They say that video game screen adaptation movies are guaranteed to be bad. They’re right. Throughout the whole history of cinema there was no video game movie worth saying: “Wooooow!” Uwe Boll is called the worst cinema director of all times, and he is not accidental to film video game screenings. That is why all that hype about the “Assassin’s Creed” movie before its release wondered me very much. I used to say: “Hmmm, that’s a video game picture. Really, what can go wrong?”
They gave me counterarguments like “Ubisoft” is in control of the process and they’ll make it all interesting, the plot is cool, there is a budget and cool actors… The result was still usual.
Why does it happen that way? I think the reason is obvious: gameplay. Here is the point: in the video game, the gameplay process is the most important. This means if developers pay too much attention to their story there appear too many cut-scenes and the player gets bored as a result. That is why even if the game has an interesting, original and unusual story, the most important thing is how to play it.
I can give you a bright opposite example: there was an attempt to make a quest videogame basing on a “Murder on the Orient Express” movie. Developers worked hard, made a beautiful design, chose good music… and I dropped the game after first 30 minutes. There were TOO MANY dialogues, no action, so I decided to quit.
But let’s go back to video game movies. Despite the overall piteous situation, there are some movies which can be acknowledged as acceptable. They are not cool, not masterpiece movies, just acceptable. I really like only two of them (one screen version was rather just “based on” the game). Still, to write this Top 5 article for you, I came up with three more movies which at least can be watched without a risk to harm your eyes and minds.
1. Mortal Kombat, 1995
This movie was incredibly stupid even for middle 90’s. A ridiculous plot, flat characters, weird dialogues, terrible graphics (yes, it was TERRIBLE even for those times). But! The movie is still watchable. Screenwriters turned a not-story fighting video game into a movie with a plot, worked with combat footage and even brought a star into the frame – Christopher Lambert from “The Highlander”. And there are some cool scenes in the overall madness: at least, the glorious “Your soul is mine” phrase by Shang Tsung.
2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, 2010
This is the most expensive video game movie ever. It is based on a perfect game series. Its main concept is time travelling. Its atmosphere is the desert and the sand of Middle East. Its producer was Jerry Bruckheimer. Its main actors were Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Kingsley. So, what could go wrong?
Probably, the “Disney” studio was the reason. Another company would have a chance to make a dart action movie with a brutal main hero on the screen.
“Disney” turned it into a kind tale for kids. Beautiful, humorous but… empty. The plot is regular. Heroes don’t make you feel them (moreover, only the prince and the vizier were present in the source video game as characters). Enemies are no-name bots instead of terrible monsters.
And the main point of games – the time travelling – was used less than two times during the whole movie. I was disappointed by this picture in cinema, and it has never made me watch it once more.
3. Warcraft, 2016
In 2016, fans expected two video game screen versions at once: Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. Both were met in a pretty restrained manner. But if the second one was totally failed then Warcraft could be called watchable enough.
Creators worked a lot to create computer models of heroes and general decorations, battle scenes were interesting, the plot did not concentrate on a certain side of the conflict: the viewer can “choose” the side to “play” for.
The main lack of this movie was the fact they made it totally fan-oriented. There were many unexplained things you can’t understand unless you played all games of the setting, there was no way to understand rules of the universe and so on. All in all, this is a typical guide how to please fans while not caring about the rest of the audience.
Still, as for me the lack of explanations was not something bad. I think modern people just got used to thoughtless consumption too much. For me, Warcraft made an impression of a huge universe with many unseen places and hidden parts. Still, I’m not fond of fantasy settings in general, so I’ve never felt the will to explore those places.
4. Resident Evil, 2002
Here we go with a movie I actually like. Though not being a fan of zombie movies, the first “Resident Evil” was good. A pure action, massive shooting and a bunch of bright remarkable scenes were there too.
Mila Jovovich literally found her role. This actress brilliantly combines her natural sexuality with brutality, while many female action-heroes lack this. I’ve not played the Resident Evil series. As I know, the movie made many steps away from the game but is it that important if it was so lucky? The film ending was promising and I was sure: the sequel will be even brighter and better than the original movie.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. The second movie was watchable enough, but still not that bright as the first one. The third part came into a senseless mix of plot turns and pointless action scenes. Unfortunately.
5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, 2001
Well, I love this movie! In general, the genre of adventures and artifact searches never left me indifferent, no matter if it was the epochal “Indiana Jones” or a light “National Treasure” movie.
Directors of Lara Croft tried to recreate the game atmosphere as closely as possible, added mystery, plot turns, magic items and of course a beautiful main hero. Lara Croft has been known as the most beautiful video game character according to many gamers. And Angelina Jolie hit the role perfectly. This movie was not only interesting to watch it because of a plot, it was a visual pleasure.
Honestly, I don’t understand why its ratings were so low: just 5.7 on IMDB and terrible 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, it is not a masterpiece, but it is interesting to track Lara’s adventures and the ending time reversal scene made me very glad.
These are my Top 5 video game movies worth attention. Unfortunately, even last two of them are not perfect.
As a bonus, I’d like to mention not a film, not even a cartoon, just an episode of cartoon series. No, it is a part of the “Futurama” episode. There, Fry asks the What-If Machine a question:
What if life was more like a videogame?
And it showed aliens from the Nintendo planet. Aliens were video game characters: Donkey Kong, Space invaders, etc. And the courageous general Pac-Man stands against them. It was a curious episode with many references for video games. The funniest thing was the fact that aliens wanted humans to give them… quarters! This means 25-cent coins which made old game machines work.
In 2015, the “Pixels” movie was released with Adam Sandler. In fact, the movie tells a pretty similar story. Still, it was just weird and contained all the worst things from Adam Sandler’s comedies. I felt much regret about such a cool idea destroyed by wrong people.
And what watchable video game movies do you know? I’d like to know your opinion.