A group of bandits in a car look ahead scared as a monster approaches them.
Image via Lionsgate

Borderlands trailer looks like it’s returning to the tradition of bad video game movies

Could it be worse than Tales from the Borderlands 2?

Video game movies had a good run there—Sonic, Mario, Five Nights at Freddy’s, even Uncharted was decent. Like a pack of bandits to an Ultimate Vault Hunter run, however, the Borderlands movie has arrived to stop this streak in its tracks.

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Today’s trailer was the first piece of substantial marketing to come out of the film in its turbulent nine-year development history, which is fitting, because it certainly looks like a movie stuck in a mid-2010s mindset. The aesthetic is there, but that’s about it—and even then, it looks a little too clean to believably be passed off as the sleazy, grimy world of Pandora. Cate Blanchett as Lilith in particular looks like a cosplayer, with perpetually-windswept hair that looks far too much like the wig it is. With ELO blasting over the trailer and the carefully-tuned PG-13 humor, one could be mistaken for assuming this was just the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Borderlands movie main cast looking down into manhole
The cast looking down into a sewer (where this movie belongs). Image via PEOPLE/Lionsgate

Little of the game series’ trademark irreverence looks like it exists in this movie so far. The people you play as in Borderlands are, by all accounts, terrible, reveling in the wanton violence of Pandora, and boiling them down to quirky, Marvel-style quip dispensers means every character sounds and thinks essentially the same. Tiny Tina is meant to be the exception, not the rule.

Granted, it’s not like the casting choices are doing much in that regard. The main cast is an odd mishmash of characters from the first two Borderlands games, following the plot of neither. On display in the trailer is a grimacing Kevin Hart trying to pretend he’s over six feet and capable of playing the straight man, failing at both endeavors, a thoroughly disinterested Cate Blanchett here to collect her paycheck and move on, and Ariana Greenblatt falling woefully short of the high-pitched, manic energy Ashly Burch originally brought to Tiny Tina. Jamie Lee Curtis as Dr. Patricia Tannis and Jack Black as Claptrap ironically stand out by not being baffling choices, and the jury’s still out on Florian Munteanu as Krieg—but anyone who knows Krieg will tell you he’s already done most of the job with the mask and the abs. There’s only so many ways you can scream “meat bicycle.”

Ultimately, the Borderlands movie apes the aesthetic of the games while failing to understand what makes them work, making it feel as random as a procedurally generated loot drop. If you really want more Pandora, Borderlands 3 isn’t going anywhere. Personally, I can’t wait for Handsome Jack to be shown in the last 10 seconds as bait for a sequel that’s never going to get made.


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Grant St. Clair
Grant St. Clair has been gaming almost as long as he's been writing. Writing about games, however, is still quite new to him. He does hope you'll stick around to hear about his many, many opinions- wait, where are you going?