Best And Worst Video Game Movies

Article Published on 03.02.2020

Words Liam Hall

Whether it’s a jarring attempt at a realistic vision of a cartoonish world or being so far removed from the source material that it can barely be called an adaptation, video game movies all-too-often disappoint. Bringing games to the big screen is a delicate balancing act that so many have strived for, but only few have achieved. For every Tomb Raider, there’s a Mortal Kombat. With Sonic The Hedgehog soon to speed into cinemas across the world, we want to look at the best and worst video game movies.

The most recent surprise success was Rob Letterman’s Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. Of all video games, a basic rags-to-riches journey with barely any plot and gameplay that mostly involves running through grass to find wild animals to battle is hardly a compelling source. But thanks to some creative storytelling, Ryan Reynolds’ energy as the voice of Pikachu, and a visually-stunning variety of adorable Pokémon creatures, the world of Pokémon came to life as we’d never seen it before in a highly-entertaining family film.

Another successful adaptation, albeit loosely, is the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action flick Rampage. There’s little to say beyond it being your basic Dwayne Johnson actioner, but it succeeded where so many video game movies fail by bringing enough muscle, charisma, chaos, and a surprising amount of heart to stand out from the crowd. Rampage highlights a common trend with video game adaptations in that they tend to be generic genre films with thin plotting, little or no connection to the game beyond the title, and the lack of originality to compete with other films. Unable to capture the casual fun and immersive components from their video game counterparts, Need For Speed became a pale imitation of The Fast And The Furious and the rich open world of Assassin’s Creed just a less-interesting Da Vinci Code.

Some video game films to their credit do not go the generic route and try and go in a brave new direction such as Angry Birds, Warcraft, and most infamously Super Mario Bros. The cult classic replaced the famous Italian accents with Brooklyn ones, transformed Bowser into a half-human/half-reptile crime boss/lawyer/military leader, and revealed that the legendary heroes’ surnames are Mario; meaning the iconic characters became Luigi Mario and Mario Mario. They don’t make them like they used to.

It certainly isn't impossible to make video game films enjoyable and successful franchises centred around video games like Jumanji and Wreck-It Ralph demonstrate their huge potential and appeal. What will be the next big gaming blockbuster? With Sonic The Hedgehog on the horizon and epics Uncharted and The Last Of Us rumoured to be in production, the future of video game movies is very bright.

Sonic The Hedgehog