Worst video game movies
Pixels became a certified flop this past weekend, and while the world debates whether this is the end of Adam Sandler, the movie star, we here at TechRadar decided to take a look at movies based on video games (not just ones that feature them as – admittedly central – plot points) and pick out the worst of the worst.
From bad acting to nonsensical/nonexistent plots to having absolutely nothing to do with the video games from which they stem, the movies on this list all have one thing in common: they’re just plain awful.
These are our staff picks for the worst video game movies of all time. If we’ve left one off you’d like to see (or think we got it completely wrong), give us a shout!
Super Mario Bros.
1993′s Super Mario Bros. was the very first movie that came to mind when we started compiling this list.
Sure, it can’t stack up to the advanced effects of modern movies, but the whole thing comes off as a confused, silly mess. Starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, respectively, it was a real stinker with critics, earning a 4/10 rating on IMDb and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Mario, graciously called it "a very fun project," yet also expressed disappointment SMB ended up being a movie about a video game, rather than a half-way decent piece of cinematic entertainment in and of itself.
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert ranked it among their worst films of ’93, and Hoskins called it the worst thing he ever did. Pretty much every actor in the movie ended up hating it, too. This incredibly lengthy "Goobmas in the Elevator" scene perfectly illustrates the sometimes cringe-worthy, at times nearly unwatchable camp of Super Mario Bros.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
This computer-animated movie may have looked stunning, but it was like nails on a chalk board to our ears.
If you can make it past the atrocious voice acting, you’re left with a movie that, while visually appealing, is dull and cliche. And though considered by some a technological milestone because of its computer animation, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a box office bomb.
When you consider that it’s the most expensive video game-inspired movie ever made (final cost of $137 million) and one of the least successful video game-inspired movies of all time, PLUS is largely responsible for the closure of the movie studio that made it, you see why Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was one big fail.
House of the Dead
House of the Dead earned two out of 10 stars on IMDb, 4% on Rotten Tomatoes (not to mention being named to its list of 100 worst films of the 2000s), 15% on Metacritic and made Time’s list of top 10 worst video game movies. It was clearly panned by critics, and it miraculously did OK with audiences by making slightly over its budget at the box office.
But objective facts about how terrible House of the Dead is aside, the film was doomed from the start: Its basic premise is that attendees of an island rave (sponsored by SEGA) are attacked by zombies, and those who survive must escape. Zombies we can live with, but a day-time rave on an island with about 20 people in attendance, not to mention unbearable acting and abysmal film making, we just can’t let slide.
But, perhaps worst of all, House of the Dead has two words associated with it: Uwe Boll. Or, as one TechRadar staffer put it, "the man who’s single-handedly destroyed every video game franchise he’s ever touched."
DOA: Dead or Alive
DOA: Dead or Alive, a schlocky, over-sexualized film based off a virtual fighting tournament teaches us an important lesson: The same elements that make a good video game don’t always make for a good movie.
Though it had venerable fight coordinator Corey Yuen at the helm, DOA has a made-for-TV movie quality that it can’t be shook. Despite having a $21 million budget, it feels defiantly low-rent.
Fans of the video game franchise took chagrin with the movie for cardinal sins like its insanely poor casting choices, massive character rewrites, and the decision to leave out some of the most beloved, pivotal fighters from the series.
But, hey, at least it included a volleyball scene.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
The first Mortal Kombat holds a soft spot in nearly all TechRadar staffers’ hearts, but there’s no love for its 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
You just can’t beat dialogue like, "Mother…you’re alive!" "Too bad…you…will die!" The plot is paper thin, there are way too many characters, the CGI and fight scenes are laughable and, did we mention the dialogue?
With a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a gross worldwide box office revenue total that was $71 million less than the first Mortal Kombat: Annihilation should have never been made.
Our biggest gripe with 2002′s Resident Evil? Its thread-bare connection with the video games made it feel like a zombie movie that happened to be called "Resident Evil" instead of a movie adaptation of one of gaming’s greatest horror franchises.
