Top 5 Video Game Adaptations

DOOM, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, 2005, (c) Universal

Dwayne Johnson, Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike in Doom

By Jordan

From the ill-fated and conceived Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993 to the sleek but shallow Need for Speed update in 2014, adapting films from video games has largely been a forgettable exercise.

The approximately 28 titles that have made the transition boast a combined Rotten Tomatoes average of just 18%, which isn’t helped by German director Uwe Boll’s efforts House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Bloodrayne and Postal respectively scoring 4%, 1%, 4% and 7%. Ouch.

Despite all of this gloom though, there have been some adaptations worth the price of admission. In maintaining and slightly tuning where needed the aesthetics of the source material to suit a prompt running time, adjusting plot points and sometimes creating new characters to tell fresh stories, these game-inspired journeys are actually a great deal of fun, and make up a sizable chunk of my guilty pleasure playlist.

Paul W. S. Anderson, as you’ll soon realise is a director I quite like… and before you deride me for that just remember, he’s married to Milla Jovovich. Try to say a bad thing about him now.

5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Directed by Alexander Witt

Game Publisher: Capcom

Resident Evil: Apocalypse doesn’t spring to mind as a worthy addition to this list because of any cinematic attributes or outstanding qualities, but rather because it so enthusiastically flaunts the elements of the video games it’s based on, even at times to its detriment.

Seeing Nemesis brought to life was the dream of many Resident Evil 3: Nemesis fans, even if he was given a soft edge, and in that iconic blue top Sienna Guillory steals the show as the fabulous Jill Valentine. Those who aren’t familiar with the legendary games series may not take much away from this, but for the initiated its highly re-watchable and filled with pleasing references.

4. Mortal Kombat (1995)


Paul W. S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat is a certified guilty pleasure

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Game Publisher: Midway Games

Paul Anderson’s first attempt at adapting a video game, Mortal Kombat was a surprise box office hit and despite having aged quite terribly, is still much loved by many nostalgic video gamers.

Featuring a paper thin plot, this charming kung-fu inspired slice of entertainment is compensated for by some inventive production design and characters worth both rooting for and against. Simple minded fun.

3. Doom (2005)


The first person shooter sequence in Doom really is quite epic

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak

Game Publisher: id Software

Doom is an otherwise average film saved by an unexpectedly brilliant sequence, where the action takes place in the perspective of a first-person shooter, being an element the pioneering game series was renowned for. It appears out of place, is overly long and further highlights the fact that the film makers aren’t interested in creating a work of art, but it’s also quite brave really and deserves respect.

2. Silent Hill (2006)


Radha Mitchell confronts her fears in Silent Hill

Directed by Christophe Gans

Game Publisher: Konami

It surprises me that Silent Hill has never achieved much by way of critical recognition, as I find it to be an atmospheric horror film of the highest order. The talented Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) has a handle on creating mood and dread through imagery and quiet moments of suspense, and he is assisted here by a talented cast including Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger and Kim Coates.

1. Resident Evil (2002)

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Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez in Resident Evil

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Game Publisher: Capcom

The Resident Evil games rate among my favourite of all time, having spent a great deal of my high school years searching for ink ribbons, green herbs and old keys in order to stay alive and save my progress. I love this world of the Arklay Mountains, Racoon City, S.T.A.R.S and the Umbrella Corporation so much that I’m still glad Paul Anderson decided to tread his own path with his film series based on the games, being particularly fond of the work he did on his first entry in 2002.

Taking place in the laboratory beneath the mansion Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine so famously explore in the original game, and introducing a new character in the mysterious and deadly Head of Security Alice (clearly based on Ada Wong, who played a similar role in the games and sports the same red dress), Resident Evil is a scary, fast paced techno-horror that rejuvenated the zombie genre and boasts a number of standout scenes (one can never forget the laser room) as well as a finely executed ending.

It’s not one of my Top 30 Films for no reason.

17 responses to “Top 5 Video Game Adaptations

  1. Here I was thinking I was the only that liked the first RE movie. Even with all the superhuman stuff Alice does, the film stands on its own even with the atmosphere and primal panic after shit hits the fan.

    You’ll probably need to change the list after Doug Liman and Tom Hardy’s Splinter Cell come out, along with Justin Kurzel and Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed.

    • Nope I’m definitely with you. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it ha, kickstarted my admiration of Milla too.
      True, true, although they really are battling against the odds to make those movies great.

  2. I do think that Super Mario is actually pretty alright. I like the world and visually its quite fun. I have not seen much of the first Mortal Kombat and though while Annihilation is a bit weak, the minute where the elder god shouts “In Mortal Kombat” and the music begins, I feel proud to be a fan of the video games.

    • I like it for the Dennis Hopper factor, but I can’t say I got too much else out of it. It truly is just misguided ha.
      Yep, I think most movie fans would get a lot out of games if they gave them a go.

  3. There are some definite guilty pleasures on there! Great work. I really enjoyed the Prince of Persia film, but I’m yet to find anyone that agrees with me!

  4. Yikes. This is the cream of the crop? Can I just say Wreck it Ralph? It has some real video game characters. If that doesnt count I guess Tomb Rader is watchable B action movie

  5. The “Resident Evil” films are fun, but I love “Silent Hill” the best. I’m a bit biased as I’ve done my own fan film (“Silent Hill: Stolen Heart”) and a short inspired by the world (“Pieces of 8”), but I honestly think it’s the best one because so much love went into it. At least the first one (not the sequel) actually felt like a real film made by people who love the source material, not just a quick grab for cash. Everything about the way that film was made was absolutely beautiful. I wish it got more love than it did at the box office.

    • Yep can’t disagree with any of that! Well done on the fan film too.
      Silent hill is a patient, carefully crafted film, which is indeed very rare among its peers.

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