Movie adaptations of video games are notoriously bad. It cannot be easy to translate the story, personality, and tone of a beloved game over to film, and Hollywood frequently reminds us of that struggle. However, there are a few notable exceptions that come close to doing our favorite games, justice. These are a few movies that are, surprisingly, not steaming piles of cinematic trash.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is based on the game of the same name in which the Prince obtains a dagger that allows him to reverse time. You would be hard-pressed to find a Jake Gyllenhaal movie that he is not spectacular in (aside from Bubble Boy), and this movie is no exception. Gyllenhaal performs well in one of his only action roles. He is confident and charismatic and redeems parts of the movie that may have been lacking without his expert performance.

While the movie was not perfect, it gave fans of the game a passable cinematic version of the beloved series, thanks to producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer is responsible for turning a classic Disney ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, into a wildly popular film franchise. Prince of Persia was allegedly supposed to be his next Pirates but failed to achieve the critical success necessarily. Nevertheless, it was a step in the right direction for video game adaptations on film.

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Internet Movie Database User Rating: 6.6/10

Tomb Raider (2018)

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise in 2013 put the legendary Lara Croft back into the spotlight. Long-time fans of the fearless heroine and historian were treated to a grittier, more human version of the character. It is no wonder that the acclaim the game received garnered looks from the film industry. Just five years later, fans of the game were treated to a fairly accurate adaptation of the game’s story. The movie, Tomb Raider, stars Alicia Vikander as the courageous Lara Croft. Vikander brings a very human take to the character that previous adaptations were lacking. She struggles with doubt, guilt, anger, and fear on her journey to investigate the island where her father disappeared.

Much like many video game adaptations, Tomb Raider rushes through its own plot. A lot of screen time is wasted focusing on the action elements of the film, rather than the survival elements presented in the game. However, the film was good enough to warrant a sequel, which has been announced for 2021.

IMDb User Rating: 6.3/10

Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Detective Pikachu is perhaps the best video game adaptation to date. The entire film feels like a service to fans of the massively popular Pokemon games, movies, TV shows, and cards. Just like Mario and The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon is a franchise that even those who know nothing about it are still well familiar with it. The casting of Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu guaranteed laughs throughout the film, although I suspect some still wish he was voiced by Danny DeVito.

Despite its clear dedication to the source material, the film struggles with appealing too often to its younger audience. While it is primarily a children’s franchise, Pokemon has been around for long enough that many of its fans are now well into adulthood. As a result, the film was too predictable in its writing, including characters outright stating what was happening right before our eyes. Regardless, Detective Pikachu was produced by people who clearly knew and loved the franchise.

IMDb User Rating: 6.6/10

Warcraft (2016)

Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

How can you take the most popular MMO in video game history and make a movie adaptation out of it that does it any justice? Well, you enlist film director Duncan Jones apparently. The son of legendary musician David Bowie, Jones is an avid gamer and fan of World of Warcraft. Upon signing on as director, he discovered that the script was not up to his personal standards for the film. Feeling the same way about the lackluster script, Blizzard gave him the approval he needed to make heavy edits that would do the film justice. The film is filled with fan service and makes it a point to show both sides of the human/orc war.

However, complaints were lobbed at the film due to its fast pace and choppy edits. The film feels as if too much of the story and original film is has been removed, resulting in a movie that moves too quickly. However, the care and love with which Jones adapted the world onto the big screen are almost unheard of in the movie business. Here is to hoping it starts a trend.

IMDb User Rating: 6.8/10

Any great movies I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

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