vulture lists

10 Video Games That Should Be Movies

Courtesy of Nintendo

We’ve got more bad news for the TV and film industries — this week sees the release of Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii, the first proper Mario adventure since 1996’s Super Mario 64, and very possibly the greatest game in the history recorded time. Vulture predicts that by the time the Writers Guild strike is finally resolved, Americans will have quit their jobs, stopped attending movies, and devoted their lives exclusively to the completion of Mario Galaxy. So how will Hollywood win them back? Simple: they’ll have to make movies based on video games. And not just the crappy kind they’ve been pumping out for the past decade — good ones! Hitman (based on the PC shooter) hits theaters next week and, well, we’re not getting our hopes up. But we’ve made a list of a few we’d like to see, along with the filmmakers we think might do them justice. After the jump, our list of the Ten Video Games That Should Be Movies (and the Directors Who Should Make Them)!

10. Duck Hunt

Director: Wes Anderson
The pitch: An aging paterfamilias (Bill Murray, probably) seeks to reconnect with his adult sons (Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, definitely) on a duck-hunting expedition through Europe in this meticulously constructed dramedy. The family bickers while pursuing increasingly speedy waterfowl and are occasionally mocked by an unnaturally critical cocker spaniel. Schwartzman’s character is hit and killed with an errant clay pigeon, and at his funeral, Murray and Wilson embrace for the first time as the Kinks’ song “Ducks on the Wall” plays.

9. The Secret of Monkey Island

Director: Terry Gilliam
The pitch: Sure, everyone’s sick of pirate movies. But despite appearances, this 1990 DOS game — about a luckless buccaneer named Guybrush Threepwood and the evil ghost pirate LeChuck — kept the actual swashbuckling to a minimum. Monkey Island is more about hilarious insult comedy (piratical disputes are settled by trading snaps, not sword-fighting) and some of the best reggae music that ever beeped through your PC’s internal speaker. Gilliam’s hallucinatory visual style and cracked sense of humor would be a near-perfect fit, as long as he could find a film studio crazy enough to give him $80 million.

8. Metroid

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
The Pitch: The 1986 version of Metroid for the original Nintendo Entertainment System already features one of the best shock endings in video-game history — after defeating a hostile band of Space Pirates, our hero’s cybernetic suit is removed and we learn that Samus Aran is, in fact, a girl — but we’re dying to see what kind of surprise twist Shyamalan can come up with. Maybe Samus is really a girl and a ghost? Or maybe we learn that Metroid really takes place in modern times, and then Paul Giamatti finds a naked lady in a swimming pool?

7. Super Mario Galaxy

Director: Richard Kelly
The pitch: In the just-released Super Mario Galaxy for Wii — which critics are already pretty much calling the greatest video game ever — the world’s most sensitively portrayed Italian encounters all the now-standard magic mushrooms, traversable wormholes through space, and evil princess-stealing dragons. Except this time, it’s in outer space. We know they already made a Super Mario Brothers movie, but it was terrible and it’s time they tried again. Kelly’s version would star Hulk Hogan, Dame Judi Dench, all five Backstreet Boys, Dolph Lundgren, Downtown Julie Brown, 50 Cent, Dan Akroyd, Police Academy’s Michael Winslow, and — through the magic of CGI — Sir Laurence Olivier. And it would still make more sense than Southland Tales.

6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

Director: Larry Clark
The pitch: Clark’s Tony Hawk movie wouldn’t feature much actual skating, just a bunch of partying and leering shots of teenage nudity. We’re not even sure Tony Hawk would be in it.

5. Second Life

Director: David Lynch
The pitch: A small-town cop (Kyle MacLachlan) spends his days policing an idyllic suburban town and his nights wandering the streets of a creepy, noirish L.A.-like section of Second Life’s virtual world. Soon, he can no longer distinguish between the two. As the story progresses, the narrative becomes increasingly incomprehensible, which in part mirrors the emotional state of the film’s deeply confused protagonist. Also, Dennis Hopper is probably in there somewhere.

4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Director: Ang Lee
The pitch: Set against the backdrop of violence-torn suburban Los Angeles, this drama follows Carl “CJ” Johnson as he plots to assassinate crooked cop Officer Frank Tenpenny. Lee’s version would no doubt include some impressively choreographed fight scenes but would mostly hinge on a series of extended graphic sex scenes. Also, Lee would probably change the name of the film to Hot, Coffee. (Warning: Above clip is NSFW!)

3. World of Warcraft

Director: Lars von Trier
The pitch: Near the three-hour mark, an elf is briefly glimpsed in the background of this Danish morality play about a factory worker who loses his legs in an industrial accident on the way home from the hospital, where he’s just learned that he is blind.

2. The Oregon Trail

Director: The Coen Brothers
The pitch: The dearth of good barber shops in the nineteenth-century American West would surely provide the Coens with plenty of hilarious haircut and mustache options for their actors — Steve Buscemi and John Turturro as a pair of hapless pioneers who, when they’re not dying of typhoid and diphtheria, suffer inclement weather and random attacks by Native Americans.

1. Tetris

Director: Michel Gondry
The pitch: In a world of defeatist, no-imagination-having square and L-shaped pieces, Géraud (played by Elijah Wood in a cardboard suit, beret, and French mustache) is a Z-shaped romantic with dreams of becoming a painter, even though his awkward posture makes it really hard to set up an easel. One day he meets a beautiful L-shaped piece named Virginie, but their love can never be because she’s engaged to a square who seems her perfect fit. But is he? (No — he has no dreams!) The soundtrack would consist solely of Jon Brion playing “Kalinka” (the Tetris song) on a vibraphone, getting gradually faster over 90 minutes.

Earlier: Insta-classic Super Mario Galaxy beats writers strike woes.

10 Video Games That Should Be Movies