10 Movies Based on Video Games

Friday, May 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

Films Adapted from Video Games

Even though I’m older than I would care to admit, I still enjoy popping in a video game on occasion and mowing down alien invaders or reliving the various battles of WWII. It’s a great way to blow off steam without going on a real-life killing spree, and the worst possible outcome is the realization that my reflexes aren’t what they used to be. In short: it’s good, harmless fun.

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Then someone went and got the bright idea to make movies based on video games. This started in earnest in the 1980s, and it has slowly gained momentum over the years. In fact, when most people think of big-screen game adaptations, there’s one name that comes to mind…

Yes, Uwe Boll. He’s the German director responsible for a whole string of critically-maligned video game adaptations, even though he manages to acquire respectable budgets and better-than-expected casts. If it weren’t for Dr. Boll (yes, he has a doctorate in literature), the modern video game movie might not exist. Then again, it might rival the superhero genre for popularity. Only the cinematic gods know for sure, and Boll has probably already flipped them off or pummeled them during a boxing match.

I do not guarantee the quality of these 10 movies based on video games. Some are surprisingly good, while others can be tolerated only if you’re drunk, stupid, or a fan of Michael Bay. Now that I think about it, those first two factors may be a requirement for the third.

Street Fighter (1994) – No, not the gritty action romp with Sonny Chiba. I’m talking about the adaptation of the long-running Capcom arcade classic, in which martial arts badasses from around the globe bludgeon each other senseless while always moving sideways. Jean-Claude Van Damme heads up the cast as Guile, an American character in the game who’s suddenly blessed with a thick Belgian accent. He teams up with the likes of Cammy (Kylie Minogue) and Chun-Li (Ming-Na) to face the evil and totally fictional nation of Shadaloo, which is led by none other than M. Bison (Raul Julia). That’s right, I said Raul Julia, the late Puerto-Rican actor who brought smiles to your face in such films as The Addams Family and Moon over Parador. With a soundtrack that includes Hammer (with Deion Sanders, no less), Nas, Ice Cube, and Public Enemy, not to mention two fighters squaring off in an ode to Godzilla movies, this is one train wreck worth catching.

Resident Evil (2002) – The Capcom series this zombie/action flick was based on always drove me nuts, as it seemed more concerned with making players combine herbs and find multiple pieces of machinery than blowing holes though the skulls of the undead. This adaptation scrapped the maddening puzzle aspect, though, allowing the yummy Milla Jovovich to kick some zombie ass while recovering from amnesia like only a movie character can. Trapped in an underground stronghold of the Umbrella Corporation, Alice (Jovovich) and her fellow survivors (including Michelle Rodriguez, scowling as always) must hack and shoot their way to freedom and a cliffhanger ending that begs for a sequel. Alice would get her sequel, by the way, and the Paul W.S. Anderson franchise is still alive and well as of this writing.

Postal (2007) – This is the first Uwe Boll video game adaptation on the list, and you’ll be sick of hearing his name by the time this article is through. After buying the film rights to the popular 1990’s computer game about a guy (known as the Postal Dude) who goes on a gun-toting rampage, Boll set out to raise the bar for irreverence. He succeeded by a wide margin, showing Dave Foley’s penis, including lots of big-breasted women in bikinis, having a small army of children get gunned down in a firefight, subjecting Verne Troyer to rape at the hands of one-thousand monkeys, and detailing the secret alliance between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. Boll even makes a cameo as himself, dressed in lederhosen and telling Nazi jokes.

Silent Hill (2006) – Adapted from the Konami franchise of survival horror games, Silent Hill follows a frantic mother (Radha Mitchell) as she searches for her missing daughter in an abandoned town blanketed by falling ash and filled with nightmarish creatures. Sean Bean co-stars as the father who’s always one step behind, and Laurie Holden looks amazing in tight-fitting police attire. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen deserves praise for the film’s unique visual presence, and those who enjoy style over substance will be beside themselves.

