After decades of terrible films and lousy adaptations, it seems we’ve finally entered a period of quality. No more are the likes of Mortal Kombat Annihilation and Super Mario Bros. (1993) clogging up the cinemas. Now, we’re getting big-budget films made by people passionate about the source material. Less cynical cash-grab, more enjoyable popcorn fun. Here are some of our favourite video game movie adaptations.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
It was surprising enough when 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog turned out well. That its 2022 sequel was even better is downright remarkable. Led by Ben Schwartz’s charming characterisation and Jim Carrey’s vaudevillian Dr. Robotnik, the film has become something of a lovable franchise. The addition of Tails and the newly-introduced Idris Elba as Knuckles only further cemented the deal. This is a film that’s fun, playful, entertaining, and respectful of its source material.
Pokemon is no stranger to screen adaptations. The ’90s anime was a huge part of making the furry pocket monsters an international brand. Since then, we’ve seen a steady stream of animated movies continue to come out of Japan, but a live-action film starring Ryan Reynolds as a detective offshoot of Pikachu is definitely something new. The combination of detailed and adorable CG recreations of iconic Pokemon and the film’s charm and humour made this one of 2019’s pleasant surprises. With a sequel in the works, it’s clear we haven’t seen the last of the crime-fighting fuzzball.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
With the recent release of Mortal Kombat 1, it seems the perfect time to highlight the camp glory of 1995’s Mortal Kombat. Although 1997’s Mortal Kombat Annihilation is one of the worst video game movies out there, the original film is a delightfully silly action-packed romp, with great theme music and a cast that includes the series’ favourites. While the 2021 film is technically the better film, it pales in sheer rewatchable fun.`
As far as video game movies go, Uncharted seems like a no-brainer. The highly cinematic adventures of Nathan Drake have always taken clear inspiration from movies, particularly Indiana Jones, so the idea of an Uncharted movie makes perfect sense. Despite the casting of Mark Wahlberg as Sully being somewhat unimaginative, Tom Holland works as a younger Nathan Drake. The action is quality, the film has charm, and overall it works as a totally solid action movie. It’s hardly groundbreaking, but as a video game movie, it works.
Warcraft may be one of the most expensive video game movies on this list, but its critical reception was practically scathing. With a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that critics didn’t go for Duncan Jones’ ambitious cinematic adaptation of Azeroth. That said, as a long-time player of World of Warcraft, the film does a pretty good job of recreating the world and some of its major characters. The effects-heavy presentation is occasionally questionable and the film is far from perfect, but it’s an entertaining enough piece of fan service that may have been unfairly ripped to shreds upon release.
Although Werewolves Within is certainly the most obscure video game on this list, the film is actually one of the best. Few imagined that this 2016 multiplayer VR game would get a big-screen adaptation. Fewer still imagined it would actually be good. This 2021 movie is undoubtedly the biggest surprise on this list, but it’s worth not looking over. The horror-comedy plays with its premise of a werewolf problem in a small town delightfully and the end results are charming and joyous.
What do you think? Did we miss anything? What are some of your favourite video game movies? Let us know in the comments!