Video games and movies have gone hand-in-hand since 1982 when Atari produced the E.T. the Extraterrestrial video game for its then-popular Atari 2600 home console. The game, by just about any standard you chose to look through, was a harbinger of things to come. It was lame, it helped contribute to Atari’s downfall, and the company ended up burying 14 truckloads of E.T. game cartridges in an Alamogordo, N.M., landfill. Not an auspicious beginning.
Since then, video game translations of popular movies have continued to disappoint. And, by way of reciprocation, movies based on video games have done exactly the same.
Super Mario Brothers (1993) The first video game to make the conceptual leap to the big screen was this notorious flop starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as a pair of overall-wearing Italian plumbers recruited to save the universe from evil lizard king Dennis Hopper. Visually speaking, the film bears little resemblance to its 8-bit original. Despite a truly bizarre cast (is that Mojo Nixon in there?), the film fails to capture the cartoonish wit of the video game. ... If only they’d used Donkey Kong as the villain.
Street Fighter (1994) Jean-Claude Van Damme wears a fruity blue beret in this cheesy adaptation of the hit one-on-one kung fu fighting arcade game. Sadly, this was award-winning actor Raul Julia’s last film. The uncomfortable climax features Van Damme beating the tar out of the visibly frail Julia.
Double Dragon (1994) More kung fu video game action as two brothers (Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos) fight an evil gang leader for control of a magical medallion. Notable only for the pinup appeal of its young cast (including Alyssa Milano from “Who’s the Boss” in a tight spandex outfit).
Mortal Kombat (1995) Director Paul W.S. Anderson took more inspiration from Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon (borrowing the dialogue, the characters and most of the plot) than from the kung fu video game of the same name. Still, there’s a certain cheap thrill to watching superpowered ninjas kick the crap out of one another to the beat of some pumped-up techno music. Followed by 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and the proposed 2007 sequel Mortal Kombat: Devastation.
Resident Evil (2002) If you have to pick a “best” video game movie, this one is probably it. The cast of female ass-kickers (Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez) makes it a bit different, and director Paul W.S. Anderson adds some sexy cinematic polish to the generic script (your basic Night of the Living Dead spin-off). It’s followed by 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse and 2007’s proposed Resident Evil: Extinction. Next up for Anderson, though, an adaptation of the side-scrolling vampire-battler Castlevania.
House of the Dead (2003) Crappy German director Uwe Boll kicked off his video game-to-movie career with this junky little zombie film. A bunch of no-name teens arrive at an all-night rave and are soon attacked by zombies. Notoriously, the film actually intercuts low-res scenes from the video game during its action sequences. Listed as the 19th worst film ever made on the Internet Movie Database.
Alone in the Dark (2005) Uwe Boll hired a few name actors (if you count Christian Slater and Tara Reid) for his next outing. It didn’t help. Like his last film, Alone in the Dark is based on a video game in which people wander around and shoot monsters. That didn’t provide much of a storyline for Boll to build on. So he didn’t. House, monsters, people, guns. What more do you need? Listed as the 27th worst film ever made on the Internet Movie Database.
BloodRayne (2005) Boll strikes again! A horrible releasing job by upstart distributors Romar Entertainment killed this film before people had a chance to find out how sucky it was (so to speak). Kristanna Loken plays the titular sexy vampire, transferred from her video game roots battling Nazis to wandering around 18th-century Romania. The cast looks like it’s hanging out at a Medieval Times restaurant. Listed as the 43rd worst film ever made on the Internet Movie Database. Next up for Boll: Dungeon Siege, Postal and Far Cry.
Doom (2005) Somebody snapped up the rights to the popular shoot-’em-up Doom. Players wander around a maze of corridors with a BFG (“big f*&#ing gun” for those of you not in the know) and shoot monsters. That’s less of a plot than Pac Man. The result, not so surprisingly, is an agonizingly dumb movie in which The Rock wanders around a maze of corridors with a BFG shooting monsters. BFD. The film’s “highlight” is an extended first-person point-of-view sequence which mirrors the video game’s FPS (first-person shooter) style. It’s just like watching the video game! Only you don’t get to control the character. Coming up soon for The Rock: Spy Hunter. (Yes, another video game.)
Silent Hill (2006) Frenchy Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) sinks his teeth into this odd, Lovecraftian adaptation of the horror survival game. It may be brilliant, or it may be awful. It’s hard to tell, because the film makes next to no sense.