First Click: Could a Gears of War movie actually be good?

October 6th, 2016


When I read the news this morning that there’s going to be a Gears of War movie, my initial reaction was “Oh, not again.” We’ve probably all seen far too many bad video game movies that either miss the point of their source material or struggle to adapt it. The games best suited to movies are usually best off played as games.

Gears of War could easily go the same way. I’ve been playing Gears 4 this week — watch for my review later today, but I’m not spoiling anything to say that like the others, it’s a game where you spend 95 percent of your time shooting monsters. With little in the way of narrative depth, character building, or anything else that would give audiences a breather, it’s hard to see Gears working well on the big screen.

Or is it?

Last year Mad Max: Fury Road blew everyone’s minds by being an action movie essentially devoid of non-action. Structurally, a Gears of War game isn’t so different: you have the necessary setup at the start, then the dramatic event sparking an action-packed journey that takes place over a single day and night with very little pause. A well-directed action movie with the confidence to keep the games’ low-fat pacing could be both exhilarating and authentic.

And although Gears of War often descends into space-marine cliché, it helps that the franchise has a distinctive look and reasonably interesting world. The marauding subterranean Locust horde would make for a pretty unique enemy, as Hollywood sci-fi goes, and the evocative "destroyed beauty" aesthetic could play as well on screen as Fury Road’s saturated wasteland.

My biggest reservation was how you’d cast real humans to play the neckless beefcake Gears themselves, before my colleague Rich McCormick suggested "Michael Chiklis, The Rock, and Hank from Breaking Bad." So that’s that sorted.

Who knows if the Gears of War movie will ever even happen, really. It seems that every major action game has talk of a Hollywood adaptation at some point, but few ever go all the way — this year’s Michael Fassbender-starring Assassin’s Creed is one example that avoided the fate of Halo and Metal Gear Solid. I don’t have much confidence that Gears of War will be any different, nor do I expect the movie to be particularly good if it does happen.

But if you think about it, it actually could be.

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Gears of War 2 quote of the day