Films based on video games have proven to be the bane of both critics and gamer’s lives as most are poorly adapted to the silver screen and sold purely on name value. Most video game films are awful as they poorly represent the source material they are based on with studios showing little respect to fans. Usually, directors think that the best way to emulate the experience of the games is to have over the top action sequences and cringey nu metal soundtracks (as in every single Uwe Boll film) and promote the film based only on the title of the game. Video games and film have had a large influence on me and continue to do so, which makes it disappointing that both don’t seem to gel together.
However among the festering heap of crap that is video game films we get a minority that actually gets a passing grade. I’m excluding films that are not directly based on video games such as Wreck-it Ralph. So I now present my list of the top five video game films.
Mortal Kombat (1995):
Besides containing one of the best club anthems ever Mortal Kombat is a cheesy but enjoyable film. Mortal Kombat does a fairly good job of looking the part as it nails the visual style of the first two games. Everything about this film is over the top but so is the game series so I actually think the film captures the tone of the games rather well. My main drawback though is that this film lacks mortal Kombat’s biggest gimmick, the gore, which is disappointing as a few fatalities and dismemberment would suit the film rather well.
While poorly received both critically and by many fans I have to admit I thought the first Hitman film was really enjoyable. The film is based on one of my favourite franchises, Hitman a series which allows the player multiple options to complete their mission from in the shadows to all guns blazing. The film chooses to go with the latter approach which is why I think the film is so divisive among fans of the series who know that the most rewarding approach in the games is the stealthy option. The film is R rated allowing for some great kills and lots of blood and Olga Kurylenko in the nip. While the film misses the mark in a few areas (The train knife fight) it at least captures the aesthetics of the game and Timothy Olyphant does a stand-up job as Agent 47. I still can’t bring myself to finish the new Hitman film Agent 47 as it goes out of its own way to misrepresent the franchise as much as it can.
Prince of Persia: Sands of time (2010):
While a pretty forgettable film Prince of Persia at least captures a lot of elements from the games and uses them rather well. The plot of the film takes elements from three of the games and features the series staple the dagger of time. The film also has a lot of very good actors in it like Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and even Caesar himself Toby Kebbell. I think Disney thought they could get a franchise out of this Prince of Persia similar to Pirates of the Caribbean but the film didn’t so well enough both financially and critically. The film tries too much to be like a Pirates film but instead comes off more like an entry in the vastly inferior franchise The Mummy.
Resident Evil (2002):
Even James Cameron himself admitted that Resident Evil is his guilty pleasure. This film makes so many of the same mistakes most video game movie adaptation make yet still is one of the best video game film made. The action is ridiculous and doesn’t match the gameplay of the original entries it’s based on; the soundtrack is full of hard rock and nu-metal anthems, the dialogue is pure cheddar and yet it’s a really entertaining popcorn flick. While the tone of the film didn’t match the original games, later entries in the games franchise started to bear far more similarities to the game series. Even Resident Evil 4 had a nod to the first films laser scene.
Silent Hill (2006):
Easily the best adaptation to date, Silent Hill actually uses its source material and captures it splendidly on the big screen. The visuals are spot on as well as the sound design as we hear the infamous siren followed by the world decaying. The music is just as haunting and eerie and a great nod to the games. Many of the creatures are pulled directly from the game including the infamous Pyramid Head who looks great. The film is both dark in its narrative and has some truly gory moments which I really appreciated as many game adaptation are watered down by studios. While the film was not well received by critics it definitely struck a chord with fans with many agreeing with myself that this is the best and most faithful video game adaption to date.