Today I went and saw the latest Michael Bay robot-fest, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in theaters and something struck me on the way back home: this movie reminded me of Crysis 2 to a great degree. An ancient alien threat, hectic ground-level combat and amazing visual effects? Given that most of the final hour of Transformers 3 is seen from the perspective of Special Forces soldiers rather than Autobots, my brain couldn’t get away from Crysis 2 and the image of hopping around lower Manhattan killing vaguely robotic aliens in the ruins of a famous city (even though TF3 takes place in Chicago).
Like most Michael Bay films, Transformers 3 is too long, bloated and full of forced, painful humor, but the actions scenes are top notch. Still, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was watching someone play a video game. Video games have been trying to be like movies for years, but it occurred to me today that they might already be there, or at least have attained the level of Summer popcorn-flick. People complain about the Hollywood-ising of the industry, but we’re too late: every big action game is essentially a Bay movie with threadbare plots and engaging action.
I know that video games are hoping to move past this phase, but in a medium where it’s easier to give the player a gun and turn them loose, are we ever going to get past this stage? Crysis 2 was a pretty fun game, but given that a mindless movie like Transformers 3 can evoke it so heavily, it kind casts a dark shadow over the aspirations of many a development studio. Even games that we decree to be better than movies, like Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect 2, would ultimately fall flat on their face if they ever transition to the silver screen.
Past all my rambling thoughts regarding Transformers 3 and Crysis 2 lays a question for you guys: are video games becoming like movies or is it the other way around? As computer generated effects become cheaper and more believable, will we see more big set-piece films that try to wow our eyes instead of appealing to our brain? Will these movies become the Call of Duty of the film world, or are they already there? Am I just crazy? Go!