BloodRayne (2005) – Uwe Boll returns, this time bringing us an adaptation of a video game about a Dhampir (half-human and half-vampire) named Rayne (Kristanna Loken) who opposes the efforts of her vampiric father (Ben Kingsley) to destroy the human race. While the cast is notable, many of the actors are completely out of place in the fantasy setting (Michelle Rodriguez, Meat Loaf, Billy Zane), and co-star Michael Madsen seems especially listless in his role as a super-competent vampire slayer with a medieval mullet. There are, however, lots of shots of Loken’s muscular body, a number of sexual romps, and the scene with Meat Loaf includes a whole host of hotties (all of whom are actual Romanian prostitutes).

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Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderAngelina Jolie padded her boobs to play Lara Croft, the British explorer who was the subject of numerous geeky wet dreams during the franchise’s heyday in the ‘90s. Not only does she have to combat the Illuminati and a fellow tomb raider who’s motivated by profit (Daniel Craig), but Lara also gets the chance to chat with her deceased father–played by her real-life father Jon Voight–and fight her own personal robotic training partner. So that’s what it’s like to be British and busty. A sequel would follow, no thanks to those nitpicky critics.

Mortal Combat (1995) – Prior to adapting the Resident Evil franchise, director Paul W.S. Anderson honed his skills at the helm of this martial arts film about a legendary fighting tournament with the fate of the world in the balance. Familiar faces include Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, Linden Ashby, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. But nobody can hold a candle to Christopher Lambert and his crazy-ass accent as Raiden, the film’s resident god of thunder. Between his massive hat, white hair, and tendency to crack himself up, Raiden is one of the more memorable–if admittedly silly–video game adaptations.

House of the Dead (2003) – The third Uwe Boll video game adaptation on this list, but it’s not the last. The original game hit arcades in the mid-1990s, and it allowed players to use a light gun to blast the undead while depleting their college fund one quarter at a time. There’s plenty of undead killing in this version, too, and Das Boot actor Jurgen Prochnow is thrown in as an added bonus. A group of kids head to an island to attend a rave, but they find boatloads of zombies instead. There is a cool showdown scene in which a number of our heroes are dispatched in the spirit of the original game, and Ron Howard’s cooler brother, Clint, makes an appearance dressed like the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer. It’s a mess, to be sure, but those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or too much damned TV probably won’t care. Clint Howard, folks!

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) – Uwe Boll strikes again! This time he’s taking on the popular computer role-playing game which sent a heroic farmer on a quest to save the ailing kingdom of Ehb from a vile race known as the Krug. In the film version, the farmer (cleverly referred to as Farmer) is played by Jason Statham, but even his talents as an action hero can’t salvage this clunker. The budget was reported as $60 million, and I can only imagine that the bulk of it was spent on a cast that includes Statham, Burt Reynolds, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani, Matthew Lillard, Ray Liotta, and Kristanna Loken. An impressive cast to be certain, but the rest of the film is complete crap. The Krug are hapless and decidedly uncool villains, Burt Reynolds makes for an unconvincing ruler, and Matthew Lillard seems to be jacked up on PCP throughout. At least we get to see Ray Liotta take part in a sorcerer’s duel, something Scorsese didn’t have the balls to do in Goodfellas.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) – Strangely, buffed-up Jake Gyllenhaal jumps around a whole lot less than his video game counterpart, Prince Dastan. And don’t worry if you’ve never played the games, as this Disney flick pretty much chucks the long-running storyline right out the window. Dastan is an orphan who was adopted by the king, but his adopted father’s death leaves him framed as the assassin. Now on the run with a smoking hot princess (Gemma Arterton), he must find the real killer with the help of a magical dagger which allows limited control over time. There’s plenty of I-want-to-bang-you-but-I-won’t-admit-it banter between the two leads, and no video game adaptation is complete without an ostrich race. What a shame that Oscar winner and co-star Ben Kingsley couldn’t have gotten in on that action. Despite mixed reviews and box-office totals which fell short of projections, Prince of Persia still ranks as the highest-grossing movie based on a video game (at least as of this writing).

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Admittedly, most movies based on video games aren’t worth the price of admission. The effects are hokey, the acting is embarrassing, and the overall product is right up there with finding a human toe mixed in with your nachos. Still, if it’s crunchy and covered with cheese, you might find it tastier than expected.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011 at 11:47 am and is filed under Bad Movies, Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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