The inaugural videogame-based movie, Super Mario Bros, began what can only be called a legacy of disappointment for videogame lovers across the world in 1993. Since its panning from critics and audiences alike, it seems that many films (and film franchises) based on the worlds and characters depicted in video games have consistently fallen short of expectations, with only a few of these iterations making it to the dizzy heights of B-movie status.
Despite this, there are some die-hard fans of the genre who argue that such films are best compared to the equal counterparts as opposed to, say, Oscar-winning hard-hitters. After all, they’re intended to be a bit of fun, much like the games they’re based on, right?
So, here’s our list of some of the best and, equally, some of the worst…
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Although it wasn’t quite the first videogame-based movie, this one undoubtedly set the tone for its successors, considered by many film lovers and videogame lovers alike as the pinnacle of the genre. Pitting fighters from otherworldly locations in a battle for the ultimate winner to determine the world’s fate is a sure-fire way of impressing the masses, and this film succeeds in bucket-loads!
Street Fighter (1994)
Another fighting game-based film, Street Fighter was panned at the time due to its over-the-top and silly acting/premise, but the fact that it never shied away from this is what makes it so fantastic! That and the fact that it featured a fight scene with the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme and a cameo of Kylie Minogue are both additional points in its favor!
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Known as the film that launched Angelina Jolie into the mainstream and made a name for Daniel Craig, the film isn’t perfect, but it certainly managed to make a success of the big-budget videogame genre. Jolie was an excellent choice for Lara Croft, putting in a good performance with her sultry charm and inspiring a run of sequels (even though said sequels fell short of expectations!).
Resident Evil (2002)
The longest running videogame movie franchise that has ever existed, the entire franchise is a bit of a rollercoaster, with the final film appearing to completely forget (or outright ignore) prior plot points that were essential to the understanding of the premise. Nevertheless, the first, fairly understated film in the franchise is a belter, with made-for-the-movie character, Alice, a hit amongst fans. It stayed true to the concepts outlined in the game and provided gasps and gore aplenty – there’s a reason why this one is still loved by many!
Based on the World of Warcraft games, which has legions of dedicated fans across the world, was somewhat of a confusing mess for many fans. Despite pouring a ton of money into the film, it was essentially a flop with some great visual effects. The plot was confusing and less-immersive than the plot underlying the actual games, and ended up making the Orc race the sympathetic characters – unusual for a game where the Orcs are kind of the bad guys…
Need for Speed (2014)
Despite Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad fame) at the helm of this film, in addition to an abundance of great actors and a premise based around flashy cars street racing, the film managed to bore the socks off viewers – for TWO WHOLE HOURS. Nowhere near as adrenaline-pumping as the game, we recommend avoiding this one altogether.
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
Even the brilliantly talented Michael Fassbender couldn’t save this utter mess. Relying too much on CTGI and visual effects, the film lost the magic and inventiveness of the games and, ultimately, was a complete failure. Needless to say, despite rumors that more films were on their way, they have yet to materialize.
Grandma’s Boy (2006)
A film about video games as opposed to being based on one, this cult comedy classic by Adam Sandler is a favorite among older millennials who fell for its silly, slapstick humor and dedication to the stoner, nerdy gamer trope. Worth a watch, if just for the line, “Where do you buy your clothes, The Matrix?”
Ready Player One (2018)
Another film based on video games (this time on VR games that offer opportunities outside of the poverty in real life), this one is a puzzle and action-adventure rolled up into one, featuring cameos from legendary games and entering into virtual worlds full of excitement and danger. What’s not to love?
Good or bad, it doesn’t look like movies based on videogames are going anywhere, so why not just sit back and enjoy the ride? They’re supposed to be mindless fun, anyway.