Video Game films are bad. Sadly that’s a simple fact. As some who does play video games it saddens me that films have just been unable to tap into the rich mythology so many video games have created. That said I still enjoy several video game films, even if I wouldn’t give any of them a positive score. These are all films based upon video games, so sadly a film about video games, such as The Last Starfighter, wouldn’t count, which is a shame, because that’s a film that really works. I still believe that a good video game film is possible, and given that 2016 will have had more films based on video games than any previous year the chance of the right filmmaker with the right project is still very much out there. Joining me to look at our favourites is returning collaborator Michael Hamon (Top 5 Comic Book Films) to look at our Top 5 Video Game Films.
- Shuggie: Doom – Doom is awful. Really awful. Despite actually featuring some heavyweights such as Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, and an early acting performance from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. However I still found it an enjoyable enough film. And it had one element that made it sneak its way into fifth spot on my Top 5, the first person sequence. This is like something right out of a playable section of a video game, but done very well in a cinematic fashion. It was the one truly innovative and interesting thing that Doom brought us, and for that reason alone it’s getting a place on my list.
- Michael: Mortal Kombat – To start off my top 5, I’ve picked Mortal Kombat, as someone who’s played Mortal Kombat I can appreciate why somebody would try to make a film out of the lore and backstory to the game, which this film does… a little bit. Sticking to the original premise of the tournament and its rules, it’s an entertaining movie, with some serious overacting and absolutely ridiculous casting *cough* Christopher Lambert as Raiden, with flowing platinum locks and Hobo nightgown.
- Shuggie: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Prince of Persia is actually one of the better video game films. It was made on a pretty high budget and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who is always a reliable leading man. The problem with the Prince of Persia film is how generic it was. It’s something we’ve seen hundreds of times before in average or below average fantasy films, like a Clash of the Titans (in fact Gemma Arterton might actually be playing the same characters in both films). Gyllenhaal’s charismatic and likeable performance, particularly opposite Ben Kingsley’s villainous uncle Nizam, does give the film a little weight. However there’s nothing spectacular here, but it’s better than most video game films out there.
- Michael: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – One of the few films based on a video game that seems to ‘try’ to take itself seriously. Although there isn’t a great deal to say about this film, as its plot is a bit silly, Angelina Jolie does carry the film. She gives off the right atmosphere that you would expect Lara to and grounds the film a little bit. It’s a fun film that I remember enjoying as a child, which is probably why it made it onto my list.
- Shuggie: Warcraft – I actually think that Duncan Jones’ Warcraft is the best film based on a video game ever made. It has serious issues, but that’s largely due to the enormous amount of lore that had to be translated. This, coupled with a fair amount of the set up being cut out of the first act of the film, meant that it’s difficult for a novice to the Warcraft world to truly get invested in the world. The parts of the films with the Orcs are truly fantastic, and I thought that Travis Fimmel was a likeable lead for the human side, even if some of the other performances were, to put it nicely, questionable. I think that there is actual huge potential for a sequel to Warcraft, and I would love for Duncan Jones to still be involved in that, but this first film was not a bad effort (that’s probably as positive as I’m able to get talking about video game films).
- Michael: Resident Evil: Apocalypse – Honestly, I couldn’t remember which Resident Evil film was my favourite, not because they’re all amazing, but because they’re all so confusing and similar. That being said, they’re a lot of fun to watch, and I chose the second installment of the series for two reasons, it’s the first one I remember understanding, kind of. And secondly, Nemesis. What’s not cool about a 7ft zombie, that’s uses a minigun AND a rocket launcher, with that permanent menacing toothy freak show of a face, all clad in a badass trench coat that would make Neo jealous?
- Shuggie: Resident Evil – The entire Resident Evil franchise is a bit of an guilty pleasure of mine. The first two films are actually decent, whilst the third and fourth are still enjoyable despite being bad (although the less said about the fifth the better). But it’s the first film that’s my favourite in the series. Milla Jovovich is a fantastic action lead and her performance as Alice is a huge part of why this franchise has become as successful as it is. This first Resident Evil film brought a great, contained story that was restricted to an underground base. A cheesy B horror flick, and one that’s great fun, and will have me in the cinema for the final part of the franchise next year.
- Michael: Super Mario Bros – This is an awful film, absolutely bloody terrible. And I love it, and I’m not really sure why. I shouldn’t love it, but I do. So I’m just going to list reasons it’s terrible instead of trying to justify why it’s so magnificent. Koopa (aka Bowser) is an old man who apparently evolved from a T-Rex. Toad is a Man with a Mohawk who gets arrested for playing a guitar, then he gets turned into a 7 ft giant man with a lizard head the size of a tennis ball. Mario and Luigi have awful Brooklyn accents as opposed to their original Italian accents. I honestly don’t think they’re brothers in this film either; they never say they are. The list could go on and on, and all these terrible things are what make this a great film.
- Shuggie: Mortal Kombat – Did I talk about guilty pleasures in the last pick, because Mortal Kombat is one of my ultimate guilty pleasure picks. I love this film, even if it’s terrible. It’s generally terribly acted (Liu Kang and Sonya Blade anyone?), horribly written, and the special effects just don’t hold up (those Reptile effects make Goro look like Avatar). But despite all of that it brings a lot of beloved characters from the Mortal Kombat franchise to life on the big screen, and pretty well. Christopher Lambert as Raiden hams it up perfectly whilst we got live action versions of Scorpion and Sub Zero, which as a big fan of the game series was just incredible. Oh and and the coolest theme music ever. An easy pick for my number one slot.
- Michael: Street Fighter. Looking at my list you’d think that nobodies made a good film based on a video game, and you’d be correct. Now Street Fighter isn’t the worst film on this list, it’s not the best film either, but it’s the film I enjoy the most. I remember seeing this on the T.V. when I was younger and getting excited because I had played Street Fighter on an arcade machine. I soon realised that an arcade game doesn’t give writers an awful lot to make a film about, so what followed was one of the most random sequences of badly performed racial stereotypes, filled with “urgh my muscles are bigger and shiner than yours” moments, lots of “just to remind you, every other country is better than Germany because hey, Nazis”, one generous helping of early The Incredible Hulk-esque makeup, too many flying jump kicks to count, and Kylie Minogue as a special forces agent. Everything in this film adds up to make a sublime mix of surreal entertainment that I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of.
So those are our favourite films based on video games. What did you think of our choices? What are your favourite video game films? Do you think we’ll ever have a great film based on video games?