The film industry is always looking for the next big thing. Film execs gain the rights to make movies based on novels, children’s stories, and comic books. One source that on the surface seems to have incredible synergy with Hollywood is the video game industry. Games have already benefited from using Hollywood-style production values, including professional actors and actresses for both voice and live parts. You’d think that both being visual mediums would lead to incredible movies being made based upon video game properties.
But you’d be wrong.
Thus far the Hollywood video game movie selection has been mediocre at best, and laughingly dismal at worst. Just for fun, let’s look at the best movies of the genre (all my personal opinion, of course).
1. Mortal Kombat. This incredibly popular fighting franchise made its way to the silver screen in 1995, bringing the Elder Gods’ martial arts tournament to life. The film received “mixed reviews” which is a fancy way of saying some critics enjoyed the fight fest and others thought it gave a whole new definition to “suck.” It managed to take in over $122 million worldwide, as well as spawning a sequel, so more than a few people thought it was a good movie.
2. Resident Evil. A flawed but fun zombie movie based on Capcom’s horror games and starring the incredibly hot Milla Jovovich wiping out the infected workers from the top secret Hive installation controlled by the Red Queen. Critics generally panned the film, but it grossed over $100 million worldwide and spawned two sequels (with one more to be released in September, 2010).
3. Silent Hill. This film was based on Konami’s horror game franchise, and incorporated elements from the first three games. A few pretty decent scares and a couple of weird scenes gave this film a good vibe. It did not receive great reviews from the critics, but scored where it counted with $97 million grossed worldwide.
4. Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie in tight spandex. How could this film possibly be bad? That’s what I told myself before watching it, and afterward marveled at the film’s creators’ ability to do the impossible: make a live-action Lara Croft dud. It still managed over $300 million worldwide, so a LOT of people must have gone into the theater with the same expectations I did.
5. TRON. The list is so meager that I decided to take a movie whose premise is about the video game industry and put it on this list. And it’s a good excuse to include TRON to the mix; it was a fun movie, and pulled in over $33 million worldwide, which wasn’t bad in 1982. End of line.
Every other video game movie was awful. Putrid awful. Perhaps it’s time that the industry stopped trying to translate the video game experience to the big screen, and keep going on as many comic book properties they can lay their greedy little hands on. After all, given the choice, I’d rather watch Batman: Dark Knight, Spider-Man or Iron Man than the very best the video game movie genre has to offer.