It’s hard to really say, with true gusto and without a sly smile on your face, that any ‘based on a video game’ movie is good. That’s not to say that some don’t have their merits, that they aren’t enjoyable, or that they’re bad, but it’s hard to honestly say that any are good films. But I’ll certainly try.
Adapted from the very successful video game franchise of the same name, Resident Evil ticked a lot of the right boxes, especially as a genre film. There’s a few (somewhat predictable) jumpy moments, a lot of action, big guns, bad dialogue, and a protagonist that, if nothing else, you want to survive. It has what it takes to be a good action horror film, and as long as you leave it there, it is. I don’t want to say too many bad things about Resident Evil, mainly because I’ll have lots of opportunities to say bad things about other films (including its many sequels) in subsequent sentences.
Let’s just deal with this now – this film has potentially the best single song attached to any film, ever. You know which one I mean – the one that makes sedate housewives into Fight Club aficionados. Just thinking about it makes me want to punch kick something. But, largely, that’s where the good things end. A film made up of poor CGI, very poor acting (yes you, Mr Cage), and two grossly underused magic ninjas, Mortal Kombat is largely best avoided once you’ve downloaded the soundtrack.
I’d like to pause for a moment to take the opportunity to admit that yes, I am only picking on the more famous adaptations – we all want to pretend that Tekken didn’t happen, and to those that weren’t aware it had, I envy you – and yes, I’m sticking to those that are solely adapted from video games, meaning films such as Wreck-It Ralph, Tron, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within are ineligible. Moving back on…
You know you’re in trouble when Jean-Claude Van Damme’s acting isn’t the low point, but there Kylie Minogue is. You really can get this out of your head. Boom! I went there. (The animation movie Street Fighter 2, on the other hand, is exactly what a Street Fighter film should be. Watch that instead.)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Potentially the most high-profile adaptation on the list, Tomb Raider stars Angelina Jolie and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, and went on to achieve modest success – enough to spawn a sequel. At its good points, it’s a very enjoyable action film a la Indiana Jones, while at its bad points, it’s a very bad Indiana Jones film (yet still better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). In my eyes, however, the film can never truly be forgiven for not locking the butler in the freezer.
So there you have it – there aren’t many highlights in the world of former video game films, but the near future brings big screen versions of World of Warcraft, Halo, and potentially Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock, and many many others.
Good luck to them.