Recommended Reading: History of Video Game Movies, Interview with Spike Jonze, History of Robocop and more

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The Ugly Behind-the-Scenes History of Video Game Movies

“Few Hollywood announcements are treated with such fierce-yet-wounded anticipation as video game adaptations. Full of incredible artistry, instantly-recognizable characters and an increasingly-mature approach to storytelling, you’d be forgiven for thinking gaming is a medium particularly well suited for making the jump to the silver screen. But history tells another story.”

Robocop: The Oral History

“A little more than 25 years ago, Orion Pictures released RoboCop, a grimly hysterical, hyper-violent satire masquerading as an action film. And despite spawning two sequels, a television series, some anime, and now a remake, the film’s success was inimitable. This is partly because RoboCop only really became a great film as it was made. Director Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct) worked tirelessly to revise scenes while actors like Kurtwood Smith, who plays Clarence Boddecker, the film’s main heavy, improvised some of the movie’s best lines. In time for the new, inevitably inferior RoboCop’s release today, Esquire.com talked to four of the original 1987 film’s creators: director Paul Verhoeven; co-writer Michael Miner; stuntwoman Jeannie Epper; and actor Kurtwood Smith.”
“Part of what sets RoboCop apart from other 1980s action movies is its puckish humor, which comes across more via style and storytelling choices than actual gags. In outline, this is a standard revenge thriller—criminals and a corporation take everything from a man, who strikes back—and those films tend to be a dour, glowering breed. But while director Paul Verhoeven and writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner don’t compromise their story’s grimness, they liven it up with ridiculous fake commercials and artificially upbeat news broadcasts. And they find innovative ways to get across crucial information without exposition, like the way the characters and audience learn a wounded cop has died when his sergeant wordlessly slides his nameplate off his locker. (Then Verhoeven cuts to the similar nameplate on the locker of protagonist Alex Murphy, pointedly suggesting Murphy’s incipient fate. Not subtle, but telling.) Another example: the ridiculous cowboy-cop methods Murphy (Peter Weller) and his partner, Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen), use when first going after Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his crew. No one has to explain that we’re in a lawless, desperate future: Just watching a car chase that starts with Murphy leaning out of his police cruiser to empty his pistols into a van, without warning or dialogue, makes it clear that this isn’t our world.”
“Spike Jonze is known for his colourful, melancholic, immaculately-edited directorial style which he formulated by making music videos for the likes of Bjork, The Beastie Boys and REM. He has long since graduated to the world of inventive narrative cinema. In Jonze’s previous key offerings (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., Where the Wild Things Are) he toyed with the line between external realities and the depth of human imagination. In Her, the voice in leading man Joaquin Phoenix’s head is artificial intelligence itself, making this film an ambitious exploration of the place where love meets future technology. When LWLies sat down to catch up with Jonze recently, we found the writer/director in refreshingly candid mood.”

Video: Bryan Cranston has ‘Writer’s Block‘ in this short film:

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