A-LIST | The 12 Best Video Game Movies Ever

Gamers. Cinephiles.

Outliers often clumps these two fringe groups together maybe because they love their craft with vigor and arguing what is best with vitriol. Also, maybe because they do what they do in the privacy of a basement or some other secluded nerd trance-like state.

Whatever the reason, they’re right. Most gamers adore hitting the road–sometimes like herds of cattle, other times like the cow that knows it is “stock show” time–to enjoy a movie.

Then, the makers of game had an epiphany: “Why not combine the two?”

super_mario_bros._(film)Unfortunately, that idea culminated with Super Mario Bros.: The Movie. The tagline even had its faults. “This ain’t no game” could have been catchy but it set the stage for a permanent trip down the sewage pipe.

Of course, video game movies have come a long way. Well, some of them. Let’s discuss the Top 12 Video Game Movies of all time.

12. Street Fighter (1994)

street fighter movie

This movie was everything gamers thought it would be — a game featuring people in cosplay that fight. Script didn’t matter. Only the kicks, which is why Jean-Claude Van Damme was called in to lead the film as Ken.

Even with Van Damme, the fights were forgettable. Some of the other street fighters from ‘Street Fighter II’ didn’t make to fisticuffs as Chun-Li was a reporter because why not. The script was teeming with campy one liners, even from Bison, who incidentally was portrayed by Raul Julia in his last on-screen role. (Not a way to go out, just saying.)

11. Need for Speed (2014)

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Fresh from Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul drove this movie into theaters hoping gearheads everywhere would show up. The Fast & Furious franchise was already into its sixth iteration, so this would certainly bring people in. We have cars, fighting, more cars, and even Michael Keaton. (Also, a nubile Rami Malek.)

What could go wrong? For starters, the director lost his watch batteries. This was close to two hours long and it just didn’t hold up, much less our interest. Think of watching this movie as an engine test — it’s ready to take off, revving its engine loudly, only that poor thing was coughing more than a smoking Russian lady with emphysema.

10. Hitman (2007)

hitman

This film had a ton of promise. Deadly spying. Choreographed fighting. Bullets flying.  And Timothy Olyphant stoically staring. The genetically engineered Agent 47 could not give two turds about the people he killed and that is certainly communicated to the rest of us–only in action. Not so much in voice.

This script had more holes in it than a pack of Swiss cheese. He’s supposed to be bred for this role in life; yet, that UPC code in the back of his head is scanning memories like milk on sale. Video game movies should not have to work this hard to be good. This one should have worked just a skosh harder.

9. Warcraft (2016)

warcraft

With Peter Jackson lighting up Hollywood with fantasy homers, there’s no doubt someone was looking under any stone for another batch of middle earth, or at least, a remote suburb of Detroit. World of Warcraft gave Duncan Jones every opportunity to do just that, only the Orcs just can’t deliver what the Hobbits did a couple of times.

If you played this game on your PC for any amount of time, you know the movie fell short of the monitor. Imagine that?! Apparently, not that many people played it overseas as the movie made a paltry $47 million here but $386 million internationally. The Orcs look good. (Justice League could have learned a thing about CGI here.)

Man, those underbites. Someone needs to call a mythic dentist for those dudes.

8. Mortal Kombat (1995)

mortal_kombat

While there were no vivid fatalities, this was the quintessential video game movie for many years. The characters were fairly close to the video game. The fights, while bad Kung-Fu film making it was, still captured the imagination. If only the acting and the script kept up. Not like it had an example because the video game had zero story — just fights to the death.

Not the Highlander’s shining moment in film as Lord Raiden (that’s Christopher Lambert to others), but they tried to make him look scary and fully charged. It is a true-to-game adaptation. So, if anyone can figure out what happened to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, let us know. Better yet, don’t.

