All 41 Theatrically-Released Video Game Movies Ranked From Worst to “Best”

By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief

Okay, so no video game movies are amazing, but some are better–or maybe, less worse?–than others. Here is how we ranked them.

[Note: In order to keep the list manageable and not include the well over 100 movies that have been made based on video games, we just focused on movies that had some form of theatrical release in the United States as of the day the article was posted. It is also only movies based directly off of video games, not just movies about video games or inspired by video games as a whole.]

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#41 – Alone in the Dark

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With a whopping 1% on Rotten Tomatoes–being out-scored even by the likes of Battlefield Earth, Kazaam, and Who’s Your Caddy?–Alone in the Dark isn’t just the worst video game movie of all time, it’s one of the worst of all time, period. The two male leads, Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff, are the type of actors who are only as good as their material, and when it’s bad, they are eager to rise fall to the challenge. They don’t even bother to ham it up in an entertaining way, delivering the dialogue with as much sincerity as anyone can muster for such a mess of a screenplay. And Tara Reid, well…it’s a Tara Reid movie that isn’t American Pie or The Big Lebowski, so ’nuff said there. Couple that with the sub-amateur special effects, editing, and camera work typical of Uwe Boll’s films, and you have a movie that makes even the worst entries of the actual video game series look like Resident Evil 4 by comparison.

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#40 – House of the Dead

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One of the few interesting things that the Doom movie did was to have a sequence that plays out in first-person perspective in an homage to the games. The way House of the Dead handles its tribute to its source material is that it splices in actual footage from the games into the film’s climactic action sequence, which is about as jarring and absurd-looking as you can imagine. To be watching a 2003 live-action movie and suddenly see a few seconds of a 1996 video game before cutting back to the movie itself makes even less sense than when one of the movie’s main characters has a sword fight with the film’s main zombie antagonist. Not just a battle with a few random blade weapons, either–it’s a full-on duel with fencing sabres. There’s definitely one thing that’s been missing from The Walking Dead, and it’s more swashbuckling-style action.

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#39 – BloodRayne

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Kristanna Loken looked like she was going to be the next big thing after her impressive turn as the main cyborg antagonist in Terminator 3, set to be the all-too-rare AAA female action star. Then she was in BloodRayne…and all of that went out the window (and it wasn’t even her last movie with Boll, also joining the case of In The Name of the King the following year). It’s been widely reported that most of the cast–which also included notable actors like Michelle Rodriguez, Meat Loaf, Michael Madsen, even Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley–just signed on to the movie as an excuse to spend some time in the beautiful Romanian countryside where the movie was filmed. It probably also didn’t hurt that Boll cast actual local prostitutes to play vampire extras in the film, which is surely entertaining company to keep between takes (especially since several members of the cast admitted to being drunk for much of the filming). Unfortunately, none of the behind the scenes fun made this abysmal movie remotely worth watching. They probably should’ve just followed Michael Madsen around with a hidden camera at the end of each day of filming and released that instead–though an R rating probably wouldn’t have been strong enough for that footage.

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#38 – Postal

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Politically incorrect humor can be funny, and even smart–just look at Mel Brooks films and even some of the better Farrelly Brothers movies. But there has to be some context to it, a legitimate, well-written movie built around the inappropriate jokes. Postal–like the games it is based on–doesn’t understand this delicate balance, and instead just thinks that humor and offensiveness are automatically one and the same. Putting Hitler mustaches on men and Nazi armbands on half-naked women isn’t just funny by default–there has to be an actual joke there, and there isn’t. That’s how this entire movie is, throwing out references to things like rape and 9/11 without any real structure or legitimate humor behind it as if we’re all still nine years old and giggle at the mere mention of something naughty whether it’s actually truly funny or not. Supposedly there is a respectable political statement underneath all of the juvenile nonsense, but when a “message” is in the subtext of a movie where Verne Troyer is raped by a gang of monkeys, it isn’t worth looking for.

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#37 – In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

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With a $60 million budget and a 156-minute running time (of the director’s cut version), this is definitely Uwe Boll’s “epic.” However, his take on the Dungeon Siege universe is more comparable in quality to a high school production of some public domain fantasy story nobody has heard of than to other movies of this ilk. Star Jason Statham is never given a chance to really show off his impressive action movie prowess (which is why you cast Jason Statham in a movie), Ray Liotta chews the scenery as only he can, and Burt Reynolds just seems like he’s trying to make his appearance in Striptease look better by comparison. It’s tough to know exactly where the $60 million was spent, as nothing in this movie looks half as good as a single episode of Game of Thrones (and HBO certainly doesn’t spend $60 mil per episode of that show). Truthfully, this is probably Boll’s best movie, although that’s a little bit like celebrating Nickleback’s “best” album–and Nickleback is actually the one who should feel insulted by that metaphor, not Boll.

