The Assassin’s Creed movie adaptation is almost upon us. So what better time to look at past films based off their video-game counterparts. Here’s a list of what… well, I wouldn’t call favourites, but what are arguably some of the better video-game movies out there. At their very least; these are somewhat watchable.
- Doom (2005)
Based on the 1993 classic, Doom set out to change the perception of video game movies… it didn’t. The film’s producer, John Wells, admitted in an interview that “many” video game movie adaptations had “sucked”. If this was his effort to redeem the industry, he failed just as much as the film did at the box office. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who stars, described the film in a 2009 interview as an example of “trying and failing” to do a good video game adaptation, and that it was a cautionary tale of what “not to do”. The story was poor and the acting was naff. The only reason its made this list, is solely down to that 5-minute ‘FPS’ sequence that pays homage to the early 90’s game.
- Silent Hill (2006)
Although I’m not yet over the heartbreak caused by Konami pulling the plug on their upcoming game Silent Hills, I feel composed enough to mention the series here. The movie is dark and gory, staying true to its video game roots. Although slated for its unnecessary length, it still has decent moments and plenty of scares. Like most video games films, the plot wasn’t great but that’s what we’ve all come to expect. A decent effort, but also Sean Bean (he’s awesome). It just pains me that Silent Hills will never grace the world, the now unobtainable teaser-demo was so, so good! *sniff*
- Hitman (2007)
The 2015 reboot of ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ has been trumped by its predecessor and fails to make the grade. The film 8 years its prior seemed to have a little more about it. The action sequences are a little less forced and there’s much more meaning behind them. Although this film strays far from the game series and its mechanics, it does a better job than the 2015 adaptation. There’s at least one disguise scene that I can remember and trust me, there’s not much of it a can remember. As a movie, it’s a poor man’s Jason Bourne; from the music to some of the action scenes. It also stars Olga Kurylenko supporting, and you know… she’s hot! For me though, it could have done with a few more environmental kills.
- Warcraft: The Beginning (2015)
The CGI in this film is incredible, money has clearly been no issue. Due to this, the film reaped the rewards. It is now the biggest selling video game film ever made. That doesn’t mean it’s any good though… The attempts at altering the source material are laughable. It’s a tough one, as the famous MMORPG was never a narrative driven game. So being able to successfully relate to the movie can be quite tough. The dialog isn’t it’s strong point, and its all very cliché-ridden.
- Max Payne (2008)
The néo-noir action-thriller looked to provide a remedy to the crisis of game-based movies. A dark, revenge-driven story, throw in drug use and violence and it should grab your attention. Unfortunately, it is only a PG-13 rated film. Not the R-18 rated stuff that I crave. Nevertheless, the adaptation keeps your interest long enough to see he credits fall. Whilst the film boasts some intense and stylish action it falls short with poor acting (Mark Wahlberg… duh!). The 2001 game seemed to be a love-child of all of the classic 70’s and 80’s action movie flicks; with all of the old school clichés rolled into one big stylish shooter. The film however was released during a time that every other title seemed to have slow motion scenes and ‘bullet-time’ fighting. The film was far too serious for its own good, and ultimately a real let down.
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle Of Life (2003)
If you were asked to name a classic video game hit, I can guarantee that the Tomb Raider series, that started back in 1996, would be rolling around in your mouth; if not on he tip of your tongue. Unfortunately, the films inspired from that series’ success are not quite so critically acclaimed. The Cradle of Life is the only sequel that actually makes it onto this list, I usually feel that the original movies always outperform any following or spin-off titles purely due to them being the first, and successfully setting the tone for future releases. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was that bad however, that I simply could not use it when the sequel was much more enjoyable. Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role of Lara Croft, but even she can’t save the movies from a senseless plots and action sequences with no emotional impact and even worse choreography. As a game, there is no equal. As a film, it will forever be overshadowed by Indiana Jones. Still a fun watch however.
