When we gamers think about video game movies, rarely do we get that warm fuzzy feeling normally related to the thing that we love. In fact, we often shudder when thinking about how badly the medium of games has been represented on film. While the game being adapted may have a cool story, great character arcs, and some killer visuals, that almost never transcribes well to cinema.
While there may be a handful of game movies that are decent, there are far more bad video game movies than good ones. And while doing a list of “trash video game movies” does seem fun, let’s throw in some half-decent ones too to balance it out.
So here are some of the best and worst video game movies ever made, presented in no particular order.
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I was kind of thrown off when I heard Ryan Reynolds was going to be voicing Pikachu. My main concern is that Ryan Reynolds tends to play Ryan Reynolds in everything (charming guy with witty one-liners that never seem to stop), so I couldn’t imagine his snarky dialogue working for the Detective Pikachu movie.
So imagine my surprise when the movie was actually really enjoyable.
Now I do understand how a Pokemon lifelong fan could hate this film (it is far more of a buddy cop movie than it is a proper Pokemon movie), but for people who do not stand the series, it’s a nice mix of Pokemon references, great visuals, and a really good cast. Just a fun movie to shut your mind off to after a long day.
Detective Pikachu is far more entertaining than it had any right to be.
Mortal Kombat 2020
Watch on: HBO Max (subscription) | Hulu (subscription)
Let’s get this out the way first:
The Mortal Kombat reboot is not a “good film”.
The acting is wooden and stiff, and the characters are either dull as paste or as annoying as a teenager on a Red Bull bender. But no one came at this movie expecting it to win any Oscars. Rather, we just wanted to see a Mortal Kombat movie with blood and proper fatalities, and that is exactly what we got.
This movie is a two-hour fight scene sometimes broken up with stilted dialog, but it still delivers what most Mortal Kombat fans want, especially after the D.O.A Mortal Kombat Annihilation movie, which may actually be one of the worst movies ever made.
Also, Kano was a goddamn superstar in Mortal Kombat 2020 who carried the whole film on his back. Here’s to you, buddy!
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Paul Anderson is famous for butchering the Resident Evil series, which starred his wife Milla Jovovich, who just so happens to also star in this awful adaptation. While the movie may visually may look somewhat cool and slick, what we need to understand is that this movie tosses aside the things that made Monster Hunter such a beloved franchise and instead tries to be its own Godzilla film.
While the game is a nuanced mix of characters and creatures and stalking and hunting, the movie is your run-of-the-mill “military team falls into alt-dimension and now has to fight massive CG monsters” movie, which is not what the game is.
It feels lifeless, and it would be relatively easy to mistake this as any other “giant CG monster” movie, which is a shame because the game is as charming as it is chaotic, and the movie is not.
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When people heard about the Assassin’s Creed movie, the general consensus assumed the film would be focusing on Ezio’s arc from the first few games, as his story was the central focus for people who played the franchise. The director was Justin Kurzel, whose Macbeth adaptation from a few years earlier got quite a good reaction, and he was working with the ever-awesome Michael Fassbender again (who he had previously cast as Macbeth). It seemed like AC was destined to be a hit and be the film to change the poor track record of video game movies.
Then people found out that Fassbender wasn’t playing Ezio, but rather, Cal Lynch. A new character (with the most generic name ever) they had created for the movie, and a lot of faith in this project seemed to diminish among fans. The end result being a fun ride, but not a good representation of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Visually the movie is sleek as hell, and Michael Fassbender would be compelling to watch reading off a McDonald’s menu, so he really glues the whole thing together. There are a few really well shot scenes too that do a lot of justice to the legacy of AC. Specifically, there is one two minute parkour scene that really plays out like live-action Ubisoft with our hero getting chased around the city while leaping on clotheslines and such. It’s pretty fun, but sadly, far too short.
But the reason it makes no impression is because it grabs all the low-hanging fruit. It doesn’t do anything particularly brave or unique with its material. It is like an okay piece of pizza. You will eat it, and it won’t be bad per se, but your only memory of it will be a stray burp here and there.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li
Watch on: Amazon (rental) | Vudu (rental)
Now we have travelled into the “do not watch these ever” section of the list, and I have to kick that off with the Street Fighter spin-off, The Legacy of Chun Li. A movie that so woefully misses its mark by so many miles that you need a GPS to find the source material after watching it.
First problem and most pressing:
Why in the shit did they cast Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li?!
That simple fact is the elephant in the room, and we need to shoot it. Chun-Li is an iconic character and the first playable female one in the Street Fighter series. She is a stocky, strong Chinese woman with thighs that could crush a watermelon. So why did they cast a 105-lb Canadian woman to play her? There are tons of remarkable female martial artists who would have happily taken the role and crushed it right between their thighs, but instead, they went with “the girl from Smallville” because she is easy on the eyes.
It was a huge cultural misstep, and it made the paint-by-numbers film come across with about as much fizz as flat soda.
And now, moving on to the cinematic king of trash you’ve all been waiting for on this list…..
DON’T WATCH ANYTHING BY UWE BOLL (Far Cry, Bloodrayne, House of the Dead)
For those who don’t know, Uwe Boll is a German director who buys video game I.P’s for adaptation and then butchers them for fun and profit. It all started with his “Alone in the Dark” movie, which honestly had nothing to do with the film and was critically panned by everyone. Then he did House of the Dead (Uwe Boll somehow manages to make a zombie movie that is boring), and then he went on to make Bloodrayne and Far Cry, which both look they cost about ten dollars each to make and were incredibly hard to watch if you like the source material.
But here is the best part about Uwe Boll. No reviewer likes him, and he has a huge ego, so this resulted in him actually challenging movie critics to boxing matches and then he beat the absolute sh*t out of most of them. The reviewers thought it was just a joke or for press, and then left with black eyes and bruised egos. It was weird as hell to witness.
The man is a mad lad, and even though he treats video game franchises like crap, beating up people who don’t like your film is full on movie villain stuff, which is why we needed to end the list with this beast of a man.
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