The lines between movies and videos games have become a lot less blurred in recent times, with modern video games becoming much more narratively driven than ever before. Further to this, many developers have even created video games based on famous movies, with some telling a new unique story from within the same universe and on many occasions the end result has been a ‘Game of the year’ contender.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when film studios acquire the rights to make a movie based on a well-known video game. In fact, it’s impossible to give even an example of a great video game film. Granted the Resident Evil series has done well financially but those movies were mediocre at best and have spawned more sequels than they had any right to.
Now, you will notice some glaring omissions from this list such as Dungeon Siege or Blood Rayne – two movies so bad that it’s difficult to actually call them a movie at all. That is because this list focuses on ten video game movies that were based on franchises so popular that the studio thought they were printing money but In reality, not only did they end up being massive disappointments but they also partly responsible for the horrible reputation that the video game movie genre has today.
10. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Let’s get this out of the way – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within wasn’t a terrible film but neither was it very good. Based on the wildly popular Japanese role-playing game series – which had broken into the mainstream following the success Final Fantasy VII – the film was rendered completely in photorealistic computer-animated graphics – using some of the most advanced processing capabilities available at the time. The ambitious project took four years to complete and a team of 200 people were required to render the films the film’s 141,964 frames.
The critical response to the film was lukewarm at best. While the movie was praised by some for its technical achievements, the plot did not live up to the standards that had been set by the game franchise on which the film was based. The story was a dull cliché driven snore fest, featuring weak characters and lacked the same innovation demonstrated by the films graphical rendering.
To make matters worse, Final Fantasy was a box office bomb – only managing to recover about 60% of its budget.
9. Double Dragon
If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, the chances are you would have come across a Double Dragon arcade machine at some point. The side scrolling beat ’em up was a mainstay in many arcade halls and bars alongside Street Fighter 2 (also on this list).
This sci-fi action film is set in a futuristic Los Angeles which has been devastated by a huge earthquake. Two adoptive brothers have to protect one-half of a magical dragon amulet, which was placed in their care by their mentor, while The evil Koga Shuko – who carries the other half – chases them through the city.
Clearly aimed at a younger audience, the film was a complete mess – featuring an overly simplistic storyline and cheesy dialogue and resembling nothing of the game on which it was based.
8. Wing Commander
Wing Commander is a 1999 science fiction film loosely based on the 90’s space combat simulation series of the same name. The game used extensive live action full motion video to add an interactive movie-style presentation to the space combat gameplay and featured the acting talents of Hollywood actors John Rhys-Davies, Malcolm McDowell and Mark Hamill.
Despite the game already featuring some world class actors, the film studio – rather than cast the likes of McDowell or Hamill – opted to cast Saffron Burrows, Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze Jr., no doubt believing that the younger and more current actors would mean more success at the box office. But this would not be the case, with Wing Commander regaining only a third of its budget and going on to be Lillard and Prinze Jr’s worst movie together until Scooby-Doo in 2004!
7. Silent Hill
Starring Sean Bean and Laurie Holden – best known for playing Andrea in the Walking Dead – Silent Hill was a 2006 film based on the highly popular horror video games series. Eager to emulate the success of the Resident Evil movies, TriStar Pictures released Silent Hill on April 21st, 2006 – with the film opening at number one at the U.S. box office.
Critically, however, the film was not so well received. The general consensus being, that while Silent Hill was visually impressive, it was plagued by inane dialogue, a confused plot and an overlong runtime.
Although generating a sequel in 2012 – which was without a more horrible movie – Silent Hill takes precedence on this list as it had twice the budget and more expectation – let’s face it, only a fool would have expected the sequel to be any good after watching this mess of a film.
6. Assassin’s Creed
There are some video games that have blockbuster movie written all over them and have such a compelling storyline that you would think the process of converting the intellectual property to the big screen would not be a difficult task.
Assassin’s Creed is a perfect example of this – The plot of the game – set in a fictional history of real world events – follows a centuries-old conflict between a Secret Order of Assassins -who fight for peace with free will – and the Templars – who desire peace through control. Using a machine called the ‘Animus’, a modern day man is able the view the genetic memories of his ancestor – a member of the Assassins.
Although the film followed a similar plot thread, it wasn’t well received by critics. Many criticised the amount of time the movie spent in the modern day – arguing that the movie was at its best during the historic scenes, while many praised the cast (including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons). However, the general consensus described the movie as a CGI-fuelled, joylessly, over-plotted slog –roughly translated as, not very good!