Top 5 Best (and Worst) Video Game Movie Adaptations

Video game movies are a mixed bag. In fact, they are a mixed bag spread into multiple other mixed bags. You never quite know what you are going to get. There have been some great films and some that make us question why they were ever made or if the filmmakers even bothered to play the games that their films are based on.

A video game movie seems like an easy success story, combining an already established world and characters with an arguably much bigger platform. While some games don't translate well to the big screen with the way they are presented or simply that it’s too niche for gamers, some of these films just flop. Hammed-up acting, terrible visuals, a lack of care for the source material, the list could go on for ages.

That isn't to say that it always happens. In fact, sometimes a video game movie sticks the landing, gets an S-rank, a flawless victory – ok, I'll stop with the gaming puns. It doesn't happen as often as we would like, but these movies can sometimes make for great cinema and even challenge the Hollywood blockbuster scene. So let's have a look at some of the best and worst video game movie adaptations.

5th Worst: Assassin's Creed (2016)

Actor on a leash is a good metaphor for this movie actually

Ezio would be so disappointed.

The Assassin's Creed video game series is full of intrigue and excitement. With its human characters and grounded storylines, you would feel that it would make for a great live-action adaptation. This film, however, is a bumbling mess. Michael Fassbender does everything within his considerable talent, but an overcomplicated story drives this film into the ground. Another film with a star-studded cast that absolutely bombed.

When Cal was in the Animus, all I could think was that it looked like they were playing with him like a mechanical Yo-Yo.

5th Best: Silent Hill (2005)

This looks quaint

This film gets a bad rap but is an underappreciated gem from mid-2000s cinema.

With some great performances, top-notch creep factor, gorgeous visuals, and some pretty solid storytelling and world-building, this film succeeds at being a faithful adaptation of a beloved video game franchise as well as being a genuinely entertaining and thrilling ride.

Primarily adapted from the 1999 PlayStation 1 classic, this movie is just as pee-your-pants scary as the game was to many a young brave soul. What stands out most is the incredible visual style. Every scene looks and feels amazing. The creatures are brilliantly terrifying. The production hired professional dancers to portray the weird movements of each monster, and each was created with such attention to detail. I mean, Pyramid head in real life, guys, come on!

Let's just not talk about that sequel, mmmkay?

4th Worst: Bloodrayne (2005)

Even the best actors have at least one movie they would like to forget

The first entry on this list by director Uwe Boll.

Where to begin on this film. Reportedly, only about 20% of screenwriter Guinevere Turner's first draft was used for the film. The director literally hired prostitutes instead of actresses for a few of the steamier scenes with Meat Loaf. It had a really decent cast that was completely wasted; I mean, Sir Ben Kingsley is in this film, for cripes sake!

Blood and boobs seem to be the formula for this campy Vampire fever dream. But if that's what you need to sell a movie, you might not have much else to go on. How they ever made two sequels to this movie is beyond me.

4th Best: Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Pika Pika!! Cute doesn’t begin to cover it

I choose you!

Back to the good side and with a real winner. When is Ryan Reynolds not charming as hell? He certainly is when he voices the cute little yellow mascot of one of the biggest media franchises in history. For millions of kids and full-grown millennials alike, we finally got to see Pokemon in glorious live-action CGI.

The film executes being a family-friendly adventure, visually dazzling, and a fan servicing treat all at once. This is a real film, not some shameless company cash grab. It's made with a love for the fans, the games, the animated efforts before it, and for filmmaking itself. This film has got so much heart.

There is also so much fun to be had trying to spot all the Pokemon used in the film. I was so stoked to see my favorite, Growlithe!

3rd Worst: Mortal Kombat Annihilation (1997)

Just the best dialogue

Where this film succeeds is that it is so bad that it is unintendedly hilarious.

The characters are shallower than a kiddie pool. The special effects are so low budget I could have afforded them with my lunch money in middle school, the costumes look like bad cosplay, and the plot is such an incoherent mess it feels like this could have been written by Tommy Wiseau. In fact, this feels like The Room of video game movies.

You know you have a bad adaptation when the creators of Mortal Kombat, Ed Boon and John Tobias, stated that this was their worst moment in the history of the franchise.

And let's not forget the greatest line in the history of cinema

3rd Best: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Everything lost is meant to be found

Angelina Jolie in the early 2000s, nuff said? Ok, I'll say more.

