activision shoots a brick: “the movies” review


These aren’t movies. This game doesn’t feature anything that can rightfully be called a movie. It’s such an exciting premise, especially for a film lover like myself, the idea that I could run a sim production company and cast, write, direct, and produce my own sim movies. But they aren’t movies. Sometimes one can get caught up in the gameplay of The Movies so much that the completely representational and theoretical manor in which these “movies” turn out can actually seem like less of a crime over time. One just fiddles with making their stars and directors happy and planting new shrubbery around the studio, but aren’t we forgetting? We were promised movies! I wanted to make a movie, but all I got to do in this game was make a completely nonsensical montage of idiocy and dream of what could have been. It’s not just really tough to manipulate this gaudy interface, slim range of personalization, and cheesy animative quality into something meaningful, but it’s impossible. All my attempts to combat this game’s obvious in-adherence to experimental and impactful filmmaking traditions to try and make something worth while were always futile. This game is dumb.

That being said, the job as commander-in-chief of the studio lot is an addicting one… I may have come for the movies, but I stayed for the tycoonness! It’s just exactly like the great Rollercoaster Tycoon, but with two main differences: 1) instead of making roller coasters and hiring janitors, you are making movies and hiring stars, and 2) the things you are trying to make in Rollercoaster Tycoon – roller coasters – actually end up looking like what it’s supposed to look like whereas in The Movies, what you make ends up resembling feces. I say again, they are no movies to be made in this game. The “movies”, as they are called, are just representations of how your movie would have turned out and by no means supposed to resemble a real film. Poor anyone who expected differently. But who, in fact, are the people who would get the most out of this? It seems to me, that if you would need at least some interest in film to want to play this game, but then again anyone who’s got any interest in film would immediately see the inaccuracies and lame shortcuts in this game. The simulation of producing a movie is just a big shiny bald head with a in-gracious come-over.

As much as I dislike it, I still play it. It’s got this really odd charm that makes me want to continue. Let me explain properly… you don’t ever do anything important in this game, and there’s essentially nothing to work towards. The best you could do is win all the awards and get the best critical reception for your movies. But I’ve never been interested in that since this game’s strange parallel universe has an awards ceremony once every five years and has the “critics” saying things like, “the sets are in obvious need of repair”, which is clearly just a ploy to inform the player of what to improve on. When your stars get unhappy the movie’s star-rating suffers, when you don’t have enough repair men to make it around to all your sets, the movie’s star-rating suffers… Do these things affect movies in the real world? Absolutely not. Actors sometimes even give better performances when unhappy. But in The Movies, you have to constantly baby-sit them to make sure their mood isn’t dipping into the orange, or God forbid the RED zone. You have to make sure they have a nice comfy trailer, plenty of food and water, and take a bathroom break every ten minutes. That includes building “VIP” portapotties all around your studio that are literally coated in gold. What kind of silly BS is this game?


Despite all that, there’s this sense that you are always working on something. Always. Nothing ever seems to get done, and when something does, it’s only temporary as there’s plenty more arbitrary shit to get done to work towards something else that’s not going to mean anything. Even though I know this, it always seems to escape me when I’m playing. All I’m thinking about is, “if I can just get this one thing out of the way…” Then what? I never finish that sentence because something else always grabs at my attention and becomes the new most important thing. This game is just a heap of annoying tasks that will only pay off in the most minuscule way possible. But it does manage to keep me compulsed, almost like the videogame version of an addiction to fast food, or salty potato chips… I just can’t seem to put the bag down. Damn you potato chips. In addition, it manages, in its horde of frivolousness, to keep me oblivious to decay its causing to my love of film. I am film buff no more, but slobby, pathetic waiter taking the orders of the stars I hired.

God bless this wretched game for being an insult to the human species

My rating for 2005’s The Movies for PC is



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