A quick look at gaming’s increasingly cinematic AAA blockbusters makes it abundantly clear that mainstream games are trying harder to emulate movies all the time. But the thing is, they needn’t bother. Because as games become an ever more mainstream medium, films are increasingly taking cues from them.
While the results of these muddied media waters are a very mixed bunch indeed, the creeping influence of games upon the medium they often try to ape is a mighty interesting thing to note. Check out these six for starters.
1. Sucker Punch
The one that inspired this article. And ye gods, where do you even start? Sucker Punch is basically “Video Game Fan Service: The Movie”. The central concept (aesthetically at least) is little more than “Hot chicks in short skirts vs. Nazi steampunk robot samurai dragons”, but even going beyond the obvious visual design (which is like watching a cutting room floor megamix of Final Fantasy (opens in new tab) cut scenes that were dropped for being too long and sexist), the entire structure of the film is very, very gamey indeed.
Each of the extended action set-pieces which make up the bulk of the film takes the form of a hallucination sequence. Each has the narrative purpose of shielding the lead characters from the grim reality of their real-life situation, but is also infused with subconscious elements of the real world to some degree. The form of our protagonists’ real-life plight? Being imprisoned in a stylised Victorian-looking asylum. If you’re thinking that the above set-up sounds like an unofficial adaptation of American McGee’s Alice (opens in new tab) at this point, you certaibly wouldn’t be the first.
Not only that, but while each hallucination loosely follows on from the last in terms of overarching narrative, they remain utterly self-contained at the same time. With radical jumps of location and visual style between each one, the resulting film is built around something almost identical to traditional video game level structure. Given that the girls are on an overall quest (imparted by an unidentified ‘Wise Man) to secure five special items (a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a fifth secret one), this thing might as well have been called The Legend of Zelda: T&A Edition.
Oh, and speaking of that gratuitously exposed ladyflesh, make no mistake. In terms of sexual objectification and borderline misogyny in the field of presenting female action protagonists, Sucker Punch is video games all the way. And don’t get us started on the subtextual stuff. That rant goes on for hours and isn’t very fun.