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#36 – DOA: Dead or Alive

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There is nothing that the DOA movie does that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. Want to see curvy women fighting in impractical attire? The Tekken movie does that better. Want to see women who embrace their “hotness” and use it as empowerment while kicking ass in hyper-stylized fight sequences? The Charlie’s Angels movies do that better. Want to watch a gratuitous volleyball match featuring hot, sweaty, well-sculpted bodies glistening in the sun? Top Gun does that better (you know it’s true). Are you just really into Devon Aoki? Sin City does her better. DOA at least has the good sense to embrace its silliness and recognize why someone would want to see a DOA movie–and it ain’t for the serious martial arts action–but it still manages to be be more dull than fun. Also, not to be a pig, but the other reason people would see a DOA movie is for well-above-average chest sizes, and I don’t know if there’s even a D-cup to be found in the entire cast. Hey, if you’re not going to bother making a legitimately good DOA movie, at least deliver on the boobage, am I right?

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#35 – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

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Spoiler alert: the first Mortal Kombat movie finished very high on this list. So how is its sequel toward the bottom? It certainly is fascinating just how badly they squandered what should’ve been a slam-dunk of a sequel with this abomination (which should’ve been the film’s subtitle instead). It’s also amazing just how early into the movie it is made known that things aren’t going to go well, when returning character Johnny Cage–one of the franchise’s most popular characters and a highlight of the first movie–is killed within the first two minutes. Things get worse with the terrible recasting choices of Sonya and Raiden–when Bridgette Wilson and Christopher Lambert both pass on the sequel to a profitable and well-liked movie, that can’t possibly be good news. And sure, MK1‘s Shang Tsung certainly had a flair for melodrama, but the actors in this movie take it to heights that make the performances in SyFy’s original movies look nuanced. The title of this movie was fitting in one way: it annihilated the Mortal Kombat film franchise. It’s been 19 years and counting without a third movie.

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#34 – Tekken

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Turning fighting games into movies is a double-edged sword. On one hand, fighting games have some of the thinnest stories of any game genre and there’s very little to build a movie around. On the other hand, it offers a preexisting cast of colorful characters and gives a filmmaker an excuse to just have them fight for no reason for two hours. While other fighting game movies at least move the action away from the arena, Tekken is true to its roots in that the fights largely take place within the confines of an actual tournament. But there is a reason why very few movies do this–it gets boring after the third or fourth fight, which makes the fights in Tekken a slog to get through no matter how decently choreographed they are. There is a decent amount of Tekken characters accounted for, and most at least look the parts well enough, but not surprisingly, it has a disproportionate amount of token hot women to actual interesting characters. To include Christie as a major player just so they could include copious amounts of butt cleavage while completely omitting iconic characters like Paul, King, and Jack is inexcusable.

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#33 –  Pokémon Heroes 

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What could there have possibly been left for the Pokémon movie franchise to “say” to justify a fifth theatrical installment? Turns out, not much. By 2003, Pokémon had passed its mainstream peak and had settled back into mainly being popular among gamers, who by that point were mostly adults. The problem is, the Pokémon movies and TV shows have always been primarily aimed at kids, and not necessarily in the Studio Ghibli kind of way. And young kids who were just discovering Pokémon in 2003 already had four superior movies to watch (as well as about 5,000 episodes of TV shows across the various series). So it’s hard to know who exactly this movie was even made for. Does that make it a bad movie in and of itself? No it doesn’t, it just make it unnecessary which sometimes isn’t much better. Building the entire movie around lesser-known characters Latias and Latios is like making a Street Fighter movie starring Yun and Yang. There are less reasons to watch this movie than there was for it to exist in the first place.

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#32 – Hitman: Agent 47

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There are so many video game franchises worthy of movie adaptation that it seems silly to take another crack at one that already had a film (and one that wasn’t exceptional in the first place). Yet in 2015 we found ourselves with a movie that served to reboot the Hitman movie franchise following a single film in 2007. What this movie get so wrong about its source material is that the Hitman games were largely grounded in reality, which the film shoots in the head by overdoing the CG effects, slow-motion jumps, Matrix-style wire-fu, and bad guys with super powers. It’s like the filmmakers accidentally mixed up Hitman with Metal Gear. Being based largely off the original game, when Agent 47 was still at his least-exaggerated, makes all the superfluous flash in the movie feel even more out of place. If there is one thing that Hollywood isn’t short on, it’s one-man-army action movies, so in order to stand out, you need to really bring the awesome–as the previous year’s excellent John Wick did–and Agent 47 doesn’t do that. All it brings is an actress who is literally credited as “Angelababy.”

