Heroes,” an action title with a bunch of meta-commentary about being a video game. The designer’s shown a love for gore, otaku culture and messing with people’s heads, all things that would make him perfect to build an “eXistenZ” game.

If It Doesn’t Happen, You Can Always Play:Alan Wake.” Remedy’s critically acclaimed game sports a lead character fighting off possessed townsfolk drawn from the collective subconscious of his own tainted creativity. The dark shoot-em-up seductively turns in on itself, with elements that riff on “The Twilight Zone” and Remedy’s own “Max Payne” games. For most of the game, Wake can’t tell if he’s the architect of his own hell, a trait that he shares with Leigh’s game designer in “eXistenZ.”


2. “Ip Man” (2010)
Directed by Wilson Yip

The Movie: This Hong Kong martial arts movie tells the story of than man who taught Bruce Lee how to kick ass. Donnie Yen plays the titular role, an aloof grandmaster who rouses to action when the Japanese invade the Chinese mainland in the 1930s.

Why an “Ip Man” Game Needs To Exist: A kung-fu brawler with the guy who originated the Wing Chun style just begs to made. But it wouldn’t have to just be mindless punching and kicking either. With the setting of the Sino-Japanese War, an Ip Man game could be a playable history lesson, affording the player a chance to learn about the pivotal intra-Asian conflict right before WWII.

Who Should Make It: Capcom. The “Street Fighter” publisher’s got a long history in the fighting game genre and, with “Dead Rising 2”, they’ve shown the technical chops required to throw hordes of combatants on-screen. Of course, it’d also mean that the Japanese game giant would be making a title in which their forebears would be the bad guys…

If It Doesn’t Happen, You Can Always Play: “Sengoku Basara.” Based on a manga comic that fictionalizes the wars that led to unification of Japan, historical figures like Tokugawa Ieyasu and Takeda Shingen get transformed in super-powerful punchers and hyper-skilled swordsmen that can change the tide of a skirmish by their lonesomes. It may not be the way the Shogunate actually coalesced, but it’s a lot more fun.


3. “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004)
Directed by Wes Anderson

The Movie: Wes Anderson’s oeuvre is filled with awkward silences and loopy dysfunction that don’t exactly themselves to translation into an action-centric medium like video games. “The Life Aquatic” might be the only exception, as it focuses on an emotionally charged revenge saga focusing man vs. jaguar shark.

Why a “The Life Aquatic” Game Needs To Exist: It’s got helicopters, pirates [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IV6CGOS_yo], kidnapping and a rivalry with another “part-gay” oceanographer. Not to mention those snazzy Team Zissou wetsuits. A great game adaptation could employ a good software engine to generate beautiful, roiling virtual seascapes and would be a great place to populate with the fanciful, imaginary aquatic life shown in the movie. And getting Seu Jorge to do more Bowie covers would give it the best game soundtrack ever.

Who Should Make It: Telltale Games. Best known for classic adventure titles like the “Monkey Island” games and the “Sam & Max” games, the dev studio specializes in humor and in adapting properties from other media. “Sam & Max” started as a comic but cartoonist Steve Purcell helped make it a game and Telltale’s also making the upcoming “Back to the Future” game, too.

If It Doesn’t Happen, You Can Always Play: “Endless Ocean.” The two games in the series turned the Nintendo Wii into a vast diving simulator. The first game’s gentle, ambient vibe was super-mellow but gave way to a more traditional game design in the second game “Endless Ocean: Blue World.” Making friends with dolphins and scaring up buried treasure falls right in line with Team Zissou’s everyday activities.


4. “Labyrinth” (1986)
Directed by Jim Henson

The Movie: You can tell “Dungeons & Dragons” was big in the ’80s because of movies like “Labyrinth.” David Bowie stars as big bad Jareth, a Goblin King who abducts the baby brother of Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) when she bitches about having to babysit. To get him back, she must make her way through the movie’s titular maze and defeat the puzzles and beasties she finds within.

Why a “Labyrinth” Game Needs To Exist: What developer wouldn’t want to bring the late, great Jim Henson’s puppetry to life? And, conveniently, the game’s structure already exists in the intellectual property, what with its giant maze filled with puzzles and random encounters. In addition to the Thin White Duke as a poncy bad guy, a “Labyrinth” game could have in Sarah a heroine who doesn’t have to be sexualized and who relies on her wits to save the day.

Who Should Make It: Square Enix. The company that makes the mega-popular “Final Fantasy” games shares some of that “D&D” DNA with “Labyrinth.” The designers at Square Enix are the undisputed grandmasters of Tolkien-esque roleplaying experiences and would turn Henson’s two-hour movie into a 30-hour extravaganza, probably building out the fiction in quirkily Japanese ways.

If It Doesn’t Happen, You Can Always Play:Beyond Good & Evil.” Ubisoft’s under-appreciated classic also has a competent, emotionally compelling heroine at its center in the form of Jade. She takes care of war orphans, needs to use her wits to photograph her planet’s varied wildlife and uncovers a secret conspiracy happening underneath everybody’s noses. It’s not a fantasy game but could well be a sci-fi cousin to “Labyrinth.”


5. “Kill Bill” Vols. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

The Movie: Quentin Tarantino’s two-part opus casts Uma Thurman as the Bride, a former assassin out to kill her former boss/lover after he shoots her in the head and puts her in a coma. While Tarantino throws in tons of pulpy references to the sexploitation and kung-fu crazes of the ’60s and ’70s, “Kill Bill” is at its core a movie about philosophical differences and maternal instinct played out through violence.

Why a “Kill Bill” Game Needs To Exist: The dual-part movie basically apes the structure of a video game, with each one of the Bride’s former compatriots as a level boss. But, instead of duplicating the movie plot, a game should mine the Bride’s backstory as sword-for-hire, which surely holds lots of crazy assignments. All the swordplay and gun-shooting could be interspersed with a plot that sheds more light on

Who Should Make It: Team Ninja. The gory tales of vengeance in the “Ninja Gaiden” games don’t have the emotional grounding that “Kill Bill” does, but the Team Ninja dev studio could more than make up for that void with razor-sharp action and stylized dismemberment. They’d do a bang-up job making Thurman’s slinky form a virtual lethal killing machine.

If It Doesn’t Happen, You Can Always Play:Shank.” Klei Games’ downloadable hit clearly imprinted off of the heavily stylized work of grindhouse-cum-Tarantino and the indie studio’s hit game could even be a distant, cartoonier cousin to the O-Ren anime sequence by Mitsuhisa Ishakawa in Kill Bill, vol. 1. The game’s title character — also a former gun-for-hire out to kill his mentor–may not have a kid to fight for but his reasons for wanting revenge are just as personal as the Bride’s.


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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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…

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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.

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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