The success rate of live-action video game movies is awfully low, to say the least. There have been numerous, sometimes admirable, attempts to bring gaming to the big screen with varying results. Today, we’re looking at the top 10 best live-action video game movies that you can find out there. None of them are exactly masterpieces, but show progressive steps forward in Hollywood to pay closer attention to them. From Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil to Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog, let’s take a look at the ten best.
Of course, there will be a couple of honourable mentions (though we stress the term). These include the 2005 Doom movie, which at least included a star-turning performance in Karl Urban and an awesome first-person segment; and 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which was decently fun and stylish despite lacking any real depth.
10. Tomb Raider (2019)
After the abysmal Tomb Raider movies from the 2000s that starred Angelina Jolie, a reboot was definitely in order – especially considering that the video games had also undergone a transformation via a grittier reboot series. The 2019 film attempts to adapt the new wave of Lara Croft games to mixed results. It’s quite faithful to the 2013 Tomb Raider game in a lot of aspects, though it falls just short of making any sort of impact.
9. Mortal Kombat (2021)
2021’s Mortal Kombat isn’t a great movie by any means and, according to many fans, even pales in comparison to the 1995 film (we’ll talk about that soon). However, thanks to an R-rating that allowed for some flashy and ultra-violent fatalities, this adaptation has some redeeming qualities to excite viewers. With a sequel already on the way, it seems like there was enough here for fans to ask for more.
8. Resident Evil (2002)
Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2002 adaptation of Resident Evil is among one of the most popular video game movies of all time and many fans would agree that it also remains one of the best. It certainly hasn’t aged well at all and the action scenes can come across as half-baked Matrix, but it put enough of a refreshing spin on the formula to make it feel distinct, fresh and highly enjoyable for the time.
Adapting the Warcraft universe into a movie was always going to be a tall order. However, filmmaker Duncan Jones found a pretty good middle-ground, bringing the story down to its roots while fleshing out the mythos without over-simplifying it. The result is a love-letter to Warcraft fans and a perfectly entertaining movie on its own. Just don’t expect a fantasy epic on the scale of The Lord of the Rings here.
6. Werewolves Within
An obscure movie adaptation of an equally obscure video game from Ubisoft, Werewolves Within can be passed off as another by-the-numbers werewolf movie mixed with Cluedo. That said, it’s a pretty damn fun werewolf romp that blends detective mystery with the supernatural. The humour might be hit or miss and it can ramp up the corniness factor to absurd degrees sometimes, but go in with an open mind and you might be thrilled.
5. Mortal Kombat (1995)
Unlike 2021’s adaptation, the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie from Paul W.S. Anderson adopted a PG-13 rating – and somehow ended up being the better experience. Yes, it’s absolutely a product of its time and the visual affects, coupled with some questionable writing, hasn’t aged well. The choreography, fun factor and booming soundtrack that introduced the world to the catchiest theme song in history more than make up for all its shortcomings, though.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog
A video game movie that had the entire world against it and somehow managed to pull through with an effectively fun and remarkably faithful adaptation, Sonic the Hedgehog proved to the world that all it takes is a passionate group of filmmakers who understand the source material to make something feel unique without compromising anything. Rocky internet meme beginnings aside, it easily deserves a spot among the best video game movies out right now.
3. Silent Hill
It feels like the first Silent Hill movie isn’t brought up enough when talking about the more successful game-to-movie feats. While not without its problems, Silent Hill did the impossible and broke all expectations for what video game movies could potentially be at the time. Serious, dark, grounded and filled with (almost) the same creative flare that made the games so eerie and terrifying, Silent Hill is best unforgotten.
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Let’s not mince words here, it’s a sequel to a video game movie. If the first had the world against it, this had the universe. Yet, against all odds, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 proved to be bigger and better than its predecessor in almost every way. It’s helped by the fact that it had Idris Elba voicing Knuckles, which is something nobody could’ve imagined happening years ago. Add Jim Carrey to the mix again and the recipe is special.
1. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
Messy third act aside, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is absolutely the best video game movie on offer today. Taking the world of Pokemon and showing a realistic depiction of how they’d be integrated into modern society is fascinating and makes for some great laughs. Additionally, Mr. Deadpool Ryan Reynolds brings Pikachu to life with his voice work, resulting in some unexpectedly strong emotional moments and pay-offs.