12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Another video game adaptation gone down the toilet and believe me I'm not happy about that
, April 24, 2008
This review is from: Silent Hill (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I'm paraphrasing here but Kurosawa once said that if you have a great director, great editor, great cinematographer and a great cast but have a bad script then you will have a bad movie. This film is a great example to back up this statement. This film has some of the best visual effects out there, good editing, good cinematography, occasionally good soundtrack but an absolutely horrible screenplay. What happened? I wish I knew but could only guess that what we saw was the end result of a rough draft. Somewhere hidden in there might have been a good idea and it seems that unless you played the games it might be difficult to pin point exactly what that good idea was.
In order for a movie to be good it should not require an outside source (video game, comic book, novel or TV show) to hold it up. Some of the best films out there were based off of another medium, Spiderman 1 and 2, X-MEN 1 and 2, Batman Begins, Lord of the Rings (this list could actually go on forever), I even enjoyed the first Mortal Kombat. Obviously you don't have to agree with the titles I just mentioned, they're just opinions but the point is that these films don't require you to be familiar with the source material. The films actually stand on their own without that familiarity. There's nothing wrong with the director tipping his hat to memorable scenes that originate within the game as a wink towards the fan. What is wrong is when the director is not able to translate the games narrative into film for the non-fans. If he were successful in translating the game into film the non-fans would want to play the game! In this case Gans failed to do just that.
Is the movie hard to understand? No, because the main point of the plot, that is, the motivating factor for the characters in the plot is spelled out for you in the last 10 or so minutes of the film in the form of a flash back with running commentary. I can't help but think that the logic behind this plot structure is to make you feel like you've painstakingly played a video game and now you will be rewarded with a reason as to why you have played the game in the first place or why you sat for almost two hours wondering why Rose (the mother character for those who have not seen it yet) didn't take the kid to a doctor instead of taking her to an allegedly haunted town that is to this day burning underneath. The point is that this type of exposition is just plain lazy writing. That kind of information is typically (not always but in this way it is more challenging for the writer and allows for interactivity from the audience) leaked throughout the film with the use of action, dialogue, metaphors so when the payoff happens there is no need for an explanation.
Tension is caused by expectation, you expect something terrible to happen based off the clues that have been given to you throughout the course of the film. Sometimes the audience knows more than the main character raising the bar for tension. In other words you know what's coming before the character does causing the audience to scream the typical, "don't go into that room" or "Don't open that door" or just simply scream. Alfred Hitchcock has a better explanation as to how it works but the point is that tension is caused by expectation. Now putting aside the information that the fans are familiar with from the game, the movie itself does not clearly place any clues for the audience to create that tension. The clues that are presented are a mystery in of themselves. Although we eventually learn of the witch hunters origin and eventually, after the infamous flashback, we learn the story of Alessa, without some form of previous information placed earlier in the film it's difficult for most to see any of that coming. Therefore, the director literally has to hold our hands throughout the film for us to understand why anything is happening. But yes, by the end of the film you are TOLD everything and technically you should be able to walk out of the film "getting it". However, in this case, to "get it" was not fun.
I'm not going to argue about this being one of the best VG adaptations out there because it probably is. But unfortunately that's not saying much.
What I'm saying is I love video games and I really wanted to enjoy this film. Besides, I'm a huge fan of Brotherhood of the Wolf and based on that alone I thought this film was going to be great. I thought it was going to do for video games what X-MEN and Spiderman was doing for comics, people were finally going to look at it as a serious form of entertainment and not a mindless activity that most critics have labeled it as such. Unfortunately, in this case it did not do any of those things. Even worse, it seems, based on the number of the games fan responses in this forum, the film has isolated itself to the entertainment of only them, thereby alienating itself from the rest of the public and some are okay with this! That's not a good thing and you fans of the game should know that money ultimately rules this industry. If this film does not profit it will scare off the studios from not only making sequels of this movie but ultimately making future adaptations of other games. And there are a lot of games out there that deserve to be made into films.
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