Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lenses, Filters and Mirrors

The way is shut-It was made by those who are Dead-And the Dead keep it
(A quick disclaimer; I am not talking about things like F-stops, focus pulling and glare angles. Instead, I am using terms like those in the title of this blog in the metaphorical sense.)

So, over the winter break I got a chance to go and see "The Hobbit" in the theater. I (unlike a lot of professional reviewers) really enjoyed the film, but ironically among all those trolls, dwarfs, wizards and elves the thing that stuck out most in my mind was Goblin Town. Not because of the goblins, or even their fleshy bearded king. Rather it was the look of underground lair that stuck with me most of all. It felt almost identical to an area known as Blighttown in Dark Souls. It's interesting to think that both of the Souls games borrowed a lot of concepts and themes from Tolkien's writings, and now those themes are being reflected back into movie adaptations of his works.

Japanese interpretations of American films in video game format is hardly anything new. Need I point out the rather obvious similarities to early Metal Gear titles and "Rambo"? Metroid co-director, Yoshio Sakamoto, freely admits that he was heavily inspired by the first "Alien" film. Themes of isolation and H.R. Giger inspired enemies not withstanding, the fact that Samus is woman owes a lot to Direct Ridley Scott's decision to cast a female for the role of Ripley. To me it has always been interesting to see these adaptations of cultural media, since it has led to some of the best franchises in the history video games. However, it gets even more fascinating when things go the other way.

Samurai/Westerns are nothing new in the world of cinema, as are Americanized versions of Japanese horror films such as "The Ring," "Dark Water" and "The Grudge."  But since we're talking about video games lets touch on F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon). To say F.E.A.R. was influenced by "Ringu" would be stating the obvious, but what many people don't realize is a large number of other Japanese films also influenced the developers. J-horror film "Retribution" is probably the most obvious example with it's ubiquitous revenge driven ghost girl in a red dress. Then there is also the anime "Akira," along with various Asian action films that made heavy use of bullet-time long before "The Matrix."

Quantum Theory on the other hand just sucks.
While it might feel like one culture is ripping off from another. I happen to enjoy these reworkings simply because it acts as a means of seeing our own media from the perspective of an outsider. Plus, it often creates a very unique and memorable experiences in the process. And as I'm sure we can all agree the video game industry isn't exactly busting at the seams with originality. So keep this kind of thing coming, I say. Because it has a proven track record for doing far more good than ill.

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