IT WAS announced this week that Jack Black will take on the starring role of ‘Steve’ in a big screen version of Minecraft. A few years ago, such news would have had cinephiles snorting into their lattes, but if 2023 is anything to go by, Hollywood has finally figured out video games.
Starring alongside Guinness-loving beefcake Jason Momoa, this, of course, won’t be Black’s first rodeo, having stolen the show in last year’s record-breaking Super Mario Bros Movie, which ruled the box office with a white glove while HBO’s The Last of Us became a critical darling on the small screen.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Before 2019′s Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog, no video game adaptation had ever scored ‘fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes (and those of us who suffered the cinematic abortions of the 90s can understand why).
It took five long decades, but those who grew up gaming are finally old enough to actually make the films – and there’s a metric tonne on the way. The likes of Bioshock (penned by Logan and Blade Runner 2049′s Michael Green) and Ghost of Tsushima (directed by John Wick’s Chad Stahelski) may be years out, while The Last of Us season two doesn’t land until 2025, but there’s plenty of joystick-inspired celluloid to binge on until then.
On the streaming front, the second season of Xbox juggernaut Halo arrives on February 8. Despite being Paramount’s most successful launch ever, fans didn’t exactly hail to the Chief first time around.
It was always going to be a tall order transforming the game’s mute punching suit into serviceable sci-fi, and the whole shebang paled next to The Mandalorian’s helmeted hero.
Fans of The Last of Us jonesing for some grim post-apocalyptic action could do worse than Fallout, which premieres on April 12. Prime Video’s big budget take on gaming’s atomic wastelands stars Kyle MacLachlan and the brilliant Walton Goggins.
With Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy at the helm, here’s hoping it doesn’t start brilliantly before falling to pieces a la Halo.
Games will also loom large at the cinemas this year, kicking off with Return to Silent Hill, directed by Gallic auteur Christophe Gans, who helmed the original cult favourite back in 2006.
Then comes Borderlands on August 9, based on the Mad-to-the Max looter shooters. While directed by the Marmite Eli Roth, it at least features a galaxy of acting talent, from Cate Blanchett and Kevin Hart to Jamie Lee Curtis and Jack ‘Bloody’ Black. Again.
And, just in time for Christmas (I know – some of us still have last year’s tree up) comes Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which lands in cinemas on December 20.
Expect plenty of shout-outs to the MegaDrive classics and the return of Ben Schwartz and Idris Elba as Sonic and Knuckles, alongside the blue blur’s arch-rival Shadow.
Alas, Jim Carrey won’t be camping it up again after Sonic 2 prompted his retirement from acting.