- Resident Evil (2002)
I can scarcely believe that there has been as many Resident Evil movies as there have been numbered games. Six in total, and all as bad as the previous! The original however, was the only one in the series to actually recreate the experience of the games. Although, a train-wreck in terms of its plot and character building, it’s ambition and cinematography set the stage for future releases and is by far the most successful film series based off a video-game. Each release does well, primarily down to the over-the-top action and decent special effects. The original performs well in that it succeeds in being creepy in parts and does a decent job of recreating aspects of the games, from random jump-scares to cheese-filled fun found in the earlier titles. It’s certainly a popcorn-flick and is one of those embarrassing guilty pleasures for many.
- Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time (2010)
This film is a very watchable adaptation of the hit Ubisoft game from 2003. Its fun and doesn’t ask the viewer to think all that hard. It copies the right things from the game that made it so enjoyable. This is certainly one of the best video game-to-movie copies ever made, even if that doesn’t actually say very much. As a movie on its own, it’s still laughable, but as its based off a game it’s fully deserved of a mention.
- Mortal Kombat (1995)
In the early 90’s, we were treated to such garbage as Super Mario Brothers and Double Dragon. These horrendous re-workings destroyed the hopes and dreams of gamers everywhere. Would we ever witness a decent game-based film? In 1995, Mortal Kombat submitted to the world their attempt and has since become a cult classic. It looked, at first glance, to be a visceral, brutal, blood-crazed gore-fest if the game series was anything to go by; but the actual movie was far too tame and child-friendly. It was corny and ridiculous; but despite the awful dialog and the questionable acting, this film is actually a rather fun watch. It kept the market alive and proved that there was plenty of money to be made in game-to-film adaptations. Hey, at least it was better than 1994’s Street Fighter.
- Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)
I feel bad for including this one. I’ve tried to avoid animated adaptation and focus more on live action titles. It also feels like cheating as Pokemon already had a massively successful television series. But I just couldn’t not add this to the list. All of the success that this series has had in the last 20 years, both in film, TV and gaming all stems from the two 1996 Game Boy game: Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. That’s well over 60 games, over 25 TV series, nearly 1000 episodes, and more than 20 feature-length titles. Out of all the movies however, the very first one is easily the best. I remember going to the cinema with my Dad at the tender age of 5 to see this. My Dad fell asleep (naturally), but i loved and absorbed every single second. It’s not only its successfulness that has made me stick it on this list, but also the emotional connection I have with it. All these years on, i can quite happily watch this without complaint. Obviously, without any knowledge of the franchise, audiences other than children will find very little to entertain them. Growing up in the 90’s though, there was very little else that could match the undying love I had for this silly little concept. Also as a final note; if you didn’t shed a tear at Ash’s sacrifice, are you even human?
So there we have it. The main conclusions we can all take away from this is that video-games do not make good movies. Whilst video-games have gotten richer and more interesting, video-game movies have somehow managed to get blander and more forgettable. Of course, there is still hope. Upcoming films such as Ratchet & Clank and Assassin’s Creedcould be the first truly spectacular video game movies. Ratchet & Clank I’m looking at from a similar perspective as Pokemon, I have low expectations but as a game i have grown up with and i look forward to reliving those memories. Ah, the nostalgia! Assassin’s Creed however, I’m a lot more sceptical about. You could argue that Michael Fassbender hasn’t done a bad film, well at least not one that he’s starred in (lets ignore Jonah Hex, eh?). He’s an incredibly talented actor, and he and the rest of the cast look to be in good form to make a good go of this video-game to film effort. The signature ‘Leap Of Faith’ has actually been performed by a stunt-double… that’s right, it isn’t CGI!
As I’m just wiping the drool from my chin; lets remember that it’s not all doom and gloom. Don’t forget that it took Hollywood a long, long time to get comic-book movies right, but now comic-book movies are consistently some of the most financially successful and critically acclaimed films released. Agreed, they are far from perfect, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. By the looks of things, as of now, the games industry could be treated with the same respect as the comic book medium when it comes to adaptations, starting next year. The video game film renaissance could be upon us sooner rather than later.
*Crosses fingers and closes eyes*