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22nd, February
Video Game Movies: What Do YOU Want?

It’s no secret that there’s an outcry when Hollywood announces plans for a movie based on a popular video game. The usual questions are “what the hell?” and “Why?!” Fans of said game are usually going to be on the offensive, making arguments that Hollywood is just trying to make ‘quick’ money and will, in the process, tarnish a good brand. People on the defensive side are slightly hopeful that Hollywood may finally get it right, but don’t speak up as much because they’re familiar with the “quality” of movies Hollywood has already provided in this department.

Several people have tried to answer the question “what exactly is needed to make a good video game movie?” I believe the question actually becomes, “what exactly do you want from a video game movie?”

There’s no question a good movie, especially one based off a video game, needs a good script and good actors. Depending on the game, it also may need stellar special effects. But setting aside the obvious, video game movies can take two routes.

Route One: The movie can be an alternate story based on the world and context of the video game in question. An example of this is the “needs to stay dead” Resident Evil series.

If you go for this option, directors are allowed to be as creative as possible with the material (characters, setting) already established. That tends to backfire, with examples such as Doom, Street Fighter, Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li (worst money decision I ever made), Wing Commander, BloodRayne and Alone in the Dark.

Note: If you don’t know Uwe Boll’s name by now, you have been sparred the atrocity that are his films. Which he continues to make because video game licenses are cheaper than others and he can write off the losses thanks to a German tax shelter loophole. He is a plague that just doesn’t go away and he’ll continue to make money off his crap.

This is what crap looks like when it smiles!

Route Two: The movie can be a close-to-exact copy of what the game actually is, something like what Mortal Kombat tried to do.

If you go for the second option, the director has less room for creativity, but has a storyline they can follow. This is the trickier one to go with, because the director has to do “right by the fans” who are the initial target for the film. It can work, such as the Silent Hill movie proved.

The first option leaves the film open to everyone; the second is more to make video game sales equal movie ticket sales.

You also have to always ask yourself: Does a game deserves to even become a movie? The Super Mario Bros. movie, for example, in my opinion, should have never been made. The story was so out there; something about meteorites, a water supply and King Koopa being half human. The games are just too simple to really make a grand story out of it. Even for as long as Mario has been present in the gaming world, Mario still has a basic story of “save the princess and beat overgrown bosses along the way.” Sometimes he’ll play golf, or race cars. Sometimes, you’ll ride a cute dinosaur (which Yoshi in the live-action movie was not!) and throw fireballs. Not complicated, not worthy of a movie adaption.

The same can be said for the movie House of the Dead, one of Uwe Boll’s “masterpieces.” It could have been just another (badly made) zombie movie, but no, it had to carry a recognizable brand name that people now shake their head at.

There are just some games that should remain games.

Should these really ever be made?

Gore Verbinski, one time director for the planned Bioshock movie, had it right regarding video game movies. In this clip, he talks about how he was willing to stay true to the content and actually knew what he was working with:


Taking a look at the recently announced Uncharted movie, the director seems to be going for route one. The context will be based off the Uncharted games, but the story will be quite different. Nathan Drake is apparently part of a family “that deals with heads of state and heads of museums and metes out justice.” Director David O. Russel assures Uncharted fans he will stay true to the game, but it’s not looking like something gamers want.

Maybe route one is just a doomed path to follow?

And just to recap, here is a list of the worst video game movies out there. Maybe you can make it a marathon one night and drink yourself silly!

  • Resident Evil series (2002 – 2010)
  • Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
  • Hitman (2007)
  • DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
  • BloodRayne (2006)
  • Alone in the Dark (2005)
  • Doom (2005)
  • House of the Dead (2003)
  • Wing Commander (1999)
  • Double Dragon (1994)
  • Street Fighter (1994)
  • Super Mario Bros. (1993)

February 22nd, 2011 at 11:23 by sterno


If you use a video game as anything other than the basic backdrop to a film, you’re going to release something terrible. So for example, take the universe of Starcraft and make a film that takes place in that universe, but is largely unrelated to the games themselves.

The other problem is what’s pointed out in that clip. Generally speaking, the video games that provide the most meaty material for making a decent movie are rated T or M. That means realistically you’re getting an R-rating if you do the material justice. Of course that cuts off a huge part of the demographic a movie based on a game wants.

What I expect is that, at some point, some director with some credibility and cash will do a video game based movie as a labor of love. They’ll get away with an R-rating largely because they will bank roll it for the most part, and it will probably be quite successful.

February 22nd, 2011 at 18:34 by Esmeralda


You explained initially what I talked about 🙂 Therefore, answering my question that maybe route one (movies that are based but not related to the games) are going to suck. But yeah, the rating is another issue altogether, but I think it’s a risk most developers should take when handling a video game movie

February 22nd, 2011 at 12:21 by Marco


I want a silent hill sequel..

February 22nd, 2011 at 14:16 by Tweep


What do I want; Anything but Prince of Persia and FF: Spirits Within…

February 22nd, 2011 at 16:01 by Bigus Dickus


Admittedly, everything on that list is crap, except for the Resident Evil movies, which in my opinion, actually make MORE sense than the poorly translated english games…

February 22nd, 2011 at 17:07 by Esmeralda


I liked the first Resident evil and watched all the others only to continue the series… and Alice is just overpowered and an annoying character. The movies after the first sucked in my opinion, including the story. At least in the games you can excuse some of the story by actually shooting the zombies yourself 😉 Thanks for reading

February 22nd, 2011 at 17:21 by Darkwonders


The only video game movies I have enjoyed.

Silent Hill
Resident Evil 1

I don’t get the hate for Hitman. It’s not like the games were that amazing to begin with, and there wasn’t much plot. You were a hitman assigned to kill people. At least the movie had an interesting plot to follow.

Great article Esme 🙂

February 23rd, 2011 at 05:46 by Pooma


Doom was a great film


February 23rd, 2011 at 09:12 by Esmeralda


Bad acting, horrible lighting, not related to the games…. So naw, it wasn’t.

February 28th, 2011 at 11:28 by Fireboy


Yeah I too don’t know why Hitman was on this list. While it shouldn’t be considered a cinematic masterpiece, it was gritty and engaging and a lot better than so much of the other crap out there. I still think it is the best example of a quality video game movie.

July 7th, 2011 at 19:56 by Steven Applebaum


Super Mario Bros. is hardly one of the “worst” video game movies out there. It’s a ’90s classic and one of the best attempts you could have hoped for at the time.

July 8th, 2011 at 12:51 by Esmeralda


I think we watched two completely different movies.