Reddy Player One: South Indian Films That Borrowed The Video Game Aesthetic

From tense storylines to warrior costumes, from camera angles to puzzle-solving, Anirudh AR lists examples which prove that it’s not just comic books and literature that contributes to creating the world of cinema
Reddy Player One: South Indian Films That Borrowed The Video Game Aesthetic

It's a thought that began when I happened to watch Oldboy and Crank on the same week. As a gamer, the visuals and the way certain scenes in these film played out got me thinking about the similar visuals in classic video games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto.

Is it the case of films imitating video games or is it the other way around? That's the chicken-and-egg conundrum the thought led to. It's perhaps safest to say that both these are mediums are constantly being influenced by each other. But for now, let's take a look a few South Indian films that made its video game influence very obvious, right from the poster design, costumes and even camera angles.

Level 1: Costumes

The loudest and arguably the most obvious influence video games has had on movies is on the costumes department. In Ram Charan's Magadheera the look of the titular character is strikingly similar to that of the protagonist of Prince of Persia.

From the flowing locks to the fighting pattern using two swords, the inspiration is obvious. What helps is that the game's story is also set during the Persian invasion of India.

This was further extended when the poster of Vijay's hit Velayudham had almost convinced fans that the movie was going to be a remake of the fan favorite Assassin's Creed. The movie, however, was far from it, but the similarities in the looks were uncanny.

Level 2: Story

Resident Evil 2 is a horror/action adventure game that went to become a sort of pioneer for its genre. The story revolves around two characters; Leon, a police officer, trapped in a police station with zombies surrounding the building with another infected police officer. The other characters, Elza Walker or Claire a college student, takes care and guides a girl who she finds on the street orphaned, who appears to be immune to the virus.

The original game was released in 1998. Fast forward 18 years and you can still see its influence in Jayam Ravi's Miruthan. The plot revolves around people getting trapped in a mall and how a police officer helps them escape. Like in the video game, he too gets infected during this process and has to be shot, much like what Leon with the officer who saves his life. Here's a screenshot from the digitally remastered version of the 1998 original.

Level 3: Structure

Similarly, one can find similarities between the gaming genre known as the adventure game and our own adventure movies. An adventure game is a genre that emphasises exploration and puzzle-solving. Tomb Raider, released in 1996, was among the most popular games in this genre. The objective of the game was to find a treasure which the player could only find after solving puzzles within the game. This also meant that making a mistake would lead to a life lost. Tomb Raider also tested the player's patience because your inability to solve one of these puzzles meant getting stuc in the same place, without any kind of progress. A Tamil film that followed a similar arc was Selvaraghavan's Aayirathil Oruvan.

In the movie, you find the lead characters getting stuck in similar situations, having to solve puzzles within architectural monuments with its own set of adversaries to fight off. The lead characters of Aayirathil Oruvan are also much like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, archeologists, people of science, who are startled with the presence of ancient magic and are left with their instincts to survive. You may even find traces of Lara Croft's looks taking over the costume choices of Andrea and Reema Sen.

Think about it and you'll even find that the adventure comedy Maragatha Naanayam too follows a similar structure, but in the case of Tomb Raider the protagonists of the movie are the villains in the game (jewel thieves and smugglers).

A Hollywood that comes to mind in terms of structure, is Knives Out and how similar it is to the L.A.Noire. Unlike other games in the RPG genre, this one focused on the observation skills of the player with both relying heavily on interrogating witnesses in private to find inconsistencies in their stories.

Level 4: Camera angles and Cinematography

This is the part that often gets overlooked, where something looks strikingly similar, even though you just can't seem to point out what this is. The climactic shoot-out sequence in Mohanlal's Sagar Alias Jacky is a homage to all third-person shooter video games. It opens in an elevator with an angry Jacky going berserk armed with a Beretta in either arms. Now, take a look at a similar shot from Max Payne 2.

But that does not mean that this influence is limited to 3D Games. Even old-school 2D games can have a similar impact. 'Platformers' or the platform game is an action sub-genre that is viewed in 2D side dimension, like Mario or Donkey Kong were one must literally climb floors to reach their target.

 This is a screenshot from the trailer of the upcoming film Rocky. Notice how the goons who are knocked out in the lower level and the characters are fighting in the next.

Even blood splatter on screen from the trailer of Rocky is similar to the final boss fight of God Of War 3, where as you beat Zeus his blood splatters all over the screen.

What examples can you add to the list?

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