Ranked: Best and Worst Movies Based on Videogames

Boll's games (and other terrible movies)

ImageThe genre lives on in Afterlife

Since the early 1990s, Hollywood has been adapting videogames for the big screen, and, on paper at least, the two forms of media seem like a match made in heaven. A movie should just have to follow the story and characters already set up in the game, taking some liberties here and there for the sake of story or budget. But, as with many games based on movies, film adaptations of videogames have had mixed results and are often disastrous.

Casting Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft or having super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer behind Prince of Persia isn't enough to make a videogame adaptation work. For real success, you need a game that can actually translate to the big screen. Even if a game has a straightforward story, the player interaction is often what determines how much fun and how much enjoyment comes out of the game. A film doesn't offer the same kind of immersive experience as a videogame and has to stand on its own, while needing to appeal to both hardcore gamers and people who don't know a PlayStation from an Xbox. Apparently, doing so is quite a challenge: the number of great film versions of videogames is too small to count, and the average Metascore for all such films in Metacritic's database is a lowly 30.

Over the past ten years, two filmmakers have made waves adapting videogames to the big screen, one for being successful and the other for being one of the worst filmmakers of all time. Starting in 2003 with House of the Dead and continuing with the upcoming BloodRayne 3: The Third Reich, Uwe Boll is well on his way to becoming the director who makes Ed Wood look like Orson Welles. Almost exclusively making films based on games, Boll has been nominated for 3 Razzie Awards and won the Razzie for Worst Career Achievement.

On the other side of the coin we have Paul W.S. Anderson, who's had a more successful run with the Resident Evil films. Anderson served as producer and writer on each of the films in the series, the latest of which is Resident Evil: Afterlife, which opens this Friday in 3D. While critically dismissed and not exactly precise adaptations of the Resident Evil games, Anderson's adaptations have found commercial success by giving the audience a lot of action, adventure, and Milla Jovovich.

How do films from these two directors compare to the other titles in the genre? Below we look at the single "best" videogame adaptation, and ten of the worst.

The Best-Reviewed Movie Based on a Videogame

Mortal Kombat (1995) Add to Netflix Queue

"It is, in essence, the video game transferred part and parcel to the screen, and very well at that."

--Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

Gross: $70 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great bar 1
Good bar 4
Mixed bar 7
Bad 0
Awful 0
Critics: 58 Users: 8.8
Image

Based on: Mortal Kombat (1992) and Mortal Kombat II (1993)

Before creating the successful (although critically dismissed) Resident Evil series on the big screen, Paul W.S. Anderson made the uncluttered and effective Mortal Kombat. Keeping with the game's story of a group of martial arts experts tasked with fighting in an intergalactic tournament to save the Earthrealm, Anderson delivers a fast moving and entertaining adaptation that's never boring, no small feat considering the movie is really just one fight scene after another. A success with fans and (to a lesser extent) critics, the film was followed by a sequel (which we'll get to in a moment) as well as a cartoon show and, more recently, Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, a short film with Michael Jai White and Jeri Ryan.

The 10 Worst-Reviewed Movies Based on Videogames

1. Alone in the Dark (2005) Add to Netflix Queue

"So mind-blowingly horrible that it teeters on the edge of cinematic immortality."

--Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

Gross: $5 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 1
Bad bar 10
Awful bar 14
Critics: 9 Users: 1.7
Image

Based on: Alone in the Dark series (1992-)

Christian Slater and Tara Reid find a new way to hit rock bottom in Alone in the Dark, another videogame adaptation from anti-director Uwe Boll. Despised by gamers for not staying true to the series (in part due to publisher Eden Games completely rewriting the game Alone in the Dark 5 -- which was supposed to be released along with the movie -- after the film was released), the film has the distinction of being the worst videogame adaptation of all time, and -- even more impressive -- possibly the worst Uwe Boll film ... so far.

2. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) Add to Netflix Queue

"This tedious hodgepodge of martial-arts mayhem, bogus mysticism and computer-generated special effects doesn't even pretend to have a plot."

--Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide

Gross: $36 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 2
Bad bar 4
Awful bar 6
Critics: 11 Users: 3.2
Image

Based on: Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

After the commercial and critical success of the first Mortal Kombat, a sequel was inevitable; only this time the filmmakers bloated the movie with too many characters and cut down on the first film's already very thin plotline. With only one of the original actors returning for the sequel, Mortal Kombat Annihilation alienated non-gamer fans of the first film while giving gamers nothing that they couldn't already get out of staying home and playing Mortal Kombat 3.

