“Good” and “movie based on a video game” don’t seem like they go together even at the best of times. While there are a few video game movies that aren’t so bad (here's a list), by and large they tend to be stinkers. Is it just something about the format of video games that makes them hard to translate into movies? Or do the people adapting the games just not respect the source material? Is it a matter of going for style and not seeing the substance that made the popular? You can decide for yourself as you look at this list. While video game movies are generally bad, these are the worst of the worst. Read on…if you dare.
Super Mario Bros. (directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel)
This was the first feature film based directly on a video game and it should have warned us all of the horrors that were to come. The first bad omen was that the directors specifically wanted to do a “dark and edgy” take on Mario. There are some stories you can grim and gritty up, but a story about a plumber bouncing through the mushroom kingdom to rescue a princess isn’t one of them. But nope, the crew wanted to transform the kid-friendly, colorful and fun game into a movie that was none of these things. The bright colored setting of the games was replaced with some gray dystopian nightmare.
The studio, understandably, balked at this and forced rewrites. But these were not in the film’s favor, and the revised script clashing with the cast and setting that were already finalized just led it to be a chaotic mess. Lead actor Bob Hoskins calls it a “nightmare” and the “worst thing” he ever did.
However, some still regard the film fondly, argue it has “so bad its good” charm and note that there was at least a respectful effort put it into it.Advertisement
Wing Commander (directed by Chris Roberts)
Wing Commander was actually directed by the creator of the original game, so you’d expect it to be good. Unfortunately, all it proved is that guys who are good at making video games aren’t necessarily good at directing movies. This adaptation of the space combat game ended up being surprisingly unfaithful to the source material, even changing the cool spaceship designs to something that looked more like a piece of junk. The was endlessly boring without even decent special effects to save it and so poorly made there were even basic spelling errors throughout.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak)
While some adore the Street Fighter film for being good camp, The Legend of Chun-Li doesn’t have that going for it (aside from a hammy performance by Chris Klein) It’s just boring and includes one of the most awkward dancing scenes of all time. It’s also not very faithful to the source material: Chun-Li is now a concert pianist rather than an Interpol agent, because that’s more exciting. Her foe M. Bison is also turned from a caped dictator into a business-suit clad mob boss.
Double Dragon (directed by James Yukich)
Double Dragon is based on a classic side-scroller beat-em up, about the Lees, twin brothers who…beat up stuff. Yeah, it wasn’t something you can easily spin into a movie, but they tried really hard anyway. What became of it was a movie full of ridiculous cliché and cringeworthy “comedy”. Of course, Hollywood was loathe to cast two Chinese leads, so the brothers became half-brothers instead of twins, with one now a white guy. Also Los Angeles was some sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia, which had nothing to do with the games. The movie’s treatment of the source material is best summed up in a fight near the end where one of the characters horribly shatters a Double Dragon game console.
Max Payne (directed by John Moore)
Max Payne was a video game movie so bad the game producer himself spoke out against it. The game focuses on a guy on a quest to avenge the deaths of his wife and child. This is made clear from the beginning of the game, but in the movie they couldn’t be bothered to reveal it until well in the film, meaning you’re watching the protagonist go on a killing spree for no apparent reason and have stopped caring by the time it’s revealed. There were also demonic creatures added to the story for no apparent reason. They were supposed to be valkyries or something, except…valkyries aren’t demons. The movie was basically a mess that took itself way too seriously.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (directed by John R. Leonetti)
The first Mortal Kombat movie was enjoyable to many for its earnest camp value, its sequel was just a string of horrible CGI, bad dialogue, incoherent fight scenes and horrible acting. You can tell the people who make the movie really don’t care when they recast not just one but three of the five main characters for a sequel.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (directed by Uwe Boll)
Uwe Boll is infamous for his terrible video game adaptations and this is one of them. This adaptation of the Dungeon Siege video games featured blatant Lord of the Rings ripoffs, horrible miscasting and stilted dialogue galore. It won itself several Razzies as a result.
Pixels (directed by Chris Columbus)
This one isn’t based on one particular video game, but includes a lot of classic video game characters. Pixels took a creative short film and stretched it into the standard unfunny Adam Sandler comedy. The idea of the film is that giant versions of 80s video game characters are going around and turning everything into little pixel-like blocks. Only a band of unlikeable man-children (who embody all the worst stereotypes about gamers) can save the day. The result is a deeply unfunny comedy with no joy, class or even respect for the games it’s supposedly honoring. Let’s put it this way: at one point in the movie a guy wins a hot girl as a literal trophy. Oh, and that hot girl is Q*bert. Q*bert transforms into a hot girl for this guy and they get married and have Q*bert children. It’s as horrifying as it sounds.
Bloodrayne (directed by Uwe Boll)
Uwe Boll strikes again! The original Bloodrayne game was about vampires fighting Nazis, but this movie adaptation is sets it in medevial times, despite the main character’s aggressively modern outfit. The film was a mess from end to beginning. The gore effects were so bad that the R rating was unneccesary because even children would only laugh at that fake blood. There’s one scene where a guy gets stabbed through the chest and doesn’t react at all. Not even a grimace! Believe it or not, the sequels are even worse.
House of the Dead (Directed by Uwe Boll)
You guessed it, its Uwe Boll again. This was actually the first of his wave of awful video game movies and while it might not be as bad as some of what’s to come, it’s still absolutely abysmal. A bunch of whiny, stereotypical teens spring break on an island that ends up populated by zombies. At some point they inexplicably get matrix powers that allow them to shoot up zombies in painful slow motion. This was another movie that had little to do with the games (which is generally about federal agents fighting zombies, not teens going to a rave), featuring pretty much none of the characters except for a cameo at the end. Famously, the movie also straight up just inserted footage of the game for some fight scenes, with the INSERT COIN sign VISIBLE.
Postal (Directed by Uwe Boll)
At least the tagline's honest.
Postal was based on the already controversial game Postal 2 (which was banned in New Zealand for cruel and excessive violence) but managed to be something far worse. Uwe Boll’s less-than-laudable intentions with the film doomed it from the start- he made the film to get “revenge” on his “critics”, meaning it was more an extended tantrum than a movie. At one point, Boll himself cameos, is attacked and admits he really hates video games. Yeah, we got that, dude.
The film opens with portrayals of the 9/11 hijackers arguing about the amount of virgins they’ll get for crashing into the World Trade Center. They abandon the attack when they discover they won’t get any, but then the passengers try to retake the plane and cause the crash themselves. Yeah. You can see why this movie didn’t go over well.
In fact, most U.S. theatres refused to even show the thing. The few people who did see it largely thought that Boll’s attempt at “political satire” failed and came off more like “aimless offensiveness”. It won a Razzie for Worst Director.
Alone in the Dark (Directed by Uwe Boll)
Alone in the Dark isn’t just considered one of the worst video game movies ever made, but as one of the worst films ever made, period. It’s another Uwe Boll masterpiece, scoring only a 1% on Rotten Tomatoes. It only has the most tenuous connection to the survival horror game it’s based on, trading in suspense for slow-motion gunfights.
It’s clear it’s going to be dire from the first second of the movie, as it opens with a practically novel-length amount of scrolling text. The monsters in the movie are only “terrifying” to lazy electricians, as pretty much all they do is make the lights flicker. The dialogue is flat and exposition filled, the plot is clearly a ripoff of Aliens and the movie is so ineptly edited that at one point, a soldier who is supposed to be dead lifts her head. That’s just one of the many mistakes. All in all, this movie definitely earned all the scorn that was heaped on it.