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Upcoming films based on video games

Plugged In

The history of films based on video games is a spotty one -- and that's being generous. Even big-budget flicks like Angelina Jolie's "Tomb Raider" or Jake Gyllenhaal's "Prince of Persia" still left fans disappointed.

But after something of a break, Hollywood is gearing up to once again try its luck with video game source material. From huge new franchises to some odd throwbacks, a handful of video game film adaptations are coming along in the next couple of years. Which sound promising, and which should see a preemptive 'game over' screen?

Assassin's Creed

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Prometheus star Michael Fassbender will don the Templar cowl and co-produce this recently announced adaptation. Beyond that, there are a lot of questions. The script isn't yet written, nor is the director signed, making it a bit unusual to have a top tier star attached this early. Ubisoft, which has its own film production unit, is maintaining creative control of the film since it's tied to the company's most important franchise.

Pitch it: Ubisoft's tight grip on the reins could keep the story true to its roots, and Fassbender's physicality and charisma could make for a strong lead.

Ditch it: The cool, labyrinthine plot of the franchise could get quickly lost amidst too much gratuitous violence.

Mass Effect

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It's still in the pre-production phase, but things are moving forward with Legendary Pictures' big-screen version of EA's hit role-playing franchise. Mass Effect is a game with rich characters and a deep story well, but a big part of the franchise's appeal is the opportunity to chart your own course. That's something movie audiences won't be able to do. Most likely we'll be getting a fairly straightforward space opera.

Pitch it: Bioware's Casey Hudson, who has (pardon the pun) shepherded the series along since day one, is actively involved with the movie.

Ditch it: If the ending sucks, you can't change it. Zing!

Rampage

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New Line Pictures plans to make a cinematic adaptation of the 1980s arcade game that centered entirely around three giant monsters climbing and punching buildings. Why? We're really not sure. John Rickard, who co-produced "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Horrible Bosses," will oversee the film. The studio says it hopes to use special effects to create a monster movie that strikes a tone similar to "Ghostbusters" and "Independence Day."

Pitch it: Monster movies can be big business, and this one's got three.

Ditch it: No Sharktopus? No deal.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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Last year's reboot of the sci-fi Deus Ex series excited gamers, but will the film do the same? Square-Enix is working with CBS Films to put together the movie. The co-producers are something of an odd couple, too -- Adrian Askarieh (the "Hitman" movie) and Roy Lee ("How to Train Your Dragon" and "The Ring") -- giving us no idea what to expect, other than some flying cars, probably.

Pitch it: Blade Runner meets Robocop!

Ditch it: The game's story was kind of indecipherable. God knows what Hollywood will layer on top of that.

Asteroids

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As far as plotlines go, this arcade classic from Atari pretty much scrapes the bottom of the barrel: Shoot space rocks, then shoot some more. Every now and then, you get to shoot a flying saucer. But four studios vied for the rights to the game, with Universal ultimately winning the fight. The screenwriter of "Snow White and the Huntsmen" is working on the script, and there's even talk Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") may be directing.

Pitch it: Well, the graphics will probably be better.

Ditch it: Didn't we already see this?

Mortal Kombat

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On the heels of an incredibly well done web series, Warner Bros. announced plans last fall to revive the Mortal Kombat film series. Oren Uziel, who wrote that web series, will pen the film, but the movie won't be related to the cinematic short -- or even the game. Better still, the director of the series, Kevin Tancharoen (who has made no secret of his desire to bring the series back to the big screen since making the fan-film short) is attached to direct this adaptation, too.

Pitch it: Tancharoen loves this series almost as much as series creator Ed Boon. If anyone can make it work, he can.

Ditch it: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation sounded like a good idea at the time, too.

Need for Speed

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DreamWorks Studios has acquired the film rights to EA's long-running racing franchise and is fast tracking it for a 2014 release to coincide with the series' 20th anniversary. Filming is set to begin next year.

Producers George Gatins (who exec produced "She's Out of My League") and John Gatins (the writer of "Real Steel") are developing an original story for the film, using the game series as the basis for the screenplay. Scott Waugh ("Act of Valor") will direct.

Pitch it: "The Fast & The Furious" showed that Hollywood can still make car chase movies fun.

Ditch it: Every time they try to shoehorn a story into The Need for Speed games, it turns out badly. How is this going to work as a film?

Tomb Raider

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Game maker Square-Enix is hard at work on a reboot of the video game franchise. Big name producer Graham King ("The Departed," "The Aviator," "Rango") wants to do the same with the film version of Lara Croft, but has kept most of the details under wraps. It's vaguely set for 2013 and has been described thus far as a "character piece." Still no word on who's going to wear the short-shorts, but it definitely won't be Angelina Jolie.

Pitch it: It's being written by the same team that did the first "Iron Man" movie.

Ditch it: Those rumors of Kim Kardashian starring as Lara are almost certainly false. But if they're not… uh oh.

Splinter Cell

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Nothing formal has been announced yet, but Deadline reports Warner Bros. and Paramount are in a bidding war for the big screen rights to Ubisoft's stealth series. That bidding might have gotten more ferocious after this year's E3, when Splinter Cell: Blacklist brought a roar from gamers.

Pitch it: Sam Fisher is a much cooler hero than Clancy's Jack Ryan.

Ditch it: Done badly, this could just be another generic action film.

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