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#31 – Silent Hill: Revelation

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Even those who didn’t like the first Silent Hill movie had to concede to its impressive dedication to its source material, and in some ways, Revelation achieves that as well. It even follows the chronology of the games and skips to Silent Hill 3 to base its story off of, which is respectable even if most of us were hoping for a Silent Hill 2 movie. That’s where the positives end. Revelation lacks all of the first movie’s confidence to go whole hog into making a movie that’s defiantly faithful to its source material, and is clearly being steered by people who don’t have the same reverence for the games. The budget obviously wasn’t the same, as the sets and monsters are severely lacking, and the writing and acting are also much worse (despite an early appearance by eventual Jon Snow portrayer Kit Harington). There is also a major character revelation about 20 minutes in that will either make you groan or laugh out loud. Finally, spoilers be damned, legendary series baddie Pyramid Head ends up sort of saving the day in the end. That alone is reason enough to condemn this disappointing follow-up.

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#30 – Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

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Of the many sins committed by the first Street Fighter movie, one of the worst was how little attention it paid to some of the series other important characters. What better way to rectify this than by making side-story movies focused entirely around a single character? And what better character to kick off that idea than Chun-Li? They even got an actress who was at least part-Chinese to play her–this is the same industry that cast Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian prince, after all. Unfortunately, this movie somehow managed to be even worse than the last SF film…a lot worse. For starters, the casting is a travesty. Kristen Kruek is charming enough, but she lacks the martial arts skills to be one of video game history’s all time baddest fighters. Things only get worse when the movie reveals perpetual doofus Chris Klein as Charlie and one of the other guys from the Black Eyed Peas as Vega. Michael Clarke Duncan–rest in peace–is a decent Balrog, but it’s not nearly enough to make up for the rest. Fights are as dull as you’d expect given the cast, and the overly-serious script isn’t much better. The C64 version of Street Fighter II represented the franchise better than this.

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#29 – Wing Commander

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In the 90s, Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze Jr. were part of the “Young Hollywood” of the time, destined to be the next generation of fine adult actors. They would eventually go on to star in the live-action Scooby-Doo movies together. But on that path to greatness, they teamed up for Wing Commander, one of the first sci-fi video game films. There is a reason why so few video games of this kind are turned into movies, and that’s because video game movies tend to have low-ish budgets, which doesn’t typically work all that well for movies that involve huge spaceships fighting in space. Lo-fi special effects can be worked around, but not when nothing else about a movie is firing on all cylinders, either. This was one of the first game movies to have such heavy involvement with the games’ developer, being directed by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. But just like great movie directors don’t always make great games, great game directors don’t necessarily know how to helm a great movie. Even the expected Mark Hamill cameo is botched when it’s only his voice.

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#28 – Pokémon 4ever

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So five Pokémon movies were too many. Does that imply that a quadrilogy was okay? Kind of. 4ever definitely doesn’t feel nearly as much like a movie without a purpose or an audience as Heroes does, but it is still indicative of a franchise going through the motions and not really breaking any new ground. Time traveling to the future is a nice change of pace, as is setting much of the movie in a forest that shows the creatures living in peace in their natural habitat rather than just being glorified weapons. 4ever loses some of its goodwill in its Return of the King-style finale, where one scene that seems like the end of the movie gives way to another, and another, and another. The Pokémon movie series definitely would’ve been stronger overall as a trilogy, but as far as superfluous part fours go, there are far worse offenders in movie history.

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#27 – Hitman

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Timothy Olyphant is one of those actors that is charismatic enough to be watchable even when he’s in an otherwise sub-par film or television show. Casting him as the inherently cold and dry Agent 47 was one way to stifle that charisma. Ironically, it’s the movie around him that rises to the occasion in this case, being a fairly competent and decently entertaining action movie. The plot is a mess, which is disappointing since the better Hitman games actually have strong stories, but at least the action rises to the challenge, being just over-the-top and stylish enough without going too far into Michael Bay-style excess. Make no mistake: there are better action movies. There are better movies about hitmen. And there are certainly better Tim Olyphant movies (I recommend the excellent 1999 ensemble film Go). But there are certainly worse ways to spend 90 minutes…like, say, Hitman: Agent 47.

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#26 – Resident Evil: Extinction

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The third installment in the stubbornly prolific Resident Evil movie franchise is definitely the weakest of the…however many there are. Setting the movie in the desert wasteland of the American Southwest makes for the least-interesting setting of the series, having Alice fighting “bandits” as if she accidentally wandered into some direct-to-video Mad Max sequel. The rest of the movie follows the film series’ signature blend of cookie cutter new characters with token appearances by RE regulars, and weakly referring back to the game’s canon just to placate fans while largely sticking to the mostly original (and completely goofy) new universe that Paul W.T.F. Anderson has been crafting for longer than most Twitch streamers have been alive. It’s a Resident Evil movie: It is what it is, for better or worse.

