RANKED! The Best Video Game Movie Adaptations (Now That ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ Is in Theaters)
When it comes to the video game genre, most of the entries within it are bad. While this is exactly why most people roll their eyes when they hear the words “video game movie,” it also means that there’s always room to try and improve the formula. Although some video game movie adaptations have failed to entice hardcore players and capture a general audience, a select few have managed to break through that barrier to limited effect. We’ve never had a truly great video game adaptation up to this point, but we’ve also never been closer to achieving that milestone at the same time. With that in mind, here are some of the best video game movie adaptations including Sonic the Hedgehog!
Cover Photo: Paramount Pictures
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10. 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'
In certain respects, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider represents a bygone era for video game movies. Not only does it represent the shift from video game movie adaptations that were largely limited by practical limitations to a more modern visual effects-based approach, but it also constitutes an explosion in the number of terrible video game adaptations that were released in the following decade. In essence, Tomb Raider is more defined by the pitch-perfect casting of Angelina Jolie as the titular character than it is by the actual quality of the movie itself (hint: it’s mildly bad, but not as bad as its awful sequel).
9. 'Street Fighter'
Speaking of that terrible Tomb Raider sequel, writer Steven E. de Souza is also responsible for another infamous video game adaptation – Street Fighter. For the sake of complete transparency, there’s only one reason why a movie such as Street Fighter should be included on any top 10 lists, and that’s because of Raúl Juliá’s incredibly committed performance. In case you don’t know, Juliá was essentially dying of stomach cancer during the production of the film. Always a consummate professional, he took the role in the film for his children, which makes his performance even more badass. Ultimately, his deliciously powerful performance is the singular high point in an otherwise laughable video game adaptation.
8. 'Ratchet & Clank'
Ratchet & Clank’s big-screen debut is often forgotten not because of its quality, but because most people don’t even know that it exists. While the popularity of the dynamic video game duo has been one of Sony Entertainment’s biggest ongoing franchises, the film also proves that some properties are better left to the medium of video games. Although Ratchet & Clank isn’t a bad film (aside from casting Sylvester Stallone, that is), it also manages to feel like nothing more than a series of cutscenes from the video game that have been strung together to make a feature film.
7. 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time'
While Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is pretty forgettable as a movie, it also happens to be one of the rare video game adaptations that are actually an improvement over the source material. As the first mega-budget video game movie of the modern era, the film also happens to feature one of the best casts – even if it is largely whitewashed. While the script is pretty awful, there’s something to be said for the fact that Prince of Persia is also a better version of Assassin's Creed (parkour and all) than the film adaptation of that franchise that would tank over half a decade later.
Considering that the premise behind the video game source material has no business being a feature-length film, Rampage is a fairly pleasant viewing experience. It’s not a great film – or even a very good one for that matter – but it does benefit from Dwayne Johnson’s natural sweaty charisma and a perfectly self-aware, scene-chewing performance from Jeffery Dean Morgan. It’s a pretty safe and fairly boring movie otherwise, which is ultimately a shame because it had a lot more potential to be far weirder and crazy than it ended up being.
5. 'Silent Hill'
In many ways, Silent Hill is arguably one of the purest video game adaptations out there, which also means that it’s also one of the most beloved. Although the film does a surprisingly good job of replicating the atmosphere and visuals of the games, it also features subpar writing and lackluster direction. As if this weren’t enough, Silent Hill also happens to miraculously be one of the rare films where Sean Bean doesn’t succumb to some sort of violent death. Aside from this, the film is ultimately a mix of striking imagery, along with forgettable plotting and character work.
4. The Entire 'Resident Evil' Franchise
Although each of the entries in the Resident Evil franchise could comprise its own list of video game movies that display varying degrees of quality, we’re unironically grouping them together because they all represent the same early 2000s action movie ideologies. Seriously though, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish the differences between something like Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Retribution, other than Milla Jovovich’s hanging hairstyle and agelessness. While there’s something to be said for how this franchise eschews the storylines of the video games, they are enjoyable enough action-horror movies (in their own batshit crazy kind of way).
3. 'Mortal Kombat' (1995)
While some consider the original Mortal Kombat to be absolute '90s drivel, it’s actually one of the most truthful video game movies, especially when you consider that it's one of the rare entries within the genre to stick pretty closely to the story of the source material. The film is pretty effective. Even though the screenplay and performances are mostly bad (Christopher Lambert’s deliciously self-aware performance is a highlight), it’s also a whole lot of fun once you realize the cheeky intent of the movie. Hopefully the 2021 reboot can finally break the curse.
2. 'Sonic the Hedgehog'
Although Sonic the Hedgehog has only been in theaters for a few weeks, the film is already on its way to becoming one of the most successful video game adaptations in recent memory. Anchored by a pair of manic, yet equally individualized performances from Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz, the film is a surprisingly delightful and enjoyable experience. Sure, Sonic the Hedgehog is not a masterpiece by any means, but it does prove that the video game genre of movies is on the upswing and headed in a positive direction.
1. 'Detective Pikachu'
If you’re even somewhat familiar with the video game genre of movies, it should come as no surprise that Detective Pikachu is easily the closest that we’ve come to getting a borderline great adaptation. At the same time, it’s easily the most unlikely candidate for being the first genuinely good video game movie, which makes the film all the more satisfying. Simply put, Detective Pikachu checks most of the boxes for what makes a great adaptation: heart, humor, and a surprising amount of emotional depth.