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Resident Evil and Postal – The Best Video Game Movies From the Worst Directors

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I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to directorial talent, video game adaptations don’t always get the pick of the litter. Still widely considered a niche marketplace, adaptations are typically reserved for action movie hacks (like Max Payne‘s John Moore) and foreigners trying to break into Hollywood (like Hitman ‘s Xavier Gens). At the top of this pile of flotsam are Paul WS Anderson and Uwe Boll, two of the worst filmmakers to ever put image to celluloid. Boll, widely considered the world’s worst director, receives so much criticism that the so-called “artist” challenged his detractors to a boxing match. Anderson meanwhile managed to make a flick about Aliens fighting Predators and alienate both franchises’ fanbases. Remarkably, these two directors are responsible for some of the best video game movies ever made.

Now, before you start reaching for the pitchforks and torches, allow me to elaborate: It’s not that their films are the Citizen Kane s and Casablanca s of the video game adaptation universe, but rather that they have something to offer, however banal or unintentional, that other adaptations just can’t touch.

Paul WS Anderson
paul-ws-anderson.jpgFrom Soldier to Death Race, Paul WS Anderson’s flicks are occasionally attractive, frequently violent, and never emotionally moving. Though Anderson’s style has prevented him from achieving critical success by any measure, he’s perfectly suited to adapting completely vapid video games into slightly less vapid films.

Mortal Kombat the game had one selling point: Gore. One of the government’s biggest enemies in the Congressional Investigation for Violence in Videogames, the 1993 title allowed players to decapitate, detonate, and otherwise maim their enemies for no real reason other than to bask in the bloodbath. Anderson excised the gore and turned Mortal Kombat the movie into a reasonably entertaining PG-13 chopsocky flick, delivering on what the fans really wanted: Ninjas with magical powers beating the living daylights out of one another in a visually interesting environment. What could have been an exploitative mess became Enter the Dragon for the Super Nintendo age — a vapid popcorn flick, sure, but a damned entertaining one.

Seven years later, Anderson went back to the video game well with Resident Evil. Once again, the director wisely disregarded an enormous aspect of the game (in this case, a spooky mansion in the middle of the woods that was narratively nothing more than Night of the Living Dead with strong zombies) to great effect. Instead, he moved the action into an underground science facility and combined every single character from the original game into a single protagonist, played by Milla Jovovich. In the end the movie bared almost no resemblance to its source material, but it was compelling enough to inspire two equally unfaithful sequels with a third in the works.

Uwe Boll
uwe.jpgUwe Boll has no idea what he is doing. He’ll argue with his detractors on the Internet and make movies that garner almost universally negative criticism while shouting from the rooftops that he is, in fact, a genius. This is a man who formed the plot of his latest flick around a truckload of stuffed animals shaped like scrotums, then called himself “the only genius in the whole f___ing business.”

Boll may be clueless, but it’s for that very reason that Postal is one of the greatest video game adaptations ever made. When watched on purely its own merits, I’ll admit it’s as awful as a movie can be: Crass without being funny, offensive without insight, and consisting of mindless, irrelevant shock comedy. But any movie that has Osama bin Laden waxing, “Uwe Boll may be an infidel, but he made a very funny film,” has got to be worth more than meets the eye. I would argue that Postal is in fact a satire of mindless shock comedy itself. Every moment of toilet humor that falls flat combines to form an unintentional diatribe against easy, lowest-common-denominator comedy. Boll might be completely ignorant of it, but what he actually created was one of the most articulate, effective manifestos against the Jackasses of the world.

Boll’s video game adaptation debut, House of the Dead, is similarly illuminating. Though not at all frightening, Boll uses — and thereby unintentionally mocks — every horror and action cliché of the last decade. From bullet time to graphic and gratuitous gore to supposedly atmospheric voiceovers, House of the Dead shows us just how vapid and silly such cinematic techniques truly are. However unintentional, Boll’s movies are all valuable lessons in stupidity and arrogance.

What other directors do you think stink at making mainstream movies, but excel at adaptations?

Anthony Burch is the features editor for and the co-writer and director of the video series, “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?” He’s also working on his first artgame, which should be done sooner or later. Probably later.

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