Here at Gamereactor we love video games. We also love movies. That's probably a good thing considering how much time we spend playing games and watching films, and then writing about them here on the site. However, our affection for both mediums rarely gets to crossover and become one and the same love, and that's because, for the most part, movies based on video game properties are absolute trash. Now, obviously, we shouldn't tarnish all video game adaptations with the same brush, some of them are merely ok after all, but after sitting down over the weekend and watching Super Mario Bros. we felt compelled to take stock and look back at some of the best and worst that this cultural No Man's Land has to offer. And so, starting with the aforementioned horror show from 1993, here are seven movies based on video games that we love to hate.
Super Mario Bros.
Try as hard as they might, John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins can't elevate the Super Mario Bros. movie adaptation above mediocrity at best, and downright terribleness at worst. Dennis Hopper certainly gives his rendition of Koopa a good go, his slithering tongue rightly giving Samantha Mathis the chills, but there's so much that simply doesn't work on any level, from the questionable design of the characters and world, to the awful script that at times is so bad that it's bordering on funny. There are a few knowing nods to the video games that inspired it, little visual moments and audio cues that'll raise a smile, but other than that the only reason you'd watch this film is to bask in its badness. You can see why it was a good fit for Bad Movie Night...
Another woeful video game adaptation from the '90s, Street Fighter: The Movie sees Jean-Claude Van Damme's Guile square off against Raul Julia's M. Bison in one of the campest fighting game movies of all time (and that's saying something). To their credit, the filmmakers managed to bring together a bunch of characters in situations where fisticuffs ensued, even if it didn't always make sense. Still, there's a reasonably capable supporting cast to help move the action along, and if you watch with eagle eyes you'll see more than a few knowing nods to the franchise that inspired it. The script is dire, some of the scenes are painful to watch, but it's still worth a watch if you enjoy savouring terrible movies.
Mark Wahlberg's Max Payne was one of those films that thought being arty and noir would hide any blatant flaws elsewhere, but a lot of people - fans of the game especially - saw through the veil and were left with a sour taste in their mouths. It differed from the game so much that we didn't even know why Max Payne was after revenge until halfway through the film, and even 3D Realm's Scott Miller was baffled by this design choice. The cherry on top of this is Wahlberg's totally flat portrayal of this hardened ex-cop, which Sam Lake far surpassed in the game, despite not being able to move his face.
Another movie based on a classic franchise that didn't translate brilliantly to the silver screen is Double Dragon, which despite a reasonably solid cast, fell flat on its face when it launched back in 1994. The game was set in a dystopian vision of the future, where police and gangsters had an uneasy truce. In the midst of that the Lee brothers, Jimmy and Lee, are forced to protect one half of an amulet given to them to protect by their trainer and guardian, Satori. The only problem is that Robert Patrick is after them, and this time around he's got minions. As you might expect there's plenty of fisticuffs, but even that's not enough to rescue Double Dragon from itself. Awful stuff, but also strangely compelling, which makes it a great pick for a bad movie night.
How do you make a film based on something like Doom? Well, you set it on March with demons invading from hell. You stick a first-person section in there to keep fans happy. You make a big song and dance number about BFG. And you add The Rock. Now, The Rock is the saving grace here, because we always enjoy his particular brand of brawn, but overall this is a movie that simply doesn't work. A script that was likely written on a few napkins and effects that were as bland as they were unmemorable. Strangely they opted for a more action-packed variant of Doom, given that Doom 3 was more of a survival horror game.
We could probably make a list purely made up of bad video game to movie adaptations directed by German boxer Uwe Boll. Now, we've only been able to stomach the first of what actually went on to be three BloodRayne movies (that's more than there were games!). The first one starred Kristanna Loken of Terminator fame and had Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Udo Kier (because, why not?), a decent line-up of actors who have all rarely been as poor as they were in this one. It's painful to watch, and honestly we've never been able the see it in its entirety even though we've tried on several occasion as we've happened upon it flicking through the channels.
DOA: Dead or Alive
It's been a while since we watched DOA: Dead or Alive, so some of the minor details elude us, such as, you know, the plot. We remember a sun-kissed island, chiseled male fighters, impossibly-shaped female combatants, and a story that spirals off into overblown madness. The games have always featured an extremely unrealistic portrayal of the female form, and the movie continues this tradition, which ultimately leaves it feeling about as plausible as Star Wars, but nowhere near as good. The early setup, whereby fighters can scrap it out anywhere on the island, holds promise but ultimately the premise is let down by lackluster execution and a reverent approach to the series' sexist portrayal of women.
We're fully aware that this little article is missing some absolute clangers, but worry not, we're going to carry on with our "research" and come back in a few weeks for another look at some terrible video game movie adaptations. Stay tuned for the sequel, it's gaurenteed to make the original look like a classic.