I didn’t know before I started this post that my favourite video game movie is Need for Speed. That’s incredibly upsetting. It’s not a good movie.
Filmmakers worldwide have been trying to cash in on gaming franchises for over 25 years. It started with Super Mario Bros. (1993) starring Bob Hoskins as Nintendo’s famous little Italian plumber. That was a bad film, and unfortunately we’ve not progressed much since.
With the upcoming Tomb Raider movie reboot and Nintedo’s announcement of a collaboration with animation studio, Illumination, it’s safe to say that Hollywood producers haven’t lost their motivation to capitalise on the fastest growing form of entertainment. But while we wait, let’s take a look at some memorable attempts over the past few decades…
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 20%
Nostalgia carries this one for sure. I was so young when I saw this that I thought it was the greatest thing. It seemed so epic, and I don’t think anyone would complain with the casting, but watching it now makes it harder to love. It made plenty of money, though. At least, enough for a typically terrible sequel.
Can’t wait for the reboot out in a couple of weeks…
Rotten Tomatoes score: 15%
I was definitely old enough to know good from bad when the first Hitman movie released in 2007, but my craving for games to be on the big screen must have clouded my judgement. It was definitely entertaining, but doesn’t hold up today. I highly rate Timothy Olyphant so it was a shame he didn’t have a good script to work from. Could be worse though, as shown in 2015’s reboot Hitman: Agent 47. That was garbage.
Price of Persia: Sands of Time (2010)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 36%
I’ve only played one entry in the Price of Persia series so wasn’t too excited for this movie adaptation. That probably helped because I didn’t feel too disappointed after my first watch. It was lots of fun and looked great so no harm done here. Not something I’m eager to go back to, but worth a mention as it made a healthy return on investment grossing over $300 million at the box office, making it one of the most successful video game movies to date.
Need for Speed (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 22%
This film really has nothing to do with the game series. It simply borrowed the name to ensure a few extra cinema seats were filled. It also exploited Aaron Paul’s popularity from runaway hit Breaking Bad. Nevertheless, I liked it. It’s fast and loud and gave me lots of feels, thinking back to all my favourite Need for Speed games. Shame there hasn’t been a good one in years…
Rotten Tomatoes score: 28%
Don’t have much to say here. I fell asleep about 15 minutes in and have never been compelled to return. However, it’s worth a mention here because like Prince of Persia, it made lots of money, grossing over $400 million at the box office – and that’s without a star-studded cast! That’s proof that there is a future here for video game flicks…
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 18%
This is a close runner-up for my favourite video game movie. It does a lot right, and has a very impressive team behind it, but I mark it down for it’s lack of fun – not it’s stupid story. The Assassin’s Creed series isn’t nearly as serious as they try to make to make it seem, so it’s a shame the film is so cold and dreary. A good and entertaining romp, though!
So that’s my list of notable video game adaptations… it’s hard to ignore the dismal RT scores but maybe, like video game narratives, they just need a bit more time to become highly regarded. I hold out hope.
What’s your favourite video game adaptation? Resident Evil? Mortal Kombat? Max Payne? Let me know…
Best wishes y’all.