A Bit of Excitement and a Bit of Disappointment: When Video Games Become Movies



Movies based on video games turn out to be either surprisingly bad or… let’s say – acceptable. There are also great ones. However, there are few of them. Most of them are unfortunately disappointingly bad. There is, however, something tempting in the quality kitsch that a good part of film adaptations of video games exudes, so let’s first look at some who disappointed us.

Truth be told, a good portion of these films are among the dearest screen adaptations of many. The reason is that a lot of them throw us back into nostalgia when we were children and as such, we had the opportunity to watch them on TV or videotapes, or because they are an adaptation of one of our favorite games.


If your favorite movie is in the category of disappointing adaptations, don’t feel offended…

Super Mario Bros

So let’s start with the extremely popular franchise with which generations grew up, which is the first high-budget Hollywood film based on a video game – Super Mario Bros. from 1993.

Mario is a very famous face of the gaming industry whose popularity is constantly growing, a favorite of both children and adults. There are also Luigi, Princess Peach, and many others. By 1993, there was already enough material for the creators to make a solid film based on the story and the characters. And yet, we got an utterly unrelated meaningless story and characters. So many times during the film one wonders “why?”.

Whether it is the fault of the studio or the screenwriters themselves or the material they got, it is as if the process was repeated through different films, that completely logical parts of the story or character traits change for some strange vision that confuses everyone with the original material instead of shocking or impressing.

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is also a real gem of this category, although it is one of our favorite childhood movies. It was objectively extracted from the oblivion only by an extremely popular music track. The film managed to earn $122 million with a budget of $18 million.

The dialogues in this film are an absolute manual on how not to write a script and the interaction between the characters. Costume design and visual effects have a nostalgic flair, so we forgive the creators.

Resident Evil

Interestingly, the director of Mortal Kombat, Paul W. S. Anderson, is the man responsible for Resident Evil films. Resident Evil is a game that has the perfect backing for a film or serial adaptation.

A plot that is always current, a beautiful design, and very interesting characters are already there; just a small twist would be enough to make a quality film franchise. Six films derived from this franchise, in addition to a strong cast and commercial success, did a good job of joining the original.

‘Honorary’ mentions for this category can additionally be Street Fighter, Max Payne, and DOOM, which is a real shame considering the quality of these games.

Acceptable Pieces

The next category may be acceptable films. Most movies made according to video games really fall into this category. Everything is technically fine when it comes to what an average viewer, who is not an ardent fan of the franchise, can notice. However, they do not impress, they are not overly good or memorable – a couple of hours of fun and zero minutes of further discussion of the film. For fans of the original, they become either a secret pleasure or a total disappointment that is not even bad enough to be good.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Here we come to the Prince of Persia film in 2010 – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He is a fantastic actor who really tried to convey the main character to us. However, the movie is so just… okay. It lacks so much what makes the game our favorite Ubisoft franchise.

The $200 million was invested in the film, the production was done by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film was quite acceptable, that is all.

Assassin’s Creed

Speaking of Ubisoft, side by side to the previous one can be our second favorite franchise, or its film adaptation – Assassin’s Creed.

The same case: beautiful visuals, good effects, but with so much quality original material that awakens so much inspiration and provides countless opportunities to use – weak.

Solid Adaptations

The next level on the scale could be films that are objectively also completely fine, technically of high quality, but franchise fans have either a very positive or a very negative opinion about them. Honestly, no matter how objectively we look at the situation, in this category, the personal judgment of the fans is that it positioned them where they are.

Warcraft and Tomb Raider

A solid budget and quality actors who did their best to pull out a not very well-written story. Great popularity and promotion, great expectations – solidly fulfilled on a global level.

Personal impression: both franchises are extremely dear to us, both film adaptations are objectively fine. The difference is that while we love Tomb Raider games, movies are what attracted us to the franchise. Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft is someone who left a strong impression on us during our growing up, while with Warcraft the case is reversed.

Warcraft is a game that is responsible for our first sleepless nights, for our huge love of science fiction… When the movie version was supposed to appear, the expectations were huge. They are not fulfilled despite all the charisma of Travis Fimmel.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Another film, although not a feature film, which deserves an honorable place in this category as, according to personal impression, a fantastic adaptation and a continuation of the previous parts of a franchise is Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Although the story does not make too much sense as a separate part, and although the turn and twist themselves are unusual compared to the rest of the story, the film is its perfect sequel.

It fits into the previous narrative, the characters are exactly as they should be, the visuals are very high quality, and the course of action is consistent. Fans of the franchise are generally extremely divided when it comes to this screenplay. There is no middle ground. The objective assessment of these achievements is blocked by personal impression, and that is the case why many films inspired by video games are rated either very well or very badly. Gamers are a cruel audience, and with this type of movie, they make up the majority of viewers.

Appealing Movies

Lately, however, film (and serial) adaptations of video games have finally appeared, winning the hearts of both the general public and fans of the original materials. The production becomes much better and serious, and much more attention is paid to the characters of the narrative and the original elements. The original works are honored and more and more effort is given to make the whole thing turn out properly. Those movies are Pokémon Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Pikachu is so far the only film made after the video game that managed to escape the condemnation of Rotten Tomatoes. No wonder because the beloved Ryan Reynolds was part of the project with his idea “like Deadpool, but acceptable for all ages, and with a cute yellow mouse.”

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic also did very well. Great progress can be seen in the film adaptations of the games and it seems that a turnaround is happening, that more and more films like this are being made, and that many are promising.

In addition to these two, this category also includes one feature and one cartoon series that stand out. The feature series is of course The Witcher, which is talked about and written about so much, and the Netflix’s cartoon Castlevania, which with each season increasingly gives an example of how a very large franchise can be adapted well even when many original elements are inserted.

Adaptations of the games Overwatch (extremely popular eSports game, played around the world by professional gamers who earn millions of dollars and on whose tournaments you can bet on the top-rated bookmakers by the link), Borderlands, Devil May Cry, Diablo, and many others are planned. Let’s hope that their creators have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors from the past two decades and that there is really a bright future in this field of cinematography ahead of us.

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