Unfortunately, there simply haven’t been any really good films based off of video games. Whether it’s because the two industries don’t mesh too well from video games to films or simply because the wrong titles have been chosen, fans have had to suffer with a constant stream of poorly acted, over-the-top action, and trying to spot poorly placed gaming references. However, even in the steaming pile of box office garbage there have been a few dimly lit bright spots that have just a bit of potential. Without further ado, here are the films based off of video games that had the best potential to be good.
Gaming’s horror genre appears to be the most popular to transition to film; “Silent Hill” was merely following suit. The success (financial-wise) of Resident Evil is a decisive testament to this. For starters, Silent Hill is probably one of the most atmospheric series in gaming, which is of vital importance with any horror movie. The movie manages to pull off the look incredibly well; all of the creatures including pyramid head look amazing. The constant ash/gray snow that falls over Silent Hill is awfully creepy as well. The problem is when people start talking and the plot starts to unfold, things start to get really boring. Clocking in at just over 2 hours the film could have cut out at least half a dozen scenes and trimmed it down to 90 minutes or so. What’s after you realize there’s nothing to support the pretty exterior is a barely-there experience that does little justice to its source material.
“Resident Evil” had a particularly promising start to the franchise. Above all else it was a zombie movie, even if it wasn’t up to the standard of a Romero film. That said, it stayed away from any attempt to explicitly follow the story of the game and instead crafted a new cast of characters and explanations for the different happenings. Umbrella is still there and zombies are still trying to eat away at flesh, so what possibly could go wrong? Well, a cast of incredibly unlikeable and cliché characters for one. Besides Alice, who is your standard amnesiac leader type, you’ve cast of Aliens in less than memorable form: a tough as nails no-nonsense woman and her calculating partner, a certified coward, a to-the-point squad leader and some snarky jerk with ulterior motives. They’re all there and you’ve barely got to squint your eyes to see them. The archetypes are probably there for the viewer to infer about them because after seeing the movie a handful of times, how are you supposed to actually learn anything about them besides death cries and commands? Bad dialogue is bad.
Long before Advent Children took animation to its current level, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” was there first. At the time it was undeniably the best looking animated feature every to be unveiled and seemed to herald a new generation in movie-making. The English translation even featured a bevy of talent featuring the likes of Steve Buscemi, Alec Baldwin, James Woods and Ming-Na. The problem was that no manner of voice acting can make an inherently boring story come to life. The movie chugs along with the standard cast of characters that do little to distinguish themselves as the least bit interesting while constantly padding you with incredible visuals. The end result is an incredibly average experience. Perhaps if it had been a short series rather than a 100 or so minute experience a fleshed out experience might have been possible.
It’s hard to start to tell where “Hitman” went wrong. Maybe it was because of the depiction of the main character, maybe it was because Timoth Olyphant always looked like he was ready to crack a smile. Or maybe it was because of the completely indiscernible plot adjacent to set-piece action sequence every ten minutes or so; a cute, but otherwise useless girl doesn’t help “Hitman” either. What do work are the aforementioned action sequences. Watching Olyphant run around a hotel, dive bombing off of a balcony to swing to the lower floor was pretty entertaining as was the pacing of the entire scene. At the same time the new wave of appreciation for realism in action sequences manages to fall short, especially watching him handle weapons. There was potential, it simply wasn’t realized.
Arguably the truest to its video games origins, “Mortal Kombat” still managed to fall into the trap of the cheesy gimmicks that plague video game films. The dialogue was utterly terrible and unmoving, especially when trying to ramp up the good versus evil subplot. To tell the truth, however, this is something that should come to be expected from films based on fighting video games. The vast majority of game play is made up of executing precise movements and following them up with a button – notice how dialogue wasn’t anywhere in there. So, rather than focusing on what is certainly a passable action flick, you find yourself routinely trying to seek refuge in the form of a facepalm. Instead of a classic B movie, Mortal Kombat could have easily managed to become a decent action flick without all of that talking nonsense.