The 80's video game Missile Command is going to be made into a feature film by 20th Century Fox, and angry nerd trolls busy exercising their egg roll fingers are all, "This is DUMB." To which I must respectfully respond: "Your greasy face is dumb and so is your mom, and also? Your opinion is fantasti-dumb, jackbag." Does that hurt any dainty cyborg-elf feelings? Good.
This movie must be made. Universal is turning the Atari game Asteroids into a movie, and Sony snatched up the rights to Rollercoaster Tycoon. This is a trend that must continue. This trend will defeat all lesser movie trends, like the Creepy Emo Vampire and Mopey Macho Superhero trends. Trust me: a Missile Command movie will not be dumb.
Missile Command had a simple plot — shoot down missiles raining down on a city. Too simple? There are three timeless thematic themes in literature and drama. They are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. frickin' nuclear apocalypse unless some hotshot takes out those fireballs of death.
As a mouth-breathing brat, I'd play classic Atari video games for hours. The graphics were primitive and the game play rudimentary, but my imagination was like spicy A-1 steak sauce poured over a tough slice of meat gristle. In my mind, the games were totally industrial light and magic.
The truth is, the game Asteroids was just an awkward triangle of pixels that spurted out tinier specks of digital matter at floating clumps of 1s and 0s against a black background. But in my head, I was Space Pirate Spock Solo sitting behind a plasma bazooka blowing away giant rocks threatening the moon base I grew up on.
Modern video games are wonders of complexity. The graphics increasingly inch towards the photo-realistic and the stories can involve multiple narratives. Video games have evolved into proper pop art. But there would be no Xbox with out the innovations of game systems like Atari. I'm not being a wheezing old Gollum moaning about his "precious." Those games from my awkward youth were simple, yes, but iconic. The big box office winner this past week was a cowboy flick about bloody vengeance. Simple. Awesome.
If you think about it, Atari games were deceptive. They went far deeper than you'd think.
Take the granddaddy of games, Pong. Just two paddles knocking a ball back and forth? No. Pong is a savage existential tragedy where two lonely souls engage in hopeless combat across a purgatorial winterscape.
Pac-man isn't some adorable little yellow ball chomping and munching and running around a maze. Pac-man is probably some lunatic hopped up on pac-dot opiates being chased by the ghosts of his evil deeds through the halls of an asylum for the criminally insane.
The story of Frogger is the Sisyphean story where a frog, a metaphor for the everyman, risks his life as makes the heroes journey from one side of the road of life to the other.
Donkey Kong is so much more than a cartoonish King Kong throwing barrels at a borderline-offensive Italian stereotype. Donkey Kong is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, only with a Marxist subtext.
And my favorite Atari game of all time, Defender, has a sublime plot. You're in a spaceship. You have to shoot aliens. If you don't shoot the aliens, everyone dies. Everyone. Including your pet turtle, Trapjaw.
Look, there are too many movies being made about 80's culture. I could have done with out The A-team, and I don't care about next summers Smurfs movie or the upcoming movie about the Battleship board game. The 80's weren't that great. Remember: that was the era of the white boy perm mullet.
But Atari games were fun, and straightforward. The plots of these games were so simple that even Hollywood can't screw them up.