Fallout and the State of Video Game to Screen Adaptations

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by Cassie Schneider

With over 1 million screens in the past month, Amazon Prime Video’s Fallout has been met with great acclaim. The first season (with an already confirmed second season) provided awesome sound effects, great acting, multiple callbacks to the game franchise, and above all, a great group of intertwining stories.

In this series, you follow the perspectives of different characters until they cross paths. For example, you first see the sheltered perspective of Lucy MacLean, portrayed by Ella Purnell. You meet a down on his luck Maximus (Aaron Moten) who wants to venture out and be a hero. Then you witness the re-animation of The Ghoul (Walton Goggins), a hundred-year-old mutant-cowboy-vigilante who’s searching to see if his daughter is out there, alive and well.

The beauty of this story being so strong is that these characters weren’t in the games. Developer company Bethesda took the approach of writing new perspectives on a different timeline in the post-apocalyptic world. This is a bit of a different approach in comparison to past game adaptations. The only other title to have recently done this was 2021’s Mortal Kombat, where Alex Tan portrays Cole Young, a character created specifically for the movie franchise.

The benefit of having the characters not being related to the original game material is that the criticism to keep exactly to the story and do well by beloved characters is seemingly gone. With this approach, you can garner previous fans of the game installments while still bringing in new fans. Undoubtedly, game-to-screen adaptations will take the norm. We’ve come a long way from 1994’s Street Fighter and 1995’s Mortal Kombat. In complete honesty, recent video game adaptations have been decent.

Starting with Sonic, Sonic 2, the Knuckles miniseries, and Sonic 3, which premiers this December, the live action adaptations have been shockingly decent for the most part. Sonic and Sonic 2 did a great job of introducing the important characters as well as their back stories. The production listened to fan critiques (i.e. the original character design of Sonic) and improved upon itself. The Knuckles miniseries, which recently debuted, was met with mixed reviews. The positives are Knuckles’s character, the negatives being no other animated characters.

Finally, the casting of Keanu Reeves as Shadow the Hedgehog in the upcoming Sonic 3 has been met with mixed reviews. Other titles that will be gracing the screen soon include season 2 of Twisted Metal, The Minecraft Movie, Five Nights at Freddy’s 2, & Mortal Kombat 2. What these series can take from Fallout is that making their fanbase happy is important. Fallout fans alike have had positive things to say about the series due to the world building that imitates the game scape as well as numerous Easter eggs to the game throughout.

The other thing these titles can take away from the show is creating new characters for the screen, but still in the same world makes for a fantastic story. Having new characters still a part of the same world as your favorite already known characters makes for a refreshing perspective. From what can be seen and if direction is taken from Fallout, it’s safe to say that there’s hope for the future of video game movies and show adaptations. 

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