Weekend Conversation: Like That Game? Watch This Movie!

By Mark Delaney, 10 months ago
The weekend is upon us, and if you aren't going broke due to the Black Friday digital games sale or diving headlong into the free Titanfall 2 weekend, maybe a relaxing movie night is what you're craving. After you pop the popcorn settle down with our movie recommendations list. Like we did with books a few months ago, we gave our endorsement for some great movies that should be up the alleys of those who enjoy particular games. Be sure to make your own suggestions too, or else my girlfriend may make me scroll Netflix for hours once again.

Kelly shipped up to Boston for a Scorsese crime drama

Joe and Vito would've surely butted heads with Frank Costello.Joe and Vito would've surely butted heads with Frank Costello.

If you like the Mafia series, it'd be criminal not to give Martin Scorsese's The Departed your full attention. Instead of the Sicilian mafia typically shown in games and movies, the film is set in northeastern United States city of Boston and centers upon the Irish mafia. Like Vito in Mafia II, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Billy Costigan finds himself rising through the ranks of a massive criminal organization. There's just one problem — Billy is a heavily-protected undercover police officer whose true identity is only known to two people. But he's not the only rat in the city of Boston. Colin Sullivan is a corrupt high-ranking police officer and longtime family friend of Frank Costello, the head of the Irish mob, who has been helping Costello and his men evade the police for years. The film is a wild goose chase of who will discover and "take care of" their traitor first: the good guys or the bad guys?

There are standout performances by the entire cast, which, in addition to DiCaprio, includes Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen. There are nonstop memorable lines you'll remember for years, Boston mobster accents you'll be imitating for months and, much like Mafia II, an ending that will not leave you smiling.

Scorsese won his only Oscar for The Departed despite numerous nominations since the eighties, so you know it's good stuff. If you like the concept, it's actually based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, so be sure to give that a look too, if you don't mind subtitles.

Andrew came prepared with quite the list

Sometimes the undead can be comical.Sometimes the undead can be comical.

As we covered in our recent Scary Games op-ed, Outlast provided gamers with some of the scariest moments in recent times. For something in a similar vein it is a low-budget Spanish title, that comes closest. [REC] is a scary enough faux-doc film but it's the later scenes in the movie, captured through the dim green night vision in the dark that are most reminiscent to parts of Outlast gameplay. Being shot in first person view, are equally uncomfortable and spine-chilling. [REC] has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 on IMDB.

Alien: Isolation also featured on our list of scary games for Halloween, but filmed in 1979 a lot of younger players might have missed it. Alien is a classic film in its own right and we're not going to say anything more about it here. If you haven't already seen it – add it to your must-watch list. The original title has a rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.5 on IMDB.

For zombie fans, there is plenty of choice. For those looking for a seriously tense affair, 28 Days Later provides a chilling vision of apocalyptic style outbreak. Unlike most zombies from the classic age, the 'Infected' are much more aggressive, agile and intelligent making them a formidable and extremely dangerous opponent than expected.

For those fans who prefer something lighter, fans of Lollipop Chainsaw or Dead Rising, the film Shaun of the Dead still stands out as a brilliant horror comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Just like in the games, the movie protagonists take on the undead horde using highly improvised weapons such as cricket bats and even vinyl LP's. Despite its humorous approach, the title still polls a massive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

As a side note there are two official Dead Rising movies both of which flew underneath the radar, and a new title from Korea entitled Train to Busan which is getting rave reviews (96% on Rotten Tomatoes). Unfortunately, we've not seen any of these titles, so in fairness it is difficult to actually recommend them.

Some of this year's biggest hype was generated by the announcement that Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption would be graced with a sequel. For those seeking to rediscover the thrills of the Wild West there remain the classics from the Golden Age including High Noon, The Magnificent Seven and Gunfight At The OK Corral. However, they might prove a little dated for some, so the more recent 3:10 To Yuma – a remake of a 1957 film – featuring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe might be more appealing. With two great actors and cleverly directed, it all makes for a modern day classic western. The film polls a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7 on IMDB.

