In 1993, SUPER MARIO BROS. was released, incredibly loosely based on the hit Nintendo game. Nothing could have prepared audiences for the horrors they were about to witness, apart from maybe intentional blinding of the eyes with acid. Since then, countless video games have been turned into movies with varying degrees of success, from the stupid-but-fun MORTAL KOMBAT and the pretty decent TOMB RAIDER, to the big-budget Disney flop PRINCE OF PERSIA and the unforgivable blasphemies of worst-director-ever Uwe Boll. And now Duncan Jones, director of the brilliant MOON and SOURCE CODE, is working on the very promising adaptation of Blizzard’s WARCRAFT franchise. Exciting stuff.
What is not so exciting is the news that free iPhone game TEMPLE RUN is to be adapted for the big screen. Released in 2011, Imangi Studios’ TEMPLE RUN shot to number 1 in the Free Chart on the Apple App Store, with many praising its addictive nature. In the game, which has no story, a generic explorer steals a generic treasure and tries to run away for as long as he can through an endless, impossibly-built and firmly generic temple while being chased by weird monkey monsters. Quality movie material right there.
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The game itself is relatively enjoyable but nothing special; its popularity can mostly be explained because it is free and has slightly better production values than a lot of the free rubbish on the App Store. It’s not even truly free, rather a so-called ‘pay-to-win’ game in which players can pay real-world currency to obtain significant in-game advantages (read: cheating). For some reason that makes me hate the human race a little bit more – players addicted to the game did indeed put their earnings into Imangi’s pockets and so emerged TEMPLE RUN 2, a more varied and nicer-looking but emphatically generic clone of the first. Again, it soared to the top of the charts and into the hands of players willing to transform their hard-earned money into virtual coins. Imangi also released licensed versions of the game based on the films BRAVE and OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL which, you guessed it, were almost identical, the main difference being that these games had an upfront cost.
Warner Bros. is negotiating the rights to the film adaptation of TEMPLE RUN, which would be produced by GRAVITY-producer David Heyman. The story? An explorer goes into a temple, steals an idol and runs away from demons. I am being deadly serious.
My big problem with this is that TEMPLE RUN is just being filmed because of the game’s popularity, not because of its content (which is naff). It is the name that is important here; an original film with the same terrible plot would never get made. Imangi will of course release a new version of the game to coincide with the film and therefore make even more money. Excuse me while I remain not excited.
With mobile gaming on the rise and sadly beginning to rival dedicated handheld consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSVita, I suppose film adaptations of game apps are inevitable. Unlike many console and PC games however, popular mobile games just don’t have the same depth of story, character and world design. I’ll take an adaptation of the rich world of MYST any day, so please don’t give me ANGRY BIRDS…