When production houses and film companies take video games and turn them into live-action films, it can either borderline satisfy or disappoint, depending on what kind of audience you are. Hardcore gamers who have been religiously playing the games to the point of knowing the characters’ names/profiles, storylines, and levels like the back of their hand, are usually the harshest critics of video game-turned-movies.
And we don’t blame them really, because bookworms too have more or less reacted the same way to novel-turned-movies (“Harry Potter“, “The Hunger Games“, “Lord of the Rings”).
But having seen enough of movie adaptations of both video games as well as novels, we know now to just remind ourselves to go into it without any expectations whatsoever.
Here’s a list of what we think are some of the most memorable video game-turned-movies of all time:
1. Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Super Mario Bros. is a 1993 American science fiction fantasy adventure action comedy film directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel.
A loose live-action adaptation of the 1985 Nintendo video game of the same name, the film stars Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hopper as King Koopa, and Samantha Mathis as Princess Daisy. It tells the story of the eponymous Mario brothers, as they find a parallel universe, ruled by the ruthless dictator King Koopa, who seeks to merge the two dimensions together so that he can rule both worlds, leaving it up to Mario and Luigi to join forces with Princess Daisy, the daughter of the world’s usurped King, to stop Koopa.
The film grossed USD20.9 million on a USD48 million budget and was nominated for 2 Saturn Awards (“Best Costume” and “Best Make-up”).
2. Street Fighter (1994)
Street Fighter is a 1994 American action film written and directed by Steven E. de Souza. It is based loosely on the video game Street Fighter II, produced by Capcom.
The movie stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Raúl Juliá, along with supporting performances by Byron Mann, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Ming-Na Wen, and Wes Studi.
The film altered the plot of the original game and motives of the Street Fighter characters and it also significantly lightened the tone of the adaptation, inserting several comical interludes (for instance, one particular fight scene between E. Honda and Zangief pays homage to the old Godzilla films). Raúl Juliá’s performance as General M. Bison was widely praised and garnered him a nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” at the Saturn Awards. Julia, who at the time was suffering from stomach cancer (as evidenced by his pale and gaunt facial complexion throughout the movie), took the role at the request of his 2 children.
This was Julia’s final posthumous theatrical performance, and he died 2 months before the film’s release. The film is dedicated to his memory.
3. Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat is a 1995 American fantasy martial arts film written by Kevin Droney, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, and starring Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, and Christopher Lambert. It is a loose adaptation of the early entries in the fighting game series Mortal Kombat.
The plot of the film follows the warrior Liu Kang, the actor Johnny Cage, and the soldier Sonya Blade, all three guided by the god Raiden, on their journey to combat the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung and his forces in a tournament to save Earth. The film’s primary source material was 1992’s original game of the same title, but it was also inspired by and incorporates elements of 1993’s follow-up game Mortal Kombat II.
Despite receiving mostly mixed to negative reviews by critics, Mortal Kombat spent 3 weeks as the #1 film at the US box office, earning over USD122 million worldwide. Critics praised the fight sequences, production design, cinematography, exotic locations and direction but commented on the weak performances, simplistic plot, and the lack of gore in contrast to the violent nature of the game the film was based.
A Mortal Kombat film reboot was announced by New Line Cinema in 2011, but as of early 2015 it remains in development hell.
4. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (sometimes known as Tomb Raider) is a 2001 action-adventure thriller film based on the popular Tomb Raider video game series featuring the character Lara Croft portrayed by Angelina Jolie.
The film was directed by Simon West and was released during the summer of 2001. The plot revolves around Lara Croft trying to obtain ancient artifacts from the enemy itself, the Illuminati.
It was turned down by critics for its stylised action and bland plot, though Jolie’s performance was praised by critics and fans, as well as its financial success, ranking at number one in its opening weekend at the box office. Previously, the film itself held the titular record of it being the highest-grossing video game adaptation until it was surpassed by “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, which grossed USD336 million, with it currently being the highest-grossing action heroine film next to Sigourney Weaver’s role in “Aliens”.
A sequel, “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”, was released in 2003. The film itself, critically, was “a vast improvement” over its predecessor, but however was not as financially successful, only grossing USD156 million compared to its predecessor’s USD274 million gross.
5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Resident Evil is a 2002 science fiction horror film written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson.
The film stars Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez. It is the first installment in the Resident Evil film series, which is based on the Capcom survival horror video game series Resident Evil.
Borrowing elements from the video games Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the film follows amnesiac heroine Alice and a band of Umbrella Corporation commandos as they attempt to contain the outbreak of the T-virus at a secret underground facility.
