Movies based on videogames don’t exactly have the best reputation. Much like comic book movies before them, Hollywood adaptations of our favourite games are suffering through a bit of a dark age, producing countless hours of unwatchable garbage for every hour of decently enjoyable film. But it’s not all bad, and that’s why we’re here. While not always the greatest films, videogame movies can be pretty entertaining for what they are, and after suffering through so many bad adaptations we learned there’s a clear divide between the good and the bad. Despite everything, the following five movies do something that many other movies don’t: They actually try. They don’t always succeed, but at the end of the day the teams behind these five films actually put some heart into their creations.
In this list, we’re only evaluating movies that received a theatrical release (no direct-to-video films here) and only those that were released in English, which unfortunately excludes some surprisingly high-quality anime adaptations.
Here we go.
Need for Speed (2014)
Is Need for Speed a great movie? Absolutely not. Is it a decent way to kill an afternoon? it is, especially when you feel like watching cars go fast without having to pay too much attention. Starring Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul, the story is completely forgettable and not important in the least, but it sure is fun to watch super cars crash.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
The movie that nearly killed Square is much better then you might think. The Spirits Within‘s biggest crime is perhaps that it goes a little too high concept. Focusing on the relationship between life and death, Final Fantasy features some interesting themes and actually aspires to be something more than just a mindless string of action sequences featuring some barely recognizable characters. Despite it’s strengths, including what was at the time absolutely mindblowing visuals that still hold up well today, The Spirits Within doesn’t quite hit the mark and instead becomes a gorgeous, promising, but ultimately boring movie.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
The best thing about Mortal Kombat is that it knows what it is and it knows what it’s not. It’s based off of a videogame franchise that is known primarily for it’s depictions of over the top violence and silly, digitized people, and as such the theatrical adaptation doesn’t try to go too high concept. Instead, it takes the simple story of a supernatural martial arts tournament and runs with it. Mortal Kombat channels the cheesy 80’s martial arts movies that the game was inspired by and it manages to make an entertaining movie in the process. It’s not exactly an award-winner, but Mortal Kombat is ultimately a fun movie that knows what it should do and does it well.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had everything going for it. A big name star at the height of his career, the backing of a major studio, and the creative team behind the Pirates of the Carribean trilogy. Everything that was needed for the movie to be a big success was there, so was it? The answer is… kind of. With some impressive locations and good-looking shots, Prince of Persia succeeded in at least looking good. As a movie it was… alright. Not exactly Raiders of the Lost Ark, but an entertaining-enough middle eastern adventure.
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
Surprsingly, the most enjoyable movie on our list is the recent released Angry Birds movie. Featuring a stacked cast including Jason Sudeikis, Peter Dinklage, and Sean Penn, Angry Birds translates well to the silver screen. The characters are instantly recognizable and charming, and the story they follow, while not deep by any means, is entertaining and actually attempts to be more than a generic adventure for kids. Whether or not it succeeds is debatable, but even at it’s worst The Angry Birds movie is pleasant and enjoyable, and not to mention really, really pretty.
As always, this list is merely our opinion, and you’re entitled to your own. Feel free to tell us about your favourite videogame movie in the comments or in our newly opened forums. Or feel free to join in and make fun of the bad movies, which, let’s face it, are most of them.