Half-Life

J.J. Abrams

Some pretty big movie news came out of the 2013 DICE Summit today. Why did talk suddenly turned to film during an event that’s generally thought of as a summit for video game companies? Because Bad Robot head J.J. Abrams took the stage with game developer Valve’s co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell in order to lead a discussion about storytelling. This wasn’t just some casual discussion of video games and movies and how they sort of intersect because they both tell narratives though. Oh no, Abrams and Newell had announcements to make. Not content just to revamp Star Trek and Star Wars for entirely new generations, Abrams and his Bad Robot company are now preparing to tackle the age-old question, “Why has nobody been able to pull off making a half-way decent video game movie?” The film discussion first started when Abrams announced that, “there’s an idea for a game that we’d really like to work with Valve on,” a remark to which Newell then added, “we’re super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie.” So, that’s it in a nutshell. Not only is Bad Robot talking with Valve about making some sort of video game in the future, but they’re also talking about developing movie versions of two of their biggest game franchises. Getting a big name, quality director who runs a production company with a good track record interested in a popular video game […]

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Why Watch? This is the short film version of a headshot. Video games make awful adaptation material because, for some reason, they’re more fun for executives to suck all quality from. They’ve invariably meant for high budgets, but instead of bringing the faithful along for the ride, most productions tend to flip fans the middle finger while destroying any sense of story just in case anyone else wanted to enjoy what they were watching. Not so here. With a small budget and an aim at showcasing action, director Brian Curtin has created a fantastic short based on Half-Life. It could use a bit more in the way of character, but producing such a threatening, obviously villainous group of killers helps us feel for the leads without messy exposition. There are a few low budget problems, but they’re overshadowed by how impressive everything else is. Well shot, interestingly paced, and featuring some stellar production design, this is just engaging as hell. Plus, the ending is truly explosive. I’ve never played the game, so I can’t speak to how close they nailed it, but everything I’ve read seems to praise them for staying faithful. How about it, Half-Life (and/or zombie) fans? Is this the kind of thing you’d like to see expanded into a feature? What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out Beyond Black Mesa for yourself:

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Pixel to Projector

Last week I tackled Portal; and the response was interesting. While I’d love to see Portal as a movie — that was really an intro-session into the Valve universe, and a step toward discussing my next Pixel to Projector nominee — Half-life. Almost anyone that is a fan of first person shooters has a soft Spot for Valve Software’s launch title — and with good reason. The ever silent Dr. Gordon Freeman is iconic in the gaming community, as are many of the characters that fill his world. From Vortigaunts, The Combine, Alyx Vance, the ever present Headcrabs, and of course — the mysterious G-Man — Half-life is rich with characters and situations ripe for transition to the big screen.

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Pixel to Projector

The cake is a lie. Anyone who is a fan of puzzles, sentient computers that can kill you, and guns that create inter-spatial portals — well, you’ll dig Portal. In 2007 Valve gave gamers an exceedingly unique playing experience by not only tying our brains in knots with deeply involved gameplay that required significant forethought, but did so with the kind of suspense, pacing, and twisted humor that lends to a strong Pixel to Projector candidate.

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South by Southwest 2008 style=

Four more trailers to get you all jazzed up for a big ole’ film fest in central Texas.

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