ByJames Buxton, writer at
Professional Nerf Herder. Twitter: @JayDBux
James Buxton

The film and video game industries have never really been good pals. With a few exceptions, every game released that's been based on a movie has ended up being pretty awful and the same can be said for the opposite.

Movies that take inspiration from video games are usually doomed from the start, employing writers and directors who really couldn't care less about the source material (I'm looking at you, Uwe Boll). Often they're poorly made, uninspiring pieces of work that are destined for the DVD bargain bucket. In some cases they can even sour the public's opinion of the original product, damaging sales and the possibility for sequels.

However, even this cloud has a silver lining, albeit a thin one. While there don't seem to be any video game movies that could be universally considered good, there are some that are still well made and in some cases very entertaining. It's movies like these, made by writers and directors that care about their final product, that give hope to a new era, hopefully beginning with Michael Fassbender's Assassin's Creed next year.

So while it would be a stretch to call any of these movies anything more than average, they're certainly still worth a watch.

5. Hitman (2007)

No, not the recent atrocity starring Rupert Friend that some inaccurately call a cinema-worthy outing, but rather 2007's attempt at a Hitman movie, starring Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47. Hitman was far from perfect, scoring just 14% on rotten tomatoes due to its clunky dialogue and poorly paced storyline. However, unlike Rupert Friend, Olyphant gave 47 enough depth to place him slightly above your generic action movie hero and prevented the film from being hard to watch. The effects were cheesy, the dialogue wooden and the overall plot ridden with holes, but the action and performance of Olyphant were not to be snubbed.

4. Resident Evil (2002 - )

While not necessarily the best series, Resident Evil is definitely one of the most well known and successful video game movie franchises in the world. With five films and counting, it's also the biggest and so far is the only series to surpass two movies.

However, they aren't all good. If you have a stroll around the internet you'll find that no one seems to agree on which is best, but personally my favorite is the original Resident Evil from way back in 2002. The movie has everything you'd expect from an action horror, with copious amounts of heavy violence and possibly one of the most gruesome traps seen outside of a SAW movie. You know the one I mean.

Aside from the incredible effects that were far ahead of their time, the movie also shines through with its acting, particularly Milla Jovovich, who has since become synonymous with the series. While many aspects of the film were not praised by critics, Jovovich's acting was considered a high point of a generally mediocre franchise. With a final sixth film set for 2017, hopefully the whole crew can pull it out of the bag for one last hurrah.

3. Need For Speed (2014)

Now, admittedly the Need For Speed movie is far from brilliant. In fact many hated it, calling it a cheap rip off of the greatly superior Fast & Furious franchise, which it is. However, as a standalone movie, it isn't too bad, and as a video game movie it's a must see.

Typically, movies that take inspiration from popular games try and distance themselves from the original franchise and become their own thing. In most cases this causes the film to bomb spectacularly, with the aforementioned Resident Evil being the one notable exception. The creators of Need For Speed must have clearly paid attention in video-game-movie-making-school as the film stays very close to the source material. The ridiculous, over-the-top story feels just like a classic NFS campaign and the arcade-style action perfectly captures the heart of what every video game movie should be: fun.

Sure, it's no Citizen Kane, but Need For Speed definitely earns the award for most accurate video game adaptation.

2. Tomb Raider (2001 - 2003) (2017)

Tomb Raider stands as the most well known and most widely praised video game movie ever released. While definitely not award-worthy, Tomb Raider and its 2003 sequel The Cradle of Life still hold up today and stand alongside the likes of The Mummy and National Treasure as classic action-adventure flicks of the early 2000s.

The majority of the praise for these movies is directed towards the casting of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, everyone's favorite grave robbing heroine. Jolie, as well as being the spitting image of Croft, portrayed the role as if she were born for it, flinging snarky quips here and there much like her digital counterpart.

Aside from the acting, the high-budget sets and special effects set Tomb Raider aside from many other video game movies by making it feel very much like an A-list production. Couple that with decent directing and a stellar cast and you've got yourself a passable movie franchise.

1. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

The number one spot on this list goes to Prince of Persia, a film that doesn't just avoid being bad, it tests the waters of being good. Considered by many to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan in a very loose adaptation of the video game ofthe same name. The movie creates a whole new story, avoiding the risk of disappointing fans of the game's plot and allowing itself to branch out into new territory. While Tomb Raider blurred the lines between video games and film, Prince of Persia decides to disregard the lines altogether, appearing to the casual viewer as its own fully fledged action movie.

Prince of Persia boasts an all star cast with the likes of Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Gemma Arterton taking the top roles behind Gyllenhaal and a relatively huge budget of $200 million. While not necessarily a huge commercial success, it did garner several positive reviews and many praised it for its original story and fast-paced action. While a sequel was eventually scrapped, it did also breathe life back into the dormant game franchise as well, sprouting the modestly successful Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands later that year.

Honorable Mentions

  • Mortal Kombat
  • Doom
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children


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