So video game movies aren’t great. Usually they’re not even good. We’ve all accepted this as a universal truth; a truth that fills us with reservation and anxiety any time Hollywood decide to announce another video game adaptation. I sure as shit don’t want to see a god damn Monster Hunter movie.
Still, beneath all the garbage gaming films that we’ve been subjected to over the years, there’s been some enjoyable video game movies. Hell, in some cases, they’re even some way towards approaching decent. Shocking, I know. So, to celebrate the majesty that is dumb video game movies, we’ve ranked 10 of our favourites.
Before we begin though, we’ve limited this list to live action movies only, largely because if we didn’t, the upper end of this list would be dominated by Resident Evil: Degeneration, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within/Advent Children/Kingsglaive, Rachet and Clank or Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie. There’s something about CGI and animation that just makes a gaming movie better, so let’s make things more fun and take a look at the other side.
10. Assassin’s Creed
Perhaps one of the best casts in a video game movie, with Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson in starring roles, Assassin’s Creed was an enjoyable, if flawed ,romp. In some respects though, the Assassin’s Creed film improves on the game in big ways, namely the Animus. Actually having the test subject do the acrobatics to learn them is more believable than “he sleeps on a machine for a bit and can do flips now”.
Admittedly, the Warcraft movie possesses about the same level of depth as a puddle, but that could be said about the majority of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters, and that didn’t exactly stop them before. At its core, Warcraft is an extravagant CGI battlefest with a plot about a war between the Alliance and the Horde seemingly tacked on, and that’s fine. Enjoy it for what it is, whether you’re pro-Alliance or all about that Horde.
Not the last you’ll be seeing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on this list, DOOM was an underrated popcorn flick that severely under-performed at the box office. Though it feels more akin to DOOM 3 with its emphasis on horror over action, especially in the early going, the action picks up in the final third, with the four minute long first person scene being a standout highlight. Still, The Rock puts in a good showing as a military leader pushed to the brink by an impossible situation, even with the cheesy script.
Dr Carmack’s condition… is irreversible.
7. Tomb Raider
No, we’re not on about the Angelina Jolie ones, even if I watched The Cradle of Life too many times as a kid and they had Chris Barrie in them (Dwarfers for life). We’re on about the most recent one with Alicia Vikander, which draws more inspiration from the ongoing reboot series. Admittedly, the film spends a lot of time with Lara pissing about before reaching the fated island, but once she does, it finally does justice to Lara’s gaming origins.
6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
An actual box office success, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time combined elements from the game of the same name, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones to create a swashbuckling adventure in a similar vein to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Unsurprising, considering it’s from the same producer. With a stellar cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Atherton, Ben Kingsley and Jimmy’s man-crush Toby Kebbell, Prince of Persia is certainly worth checking out.
About as “loosely based” on a game that loosely had a plot as you could get, Rampage was a much more successful outing for The Rock at the box office, almost overtaking Warcraft as the highest grossing video game movie of all time. Guess it’ll just have to settle for being the most well reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes instead. Admittedly, it’s a cash-in on the Kaiju phenomenon, but you can’t go wrong with giant creatures knocking seven bells out of each other.
4. Mortal Kombat
Video game movies and cheese are a match made in heaven, and by heaven, we mean b-movie binge watching. Mortal Kombat is the perfect representation of that. The film honours the characters, story and setting of the MK series, even if it is dumb bullshit. Still, the original MK movie keeps things simple with relatable heroes and over the top villains. It was a perfect blend of hokey plot and enjoyable action, a balance that the sequel couldn’t help but piss all over.
3. Resident Evil
Speaking of b-movies, the Resident Evil film series became somewhat of a running joke as more and more films were released. Remember how Wesker was cool and then they turned him in into a weird, edgy lad? Well, more edgy lad. Anyway, before the series jumped the T-Virus infected sharks, the original Resident Evil film was a more subdued horror flick with some iconic scenes. Everyone remembers that laser corridor scene, after all.
Perhaps the most faithful to the series on which it’s based, not in terms of story but in terms of setting, Silent Hill perfectly captures that creepy atmosphere that the series has become synonymous with. Though the dialogue and plot leave plenty to be desired, Silent Hill is a testament to how important visuals are when making a film. It’s also got Pyramid Head, because of course it does.
Yes. You read that right. This is the hill I will choose to die on without regret. Street Fighter: The Movie is the greatest video game movie ever made, purely because it’s absolute shite. This film epitomises the “so bad, it’s good” mantra, from the laughable fight scenes, crappy dialogue and its flagrant disregard for the story and characters, but it’s almost unashamed of that fact. In reality, Street Fighter: The Movie revels in that distinction, making it the best film based on a video game ever made.