Despite what we think, it clearly resonated with audiences, since Resident Evil was only the first of five franchise films to be released in a 10-year span. Bucking the trend of original movies that do better than the sequels, the inaugural Resident Evil film made the least amount of money in the box office (second least when adjusted for ticket price inflation) than any of its follow-ups.
Resident Evil is far from the worst movie on this list but, to be honest, the bar here is pretty low.
Before he was The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg was Max Payne, the lead character in a movie based on the eponymous video game … and he probably wishes he never was.
In the games, Max is seeking revenge for the death of wife and daughter. Just what Max wants in the movie, however, is a lot less clear. The plot doesn’t make any sense and strays so far from the video game at points, we had to wonder where they came up with this stuff.
Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly may have said it the best: "The movie is a series of glum interrogation scenes that lead nowhere special, with a not-quite-sci-fi urban murkiness that makes it look like someone was trying to shoot Blade Runner in Cleveland."
At the end of the day, Max Payne’s theatrical debut resulted in an all-around weird movie that doesn’t do the fantastic dark, brooding and at times over-the-top violent video game justice, and for that, it’s on this list.
If there ever was a video game that should have just stayed a video game, Street Fighter is it. A favorite arcade staple of ours back in the day, 1994′s Jean-Claude Van Damme-led fighter is as painful as a Flash Kick to the gut.
The late Raul Julia gives an overacted performance for the ages, while Van Damme can’t act … a damn. Combine that with the absolutely grotesque version of Blanka that still gives us nightmares and you have a recipe for disaster.
Still, despite what critics thought of it, Street Fighter was a commercial success, and continues to have some semblance of cult classic status.
Need for Speed
"Racing is art. But racing with passion – that’s high art."
Like reading Hemingway, no? 2014′s Need for Speed fulfilled fans need for heart-pumping adrenaline action and asked them to leave their brain cells at the door.
Starring a growling Aaron Paul, the film’s plot is "preposterous," according to Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus, and we can’t help but agree. (Though what can you expect from a film literally based on a series of unrelated races?)
That said, Need for Speed was fairly tasty eye candy. It wasn’t Avatar level, but with just as many explosions as a Michael Bay film, it at least had a visual style all its own. If you like sharp cars and don’t mind dull dialogue, then maybe you won’t hate Need for Speed as much as we did.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
We get it. Some moviegoers loved Tomb Raider. They turned out their pockets to see Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and catapulted it to the biggest opening record for a movie featuring a female protagonist at the time. And it still holds the record for highest grossing video game movie when adjusted for today’s ticket prices.
But this isn’t a popularity contest and popular films can still be bad.
Jolie may have done her best to carry this film, but everything else about it is the height of absurdity. The real sense of danger created in the game failed to translate to the silver screen, as did the feeling of legitimate wonder that often goes along with playing Croft. And try and tell us that Jolie’s skin-tight bathing suit was in there for any reason other than marketing.
Doom is pretty much synonymous with bad video game movies. What could have been a mind-blowing movie based on a mind-blowing video game ended up being what one critic called a "waste of time."
The flick failed to translate two critical features of the game. It wasn’t set in Hell, opting instead for using human experiments – a.k.a. zombies – over demons, and the ratio of poor dialogue to shooting was pitiful.
It did fine at the box office its opening weekend, but audiences cooled on Doom by its second week out. Fans of the Doom, the game, didn’t take too kindly to the fact that Doom, the movie, took liberties with the plot and all-in-all failed to capture the spirit of the game.
Star Dwayne Johnson was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actor award, but mercifully lost.
Finally, we end with the crème de la crème of terrible video game movies.
Set in the then-far off year of 2017 in New Angeles "after the big quake," this movie is just too hilariously bad to pass up.
You’re literally thrown into an ancient battle in the first frame, then hurled into the future to meet a maniacal baddie who really wants the other half of a talisman and suffers some sort of animated meltdown. Then it’s off to meet the protagonists, two Bill and Ted-esque lookalikes who are clearly teenagers instead of grown men like in the NES game.
This would be entertaining to any 8-year-old, we’re sure, but as a video game movie, it jumps the shark way too early and never tries to swim back. And let us never forget that Adobo, the first boss in the video game, was made to look like a walking scrotum in the film. RIP Adobo.