The film received mixed reviews from critics but grossed more than USD102 million worldwide. After commercial success at the box office, a sequel, “Apocalypse”, was released in 2004. This was followed in 2007 by “Extinction”, in 2010 by “Afterlife”, and in 2012 by “Retribution“.
6. Doom (2005)
Doom is a 2005 science fiction action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. It is loosely based on the video game series of the same name created by id Software.
The film stars Karl Urban as Staff Sergeant John “Reaper” Grimm, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Gunnery Sergeant Asher “Sarge” Mahonin, and Rosamund Pike as Dr. Samantha Grimm.
Doom follows a group of Marines in a Research Facility on Mars – initially arriving on a rescue and retrieval mission after communications ceased, the Marines soon battle genetically engineered monsters plaguing the facility.
After movie rights deals with Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures expired, id Software signed a deal with Warner Bros. with the stipulation that the movie would be greenlit within 12 months. Warner Bros. lost the rights, which were subsequently given back to Universal Pictures who started production in 2004.
7. Silent Hill (2006)
Silent Hill is a 2006 psychological horror film directed by Christophe Gans and written by Roger Avary, Christophe Gans and Nicolas Boukhrief.
The film is an adaptation of Konami’s survival horror video game series Silent Hill. The film, particularly its emotional, religious, and aesthetic content, includes elements from the first, second, third, and fourth games in the series. It stars Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Jodelle Ferland, Alice Krige, Sean Bean, and Deborah Kara Unger.
The film follows Rose, who takes her adopted daughter Sharon to the town of Silent Hill, for which Sharon cries while sleepwalking. Arriving at Silent Hill, Rose is involved in a car accident and awakens to find Sharon missing; while searching for her daughter, she fights a local cult while uncovering Sharon’s connection to the town’s past.
Development of Silent Hill began in the early 2000s. Gans and Avary began working on the script in 2004. Avary used Centralia, Pennsylvania as an inspiration for the town. Filming began in February 2005 with an estimated USD50 million budget and was shot on sound sets and on location in Canada (Brantford, Ontario).
Silent Hill was released on 21st April 2006, grossing nearly USD100 million. Film critics praised the film’s visuals, set designs, and atmosphere, but criticised the film for its dialogue, plot, and runtime.
8. Max Payne (2008)
Max Payne is a 2008 American neo-noir action film loosely based on the video game series of the same name developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Rockstar Games. It was written by Beau Thorne and directed by John Moore.
The film stars Mark Wahlberg in the title role as Max Payne, Mila Kunis as Mona Sax, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Jim Bravura, and Beau Bridges as BB Hensley. It revolves around revenge, centering on a policeman’s journey through New York City’s criminal underworld, as he investigates the deaths of his wife and child.
Filming took place between March and May 2008. Extensive visual effects were used in many scenes throughout the film.
Reviews in the US were mostly negative for the lack of character development and originality among numerous differences from the video game on which it is based. Despite the negative reviews, the film was able to take the top spot in the box office in its opening weekend and gross more than USD85 million worldwide.
9. Need for Speed (2014)
Need for Speed is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Scott Waugh, written by George Gatins and John Gatins and produced by DreamWorks Pictures.
Based on the series of video games by Electronic Arts, the film stars Aaron Paul as street racer Tobey Marshall, who sets off to race cross-country, as a way of avenging his friend’s death at the hands of a rival racer (played by Dominic Cooper).
Principal photography began in Macon, Georgia, in mid-April 2013. Other filming locations include Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, the 13th Street Bridge in Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama, and Campus Martius in Detroit, Michigan. Other production locations include sections of California’s Highway 1 north of Point Arena, California, the Point Arena Lighthouse, and Highway 253 between Boonville, California and Ukiah, California; and also Highway 128, between the town of Navarro and the Navarro Bridge linking Highway 128 North to Highway 1 South to Point Arena, California.
For the film’s chase sequences, the filmmakers decided against the use of CGI, instead employing practical effects, which required the cast to receive extensive driving lessons. For the final race sequences and the car crashes the production unit used propped supercars.
Despite receiving generally negative reviews from critics, the film went on to earn USD203.3 million at the worldwide box office.
Of course, we couldn’t go without talking about what’s to come! The upcoming movies based on video games that’s on our “must watch” list include:
- The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
- Warcraft (2016)
- Assassin’s Creed (2016)
- Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)
- Sonic The Hedgehog (TBA)
What do you guys think? Were there any video game-turned-movies that we’ve left out? Do you have a personal favourite that you’d like us to add to the above list?
Drop us a comment in the box below and we’ll see to it :)
Featured image from Huffington Post.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Telegram for more updates and breaking news.