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#25 – Assassin’s Creed

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What could possibly go wrong when you take one of the most obtuse and convoluted video game cannons of all time–that previously had about thirty games to spread the story across–and cram it all into a single movie? Assassin’s Creed is at least true to its source material in having the actors deliver their lines more like they’re performing in a video game cutscene rather than in a big-budget Hollywood movie (especially disappointing impressive given the formidable talent that signed on to the movie). The fight scenes are fun, and the stunts are some of the best ever seen in a video game movie–the leap of faith is quite the marvel to behold–but any time the movie drifts away from action, it also drifts into boredom. Actually, the most entertaining fights in the movie are listening to Michael Fassbender and Marrion Cotillard battle themselves over what accent they are trying to accomplish.

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#24 – Max Payne

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So it’s a Max Payne movie, right? Say hello to slow-motion dives for me. Even if you hate Mark Wahlberg, and you probably do if you were unfortunate enough to grow up in his neighborhood with him and not be white, you have to admit that he does “hard boiled” action pretty well. All of the expected elements of the game are present and accounted for: bullet time action, drug-induced hallucination sequences, a femme fatale (in this case, Mila Kunis) and…flying demonic Valkyries?? The movie is built around a drug called Valkyr (get it?) that is used to create super soldiers but also has the side effect of horrible visions. After a series of unfortunate events that leads Max to taking a huge dose of the drug, the climax of the movie sees him having super powers (hence the bullet time) who also sees visions of Valkyries for no other reason than to make for a cool effects sequence. Yeah, it’s pretty silly, and didn’t really belong in a Max Payne movie, but it’s still kind of fun to watch. Pretty silly but kind of fun to watch applies to most Mark Wahlberg movies, actually…this one included.

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#23 – Ratchet & Clank

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The Ratchet & Clank games have had some of the most entertaining cutscenes of any video game of the last few generations, with great characters, sharp writing, and genuinely funny humor. The problem is that it’s a lot easier to be clever in 2-5 minute bursts than it is for an entire feature-length film, which is exactly where the Ratchet & Clank movie struggles. An hour and a half is about an hour too long to spend with these characters without fun gameplay segments to break up the scenes (as evidenced by the game that the movie inspired which is utterly fantastic). Still, Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and the rest are charming to watch, and the action is satisfying despite having to settle for watching it instead of playing it. Maybe it wasn’t fair to expect Pixar-levels of quality out of Ratchet & Clank, but such is its competition. That said, if you go into it with realistic expectations–say, that it’s at least as good as a Madagascar or Ice Age–then you won’t be disappointed.

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#22 – Warcraft

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Duncan Jones is one of the most talented directors yet to helm a video game film–his previous works included Source Code and Moon, both fantastic movies. That, combined with Blizzard’s commitment to only putting out the highest quality product related to one of their IPs, meant that expectations were higher than usual for the Warcraft movie. The visual splendor of the movie can’t be denied, with gorgeous cinematography, sweeping battle scenes, and CG creatures that blend into and interact with live-action actors as well as any movie that’s attempted it. However, the story itself is something of a slog, spending way too much time on exposition and setting up lore, feeling too much like a movie that is setting up an inevitable trilogy rather than trying to be its own complete tale. It also relies far too much on fantasy genre tropes, which felt fresh enough for the game in 1994 but less so for a movie in 2016. Compared to its most obvious cinematic inspiration, Warcraft feels less like The Fellowship of the Ring and more like the first Hobbit movie (only not quite as good).

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#21 –  Super Mario Bros.

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Yes, it’s a radical reinvention of the Super Mario Bros. game series. But to be honest, trying to do a literal translation of the games into a live action movie had just about as much chance of being a disaster as having the creators of Max Headroom put their own spin on it. Maybe there were better directions to go than taking Nintendo’s most iconic property and morphing it to a gritty, urban, dystopian future where the Goombas are hulking humanoid henchmen with tiny lizard heads, Bowser is just a guy with funny hair and a long tongue, Yoshi is a realistic-looking dinosaur, and Luigi is John Leguizamo. But it certainly made for an interesting movie, if nothing else. Super Mario Bros. is a tough watch, and it’s difficult to appreciate it even on a so-bad-its-good level. But there’s still something oddly compelling about it being a snapshot of 1993 pop culture in general and what was considered “cool” at the time. Of course, it’s more cool in an adult sitting backwards on a chair with a backwards cap trying to relate to kids kind of way, but still.

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#20 – Doom

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For a few years there, The Rock was all-in on video game adaptations. His Spy Hunter movie never made it out of development hell (though the awful tie-in game, sadly, did), but he still left his mark on the world of video game cinema with 2005’s Doom. The Doom games were always light on story, which means that a Hollywood screenwriter was hired to take a story that can be completely summarized in three sentences and stretch it out over two hours. The results are, of course, a complete mess, but plot and character development isn’t what a Doom movie exists for. The action, sadly, isn’t much better, with only the neat first-person action sequence towards the end of the film providing anything that hasn’t been done just as well in any number of other random action B-movies. Still, it’s the kind of movie that is worth turning to when you happen across it on TBS or FX and half-watching it while you look at Buzzfeed on your phone.