Jolie is super as Lara Croft, nailing every scene she is in with an elegant sex appeal. Not to mention how badass and cool her costumes are. There is plenty of fun action, quick, witty dialogue, and an unexpectedly emotional story. The film also has one of the coolest soundtracks ever; seriously, add this album to your playlists and thank me later!

This film broke records at release, becoming the highest-grossing video game movie ever until being surpassed by Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time nine years later.

2nd Worst: Tomb Raider (2018)

Did they find this location on a hike?

A survivor re-scorned.

From one Lara to another. As a lifelong Tomb Raider fan, I am always excited for new adventures for Ms. Croft, but this film was truly a heartbreaker for me. The 2013 Tomb Raider video game, from which this film is based, is a landmark title for this franchise and for narrative in video games. It deserved so much more respect than it was given in this film. The source material was absolutely butchered and largely ignored. The cast from the game is entirely missing, save for Lara. The entire storyline and Lara's primary motivation are changed for no reason. Even every supernatural element from the game is removed.

The film itself falls flat with some odd plot decisions, very basic set design, and some phoned-in acting. Visually it’s shot pretty well, but what's that saying? You can shine a turd all you want.

Honestly, if you take Lara Croft's name out of this film and state that it isn't based on anything, you probably have a better film. Alicia Vikander does her best but can't save this shipwreck.

2nd Best: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

Red vs Blue

This film is way past cool!

This film series has come a hell of a long way, from the terrible initial Sonic design to becoming one of the highest-grossing video game movies ever to making a follow-up, which is even bigger. This film did everything a sequel needed to. It raised the stakes, added awesome new characters, and didn't lose sight of what it was trying to achieve.

Knuckles and Tails are brilliant additions, Ben Schwartz's Sonic still rocks, and Jim Carrey is a man that can do no wrong. His Dr. Robotnik is still an absolute delight to see on the big screen.

There is some terrific humor, tons of well-placed fan service and easter eggs, an Avengers-level team-up sequence, and in general, a ton of fun for the whole family, from newcomers to the Sonic world to even the most die-hard of Blue Blur fans.

The Worst: Alone in the Dark (2005)

Is that the 1970s SFX behind him?

Uwe Boll's shot in the dark missed any kind of mark.

Back to Mr. Boll as we reach the worst video game movie ever made and a close contender for worst movie ever made. Seriously, this film is really bad.

Christian Slater is a terrific actor, but he probably wants this stripped from his resume. The film has terrible special effects, a ridiculous storyline, dialogue that barely registers as human speech, and a performance from Tara Reid that, well, isn't unlike her usual stuff.

This is another film where Boll used an unfinished screenplay and made amendments to it himself. Maybe the guy is just not good at this?

The first Alone in the Dark from 1992 was the first-ever 3D survival horror video game. The series had so much promise, but after more than a few lackluster game releases and this travesty of a film, this series is dead for good.

The Best: Werewolves Within (2021)


A movie based on a video game based on a real game.

We reach the end of our list, and here is the best of the best. Werewolves Within is an impressive film from a cast and crew of relative unknowns. While not the same as the films before in terms of scope and production value, this film is a stellar example of less is more.

A fantastic horror comedy that is playfully silly and nails some great social observations, which give us an engaging ragtag group of suspects. Visually, the film just looks cool. It engages with you in every scene and immerses you as you try to figure out whodunnit?

Werewolves Within is a great example of the potential of video game movies.

Well, that just about does it. Do you agree with our list? Are there any other great or terrible video game movies you would add here? Make sure you let us know on our socials. We would love to hear from you guys!

Until next time gamers!

Two Uncharted Virgins Go See What All The Fuss Is About

My partner, Hoot, and I have an amazing group of friends who we met through our mutual love of Nolan North. For us two Xbox and PC geeks, that love came from Nolan's performances in Assassin's Creed, Destiny, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Con Man. But for most of our other friends, that love first came from Uncharted. 

