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video game moviesMedia crossovers can often be highly successful. Books such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Forrest Gump, and It’s A Wonderful Life have found new audiences after being translated into movies. But video games don’t seem to be able to make the transition quite as well. In fact, most video game movie adaptations suck. That’s just a fact.

Even several of the following movies aren’t of the highest caliber, but they’re the best of an average bunch, so us gamers will have to make do. Issues often arise when filmmakers try to stick too closely to the plot, which is why many of the movies listed below are merely based on elements of video games. It’s a much safer bet to lift characters or certain ideas from a game or franchise and explore that in greater depth.

The Top 10 Video Game Movies Of All Time

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Angelina Jolie was the perfect choice to play the movie version of Lara Croft. And the planets aligned to mean this was a movie worth making. Lara Croft is still an iconic character, but in 2001 she was at the peak of her powers.

Tomb Raider is one of those video game movies that benefited from gamers wanting to see their favorite title brought to life.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Absolutely gorgeous CG visuals make Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within worth watching. It’s probably my favorite film of this entire list. It benefits from its lack of needing to stick to a plot from an existing game, merely borrowing elements from the Final Fantasy series.

Recent Hollywood efforts have lessened the visual impact but it still looks sumptuous and has an interesting storyline to boot.

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Mortal Kombat

The first Mortal Kombat hasn’t aged well. But then neither has the game series. This movie takes the literal approach to adaptation, and suffers as a result. With characters which work on a 2D level but fail when fleshed out. However, it has its fans, and has become something of a cult classic.

Avoid the sequel at all costs. Unless you enjoy ‘fatalities’ to the point you’d like to die from watching a terrible film.

Resident Evil

The first Resident Evil movie is a pretty classy affair. Milla Jovovich adds an especially beautiful element to the engaging storyline and rage-filled action sequences. Elements from the game are liberally sprinkled in amongst new plot devices which stop the whole thing grinding to a halt.

This is a survival horror film which lives up to the considerable hype afforded it.

Silent Hill

The movie isn’t as scary as the game it’s based on. But that would have been impossible to pull off. Silent Hill the game is a creepy, atmospheric affair, and Silent Hill the movie is very similar in style and scope. This is a film which shows up the biggest problem with video game movies: the lack of interaction.

Still, watch Silent Hill in a dark room in the middle of the night and be prepared to sense something is creeping up behind you once or twice.

DOA: Dead or Alive

If you dare to watch DOA: Dead or Alive then you may well lose a few braincells. This is not a movie for brainiacs, but then the game was hardly one for the purists, with the biggest draw being the animated bouncing of a certain body part. Yes, gamers are that easy to please sometimes. And so, it seems, are movie buffs, because this is one of the highest rated films on the list.

DOA: Dead or Alive is fun. No more, no less.

Max Payne

Max Payne was never going to be an easy adaptation. And the result of this attempt is a bit of a mess. It’s saved by the cinematography, which evokes an atmosphere very reminiscent of the film noir-styled game. Try to look past Mark Wahlberg’s woeful performance as the titular character.

This barely made it onto the list, only doing so due to the dearth of great flicks there are to choose from in this genre.

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time was an attempt by Hollywood to make a big-budget video game movie adaptation that worked. The film retains enough of the plot of the game to please fans while not sticking so stringently to it to make it unwatchable. The special effects of the Sands Of Time of the title are stunning to watch, somewhat making up for the lack of a cohesive storyline.

Worth watching for Gemma Arterton’s bare midriff alone.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Final Fantasy VII is a pure gaming experience. Newer RPGs such as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 3 Reasons All Gamers Need To Play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [MUO Gaming] 3 Reasons All Gamers Need To Play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [MUO Gaming] One of the most anticipated games of this holiday season was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Call of Duty and Battlefield are terrific games, but it’s delightful to see something a little different become a... Read More are genius, but Final Fantasy VII remains many people’s favorite game of all time. The plot of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will confuse those who have never played the game.

Advent Children is a lusciously animated epic showing what happened to the beloved characters after the game ended. And it was a bestseller on DVD and UMD as a result.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

Professor Layton is a phenomenon. And with good reason. Mocked by hardcore gamers, the storylines are involving, the puzzles cleverly constructed and difficult to break. The movie could have easily sucked, but the characters are present, the storyline is bizarre-yet-charming, and there are even a few puzzles thrown in to the mix.

Enjoy this film for the simple pleasures it affords.

Conclusion

Compiling a list of the worst video game movies of all time would have been easier, because this isn’t a genre bursting with gems. A desire to be positive, however, means I have recommended films that some people will abhor.

Do you agree or disagree with this list? Which videogames would you like to see turned into films from here on in Three Video Games That Should Be Made Into Movies [MUO Gaming] Three Video Games That Should Be Made Into Movies [MUO Gaming] Video games and movies never seem to combine well. A great movie made into a video game always ends up being terrible, and a great game made into a movie never seems to come out... Read More ? Uncharted and Halo are surely musts.

Image Credit: Ben Brown

  1. A Random Anon
    May 7, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    The Mortal Kombat one. LOL

  2. Polish translation
    January 10, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Max Payne the best!!! Definitely!!!

  3. Red
    December 30, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Mortal Kombat is a great movie!  I thought Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time was kinda boring.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 30, 2011 at 12:22 am

      It's fair to say it had its moments. It wasn't a masterpiece, that's for sure.

  4. Anonymous
    December 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    If the movies are based entirely on the game, then I would have to add the new Mortal Kombat Legacy series... Also, don't forget "The Wizard"

    • Dave Parrack
      December 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      The Wizard features video games but was it actually based on one?

  5. draniqa
    December 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

    movie based on video games not only attracts game lovers but general audience too. movie makers should stick to the topic of game without getting any deviation.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      Do you mean they should follow the plot of a game religiously? That's usually a hiding to nothing, especially if they're going after mainstream moviegoers.

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