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#19 – Need for Speed

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The Need for Speed games and the Fast and the Furious movies obviously have a lot in common, especially with the NFS games like Underground that focus on street racing and car tuner culture. It seems a little unfair that NFS basically did everything there was to do with that game premise before a Furious game had a chance to be made, and it felt unnecessary and obsolete by the time it did. So NFS decided to do the reverse, and make a NFS movie that felt unnecessary and obsolete after years of Furious movies already did it all, and better. The main reason most of us rooted for this movie is because it starred Aaron Paul in his first big post-Breaking Bad role, and his first shot at being a leading man in a movie (which he has the chops and charisma to be). Unfortunately, this movie just didn’t turn out to be his big break, being a by-the-numbers car movie that isn’t as good or as fun as any of the Furious movies (except maybe Tokyo Drift). In an alternate universe where we didn’t already have an inexplicably popular, inexplicably long-running film franchise about cars going fast and people looking cool while driving them, then maybe the NFS movie would’ve been better appreciated. Maybe.

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#18 – Resident Evil: Afterlife

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The RE movies had always selectively borrowed elements from the games, and Afterlife is no exception. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a high point for the game series at the time, and what Afterlife borrowed were some of the more ridiculous things happening in the games, like the spider thing that was stuck to Claire Redfield’s chest that was giving her amnesia and making her a bad guy (and also offering a convenient excuse to keep her jumpsuit unzipped half way). The movie-specific contributions to the universe weren’t much better, resulting in a character named K-Mart. The fact that any of the RE movies are halfway decent is impressive enough–that the fourth installment isn’t completely unwatchable is practically a miracle. It’s definitely the third-best of a series that has never been more than “meh…it’s fine,” but Afterlife is still more entertaining that it ever should’ve been. If these all sounds like backhanded compliments, well…there’s a reason for that.

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#17 – Street Fighter

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Although fighting games tend to be ensemble pieces, there are generally characters that are considered the stars or primary protagonists of each series or game. Street Fighter II‘s “main character” is…Guile? No, no it’s not, but when you have Jean-Claude Van Damme in your movie (and its 1994), he needs to be the star. And while he doesn’t make for the most convincing Guile in the world, he would’ve been an even worse Ryu. Legend has it that writer Steven de Sousa wrote the movie’s initial script overnight, and that’s perfectly believable–as well as it being easy to assume that the first draft is what they ended up shooting. To be sure, this film feels more like a military action movie than a SF film, and not a particularly good military action movie at that. But the misguided decision to make the rather serious game into a fun, lighthearted romp actually worked in the movie’s favor as it gave it a camp value that makes it enjoyable on that level. Raul Julia’s hilariously over-the-top take on M. Bison also seals the deal. It’s dumb, it’s campy, and it barely feels like Street Fighter, but I’ll be Van Dammed if it isn’t fun to watch.

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#16 – The Angry Birds Movie

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People scoffed at the idea of a movie based on a mobile game, questioning how there could be enough material there to build a whole film around. The same could be said for the majority of the video games that the movies on this list were based on, and that didn’t stop anybody. Angry Birds is a decent, fun little kids movie that has some good lessons about anger and emotion (though Inside Out it is certainly not). The cast rivals almost any animated movie released in recent years, lining up Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudekis, Josh Gad, Sean Penn, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Alex Borstein, Peter Dinklage, and Bill Hader, among others. Make no mistake: it is definitely a kids movie through and through, and might not have enough substance to be appreciated by childless adults. But if you need a break from the usual rotation of Pixar and Ice Age movies in your house, you could do worse than Angry Birds. It also has the rare distinction of being a movie that was better than the game it’s based on…yeah, I said it.

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#15 – Pokémon 3: The Movie

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We’re finally getting into the Pokémon movies that aren’t just “there” but are actually worth watching. Plot-wise, it’s actually the strongest of the series, but it still just doesn’t quite have the charm or spirit of the first two, which accounts for its lower ranking. The other problem is that a Unown just isn’t as compelling of a creature to build a movie around as, say, Mewtwo. The other is that Molly is just kind of annoying. This movie also, unlike the superior two, requires a fair amount of existing Pokémon fandom to enjoy and doesn’t quite stand on its own as a movie anyone can enjoy. Whether that should be considered a legitimate knock against it is debatable, but in any case, Pokémon 3 is the last of the Pokémon movies that still had some heart behind it and didn’t just feel like a cash grab.

