15 good, bad and utterly unbearable videogame-based movies

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Krystal Clark
Dec 14, 2012

Hollywood's been trying to adapt your favorite videogames to the big screen for years, and, well, let's just admit up front that none of them have been great. Sure, some have been good popcorn movies, but the best you can hope for is something entertaining that mildly resembles the game you love.

In honor of Saturday night's premiere of Red Faction: Origins on Syfy, we're taking a look back at videogame movies, which we put into three categories: The Good, the Bad and the Unbearable. The Good you can deal with, the Bad is usually cheesy or boring and the Unbearable is so terrible it hurts your soul.

The Good

Resident Evil (2002)

The first Resident Evil isn't perfect. Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are nowhere in sight, which is weird considering they're the main protagonists in the game. Instead we get amnesiac Alice and a group of strangers trying to fight their way out of a zombie-infested facility. The action is good, and there are some genuine moments of horror, which puts this movie a step above its sequels. If you look at it as being "loosely based" on the game and not a straight adaptation, Resident Evil can be enjoyable.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Angelina Jolie took on the role of PlayStation's leading lady in 2001 when she put on a phony accent and wielded dual pistols in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Physically, she looked the part and became the character in every way. Even though Tomb Raider had its fair share of problems, it's one of the better films in the videogame genre. Plus, it had a pretty solid soundtrack that featured Nine Inch Nails and the Chemical Brothers. That's good old-fashioned butt-kicking music.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

We know what you're thinking: Are they insane? The Spirits Within caught a lot of heat from fans because of the excessive changes in its story—and by changes we mean ignoring 90 percent of the source material. BUT, in spite of that huge flaw, it's a serious visual achievement. It was the first photorealistic animated film ever made, and it has an awesome cast. It's definitely not perfect, but it gets the job done.

Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill is a solid horror thriller that just so happens to be based on a videogame. The movie takes elements from Silent Hill 1 and 2, switches out the protagonist and somehow still manages to stay true to the story. The film can easily appease both die-hard fans and your average moviegoer, which is a hard feat for any adaptation.

Movie: Mortal Kombat (1995)

We have a push-pull relationship with this movie. We love the game, but the true ruthlessness of Mortal Kombat was never shown in the film. Thanks a lot, PG-13 rating! But it does have some redeeming qualities. Robin Shou was a solid Liu Kang, and Linden Ashby did a decent job as Johnny Cage. Plus, there are some great fights that include fan favorites like Sub-Zero and Scorpion that are actually worth watching.

The Bad

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

This movie never stood a chance. Fans seemed to be against it as soon as Jake Gyllenhaal was cast as Prince Dastan. But the movie's greatest offense is that it's boring. Prince of Persia is pretty to look at, with all its razzle-dazzle, but it will put you into a deep sleep. The drawn-out story paired with Tamina's annoying voiceover works as a sedative. How do you turn an action-adventure game into a boring romance story? Inquiring minds want to know.

Hitman (2007)

Timothy Olyphant usually can do no wrong, but Hitman is a special case. As Agent 47, he's one note, predictable and slightly annoying. Granted, the character isn't the most welcoming guy to start with (he's a trained assassin), but give us something we can hold on to. The movie's plot is horrible, and the strange relationship between 47 and Nika is just weird and hard to watch.

Doom (2005)

Where are all the demons? Seriously, a good chunk of what you love about the Doom videogame is removed and replaced with a virus and other elements that take up entirely too much time. And Dwayne Johnson's acting is horrendous in this movie. We literally have nightmares of him saying, "Semper Fi, m*th*r*ck*r!" The only bright spot in the film is the FPS scene that's lifted directly from the game. It's almost as if the director threw it in as a peace offering for ruining everything else.

DOA: Dead or Alive (2007)

If Prince of Persia made the list for being boring, DOA is here because it's so cheesy! We remember a time when Dead or Alive was known for being a combat game, but somewhere in the early 2000s T&A took over. Do you remember Xtreme Beach Volleyball? DOA: Dead or Alive features some of the female characters duking it out in their underwear, on the beach, and even in the rain. And when it's all said and done, they have to fight Eric Roberts, whose secret weapon is a pair of high-tech sunglasses (face palm).

Movie: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

This movie should really be in our unbearable section, but it has a redeeming factor—Sonya Blade. Sandra Hess played the character in the sequel, replacing Bridgette Wilson, who had the athleticism of cardboard. As for the plot of Annihilation, it was all over the place. And to be honest, [*spoiler alert*] Annihilation has one of the quickest and most unnecessary kills in videogame movie history. They took out Johnny Cage in what, 3 seconds? Isn't he supposed to be a legend of some sort? For goodness' sake, he's one of the original characters!

The Unbearable

Max Payne (2008)

When we think of Max Payne, one word comes to mind: Ugh. What was this movie, and why did they make it? Mark Wahlberg spends the entire film sulking and dragging his knuckles while looking for the man who killed his family. At the same time, Amaury Nolasco from Prison Break just lurks in the shadows looking angry, and a gun-toting Mila Kunis wants revenge for her sister's death. There's only one tone to the film, which is sad, because the game offers so much more!

Tekken (2010)

Tekken is unbearable for multiple reasons, but the biggest is its character assassinations. First, they didn't even try to get actors who resembled the characters in the games. Second, their fighting styles barely matched the ones they're known for, and third, they completely ruined the Mishima clan. The movie follows Jin, Kazuya and Heihachi but makes grandpa Heihachi a big softie. If you've ever played Tekken, you know he's a devious old man who's not to be trusted.

Double Dragon (1994)

This movie is what happens when you mix Super Mario Brothers with the Power Rangers. There's a lot of sparkle, bright colors, plot holes and bad acting. Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos play the main characters, Billy and Jimmy Lee, while Alyssa Milano stars as their friend Marian. Somehow in just three years, Robert Patrick went from playing the villain in T2: Judgment Day to the bad guy in Double Dragon. That's just wrong!

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Let's forget that neither Bob Hoskins nor John Leguizamo is Italian. Let's ignore Dennis Hopper as Bowser, and pretend that Samantha Mathis' Princess Daisy isn't some New York college student. Where's the real Mushroom Kingdom? Where's the real Yoshi? Everything that was magical and fun about the game was made dreary and dark. The director tried entirely too hard to make Super Mario Bros. something that it's not, and the movie suffered for it.

Street Fighter (1994)

We've complained about movies not using enough material from videogames but Street Fighter is the opposite. Not only does it incorporate all 4,629 characters from the videogames, but they're campy costumes, too! They didn't even try to modernize or make any of the characters realistic. Where Super Mario Bros. goes too dark, Street Fighter goes too light. And the one pet peeve that truly spits in the face of fans everywhere is Jean-Claude Van Damme's performance as Guile. Isn't Guile supposed to be the All-American hero? Would it have killed him to TRY an American accent? That gets us every time! We know Van Damme's no Laurence Olivier, but at least commit to the character.

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