When all your friends assume that Uncharted is something everyone "just knows," there's a twinge of that old childhood feeling of being an outcast. So, three years ago, I got a PlayStation 4 Pro and grabbed the Nathan Drake Collection to see what all the fuss is about. I got about two thirds into the first game (Drake's Fortune)… and then stopped. I felt like I was just playing my beloved Assassin's Creed, but with a different premise, a different controller, and a less compelling backstory. I just wasn't feeling all the hype that my friends felt. I'd rather be organizing my sock drawer than making the 30th attempt to drive that fucking Jet Ski through a firing range on Easy mode! So I took a break from it and went back to games I was enjoying more.

I apparently wasn't alone in my frustrations. I found this screenshot in an article about bad levels in gaming history.

Not long after that, the Uncharted movie was announced with Mark Wahlberg, who I have adored for years, and Tom Holland, who turns everything into gold these days. I knew I was going to watch this movie because they were in it. But I also knew my opinions of the film would probably be very different from our Uncharted nerd friends.

Hoot and I saw the movie late on opening weekend knowing or remembering very little about the characters and their game stories. Unlike the game, I got through all of it and loved it! It's a lot of fun! It had a good pace, fun dialog, good chemistry between the protagonists (Nate and Sully), and action sequences that hit all the right notes. Plus, after seeing Pilou Asbæk playing another baddie in the post-credit scene, I was on-board for another chapter! 

That said, Hoot and I talked a lot about the film's obvious head-scratchers when it comes to basic physics. That backpack full of gold, even if it was a small 10-liter pack, would weigh around 425 pounds! (Damn, Sully must be ripped!) And whose hair looks that good two minutes after you've been drowning? (Chloe clearly has magic hair.) But when we let go of those little reality breaks, it's an enjoyable ride start to finish!

Nolan North and Tom Holland on the set of Uncharted

Favorite moment? Nolan's cameo, of course! Perfection! I think some folks next to us in the theater recognized him, too.

Nate and Sully were the only characters I remembered from the short time playing that first game, plus Elena who wasn't in this film. I loved seeing this story of how Nate and Sully came to know each other and work together. I bought every second of their story and really enjoyed their dialog. Knowing their backstory now honestly makes me want to go back and at least finish the stories in the games (or just find all the cutscenes on YouTube).

So yeah, Uncharted is a fun film that's on par with classic adventures from my childhood like the first three Indiana Jones films and The Goonies. And if you didn't get the obvious tributes to those films, you were probably too busy looking for all the game references, instead. 

For perspectives from some long-time Uncharted fans, check out what Lily K and Maria Kinnun said about the film.

Any fellow Uncharted game virgins or near-virgins out there? What did YOU think of the Uncharted movie?

Why Video Game Movies Always Come Up Short

I like video games.

That shouldn't be a shocking statement if you've read the other articles I have on the site. I even dedicated an entire article just to talking about old Adobe flash games that I played as a child. I also like movies, and my blog on my website *shameless plug* covers movies quite a bit.

Naturally, this predisposed me to watch a whole bunch of video game movies over the years. The many films came rushing back to me as I watched the latest trailer for the new Mortal Kombat movie, and this question kept coming back to me:

Are we ever gonna see a good video game movie?

Sure, we've had enjoyable video game movies—your Sonic The Hedgehogs, Lara Crofts, Mortal Kombat, if you will. And there are films and games that pair together to tell a bigger story. But there's also been the god awful—Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to name a few. None of these have been good in my view. The highest I'd rate them would be a below-average or average grade. 

All of this kept running through my head as I was watching the trailer, and my excitement for the movie started to slowly leak out of my body the more I watched. I realized I'd been here before, excited to watch the latest video game movie thinking 'this'll be the one', only for it to turn out like it always does: hollow and disappointing. I asked myself why this is the case, and I reckon I've got a pretty good idea why.

You can't play a movie.

I mean, of course, you can’t play a movie, but that’s beside the point.

The interaction audiences have with movies and video games is quite different. Movies are mostly passive unless you decide to pass the TV remote between your mates. In contrast, video games are generally one of the most audience-interactive modes of entertainment we have.   

A lot of AAA games developed these days have production values on par with most modern movies. However, I believe that video games' interactivity lends more weight to the experience because it’s you controlling the events instead of just being along for the ride. I think this is always there in the back of gamers' minds when they're watching these video game movies. 

It would make sense that when you watch the Tomb Raider movies, you're reminded of all the action set pieces you've played through. You're inevitably going to compare them to the scenes in the movie. Thus, most of the time you've either seen it before and played it in the game or it's just not as exciting as the game.

