It’s a mountain no one has quite conquered, a level no one has finished without spilling blood, I’m talking of course about turning blockbuster video-games into literal Hollywood blockbusters. Although raking in big figures, they’ve left fans of franchises rather disappointed. In fact, over the years there have been a few failed attempts so bad they are worth a cringe-inducing watch and others that although misfiring has earned respect for at least attempting the seemingly impossible.
The good or bad news depending on your point of view is that it’s not quite game over for attempted video-game movie adaptions with a few high profile ones on the horizon. In fact, the MMO, World of Warcraft, is getting a movie with Aussie Travis Fimmel set to star. It might be early days but based on this trailer, it looks like it too will be worth a cautionary watch. You can even add the upcoming Assassin’s Creed and Angry Birds movie to that list if you dare!
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
The gaming cult classic of an Italian plumber rescuing a princess from a dragon was always going to be tough to translate to the big screen. But no-one quite expected the absurdity that was Super Mario Bros. Full of cheesy goodness, it was the first feature film to be based on a video game and with the tagline ‘Anything is possible, you just gotta believe in it’, Super Mario Bros. tried it’s best to prove movies based on video games were not impossible.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
With a rookie Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm, the movie adaption of Mortal Kombat was always going to put up one hell of a fight. Working alongside its creator Ed Boon, Mortal Kombat the movie remains one of the more critically acclaimed video game movies with a solid 5.8/10 rating on IMDB. Its sequel two years later, however, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is not so fondly remembered with a Metascore of 11/100 delivering a killing blow to the movie franchise. In the words of Shao Kahn, it ‘Finished him’.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Starring a young Angelina Jolie as the avid adventurer Lara Croft, this movie adaption struck gold at the box office taking home over $200 million. With Angelina’s father Jon Voight playing Lara’s father and a future James Bond in Daniel Craig in the cast, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider discovered a profitable formula for video game movie adaptions but didn’t quite strike gold with audiences.
Resident Evil (2002)
A game based on mutant zombies, a government conspiracy and another kick-ass female heroine was always destined to find itself on the big screen and Paul W.S. Anderson was again the man to attempt the adaption. Blending horror, action and fantasy with an alluring cast that included Mila Jovovich as the lead and Michelle Rodriguez, Resident Evil was deemed a relatively successful adaption, the four and soon to be five films that followed not so much.
One of the first very successful first-person shooters, Doom mixed mindless action with genetically mutated killing machines to create a game many couldn’t stop playing. But in taking the controller away from audiences in the 2005 film adaption, gamers and audiences alike realised not all games are meant for Hollywood glory. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson notably starred making this one of his earlier acting roles and is a film well worth a sceptical watch if you like guns and a lot of them.
Silent Hill (2006)
A strange town and a missing daughter sets the scene of the Silent Hill franchise, a video game that horrified gamers and would split cinema-goers. Nailing the creepy ambience, the Silent Hill movie has been praised for remaining loyal to the game and at the same time criticised for being boring and simply not scary. I recommended deciding for yourself and giving it a watch, but be warned with Sean Bean in the cast, be prepared for some guaranteed blood and death.
Agent 47 is a bold, brooding, genetically-engineered assassin that gave gamers a refreshing take on the gun for hire formula. The assassin story has however been told many times before on the big screen and would fail to hit its target by disappointing audiences and was unable to set the box office alight failing to break the $100 million mark. A reboot landed this year in the form of Hitman: Agent 47 but again missed its mark.
Max Payne (2008)
Mark Wahlberg as a grieving police detective who’s had his family killed sounds like a pretty good film idea right? Well, unfortunately, this film left fans of the Rockstar game series in their own state of grief as it failed to live up to the gritty and mature standards set by the games. With lead Mark Wahlberg refusing to play the games as a way to get to know his complex character not to mention the studio behind the film settling for a PG13 rating when the games had all been of the R18 variety, Max Payne the movie left gamers everywhere in their own considerable pain.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Based on a beloved trilogy of the game that gamers felt deserved a big screen showing, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had a lot going for it; a solid story, great cast in Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Kingsley, devoted fans and a beautiful setting. And while critics attempted to dethrone the movie as a CGI mash-up, the average cinema goer and gamer were happy with their time spent with the movie.
Need for Speed (2014)
With no real narrative to speak of or characters for that matter, the Need for Speed franchise was a strange choice for a movie adaption. Likely attempting to cash in on the success of the Fast and Furious series, Need for Speed revved its engines and delivered a familiar street racing film that while not altogether crashing, did nothing to soothe the pains of gamers still seeking a great video game movie adaption.