(tie) 3. House of the Dead (2003) Add to Netflix Queue

"Here’s a would-be horror film that contains not one ounce of professional pride in its making, not one shred of technical competence. This is one of the worst films of recent times."

--David Grove, Film Threat

Gross: $10 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 2
Bad bar 10
Awful bar 3
Critics: 15 Users: 1.6
Image

Based on: The House of the Dead series (1996-)

Rather than focus on the game's story of two AMS agents trying to investigate the strange goings on at the Curien Mansion, Uwe Boll's version of House of the Dead tells the compelling story of a bunch of kids that want to have a rave party. Sadly, the party takes place on an island that's filled with the undead, and hilarity ensues. With only idiotic references to the game (clips from the first three games appearing during the opening credits and, inexplicably, during certain action sequences) House of the Dead doesn't seemed to be aimed at fans of the game, fans of the undead, or fans of movies.

(tie) 3. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008) Add to Netflix Queue

"It's completely undone by its terrible screenplay, inept direction, oppressive musical score and muddy visual palette."

--Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

Gross: $5 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 1
Bad bar 7
Awful bar 3
Critics: 15 Users: 8.1
Image

Based on: Dungeon Siege series (2002-)

How Uwe Boll managed to get Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Leelee Sobieski, and Burt Reynolds to star in In The Name of the King is as much a mystery as how he got a $60 million budget. Statham plays Farmer, who must save his wife, child and all of the kingdom of Ehb from an evil wizard (Liotta) trying to overthrow the king (Reynolds). Ultimately more of a rip-off of the Lord of the Rings trilogy than an adaptation of the Dungeon Siege games on which it is theoretically based, In the Name of the King was a box office bomb, keeping Boll's track record firmly intact.

5. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) Add to Netflix Queue

"Idiot plotting and dialogue are what you'd expect from a genre that typically rewards narrative development with a skip function. But the rote fight scenes are a disappointment."

--Jim Ridley, LA Weekly

Gross: $9 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 2
Bad bar 6
Awful bar 3
Critics: 17 Users: 2.8
Image

Based on: Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)

Switching from a police officer in the video game to a concert pianist in the movie, Chun-Li is still trying to defeat the evil crime lord Bilson. But casting Kristin Kruek as Chun-Li and changing the character from Chinese to Chinese- American are just two of many missteps in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Tepid fight sequences, a generic plot and Chris Klein all help to make this adaptation less fun and enjoyable than the earlier 1994 film adaptation featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia and Kylie Minogue.

6. Super Mario Bros. (1993) Add to Netflix Queue

"There's nothing original about 'Mario,' and the absence of tension or an interesting narrative makes it tedious in the extreme."

--Lawrence Cohn, Variety

Gross: $21 million
Critics: n/a Users: n/a
Image

Based on: Super Mario Bros. (1985)

With Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields) involved, it's easy to think that the Super Mario Bros. movie would at least be interesting; instead it's a mess. Taking a darker approach to the videogame, the film was rejected by audiences who expected a more family-oriented version of the characters. Critics, fans and even a few of the film's actors slammed the film, with Hoskins stating, "The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers."

7. BloodRayne (2006) Add to Netflix Queue

"With minimal flare and maximal gore, Boll simply delivers the turgid drama and incompetently staged action sequences that have made him the unstoppable Big Boss of the gaming community. "

--Scott Tobias, A.V. Club

Gross: $2 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 2
Bad bar 9
Awful bar 2
Critics: 18 Users: 8.1
Image

Based on: BloodRayne (2002)

Keeping the videogame's title, main character, and little else, BloodRayne once again shows that Uwe Boll will not be tied down to a game's story, setting, or time period when he sets out to make an adaptation. Panned by critics, fans and Laura Bailey (the voice of Rayne in the games), BloodRayne had a brief theatrical run and was nominated for six Razzie awards but, tragically, was shut out.

