Cult Films by Kubrick, Tarantino & Wes Anderson Re-imagined as 8‑Bit Video Games

Now clos­ing in on 50 episodes, David Dut­ton’s 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma series for Cine­Flix cel­e­brates and cri­tiques the increas­ing video game qual­i­ties of action films. Or maybe it’s a nos­tal­gic do-over of a child­hood spent watch­ing great films turned into ter­ri­ble games and your favorite games turned into ter­ri­ble films. 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma imag­ines pop­u­lar and clas­sic movies turned into NES-era con­sole games, with the movie’s plot imag­ined as a “per­fect run,” as gamers call it.

Their ver­sion of Guardians of the Galaxy (watch it here) quotes Mega­man, Capcom’s 1987 hit game that is still spawn­ing sequels, and con­fines its action to a plat­form shoot­er, which, in a way, describes James Gunn’s film. (But dig that 8‑bit ver­sion of “The Pina Cola­da Song,” man!). The film adapts too well to a video game, and that may be its prob­lem.

Things get more inter­est­ing when Dutton’s cre­ative team tack­les films in the cult canon. One of their favorites, Pulp Fic­tion com­bines sev­er­al game gen­res: Dance Dance Rev­o­lu­tion for the Jack Rab­bit Slim sequence, side scrollers for the gun (and samu­rai sword)-heavy action, and more. But what 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma had to do was straight­en out Tarantino’s non-lin­ear nar­ra­tive, allow­ing the “play­er” to change char­ac­ters from Vince to Butch after their unfor­tu­nate meet­ing, and ditch all that won­der­ful dia­log. This 2 1/2 minute ver­sion quotes plen­ty of rare video games, just like Taran­ti­no quotes movies.

The Shin­ing is one of two Kubrick films the team has attempt­ed, the oth­er one being A Clock­work Orange. The Shin­ing one works bet­ter as Kubrick’s exam­i­na­tions of domes­tic vio­lence are ren­dered even ici­er (no pun intend­ed) through typ­i­cal vio­lent game­play, and tense con­fronta­tions between Jack and Wendy are reduced to emo­tion­less exchanges. The video ref­er­ences 1987’s Mani­ac Man­sion, appro­pri­ate­ly enough, which itself was a trib­ute to hor­ror movie clich­es.

Wes Anderson’s ship set from The Life Aquat­ic with Steve Zis­sou was designed much like a plat­form game, so the 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma team had an eas­i­er job with this one, and threw in ref­er­ences to Met­al Gear Sol­id to boot. Judg­ing from the com­ments, the 8‑Bit death of Ned still man­ages to pull the ol’ heart­strings, but the nar­ra­tive remains just as inscrutable.

The take­away here might be this: The bet­ter the film, the less it can con­form to the sim­plis­tic plots, puz­zle play, and point-scor­ing vio­lence that make video games fun to play. And while video games are undoubt­ed­ly a form of art, there’s a large gulf between them and cin­e­ma.

Cur­rent­ly Dutton’s crew man­ages one 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma short a month. For a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put three min­utes of nos­tal­gic bliss togeth­er, check this out:

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills and/or watch his films here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

8‑Bit Phi­los­o­phy: Pla­to, Sartre, Der­ri­da & Oth­er Thinkers Explained With Vin­tage Video Games

The Inter­net Arcade Lets You Play 900 Vin­tage Video Games in Your Web Brows­er (Free)

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mas­ter­piece Stalk­er Gets Adapt­ed into a Video Game

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