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#14 – Double Dragon

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One of the more forgotten-about video game movies, Double Dragon was just as scoffed at and dismissed at the time as its contemporaries. It’s also been rarely seen since then, almost never being shown on television or popping up on streaming services, seeing two brief DVD runs that both quickly went out of print, and only being released on Blu-Ray in Germany. Because of its scarcity, most people just lump it in with the other early video game movies and take the bad reviews at face value. This does Double Dragon a disservice, as it is actually one of the most purely fun video game movies ever made. Everyone making the movie is in on the “joke,” knowing they’re making a completely ridiculous karate movie but enjoying the experience rather than scoffing at it (which comes through on screen). It’s honestly one of Alyssa Milano’s best performances. Robert Patrick relishes the chance to play an over-the-top caricature of a villain, and Adobo…well, just look at Adobo for yourselfDouble Dragon is just a fun action-comedy that deserves a second look, or a first for those who missed it (which is just about everybody).

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#13 – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life

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Why is Cradle of Life worse than the original Tomb Raider movie? Two words: Gerard Butler. Can we all agree he kind of sucks? He’s been good in exactly one movie, and that was 300, when all he had to do was be buff and yell a lot. What’s worse is that he plays the love interest in this movie, and that there’s a love interest in the first place. The first movie had flirtations, but Cradle of Life too often falls into lazy rom-com territory which, not unlike the TR games of the time, turned Lara into another man-craving stereotype than the strong, independent character she was in the first movie. Weak love subplots aside, Cradle of Life does bring the action again, and in that respect is a decent summer action movie. But again, like with its corresponding game series at the time, it spent way too much time out of the tomb and down Lara’s shirt.

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#12 – Resident Evil

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Considering the RE game series offered about 30 different protagonists to pick from by the time the movie was made, it was pretty frustrating that the filmmakers still went ahead and invented a completely new character to be the hero. In fact, after Capcom rejected horror legend George A. Romero’s script and idea–which was a fairly close adaptation of the first game–it was decided to make a movie that had the spirit and very basic overall premise of the RE universe but offer almost no direct tie-ins (with the Umbrella Corporation being the only real concrete connection). The result was a dumb but fun action horror film that probably wouldn’t have been talked about anymore 6 weeks after it was released if it weren’t for its title. The movie’s most famous moments are simultaneously its most absurd and most fun, from Alice jump-kicking a zombie dog in the face to the laser grid hallway scene that ends with a man literally melting into diced up chunks. Like Resident Evil 5, it’s bad as an RE experience but it’s a fun when taken on its own.

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#11 – Kingslaive: Final Fantasy XV

kingslaive-final-fantasy-xv-movie

Even after Square’s epic plans for Final Fantasy XIII as a massive, multi-game, multimedia experience largely fell apart, the company has nonetheless felt emboldened to try something similar for Final Fantasy XV, part of which included the release of this companion feature-length CG movie.  Nobody questions Square’s ability to make a gorgeous-looking film, and Kingslaive doesn’t disappoint in that department, delivering some of the best-looking CG human characters ever seen up to this point (awkward facial animations aside). The plot is a mess, but it’s naive to have expected anything less. The characters also aren’t especially memorable, although this film follows up Advent Children which featured some of the most beloved characters in video game history so it was destined to pale in comparison. If you’re planning on completely giving yourself into Final Fantasy XV, you’ll probably want to watch this in order to fully flesh out its world. Otherwise, you can probably skip it and just watch Advent Children again instead.

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#10 – Pokémon: The Movie

pokemon-the-first-movie

Back before there were 7 million different Pokémon creatures, each one still felt special and unique, and at the time of the movie none were moreso than Mew and Mewtwo. So to have a movie that was part fun Pikachu vacation and part cinematic introduction to those two felt like a true event for Pokémon fans. It’s also a rather dark movie, as Mewtwo is seeking to destroy all of humanity, leaving only Pokémon behind to inhabit the planet. There is a whole cloning mechanic in the movie that ends up being overused and getting out of hand, but that’s indicative of most movies where cloning exists within their universes. Overall, Pokêmon: The First Movie ends up being both better than most video game-based movies and movies based on animated series. Thank Misty they didn’t try and go live-action.

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#9 – Resident Evil: Retribution

resident-evil-retribution-movie

 

Though the RE movies have largely followed their own fiction, after the first movie anyway they do often tie back to specific characters and events from the games. Retribution took queues from RE4 for a few of its elements, most notably the Las Plagas parasite which turns people not into slow, plodding zombies but faster, stronger, more cunning undead creatures. This allowed for more exciting action against the actual zombies rather than coming up with lame reasons for the protagonists to fight real people and other such excuses they came up with to make for fast-paced action set-pieces. They also borrowed more from Asian martial arts films rather than relying strictly on firearms, which further made for a more interesting movie to watch. Retribution probably has the most genuine emotion and character depth of any other RE movie, such as emotion and character depth can exist in such a silly universe. If the RE movie series just had half the entries it has, and the half it kept were the ones as good as Retribution, the franchise might not have as bad of a reputation as it does.