This interactivity also allows video games to connect with audiences in a completely different way compared to a movie's passive nature. The best way to explain this would be by using an example. Let's just pick a random game as an example…

Ah yes, Yager Development's 2011 underrated gem Spec Ops: The Line, that'll do nicely. (This choice isn't surprising for those that know me considering I recommend this game to everyone any chance I get.) Spec Ops is a great example of how video games' stories are inherently unique to the medium.

For the purposes of this post, I'm only going to be looking at the game's story because the gameplay isn't anything to write home about, and that's not what I’m talking about today.

In Spec Ops, you follow Captain Martin Walker as he and his fireteam of Delta operators travel through a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai. They're searching for a way out of the city when they discover survivors of the storm and are fired upon. This inciting incident leads Walker and his team along an inexorable path in a downward spiral as they delve deeper and deeper into the city. This concludes in a hideous maelstrom of violence and death as the player's control over Walker is called into question. Players becoming unwitting passengers as the war crimes start piling up.

This basic plot isn't anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. The developers are very open about their inspirations from Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Where the game's story takes on a new level is when the player's direct interactions with the game world are used to show the state of Walker's fractured psyche.

At this point, I'm going to be talking spoilers for the game, and there are also some images that some of you may find distressing.

The best example of this is towards the end of the story when any semblance of buddy-buddy warfare has crumbled along with the squad's mental state. Your squad member Lugo was hanged by civilians in a refugee camp. Walker and Adams are surrounded by the civilians, and the player can choose to fire into the air to scare off the civilians or gun them down without mercy. This choice may not look like much, but if we were a passive observer (like with a movie), we can't know what kind of options Walker has. This would stop us from being able to analyze his actions with as much depth as we can as the interactive player.

See, that's the thing. The fact we control the characters and make decisions for them gives us an insight into the characters that we can't get from watching a movie portraying the same events.

However, this control being taken away from us in-game is also a way games can affect us on a much deeper level than movies can. Going back to Spec Ops, specifically the white phosphorus scene, Walker and the player encounter heavy enemy resistance outside The Nest. At this point in the game, the mission for Walker has morphed from fleeing Dubai to rescuing civilians held past The Nest. The team knows that they can't win a straight firefight against that, and we learn that a mortar is nearby loaded with white phosphorus.

White phosphorus is a horrible chemical that does horrible, unspeakable things to humans when they come into contact with it. I'm not going to list them here; you can look that up in your own time if you so wish. Using the chemical is also a war crime in certain situations. Lugo even states that the team knows what the chemical does and is reluctant to use the weapon, bordering on being insubordinate. He even flat-out states that there's always a choice, to which Walker replies, "There's really not."

We've already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller. 

This entire dialogue is played out in cutscene, a passive movie-watching experience that cuts away from your interactive gameplay. You can't stop it. You can't try and rationalize another way out of the situation. All you can do is watch as Walker commands his squad to set up the mortar and fire on the enemy encampment. However, the game drops back out of the cutscene with you looking upon the battlefield through the targeting system of the mortar, unable to stop until you have killed every last one of the enemies.

Except that not every person at The Nest was an enemy.

Do you feel like a hero yet?

Right at the end of the set-piece, you fire upon a huge mass of people that you believe are enemy combatants. After you walk your team through the scorched earth that you created, watching soldiers try to escape their fates, their screams assaulting you, you're greeted with a terrible sight—civilians that you had set out to save, their bodies burnt and hollowed out by the white phosphorus.

It's easily one of the most horrific acts Walker commits in the entire game.

But he wasn't the one pushing the button and giving the commands.

That honor goes to the same person you see when you look at your screen right now.

That person is you.

That scene, more than any other in the game, shows how games draw the player in and can put them in the character's headspace so easily. Movies just can't get close to that experience.

That's why I don't think we're ever going to get a good video game movie. Because we've already experienced these movies… every time we pick up the controller.     

Do you have a favorite video game movie? What movie game franchise do you want to see on the big screen next? Let me know down below.

Author's Note:

This post delved into some pretty dark subject matter. If that's dredged up some stuff for you on a personal level, know there are always people on hand to help you through it.

All around the globe, there are countless organisations there to help you through any tough times you may be having. You can link here to search for a mental health organisation in your country.

Stay safe and I'll catch you all next time. -Rohan


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