Awhile back I did a post about video games I wish were movies. At the time, I was just throwing out stuff that I personally would like to see, stuff that I never in a million years thought would be made. I had no idea that a few months later we’d be seeing an announcement from Nintendo saying that we can expect them to be pumping out movies in two to three years. So now rather than speaking fancifully about movies I want to see that will probably never be made, I’m going to talk about my more realistic hopes and dreams for the potential films that may be coming.
HOPE #1: They start with Mario and Luigi
When Nintendo had the gumption to do a movie, they made one about who is perhaps their most iconic character: Mario. Of course, that movie was a pile of garbage that took the most beloved aspects of Mario’s story and turned them into the twisted remnants of a child’s worst nightmares. I feel like a good way to reassure nervous fans that Nintendo can bring it when it comes to the film industry would be to redeem their infamous flop.
What can they do to redeem it? Well, they can implement the other ideas that I have, ideas that I will elaborate on right now.
HOPE #2: The films are not live action
While the recent Ratchet and Clank movie is a critical failure, I believe they did one thing right – keeping the title as an animated film. Going with animation rather than live action has a lot of different benefits when it comes to video game movies. The characters can keep their iconic look (and iconic voices, when that applies), creating aesthetically-pleasing effects is a lot easier, and the only limitation to what can happen in the film is imagination. Naturally, making a video game movie animated doesn’t automatically make it good (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, anybody?), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
I think this is particularly important for Nintendo for quite a few reasons. First off, many Nintendo properties are so quirky looking that they’re gonna be pretty hard to cast. How would you cast someone to look like the short, squat, big-nosed Mario while also not looking like a caricature of him? On the other hand, you have some where a real actor or actress will never be able to meet anybody’s expectations. Seriously, who could they cast as Link that wouldn’t make you grimace? Who could they cast as Samus that wouldn’t make you shake your head as you watch the trailer? Keeping the characters animated allows Nintendo to circumvent that problem.
HOPE #3: The movies are not just cash grabs
This one I probably need to elaborate on. After all, realistically speaking every action a company makes is an attempt to make more money. Going into the movie business is in-and-of-itself a cash grab. What I mean is this: my hope is that the movies are also something more than that. I don’t want to watch a poorly-written, thrown together film about some of my favorite characters. I don’t want to see this movie and think “wow, they literally didn’t try to make it good.” I can see them making these movies as simple and inartistic as possible, thinking it will make them more attractive to the younger audiences the films are likely to pull in. And if you don’t think Nintendo would do that, try comparing Super Mario 3D Land or New Super Mario Bros to something like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine. In recent years, Nintendo seems to have decided that children can’t read even basic sentences and decided to forgo any attempt at storytelling. My fear is that this philosophy will apply to their films as well.
I hope Nintendo brings in some real directors, producers, and writers, people in the movie industry who know what they are doing. Maybe some people who already have experience doing adaptations successfully. They’re going to need someone who can turn these films into something more than glorified cut scenes. Ultimately, these movies are going to be more successful as cash grabs if they’re made as if they are something more meaningful and impactful than that.
HOPE #4: The movies have their own canon
Whenever a property is adapted from one medium (a book, video game, tv show, whatever) into a film, generally one of two things happens. The first thing is that the film focuses only on certain plot points, elongating them while completely ignoring others and creating a film that ignores certain parts of the original story. The second thing is that the film tries to cram everything together into a very short period of time, and you end up with a more cinematic slide show just barely touching on every point in the story. Either way, something’s missing. When you use a film to try and recreate a story designed for a longer medium, it generally does not go well.
I do not want to watch Ocarina of Time: The Movie. Or The Thousand-Year Door: The Movie. Because they’re just gonna mess it up. They’re gonna have to cut some stuff, or otherwise do everything in so little detail that there’s no depth to the story. People who haven’t played the games will feel like something is missing, and people who have will lament that the movie didn’t capture their love of the game.
Instead, I’m hoping that Nintendo goes the direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let the films stand on their own and tell a different interpretation of the stories of these characters. Sure, you can borrow elements of Majora’s Mask, but don’t literally try to capture everything. Instead, focus on creating a new story, one that is intended to be cinematic from conception to finish. Having a separate canon for the Nintendo movies gives the writers and directors more creative freedom to take the films in fun new directions.
When it comes right down to it, I have really low expectations for these Nintendo films. 95 out of every 100 video game movies are disappointing (there probably aren’t that many, but whatever). So far, no developer has really showed the ability to consistently provide good film content based on their properties. Maybe Nintendo will change things up. Maybe going into movies will help them level the playing field with other big companies. But while I’m going to hope for something great, I’m going to expect something – well, something much like the first Super Mario Bros movie.
Feel free to post your own hopes in the comments below. What movie do you think they should do first? Do you disagree with one of my ideas? Let’s keep the discussion going and hey, who knows, maybe Nintendo will get some ideas from all the fans buzzing about this latest decision.