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#8 – Pokémon: The Movie 2000

Pokemon the Movie 2000.png

The first two Pokémon movies are about equal overall quality-wise, but the main thing that elevates 2000 slightly is that it’s just a little but more fun to watch. The darker tone of the first movie wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was also a bit short on excitement, which 2000 has a lot more of. 2000 is also a more wide-appeal watch, as it doesn’t seem to require as much preexisting knowledge of the Pokémon world in order to enjoy it. No, there’s nothing wrong with aiming at movie more at fans than not, but when a movie isn’t strictly for existing fans, it has the chance to bring in new ones, and new Pokémon fans are always a good thing. The Pikachu-focused short film at the beginning is also better than the original, with actual substance and not just a pointless, fluffy romp.

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#7 – Resident Evil: Apocalypse

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After the first movie was barely a RE movie at all, Apocalypse rectified that by tying in heavily to Resident 2, Nemesis, and Code Veronica, featuring Jill, Claire, Dr. Birkin, and most importantly, the Nemesis. Having arguably the RE series’ most iconic and terrifying antagonist be the big bad of the film is a big reason why Apocalypse is the best movie in the series, although it set a precedent that subsequent films couldn’t live up to. The movie also recreates some of those three games’ most exciting moments, which feels like shameless fan service, but who cares? It’s cool to see some of those set pieces in a big-budget movie rather than in turn-of-the-millennium video game tech. While the RE game world and the unique RE film world would continue to overlap throughout the film series, Apocalypse remains the movie that handled the intersection of those seemingly disparate worlds the best, before subsequent movies were largely just RE movies with cameo appearances by RE game scenes.

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#6 – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Let’s just get the unfortunate white-washing of the main character out of the way up front: Couldn’t they have at least gotten a tan white person to play a Persian? But Jake Gyllenhaal is a good actor and is supposedly a fan of the game and games in general, so we’ll give that a pass. At $200 million, this is one of the most expensive video game movies of all time, and it certainly shows in lavish set design, great costumes, and an overall impressive level of visual polish. The plot is faithful to that of the Sands of Time game, which is mostly a good thing although the hokiness and obvious twists of video game plots don’t always hold up as well in a movie. And the action is solid, with all of the parkour-style traversal and sword fighting action that you’d expect. There really isn’t much inherently wrong with Prince of Persia–it does basically everything it sets out to do, and everything you’d expect it to do. It’s just not to movies with the game was to gaming, and it’s hard not to expect that of it. But keep your expectations in check and just go in wanting a fun summer action epic, and you’ll enjoy Prince of Persia.

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#5 – Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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It was almost irrelevant whether The Spirits Within was a good movie or not–all Final Fantasy fans needed to hear was that it was a completely original story with all new characters, and they weren’t interested. Square learned that lesson with its next FF movie, being a direct follow up to fan favorite Final Fantasy VII. The company also forwent motion capture in favor of hand-drawing most of the animation, which gave the action in particular a more fluid, anime-like (and video game-like) feel. The story doesn’t make a damn lick of sense, but neither does FFVII‘s story if we’re being honest. Advent Children is exactly what it needs to be: a 100-minute FF cutscene. And to that end, it exceeds beautifully. While some elements of the “Compilation of Final Fantasy VII” were a huge misfire–Dirge of Cerberus comes to mind–Advent Children sits alongside Crisis Core as a worthy addition to the legacy of one of the all-time-great video games.

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#4 – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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Not since Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear was there a more perfect casting choice as Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. She had the body, the lips, the hair, and I guess most importantly, the acting chops. While video game movies generally grab B- and C-level stars, or stars who are former A-listers, Tomb Raider managed to grab one of Hollywood’s hottest current stars to headline, and she absolutely nails the role of gaming’s most iconic heroine. Jolie captures Lara’s spelunking skills, formidable fighting ability, and her equal parts grace and sass perfectly, and gives it as much enthusiasm as she’s given any of her roles. No, Tomb Raider is no Indiana Jones–the games’ most direct influence–but thankfully it doesn’t try to be. Instead, it’s just an enjoyable blast of Hollywood summer bombast, equally enjoyable for fans of the games and those who just like to spend two hours smiling and eating popcorn.

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#3 – Silent Hill

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Before Silent Hill, most video game movies were, at best, loose adaptations of their source material, as if the screenwriter was just shown a few minutes of game footage and thumbed through the manual–remember those?–and figured out how to make a movie out of it. But every frame of Silent Hill oozes with the work of people who are not only intimately familiar with the games, but have great love for them. Word has it that director Christophe Gans kept a PS2 hooked up and running Silent Hill 2 on set as constant inspiration for the look and feel they should be striving for. Better yet, he invited original series composer Akira Yamoaoka to serve not only as co-composer for the film but also executive producer, and used music directly from the game–something almost no other video game movie bothers to do. That iconic soundtrack, combined with sets, creatures, and even camera angles that are clearly ripped directly from the game make for a movie that’s less based on Silent Hill and more a live-action retelling of it. The biggest concession, other than the gender swap of the main protagonist, is bringing in SH2 baddie Pyramid Head along for the ride, something nobody complained about–especially when they saw the famously gruesome scene of him ripping a woman’s outer skin layer off in one fluid motion. It’s not quite the best video game movie of all time, but there’s no question that it’s the most faithful to and reverent of the source material.

