Video game movies are almost always bad, no matter how good the source material is. The major problem with making movies out of games stems from the fact that most of these games are classics because of how they play, not their stories. In many old school games the story is simply there as a means to an end, a reason for the hero to pursue his or her goal. While gaming has become much more cinematic in recent times, there are still very few games that have stories worth translating into other forms of media due to most of them being pretty derivative of existing movies in the first place.
Video game movies, no matter what actors are attached to them, are at best pop corn flicks. Angelina Jolie couldn’t save “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” from mediocrity and not even Academy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal could make “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” worth watching. At least those movies, while not good, are passable. The biggest travesties occur when great games are made into bad movies. Some of the worst include:
“Super Mario Bros.”
I can’t believe someone greenlit a live action “Super Mario Bros movie”. What part about an Italian plumber who rescues a princess from the clutches of a giant turtle dragon named Bowser, who just so happens to command an army of evil mushrooms, sounds like a good movie to you? Or maybe it does if you like awesomely bad movies as much as I do. The problem is that this movie tries to take itself too seriously and ends up being just awful. It crushed my five year old heart when I found out Yoshi was really supposed to look like a baby velociraptor. Dennis Hopper (Bowser) and Bob Hoskins (Mario) both cite this movie as one of the worst things they have ever been involved with.
Outside of an excellent portrayal of Bison from the late actor Raul Julia, this movie was uniformly terrible. Not even Jean-Claude Van Damme fans could justify enjoying this one. For a movie based on a game centered around fighting, the fight scenes in this movie were awful. This is one of those movies that is awesomely bad, filled with great one liners and copious amounts of cheese.
“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”
While the first Mortal Kombat will probably always be remembered as a classic for those in my age group, its sequel is pure awful. Starting off with the death of Johnny Cage, a fan favorite from the first movie, Annihilation steadily gets worse from that point on. The plot is based around Liu Kang killing an evil emperor named Shao Kahn with something called an animality. This special technique turns out to be a spin off of the traditional Mortal Kombat finishing move, called a fatality, where Liu Kang must turn into a dragon to finish off Kahn once and for all.
“Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”
Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, father of the Final Fantasy series, this movie disappointed many fans because it had almost nothing to do with the series it is based on, outside of having someone named Cid in it. It had no magic, no summons and no crazy hair. Despite having mind blowing computer animation for its time it was still incredibly boring and didn’t made a return on its 130 million dollar budget.
This is an instance where staying true to your source material goes horribly wrong. Outside of a small change to how the monsters are made, explained by some 24th Martian chromosome instead of being demons from hell, this movie feels very much like Doom 3. The problem is, this is a reminder of why most video games shouldn’t be made into movies. The sparse story might seem cool dispersed between levels of painting walls with monster’s insides, but a full length movie makes you realize just how terribly cheesy it is. It did feature a pretty neat first person segment where it actually looked like you were playing the game for a minute, but there is little else redeeming about this one.
Anything directed by Uwe Boll
Uwe Boll started destroying video game to film adaptations in 2003 with “House of the Dead”. Since then he has made two “Alone in the Dark” movies, two “Bloodrayne” movies, “Postal”, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”, and most recently “Farcry”. I can personally vouch for “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale” being on of the worst movies I have ever seen. If you see the name Uwe Boll attached to any video game film avoid it at all costs.
Will there ever be a good video game movie?
When will someone like Christopher Nolan take a video game and give it the Batman treatment? Comic book movies are more often than not bad popcorn flicks, but every once in a while you get something like “The Dark Knight”. Or maybe this would be a better question- when will the gaming industry produce something worth making a good movie out of? The answer will surely come when video games are no longer strongly focused on the 13-30 male demographic that favors the cheese present in these movies. Don’t lose hope though, the video game industry is still in its infancy, meaning there will be plenty of time for it develop its own “Citizen Kane” for Hollywood to make a film out of.