8. Wing Commander (1999) Add to Netflix Queue

"Unfortunately, when we finally see the fearsome Kilrathi, they look more likely to cough up hairballs on your Aunt Patrice's carpet than to waste the whole planet. "

--Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

Gross: $12 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good bar 1
Mixed bar 1
Bad bar 16
Awful bar 3
Critics: 21 Users: 4.5
Image

Based on: Wing Commander series (1990-2007)

Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard have to save the galaxy in Wing Commander a dismal, predictable space opera. Directed by Chris Roberts, who created the original game series, the film is surprisingly unfaithful to the videogames, with changes to the characters and the physical appearance of the aliens and even different designs for the ships. Roberts never directed another film, and Wing Commander didn't come close to making back its $30 million budget.

9. Postal (2008) Add to Netflix Queue

"Boll's rampant narcissistic showmanship creates such a bizarre, garish spectacle that it is almost tempting to give him credit for being something of a misunderstood artist after all. Almost, but not quite."

--Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

Gross: n/a
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good 0
Mixed bar 4
Bad bar 4
Awful bar 3
Critics: 22 Users: 6.7
Image

Based on: Postal 2 (2003)

Based on the controversial first-person shooter about the Postal Dude just trying to get through the day, Uwe Boll's big-screen comedy version (starring Dave Foley and Verne Troyer!) goes both political and meta. Throwing in George W. Bush, Osama Bin Laden, offensive jokes about 9/11, and even a scene featuring himself delivering the line "I hate videogames," Boll actually received the best director award for Postal at the Hoboken International Film Festival ... as well as another Razzie nomination for Worst Director.

10. Silent Hill (2006) Add to Netflix Queue

"Though Silent Hill's shoddy dialogue and incoherent story constantly irritate, several sights and scenes possess a certain surreal grandeur ... Sadly, that's not enough to compensate for Silent Hill's utter lack of tension, intrigue, character development or satisfactory explanations for what the hell's happening on the screen."

--Jason Anderson, The Globe and Mail

Gross: $47 million
Critic Review Distribution:
Great 0
Good bar 1
Mixed bar 9
Bad bar 7
Awful bar 3
Critics: 30 Users: 8.2
Image

Based on: Silent Hill series (1999-)

Keeping the themes and concepts of the videogame, writer Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) tells the story of a mother trying to find her daughter in the haunted town of Silent Hill. Director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) does a solid job of creating an eerie atmosphere, but he can't make heads or tails of Avary's script. Silent Hill was a respectable hit despite poor critical reviews, and a sequel remains in development.

What do you think?

Have you enjoyed any videogame adaptations in the past? And which are deserving of their lousy reviews? Let us know in the discussion section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (126)

  • general Rabbit  

    Anyone who says that the Resident Evil Movies are good, well, have you ever played the games? The movies may do well in theaters but that doesn't make them good. The video games are survival horror and the movies are just zombie action. Crazy special effects, explosions, and gore...which doesn't make a movie good at all. The first resident evil movie is the closest thing to the games, but I still feel it was a disappointment. You wanna see a good Resident Evil movie, watch degeneration.

  • Josh  

    Max Payne was the greatest disappointment. I loved the games, they had complex plot lines, deep running themes that ran through each act as a novelist would write; However, the movie was blasted by critics and was so forgettable for movie goers. It was so disappointing to me as a huge Max Payne fan from the beginning of the series, seeing the movie get picked up and going into production, replaying the games and then to be such a bad product. I did not even bother to see it in theaters when it came out, I knew it would be so terrible.

  • Johnny Tong  

    These directors are likely to follow Ed Wood and fail miserably. Wood can make an entertainly bad movie while Anderson and Boll can't.

  • Assemblent  

    Putting Silent Hill on this list made the article lose almost all its credibility... It was a great movie, and if you where a fan and only a bit perceptive, you understand the movie perfectly. To me, it's the best adaptation from a game of all time. Great photography and amazing direction.

  • OuroborosChoked  

    Guys, Silent Hill WASN'T the worst. It was #10 on the list, not #1. Check the metacritic scores:

    Alone in the Dark (#1) got a NINE.
    Silent Hill (#10) got a 30.

    Just because you have to scroll down doesn't mean the worst one is at the bottom. Follow the NUMBERS, hurr...

  • Termie  

    can't believe Silent Hill was in the worst. I actually believe it to be among the best video game adaptations out there. And there's really not that many. The first Resident evil movie was also OK before the sequels started dragging it (and the RE franchise in general) down the toilet REALLY FAST.

