Movies that are adapted from video games are no stranger to criticism. This genre is infamous for poor quality films and films that deviate from the source material to the degree that they barely even resemble the property they were supposedly meant to adapt. However, there have been a few bright spots recently in this genre and they have given me a little sliver of hope that the genre is on the right track.
One video game film that immediately made me thing of this topic was "Detective Pikachu". "Detective Pikachu" is not only a faithful adaptation of the source material, but also a quality film in general with entertaining characters and jokes, as well as a surprisingly heartfelt story. This film often comes to mind when many people think of quality video game films, but why specifically is that?
"Detective Pikachu" is a film that stays respectful to its source material. All of the Pokemon in the film are designed to look identical (or near identical) to their game counterparts. Instead of trying to change Pokemon to fit our contemporary world, they changed the world around them (through set design, costuming, and computer graphics) to match the unique world of Pokemon. These creative choices went a long way to help bring the world of Pokemon to life and avoided the pitfalls of other adaptions that change to much, to the point that the film doesn't even resemble the thing it's adapting (looking at you "Alone in the Dark").
However, "Detective Pikachu" also does something more important than bringing the world and characters to life, it tells a good story with likable characters. Staying true to the look and feel of the video game you're adapting is important, but all of that visual accuracy doesn't mean a thing if the story is bad and you're following characters you can't stand. "Detective Pikachu" tells the story of a young man who befriends a talking Pikachu and together they must solve the case of the young man's missing father. It sounds ridiculous on the surface, but the film manages to go into surprisingly heartfelt directions with their relationship as characters. The mystery plot is also surprisingly good (if a little too convenient at times).
Another film that recently made waves was "Sonic the Hedgehog". A film that was surprisingly alright despite how terrible the first trailer made it look. It does some things that are still problems in video game movie (taking the characters out of their unique worlds and bringing them to the real world because that's cheaper) but these aren't nearly as bad as other video game films. The film features likable enough characters and a pretty authentically rendered Sonic and Robotnik (in both look and character). I hope this is the beginning of a new trend of quality video game films on the horizon. I hope that all of our previous failed attempts at video game films worked as learning experiences that helped steer the future of video game movies into a brighter and more authentic direction.