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The Final Word on Movie Endings?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 11, 2005   |   Episode 54 (Show Archive)  


The writer/director doesn't like it, but that won't stop the Godfather game from being one of the biggest games of 2005!
Games based on high profile movies are nothing new, so it shouldn't surprise us that video game publishers are mining old classics for their newest titles. Games like Scarface, the Godfather, and Taxi Driver are all getting the polygonal make-over, all with famous faces and voices lending their names to the projects. But not everybody is happy with this emerging trend, especially when it comes to compromising the original movie's story.

Francis Ford Coppola, the famed director of the Godfather trilogy among countless other memorable films, recently came out to condemn Electronic Arts for making a game based on his 1972 masterpiece. Even though Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed the original movie (as well as the subsequent sequels), he claims he was not asked to take part in the game and disapproves of the idea.

Chances are gamers will never know (or even care) that Mr. Coppola disapproves of the project, they'll be more impressed with the star studded cast, which includes everybody from James Caan to the late Marlon Brando. But these people have no stake in the project; to them it's just reliving old times. To the writer it's a different feeling altogether. The writer had to come up with the beginning, middle, and end, to wrap up story lines and show character arcs. The writer is the one that has to give everything meaning and make sure that they put out the message they are trying to convey. The writer is the one that really makes the story what it is, and it's easy to understand why the person who labored over these stories would be unhappy that somebody else wants to change it.

Oliver Stone has written a lot of tough characters in his time in Hollywood, not sure he'd be the first person I would want to get on my bad side!
But maybe Francis Ford Coppola shouldn't be as angry at Electronic Arts as Oliver Stone should be at Vivendi Universal Games. Unlike the Godfather, a game that simply rewrites aspects of the narration, the upcoming Scarface game manages to change one of the most substantial parts of the original movie ... the fact that Tony Montana dies at the end.

Picking up right after the movie left off, the Scarface game seems to want to think that tough-as-nails Montana could survive a hail of bullets. Obviously this was not the ending screenwriter Oliver Stone had in mind, but VU Games is betting that gamers won't really mind that little fact. Beyond the fact that it's just a lousy idea, isn't this extremely insulting to the person that crafted the original story in the first place? It's easy to understand the appeal of wanting to play as Tony Montana, but certainly there has to be a way of doing that without changing the movie's resolution.

Companies have always been in the business of changing the story to fit their needs, but generally it had more to do with keeping the stuff at the beginning and middle exciting and not "fixing" the ending. Games based on movies like Batman and Spider-Man have always had to worry about adding more baddies to battle, locations to go to, and bosses to take on, but at the end of the day, the good guy always wins and you get a nice ending cinema congratulating you.

Sure the Matrix Revolutions was pretty lame, but it was a masterpiece compared to 2003's Enter the Matrix game!
These days publishers are picking movies that aren't so black and white, ones with characters with shades of gray and stories that deal with tough situations. Even movies that might seem like they would lend themselves well to games are also going under the knife for some ending editing. Such is the case with the upcoming game based on the Matrix trilogy, the Matrix: the Path of Neo. Here we play as Neo going through all three Matrix movies (as well as touching on some Animatrix content), but don't expect the downbeat ending from Revolutions ... Shiny has already promised us that it will feature a brand new

"I'm telling you this guy is protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness."
ending that will likely open the series up for more sequels.

No matter what you thought of the ending in Revolutions, you have to appreciate that it is the way the Wachowski brothers wanted to end the series. It's one thing to sit and talk about what the most fitting ending to Neo would have been, but it's a whole other thing when you decide to change the story just to make the game a little more fulfilling.

It's unknown how fans will react to their favorite movies being altered to make for a more interactive experience, and who knows, these might be the only games that decide to radically change the endings to suit their needs. I worry that this is really just the start and that in the not too distant future we will have a game where Kevin Spacey isn't Keyser Soze, Russell Crowe survives Gladiator, and a ghostly Patrick Swayze has to perform kung fu to protect a grieving Demi Moore.


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