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#2 – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

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The Spirits Within was a huge gamble for Square, building a $100 million+ movie studio from scratch just to make the film. It was also a huge financial disaster, barely recouping even the movie itself’s production cost let alone the price tag of the studio, putting Square into a financial tailspin that it is only just recently finished clawing itself out of. It also led to the departure of longtime FF mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi from the company. The sad thing is that it wasn’t because of the movie’s quality that it was a bomb, but because FF fans didn’t bother giving it a chance, taking one look at the completely new cast and the seeming unrelation to the game series and not even seeing it. Those that weren’t so short-sided found a really solid sci-fi film that, sure, was only a “FF movie” in very loose themes, but that didn’t make it a bad movie. In fact, it is probably the tightest, most coherent story that has ever been told in any media baring the name “Final Fantasy.” The visuals still impress despite being a 15-year old CG film, and the performances are all great, even if James Woods’ villain goes a bit too over the top and it never won’t be awkward hearing Alec Baldwin’s voice coming out of a character that was clearly modeled after Ben Affleck. After giving us so many great games over the preceeding decade, we at least owed it to Sakaguchi–who directed the movie–to give it a chance, and if we don’t think the FF games have been as good since he left, it’s our own fault for being so selfish and not seeing a movie just because it didn’t have a CG Tifa.

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#1 – Mortal Kombat

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A PG-13 Mortal Kombat movie? That means no blood and no Fatalities. Hard pass! Except somehow, against all odds, not only did Mortal Kombat work as a PG-13 movie, it worked as a fun action movie, period. Having the Street Fighter movie as a guide for what not to do, the MK movie focused on the right characters, actually followed the plot of the game, staged actual fight scenes rather than action scenes, showed the right characters getting together, and allowed the characters to actually have their powers. The cast takes the movie just seriously enough without also forgetting to keep their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Luckily, the one manner in which the movie shouldn’t be silly, it isn’t: the fight scenes, which are a joy to watch and are as good as the martial artistry in any mainstream Hollywood movie. The Johnny Cage/Scorpion fight in particular, which starts in a field and literally goes to hell, is a highlight, as is the ingenious way that Liu Kang actually performs a legitimate finishing move on Sub-Zero safely within the confines of the movie’s rating. Best of all, unlike the game the movie is based on, MK actually still holds up surprisingly well, with only the budget CG of Reptile’s pre-human-form standing out as aging especially poorly. Faithful to the source material and standing on its own as an action movie, capturing the game’s blend of seriousness and self-mocking humor, and featuring Christopher Lambert clearing having the time of his life, there’s really no better choice for best theatrically-released video game movie of all time.

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Like Worst to Best lists? Check these out:

Castlevania Worst to Best

Contra Worst to Best

Metroid Worst to Best

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “All 41 Theatrically-Released Video Game Movies Ranked From Worst to “Best”

  1. Wow, now that’s a list. Did youwatch all of these from start to finish? Not that I disagree, but it’s kinda sad that Mortal Kombat is still the best even after all these years, considering it’s only “decent”.

    I understand why you left it off, but out of curiosity, where would “The Wizard” have ranked?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. VERY well done! That’s a hell of a list with a lot of detail. All that work pays off though as it’s a great article.
    A lot of these films are guilty pleasures for me. The Resident Evil films, Doom, Silent Hill. They aren’t great movies but they can be fun to watch.
    I will say that I consider Wing Commander to be the worst film I’ve ever watched through (and yes, I have watched Alone In The Dark).
    On the subject, I don’t suppose you listen to Jim Sterling’s Spin-Off Doctors podcast do you? If not I think you’d enjoy it based on this list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, truly impressive list. I didn’t even know there were that many video game movies. I guess with the Pokemon movies in there, it adds up, considering there are almost 20 now. It’s great that you liked Spirits Within. I never finished the movie, but I was largely unimpressed. I might have to give it another try after that recommendation though. I will say that I did Advent Children a lot despite it being fan service. I also liked the first Tomb Raider and Resident Evil movies. I’ve always wanted to see Prince of Persia. As for the classic Super Mario Bros. I like it in the obvious, it’s so bad it’s good kind of way. I hope they make a better movie in the future, but otherwise, it’s a guilty pleasure. Great job compiling this. How long did it take to watch all of these movies?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well fortunately I’d already seen a lot of them as I used to watch every video game movie automatically. Why, I don’t really know. I know comic book fans who watch every comic book movie, and have been doing so since before they were any good, so I guess it’s the same principle. I have definitely slowed down on that, though, so I had some catching up to do in order to make this list. I’d say it took a month or so to get through the last dozen I hadn’t already seen.

      Liked by 1 person

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