The Worst Video Game Movies of All Time
If we didn’t know better, we’d think that Hollywood had a secret agenda to turn some of our favorite video games into terrible movies. Aside from the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise and possibly the first ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Tomb Raider’ flicks, can you think of any that were actually worth the cost of a ticket? Go ahead and take a moment. We’ll wait.
Don’t feel bad if nothing else comes to mind. We drew a blank too. To put it bluntly, most video game adaptations over the years have ranged from godawful to downright unwatchable. Finding only 10 for our list of the worst video game movies ever was a struggle, because, well, there are so darn many. Let us know in the comments if we missed any.
‘DOA: Dead or Alive’
Given that it’s based on a fighting game series featuring well-endowed babes and stars the likes of Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance and Devon Aoki, ‘DOA: Dead or Alive’ might have satisfied fans if it simply stuck to serving up eye candy. But it was so unbearably cheesy that no amount of bikinis, random beach volleyball or gratuitous slow motion sequences could redeem it. You’ll get a bigger thrill out of the game’s “jiggle” features.
‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’
In ‘The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,’ Jake Gyllenhaal certainly looked the part as the Dagger of Time-wielding Dastan, and Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina provided a certain amount of credibility to the flick. Overall, though, it was an entirely bloodless and forgettable adaptation featuring countless action sequences in lieu of developed characters and a well-written story.
All that aside, one thing about the film has always bothered us more than anything else — why did Gyllenhaal’s prince, who supposedly grew up as an orphan in the city of Nasaf in Persia, speak with a British accent?
Directed by schlockmeister Uwe Boll, who’s single-handedly responsible for several of the movies on this list, 2005’s ‘BloodRayne’ was a completely unnecessary video game movie that nobody ever wanted. Kristanna Loken adequately captured the feral aesthetic of the half-human, half-vampire titular character, but it was awful in almost every other respect.
Critics weren’t the only ones who savaged the film; its stars did as well. Michael Madsen, who played Vladimir, called it an “abomination” and Kingsley (yes, he starred in this one too) admitted he didn’t exercise the best judgment when he agreed to play vampire king Kagan.
As an interesting side note, Boll reportedly hired actual prostitutes rather than actors for a scene with Meat Loaf in order to save production costs. Classy! There are, by the way, two straight-to-DVD ‘BloodRayne’ sequels and a fourth movie is currently in the works, whether you like it or not.
The 2005 action/horror film ‘Doom,’ which was based on the seminal first person shooter, had big guns and mutant monsters aplenty, but a totally incomprehensible plot, confusing action sequences and over-the-top acting made it a total mess.
With the exception of a short first person sequence toward the end of the movie, it bore little resemblance to its namesake and totally failed to capture what made the video game exciting in the first place. Dwayne Johnson made a passable space marine, for sure, but even his considerable talents as an action hero and an appearance by the game’s famous BFG couldn’t turn the movie around.
We recall ‘Wing Commander,’ the awesome space combat sim which told the story of humanity’s struggle against a vicious feline race known as the Kilrathi, with a great deal of nostalgia, but the 1999 film was just painful to watch.
In fact, the movie, which was directed by the game’s creator Chris Roberts, was plagued by low-rent special effects and an overreliance on sci-fi cliches. It also starred Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard, who went on to star together in ‘Scooby-Doo.’ If that’s not a bad sign, we don’t know what is.
All told, it only grossed a disappointing $11.5 million, which came nowhere near its $30 million budget. Meanwhile Roberts, who said the movie didn’t turn out the way he envisioned, went on to work as a producer and never directed again.
‘House of the Dead’
Another video game movie directed by Boll, ‘House of the Dead’ was based on a light gun arcade game developed by Sega. It’s typical Boll B-movie fare with scantily-clad chicks and buckets of gore as a group of ravers try to survive on an island infested with the undead.
At one hilariously inane point, a headless zombie even tries to strangle one of the main characters. Sega was so displeased with the film’s negative reception that it reportedly severed all ties with the director. Yes, it’s that bad.
‘Super Mario Bros.’
Widely viewed as one of the first (and worst) video game adaptation, 1993’s ‘Super Mario Bros.’ resembled the ‘Mario’ franchise in name only. It was also horribly miscast with Bob Hoskins (Mario), John Leguizamo (Luigi) and Dennis Hopper (King Koopa) in a hopelessly ridiculous plot featuring Brooklyn plumbers battling interdimensional bipedal reptiles.
If this all sounds terribly silly, the stars of the movie agreed. Hoskins described the film as “the worst thing he ever did,” Hopper said it was a “nightmare” and Leguizamo simply said it “sucks.” Samantha Mathis, who played Princess Daisy (not Peach), hasn’t commented on the film because it basically killed her movie career and no one is asking her opinion on anything these days.
Another example of a video game movie that sharply departed from its source material, 1994’s ‘Double Dragon’ was only loosely based on the beat ’em up video game series of the same name.
Set in Los Angeles in the post-apocalyptic future of 2007, the movie told the story of two brothers as they used martial arts to survive. There’s also a crime lord named Shuko and a magical amulet with the power of possession, but don’t ask for any more specifics than that. We fell asleep a third of the way through.
The original ‘Max Payne’ video game was terrific, particularly for its use of the “bullet time” gameplay mechanic. But its 2008 big screen adaptation starring Mark Wahlberg just fell flat.
Sure, the flick had plenty of style and nifty visuals, but Wahlberg gave a typically leaden performance and the movie’s supernatural plot (angels and demons, wha?!) just seemed ludicrous and completely random on screen.
‘Alone in the Dark’
Yet another absurd creation by Boll, ‘Alone in the Dark’ stars Christian Slater as a detective with superhuman abilities and Tara Reid as an archaeologist and museum curator (!). If you’re having trouble imagining Reid in such a role, know that everyone else did too.
Not surprisingly, the film is pure gibberish. Bad dialogue, gaping holes in the plot and dreadful special effects equaled unintentional laughs. But the movie did succeed in one respect — it helped further establish Boll as the Ed Wood of video game movies.