Video games have had a pretty tough time making the transition over to the big screen, a time far tougher than any big end-level boss you’re likely to come across. Unfortunately, turning a beloved gaming franchise into a crowd-pleasing blockbuster takes more than just hammering the A and B buttons until your fingers bleed.
With every new video game to get the Hollywood treatment, fans the world over collectively clasp their hands, drop to their knees, and pray to the movie gods that this one will break the curse and deliver a film worthy of their blistery-thumbed affection.
In a world of cash-ins and missteps, there are few video game inspired film releases that can even be considered passable, but we’ve scoured movie studios big and small in an attempt to find some anyway.
So join us, as we insert a coin into the video game movie machine, hit Start Game, and count down the top ten video game movies of all time.
10. Doom (2005)
Before you go blasting everything in sight with a fully loaded BFG 9000 (big f**king gun for the uninitiated) because Doom has eked its way into this top ten video game movies list, there are a few redeeming features worth mentioning about this Dwayne Johnson starring brain-dead Shoot ‘Em Up.
Brought in to investigate a distress call from a Martian (yes, a Martian) research facility, a group of hardened marines use an ancient portal to travel to the Red Planet and find themselves facing off against hordes of hellish genetically engineered monsters.
On paper, it sounds like the greatest movie of all time, and a star-studded cast consisting of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson himself, Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike all try their best to elevate what little material they’re given, but a few solid action beats and jump scares can’t quite save this mutated mess from entering movie hell.
All ammo and no brains, this trigger happy actioner is worth a watch if only for the futuristic Nano door and game-accurate first-person sequence.
9. Silent Hill (2006)
Trying to recapture the survival horror aspects of its video game counterpart, Silent Hill threw audiences into an eerie, haunting world filled with nightmarish creatures and pyramid-headed monstrosities, not to mention some truly freaky looking nurses.
When a mother and daughter find themselves in the altered reality of an abandoned mining town, it’s a race against time for Rose (Radha Mitchell) to find her missing child and uncover the mystery of the town’s fateful end.
It might have a paper-thin plot and be lacking in developed characters, but Silent Hill is a visual treat, offering fans of the game a faithful rendition and providing some well thought out horror beats along the way.
8. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dustan, a Persian street urchin (think Boy Band Aladdin), who is falsely accused of killing the king of Persia (and his adoptive father) by the evil Sir Ben Kingsley. Luckily though, Dustan comes into possession of an ancient dagger with the ability to manipulate time, allowing him to rewind certain events, save the world and hook up with the feisty princess of Alamut played by Gemma Arterton.
As game-to-movie adaptations go, this one is certainly one of the more entertaining entries on the list (Gyllenhaal’s whitewashing, notwithstanding), and provides just enough fun fantasy-adventure without getting completely buried in the sand. With a little too much reliance on special effects and not enough on plot and character, Prince of Persia is a goofy albeit entertaining piece of disposable cinema.
7. Assassin’s Creed (2016)
When present day criminal Cal Lynch (Fassbender) learns he is the descendant of a 15th century assassin, known as Aguilar, his mind is used to unlock the memories of his ancestor and help the Abstergo Foundation find the magical ‘Apple of Eden’ which can control free will.
Assassin’s Creed was Hollywood’s attempt to take video game movies out of the fan-only genre market and make them truly mainstream. Going out of their way to cast Oscar calibre talent in Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender and Mickael K. Williams, the hugely popular game series was looking like a real contender to not only be an all-time great video game movie, but a great movie altogether.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out quite so cushty. The film was met with criticism, citing an overly complicated plot, unlikable characters and a general lack of excitement (all of which were not features of the game).
Still, there is some fun to be had with the cool action sequences set in 15th century Spain.
6. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
While the awe-inspiring computer graphics of the time may not quite hold up with today’s CGI blockbusters, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is still a beautiful looking animation, and one that dared to stray from its video game roots, providing the world with a more thoughtful game-to-film experience.
The film follows Dr Aki Ross as she tries to save the Earth from mysterious alien beings with the ability to kill any human with just the slightest touch (Phantoms). It’s up to Ross and a team of marines to find out what the Phantoms want, and how to save the human race from extinction.
An all-star cast lend their voices to this fun Final Fantasy inspired, rather than adapted, version of the global hit video game – a movie that pushed digital graphics to their limit and paved the way for future CGI film making.
I write film articles, sketch comedy and prose fiction.
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