Ever since the early days of the games industry it has often occurred to movie executives that cashing in on a games’ success would be a brilliant idea. The games industry has offered up a wealth of high concepts for a film industry demanding innovation, but Hollywood has been pathetically inept at turning each effort into a decent film. Reasons for this are plentifold and irrelevant to this article, which is merely an amusing collection of the worst offenders. Brace yourselves.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Bereft of any redeeming features (despite a stellar cast), this awful film adaptation is particularly hateful as the game series is still so wonderful! Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins star as a Bowser and Mario, whilst Yoshi gets a turn as a animatronic dinosaur. The film is unspeakably bad to say the least. Steve Garrett from Time Out duly noted, “It will baffle kids, bore adolescents, and depress adults.” Indeed.
Double Dragon (1994)
“Nonsense” wrote Cliff Morris from Moviehole, whilst New Times’ Luke Y. Thompson noted, “How hard would it be to come up with a story at least as good as that of the original Nintendo game? Impossible, apparently.” The film, starring Robert Patrick and Scott Wolf, was based on the popular fighting game. On the respected Rotten Tomatoes website it currently holds a 0% rating. Don’t go watching it any time soon.
Street Fighter (1994), Street Fight: The Legend of Chun Li (2008)
Kylie Minogue and Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in this horrendous version of the popular beat ‘em up series. Whilst it does stray into “so bad it’s good” territory, this impossibly camp romp was savaged by critics. New York Times’ Stephen Holden wrote, “A dreary, overstuffed hodgepodge of poorly edited martial arts sequences and often unintelligible dialogue.” The 2008 “follow up” lost even this form of mild fun, “Yet another video game crashes and burns upon its translation to the big screen with this cinematic rendition of the venerable franchise” noted Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck.
Mortal Kombat (1995), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
An adaptation of the famously violent beat-em up; the two films are ghastly. Rotten Tomatoes notes, “With its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat – Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor.” Avoid.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Drafting in Angelina Jolie did little to save these two films from boring cinema goers and critics. Daniel Craig also stars with trademark honed physique on show, whilst Jolie’s figure is exploited as regularly as possible to keep male adolescents happy. Emanuel Levy duly noted, “Displaying boobs, brawn, and brain (in that order), Angelina Jolie renders a splashy performance but the movie, which is like a video-game turned big-screen entertainment, is not good”, whilst the BBC’s Nev Pierce thought the sequel was “As incoherent, dumb and stupefyingly bland as its woebegone predecessor.”
Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Boasting the pretty mug of Milla Jovovovovovich has not been enough to save this series from an eternal critical mauling. Based on the (largely) superb games franchise, the films do away with any sense of innovation and impending dread in favour of banality. Their scores on Rotten Tomatoes (in chronological order from 2002) are 34%, 21%, 22%, 24%, and 31%. Hurrah!
House of the Dead (2003), House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim (All Guts No Glory (2006)
“A brainless mess of a film” as branded by Rotten Tomatoes. The game itself involves shooting a perpetual stream of zombies (which is quite good fun), whilst the sequel was branded as “inept”.
Silent Hill (2006), Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)
The 2012 film was branded a “mediocre effort even by the standards of video game adaptations” and was also derided by other film critics, such as the BBC’s Mark Kermode. The predecessor was no better.
Max Payne (2008)
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis graced this predictably violent, and stunningly bland, romp along. Time Out’s Nigel Flloyd, “John Moore directs the hell out of the action, while Jonathan Sela’s glistening photography captures the snow and rain that fall on these bloody New York streets. But you’d have to be on crack not to guess the ‘surprise’ finale.” Wahlberg and Kunis have starred together again in 2012’s more enjoyable “Ted”.
Prince of Persia (2010)
Boasting the handsome features of Jake Gyllenhaal and a number of other beautiful people doing beautiful people stuff (killing everyone, basically) Prince of Persia met a dreadful fate. American critic Roger Ebert wrote, “The two leads are not inspired. Jake Gyllenhaal could make the cover of a muscle mag, but he plays Dastan as if harbouring Spider-Man’s doubts and insecurities.” Others weren’t as kind, David Nusair from Reel Film Reviews noted it was, “a pointless and aggressively bland big-budget disaster.”
Upcoming Video Game Film Releases
Hollywood’s Badness Machine will be in overdrive for the next few years as we see a new wave of video game adaptations hit the big screen. Call me cynical but I can’t see them being any good:
Another Tomb Raider film (2013), Assassin’s Creed (2013), Angry Birds (2014), Warcraft (based on the hugely popular World of Warcraft) (2015), and Splinter Cell (TBC).