  • maxwell97  

    I think the problem is that traditional filmmaking types don't understand video games, in an artistic sense. They think in terms of plot, character, conflict and so on, and of course these are important, but they need to understand the interactive element to really "get" the game they're using for inspiration. For example, in the case of Super Mario Bros., the writers and director probably looked at the "story" of a plumber fighting mushrooms to save a kidnapped princess, saw nothing there (hard to blame them), and improvised with a bizarre plotline of their own. They failed to see that the game isn't really about the plumber or mushrooms, it's about the joy of exploration in a friendly, but often dangerous, fantasy world. If they had captured THAT aspect of SMB in the movie, it would have been an all-time classic. The influence of interactivity on the artistic experience doesn't show up on paper; the filmmakers have to understand and love the game itself to do it justice on the big screen.

  • uneac  

    there are some exceptions regarding movies adapted from video-games,and in my opinion most of them are blockbusters or huge hits, take mortal kombat,for example,i loved the movie and still think its one the best video game-turned movies of all times,but the formula for video games differs a lot from movies in terms of entertainment perspective. see, movies are meant be passives while games are actives,YOU control the outcome of the situation with multiple endings and oportunities,but wen it comes to movies we all know that,and they have scripts based on commercial success formulas,so the directors and producers will demand some of those features in the movie,that's probably why we see those disparities between video-games stories and the movies. I was so pissed when i waited 6 months to watch the tekken movie to find out they made a jin who would be considered a teen **** compared to the REAL Jin Kazama,the people's choice?God,Jin is being HUNTED down by the people in the real tekken future,plus many other irrational discreapancies,but that's what we always see so it has be, in my perception, the difference in success formulas,AND most of the people disapointed at the video-game based movies are GAMERS,for the movie-goers its just another action/science-fiction/thriller/horror movie.

  • Jack S  

    I thought the first Tomb Raider movie was decent.

  • James  

    Mortal Kombat is still and will always be the best video-game adaption ever, with suckage disaters like Prince of Persia and Resident Evil: Afterlife, also Tekken and The King of Fighters on the horizon, I don't think there will be another movie like it. Mortal Kombat still kicks ass!!.

New in Metacritic Features

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/nintendo-switch-console-hardware-review Image
    Hardware Review: Nintendo Switch
    March 1, 2017 - 7 comments
    1. secretaryns : @GridironGuru You said "Thing is, everybody DOESN'T want or even care about those games. If they did, they would've... Read »
    2. GridironGuru : @JRath "Everyone wants the new Zelda. Everyone wants new Mario Carts or Marios or Starfox," Thing is, everybody... Read »
    3. SZJX : Glad to see that you're doing a summary of Switch reviews. This is something that the consumers need a lot but isn't... Read »
    4. MTC001 : Nintendo will, never again, create a home console that can compete with Sony or Microsoft, forget it. They tried with... Read »
  2. /feature/tv-renewal-scorecard-2016-2017-season Image
    2016-17 TV Season Scorecard
    June 2, 2016 - 10 comments
    1. asmanraj : There will be a second season of The Young Pope. Read »
  3. /feature/major-upcoming-video-game-release-dates-xbox-ps4-pc-switch Image
    Notable Video Game Releases: New and Upcoming
    March 20, 2017 - 6 comments
    1. Kaprawiec : Vamsi_Nalluri - Employee alert :P Lol dude either you are owner of UBI or youre high. Games You listed are all most... Read »
  4. /feature/25-best-ios-games Image
    Quarterly Report: The 25 Best iPhone/iPad Games
    December 31, 2016 - 6 comments
    1. geniece : i love this list greatttttttttttttttttt http://www.elkhbar.net/ Read »
  5. /feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2014-releases Image
    Metacritic's 5th Annual Game Publisher Rankings
    January 27, 2015 - 12 comments
    1. chiefgeef : ##Skankhunt42## Read »
    2. chiefgeef : okay.. I'll be forward, before stumbling into this critic's review article, or...personal spew......whatever it is,... Read »
  6. /feature/tv-premiere-dates Image
    2017 Spring TV Premiere Calendar
    February 28, 2017 - 141 comments
    1. reneg : This might just be U.S., but Saving Hope season 5 premiere on ION 3/14, 12AM Source:... Read »