21 Best (And Worst) Video Game That Were Made Into Movies

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From the days of eight-bit distractions like Pong and Pac-Man to state-of-the-art actioners like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Red Dead Redemption, video games have been a staple of popular culture for over half a century. Whether it be children discovering new games for the first time or parents showing games they played as kids to children of their own, video games are one of the few artforms that remain just as timeless as the day they were invented.

Naturally, if anything becomes popular enough, Hollywood comes knocking on the door to adapt it. The same is true for video games, though adapting the style and structure of a given game can be tricky. The best video game adaptations work to take the best elements of a particular game and putting a uniquely cinematic spin on it.

Though not every adaptation succeeds in translating a video game to the screen, there are a select handful that show the true potential of a marriage between video games and movies. Today, we’ll be going through some of the best as well as some of the worst video game adaptations to ever grace the silver screen. 

1. Best: Mortal Kombat (1995)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Paul W.S. Anderson’s big-budget follow-up to his 1994 indie smash Shopping stands as one of the earliest video game adaptations, as well as one of the best. An adaptation of the iconic Midway Games arcade staple of the same name, Anderson’s film meshes the video game’s spirit with a healthy dose of 90’s cheese, making this a thoroughly entertaining watch.

2. Worst: Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

This Blumhouse-produced adaptation of Scott Cawthon’s wildly popular PC horror game fails to capture the game’s claustrophobic atmosphere, opting to drown the viewer in lore rather than crafting a compelling story. 

3. Best: Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Photo Credit: Hollywood Pictures.

The first ever video game adaptation is not the most faithful adaptation on this list; the Mario lore was very loosely defined in 1993. But it gets credit for being extremely strange. This film managed to convert the poppy pastels of the Mushroom Kingdom into a series of brutalist tableaus that wouldn’t feel out of place in Blade Runner or Mad Max. 

4. Worst: Tomb Raider (2018)

Photo Credit: MGM.

The third attempt to bring Lara Croft to the big screen, Tomb Raider succeeds at adapting the grounded approach of the recent Crystal Dynamics entries. It fails, however, in being an exciting or coherent film, opting to take the route of a boring origin story for Lara Croft rather than showing her search for artifacts or solve puzzles like she does in the game.

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5. Best: D.O.A. Dead or Alive (2006)

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Famous Hong Kong choreographer Corey Yuen directs this shockingly faithful adaptation of the Team Ninja computer game. Throwing away any sense of plot in favor of dynamic action, this thing moves like a bullet and successfully captures the tone and spirit of the games!

6. Worst: Uncharted (2022)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This Tom Holland vehicle squanders the potential of the fantastic source material. Holland is wildly miscast as Nathan Drake, and the movie’s cliché-riddled adventure plot never feels as exciting as playing the games.

7. Best: Monster Hunter (2020)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

This Paul W.S. Anderson adaptation of the Capcom role-play game translates the fun of monster hunting into a frenetic two-hour action adventure! A casualty to the COVID-19 pandemic, this film didn’t perform very well at first simply due to the timing of its release, but over time it’s garnered much more of a following!

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8. Worst: The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

It was foolish to try and make a film based on popular Rovio app. This ugly and annoying children’s film fails to justify its own existence, never expanding the premise of the game in a way that feels fresh or satisfying.

9. Best: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Simon McQuoid’s attempt at adapting the classic video game series takes everything that made Paul W.S. Anderson’s film great and updates it with a healthy dose of grisly gore. With excellent fight choreography and enough callbacks to the game to keep the fans happy, this is one video game adaptation that will satisfy gamers and newbies alike.

10. Worst: Alone in the Dark (2005)

Photo Credit: Boll Kino Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG.

Alone in the Dark did not do well upon its release. The film itself details the invasion of small creatures that nest inside humans and turn them into monsters; even as the movie ends, there’s no clear ending for the battle for earth taking place between humans and the alien creatures. We recommend sticking with the video game!

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11. Best: Silent Hill (2006)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

Though it ends a little anti-climactically, this adaptation of the popular horror game series superbly translates the gloomy atmosphere and Lovecraftian terror that makes the video games so memorable. Avoid Silent Hill: Revelation, which takes everything good about this film and turns it into a jump-scare-riddled mess.

12. Worst: Need for Speed (2014)

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures.

How does one adapt a racing game into a compelling action movie? Need for Speed never answers this question. The feats of racing and vengeance in this film are just not enough to keep viewers invested in the film or the story it’s trying to tell. 

13. Best: Resident Evil (2002)

Photo Credit: Screen Gems.

Paul W.S. Anderson proves himself to be the master of the video game movie, using elements from the first and second Resident Evil games in his ultra-violent adaptation. Following Alice and her band of rogues as she tries to contain the spread of the T-virus, the film’s success went on to produce six sequels. 

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14. Worst: Warcraft (2016)

Photo Credit: Legendary Pictures.

Duncan Jones’ adaptation of the Blizzard MMORPG fails to effectively communicate the lore of the game. It could have been an excellent story, but without that critical context, audiences are left with a clumsy CGI mess and a story that is more confusing than compelling. 

15. Best: Rampage (2018)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

The Rock stars in this adaptation of the classic Midway Games arcade game. The film ditches the games central hook of a human turning into a mutated monster, but The Rock’s charm and the giant monster fights make this summer blockbuster a worthy addition to the Rampage franchise.

16. Worst: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Disney’s attempt at a live-action video game adaptation never lives up to the games, pulling story elements and cliches from other adventure movies instead of accurately adapting the games it’s based on. Jake Gyllenhaal was cast as the son of the Persian king, and he’s arguably just not the best fit for the role. 

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17. Best: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

It’s always a blast to see this iconic blue hedgehog fighting the evil Dr. Eggman, and this film is no exception. Though it complicates the relatively simple games a bit too much, the comedy-action of the film is so much fun that audiences are willing to overlook a good amount.

18. Worst: Assassin’s Creed (2018)

Photo Credit: New Regency Productions.

Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of the globe-trotting stalk-and-sneak games fails to capture the tone or spirit of the games, making the time travel elements confusing and the conspiracy elements extremely annoying. With a bevy of material to pull from, it’s confusing as to why a great Assassin’s Creed adaptation hasn’t been made already.

19. Best: Doom (2005)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

The Rock takes another star turn in this adaptation of the classic first-person shooter, there are sequences in this movie that are one-for-one recreations of the POV shooting mechanics of the video game. A violent blast for fans and casual audiences alike!

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20. Worst: Hitman (2007)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

This junky action thriller fails to translate the puzzle mechanics of the Hitman games, instead giving us a clunky and generic action films that never congeals into anything even resembling the games. It’s an unfortunate miss; keeping the puzzle element would not only have strengthened the thriller aspect, but deepened the movie over all. 

21. Best: Street Fighter (1994)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Following in the wake of 1993’s Super Mario Bros., Die Hard screenwriter Steven E. de Souza’s adaptation of the popular arcade game doesn’t skimp on the butt-kicking action that the games are known for. No one will ever be as good an M. Bison as Raul Julia!

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Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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