GTA's Coolest Story Moments Are Also Its Biggest Weakness – Screen Rant

The Grand Theft Auto games are excellent at recreating iconic scenes from famous movies, but they tend feel derivative for this exact reason.
If there’s one thing the Grand Theft Auto series loves to do, it’s to make homages to popular films. Rockstar Games’ crime franchise brings cinematic flair to the world of video games. Oftentimes, it does so by imitating iconic scenes from cinema history, enabling players to act them out themselves. These moments – like the Encounters of the Third Kind UFO in GTA 5 – are among the coolest in series.
However, GTA’s movie references tend to cross the line between being an homage and being derivative. Making nods toward important influences in video games is not only standard but appreciated, as it gives players insight into the ideas baked into the piece of art. However, constructing key story moments around movies that many people have already seen can make a game feel unoriginal. And this is where the GTA series may have messed up.
Related: Rockstar Gaming Universe: How GTA, Red Dead, & Manhunt Are Connected
GTA 5 in particular feels derivative when it comes to the film references it makes. This is because the game makes numerous homages to Michael Mann’s Heat in its main storyline. To be fair, Mann’s Heat is considered one of the best heist films of all time, so it makes sense that it served as an inspiration for GTA 5. However, playing characters dressed like they’re in Heat, performing a heist similar to the one in Heat, and doing so in a city designed like the L.A. of Heat makes GTA 5 feel so inspired by Mann's movies that the game itself feels uninspired.
A better way to pay homage to an iconic film like Heat can be found in an unlikely place: Wes Anderson’s filmography. The director of eccentric movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel has an outspoken fascination with Mann, even sharing in Indie Wire that he stole a scene from Miami Vice in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Despite his love for Mann, Anderson’s films look and feel completely unrelated to Mann's stylish realism. This gives Anderson’s homages an edge over GTA 5’s because he is transforming his influences into his own style to make something new rather than trying to recreate his influences bit by bit.
That being said, GTA 5 has plenty of well-integrated movie homages that, even if direct, are at least not central to the game's story (like the No Country for Old Men crime scene). The GTA series should still try to lean further into its own style instead of recreating the styles of influential directors, though. Luckily, GTA 6 will likely take place in a Miami Vice-inspired setting. This will give Rockstar an opportunity to take Anderson’s approach when riffing off of the works of Mann.
Next: Which GTA Protagonist Is The Biggest Criminal Mastermind?
Source: Indie Wire
Fletcher Varnson is a writer for Screen Rant, where he covers video games. He also writes for the Georgia Voice, where he covers LGBTQ+ literature, cinema, and news, has contributed poetry to the film journal Day For Night, and has written the podcast for the Five Points Literary Journal. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia with 5 brothers and sisters, Fletcher developed a passion for books, movies, and games and their ability to connect people with disparate dispositions from disparate backgrounds. He has a special affinity for the Super Smash Brothers series; despite this, his Yoshi is still quite terrible.

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