Sam likes a bit of sociopolitical commentary in his films

Class systems, the haves versus have-nots -- hallmarks of RPGs.Class systems, the haves versus have-nots -- hallmarks of RPGs.

Good fantasy and sci-fi should provide a lens on issues and themes in the real world, and videogames are no exception. It seems like every RPG from Mass Effect to Deus Ex, Witcher to Elder Scrolls runs a common side plot on the plight of a marginalised part of the community facing prejudice and Apartheid-like restrictions on their rights. More often than not the protagonist experiences this first-hand and has to make some hard decisions about it.

For fans of that kind of allegory I would recommend District 9. Set in South Africa and revolving around the fate of a mostly benign species of alien forced to live in slums beneath their crashed ship, District 9 feels like a great videogame adaptation, if it wasn't for the fact that it's not based on one. Not only does that classic RPG story trope run through the film to a fairly satisfying conclusion, there are also setpieces, weapons, vehicles and other tropes that seem ripped straight from a first-person shooter. That's probably because they are - District 9 was the movie Neill Blomkamp salvaged from the wreck of Peter Jackson's failed Halo movie project, and Blomkamp, who was down to direct, simply made good use of the assets they'd already created. Personally, I think the better film rose from the ashes, and its themes remain worryingly relevant to this day.

Mark recommends some hipster flair to go with those indie games.

If you thought this game was weird in a good way, we'd get along.If you thought this game was weird in a good way, we'd get along.

My girlfriend sometimes teases that I'm a hipster when it comes to movies. I see what she means, to be honest. I've always preferred the interpersonal drama of a lot of indie films compared to the bombastic setpieces of a summer blockbuster. That's why I love a lot of indie games too; They have heart. I have a few smaller titles worth watching for those that like similarly produced video games.

Fans of the recent puzzler The Turing Test would find a lot to enjoy in Spike Jonze's Her. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johannson, the story takes place in a near future where artificial superintelligence has found its way into everyone's lives in the form of a Siri-like tech companion. Phoenix's character Theodore grapples with the romantic feelings he begins to have for his OS device while the world around him reacts in equally interesting ways to this emerging technology. Like The Turing Test, the film eloquently discusses the matter of how humans will respond to this technology which is fast approaching in our real lives, giving us a glimpse of what might come.

If you enjoyed Firewatch, you can find a great movie on Netflix (among other platforms) by the name of Comet that might scratch a similar itch. Justin Long and Emmy Rossum play star-crossed lovers whose up-and-down relationship is shown out of chronology (and maybe out of our dimension) for the whole movie. It carries the same small cast appeal of Campo Santo's adventure game, though teases fans not with a lingering mystery but rather an excellent examination of monogamous relationships and questions how they ever work at all.

Lastly, if you still haven't seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and find yourself a fan of games like Virginia and Life is Strange, you'll almost certainly have a new favorite movie if you make time for it. It's my all-time favorite movie by a wide margin. I think it's actually a perfect film -- flawless. Like the aforementioned games, ESotSM uses magnificent imagery to tell a grounded story that is swept into a surreal dreamscape. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet co-star in one of the former's only -- and best -- dramatic roles in a movie about Clementine and Joel, a couple whose life together we see played in reverse from the subconscious mind of Joel's. Clem, being impulsive, went and had an experimental procedure performed to remove all traces of Joel from her memory. When hearing the news, Joel grudgingly decides to do the same, but in the process his mind realizes he doesn't want to forget Clem, not even the bad parts, and he fights to retain some small memory of her before the computers outside his sleeping body hunt down every last trace of his former lover. It's a trippy genre-bender that should be seen by anyone with an appreciation for excellent writing, dreamy imagery, or realistic dialogue (one thing Virginia and Life is Strange each lack, by the way).
Be sure to leave some of your own movie recommendations and their like-minded games, too. We hope collectively we can all grow quite the list for rainy days and late nights when the backlog just isn't cutting it.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.