Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Viral Videogame Trailer Sensation 'Dead Island' May Or May Not Be Heading For Big Screen

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 21, 2011 12:37 AM
10 Comments
  • |

Also, Who Gives A Shit?



We hope you've seen it by now, but an excellent GQ article by Mark Harris, author of the outstanding "Scenes From A Revolution" started to make the rounds in the last week or so. Entitled "The Day The Movies Died," it traces the current sad, sequel-happy nature of Hollywood filmmaking, and why the $800 million success of "Inception," and the more minor box office triumphs of "True Grit," "Black Swan," "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter," don't mean that movies based on board games or prequels to forgotten 7'0s cartoon series are going away any time soon (you can read more of our thoughts on that piece here).

Almost as if to prove Harris' point, along came "Dead Island." A videogame set for release later in the year, from Polish developers Techland, about four strangers trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in a holiday resort, it sprang into the public consciousness last week when an announcement trailer, from Scottish animation studio Axis Animation, went viral. Showing, backwards, the zombification and death of a young girl on the island, breathless geeks lost their shit when they saw it, with one journalist at Wired calling it "the best videogame trailer I've ever seen."

It didn't take long for news of a potential movie to hit, and it came first from HitFix, who reported that Sean Daniel, the producer of "The Mummy" and "The Wolfman," had picked up the rights to the project, which was later confirmed by Deadline, who suggested that The Sean Daniels Company, along with Union Entertainment, have held the rights for over a year, and that the film might borrow the narrative structure of the trailer, with a '"Memento"-style storyline.'

Except that publishers Deep Silver issued a press release, as found by Cinema Blend, among others, that says that, while the company are fielding film offers, no firm deal has yet been made, and that "We are looking for quality above all else for a movie based on 'Dead Island.' We want to do it the right way as film realizations of games (or vice versa) usually fail to deliver what the fans were looking for. We will not go down this route with 'Dead Island.' Deep Silver profoundly believes in the quality and value of its Dead Island IP."

We're not sure what's going on, exactly -- it seems possible that someone, somewhere jumped the gun a bit, or that Deep Silver are playing a tricksy game in negotiations. Frankly, the more hurdles caused in the development process for this one the better, as far as we're concerned. The clip that caused all the fuss is certainly a step above most video game trailers (and we wouldn't be surprised to see its director, Stuart Aitken, start to make some waves soon), but it's also crassly manipulative, and doesn't suggest that the game will be anything other than your standard zombie-bashing fare.

We've said it til we're blue in the face, but as long as video games continue to be, on the whole, grossly derivative of movies, than we're not going to care about movies based on games -- it's a snake-eating-its-own-tail approach that isn't going to make for good movies, and, should "Dead Island" make it to the big screen, we can't see how it would differ beyond any other zombie movie, aside from a narrative gimmick that almost certainly won't work as well in a two hour movie as it did in a two minute trailer. Still, probably better than a "Missile Command" movie, we suppose...

  • |

More: Films, Dead Island

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

10 Comments

  • Collin | February 28, 2011 6:01 AMReply

    "Also who gives a shit?" - I couldn't agree more.

    Know that this is not coming from an old cranky prude or some crazy religious zealot: I can't believe how supportive people have been of this drivel. This is absolute garbage. First of all, I don't understand how anybody in their right mind could get excited about a new zombie ANYTHING whether it be a film, video game, book, whatever. It's time for a moratorium on this tired, played-out genre. How many different ways can it be twisted? First it's scary, then it's self-aware, then comically ironic. Either way, it's over. Second, how is there any substance to this trailer at all? It's just gratuitous violence, slow-mo, and sappy melancholy music. They might have just as well played "What A Wonderful World" over it. But lastly, and most probably importantly, how in the hell am I supposed to get excited about playing a game like this? Innocent-looking digital child is thrown out of a godddamn building covered in blood and dies on the front lawn of a hotel where she was enjoying a vacation with her family? What a drag, dude. Is this supposed to be "fun"? How is the audience supposed to react to that? "Well I definitely hate zombies now...so this game is going to give me the chance to kick some zombie ass..." Give me a break, dude. If emotionally-manipulative slow-motion images paired with melodramatic string and piano music is all it takes to make a "great" trailer, then I guess I'm out of the loop. And keep counting me out.

  • Joseph | February 22, 2011 5:10 AMReply

    "also, who gives a shit?"

    Feel that? That's me giving you a big 'ol perhaps unwanted but obligatory anyway e-hug because I wuv you.

  • Christopher Bell | February 22, 2011 12:38 AMReply

    I guess the trailer is cool. Not sure what makes it a "genuine piece of art" nor do I understand what it actually "achieves."

    The whole "no footage of gameplay" isn't anything new (just look at ANY RPG commercial from SNES on) but yeah, it's still as frustrating as ever.

  • Brody | February 21, 2011 6:25 AMReply

    Besides the trailer likely having no connection to actual gameplay (this is why videogame movie adaptation as a concept makes about as much sense as adapting a symphony into a novel), I couldn't help thinking while watching it that it would have been much better had it just used live actors instead of the creepy, mannequin-like CG characters that I'm guessing were harder to visualize...

  • carter | February 21, 2011 4:41 AMReply

    Great trailer. It's totally fucked up but it is well done.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | February 21, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    This trailer is just a well edited version of the latest videogame trailer fad: sombre music plus grisly action. Nothing new here. Not sure what is getting the fanboys all wet on this one.

  • Josef | February 21, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    Why so negative? Video game or not, this trailer is the shit

  • cirkusfolk | February 21, 2011 4:01 AMReply

    So I guess you have no interest in seeing Uncharted with Mark Wahlberg?

  • theplaylistshouldchillax | February 21, 2011 3:36 AMReply

    This trailer is a work of art, and your snarky blog should just accept that.

  • lew | February 21, 2011 1:17 AMReply

    The game's supposedly been in development Hell for four years, the trailer's from a completely different company (Axis Animation, based in Scotland) than the game developer (Techland in Poland) and there's every chance that the game will be awful and in five years nobody will remember it except for that awesome trailer.

    But the trailer is a genuine piece of art. What it accomplishes in three short minutes is miraculous. Axis also did the beautiful intro sequence to Mass Effect 2, so somebody who works there is a real artist. If somebody in Hollywood wants to at least try to make a decent movie they should bypass Techland and just hire out whoever made this thing at Axis. In other words, go talk to the guys who actually make movies and not games.

Email Updates