7. Assassin’s Creed (2016)

assassins creed movie

Up until this point, video game movies felt like a slot machine pertaining with the producers. Sure, they hire stars and make a real film hoping to get big dollars, but in reality, they drum up pennies and are often forgotten for bigger things.

Assassin’s Creed gave gamers and movie fans alike confidence that video game movies have that big-movie feel. The movie cost $125 million to make, and for the most part, it showed, beginning with a hefty salary for lead Michael Fassbender. Regretfully, not even Magneto could attract a steel-reinforced script (or much of an audience).

But the leaps of faith sure looked cool. So, there’s that.

6. Prince of Persia (2010)

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Let the great whitewashing of Hollywood rage on, as this movie may be responsible for getting it back in headlines. The game and the movie is supposedly set in “Persia,” yet the lead character is played by Jake Gyllenhaal who can’t help but look like he hails from the Bronx.

That notwithstanding, it came across more like a B-version of something ‘Indiana Jones’ would do rather than an action-oriented video game. The acting saves this from feeling like “just another video game movie.” It worked. The action sequences. The swordplay. And even the parkour. Dastan was impressive here. Even for a white guy.

5. Tomb Raider (2018)

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It took 15 years for this movie to be done correctly, but Alicia Viklander of Ex-Machina fame was convincing as Lara Croft. The story became a page turner this time. It had depth and greatly enhanced action. In this movie, she appears as independent and fearless as she was supposed to be.

The movie was clearly taken from the game with Viklander very comfortable storming the doors of a lost tomb in London. The film was more about sweet delight and action, less about schmaltzy eye candy and trumped-up accents (side eyeing you Jolie). Unlike her titular predecessor, this Lara Croft would be welcomed to get a sequel.

4. Angry Birds (2016)

angry birds

Finally, an animated makes the list (and it’s not the last). Until this point in time, video game movies were all about transporting the viewer through time and behold some war-ridden dystopia. Characters overacting. CGI under-performing. And then comes, the Angry Birds movie. It was fantastic for kids, and not so bad for adults either.

The app experienced a renaissance as interest rekindled and skyrocketed. Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and even Peter Dinklage were so good voicing these roles. They made this movie in the Pixar mold — a great time for the kids and some scatological stuff for the parents. Yes, enjoyable video games movies? There is an app for that.

3. Silent Hill (2006)

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Critics panned it. Fans rather enjoyed it. Gamers loved it. This was a time when horror video games were making it big because they forced people to play their games with lights on in the basement. What’s so scary about a mom looking for a cure for her daughter’s illness? Lots if you jaunt to Silent Hill.

From mysteries in the fog to jump scares that work, Silent Hill made the game proud. And made gamers very happy in the process, if not for any other reason than Pyramid Head yanking skin off people was realistic and brutal. It felt more like a movie than a game. No resets. This movie didn’t even need the game to work.

2. Resident Evil (2002)

resident-evil

From Afterlife to Apocalypse, Retribution to Extinction, this is easily the most successful video game movie franchise in history–and probably will remain that way for quite some time.  There have been eight of them, for those scoring at home. Yes, that may have been four or five too many, but it all begin with a bold step of interpreting what a video game movie can be.

The movie changes its theme more times than Kevin Wendell Crumb changes his feelings in Split. Action to horror to fantasy to…oh man, those zombies! Alice’s memories have us gallivanting across the film with glee because this is an adventure everyone–including the sundry gamer–wants to enjoy. And they have for years.

1. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

final fantasy

Remember the hubbub about computer animated movies? This is why. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within isn’t just good for a video game movie or a computer animated movie. It’s just a good film. The story isn’t that much, but for cinephiles who appreciate the passion of movie making, the skill of creating environments, and the deft hands who can deliver promise through art — this movie delivers.

It really was a landmark film as it was the first feature-length motion picture to use computer-generated imagery of the characters themselves. Yes, The Polar Express took a trip through this alien-ridden, meteor-abashed antiutopia and should thank them for their work. They taught us all how a video game movie should really be — different.

 

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