Movies based on video games tend to get a bad rap. They're seen as efforts that lack both quality and meaning, low-effort attempts to cash in that are rarely taken seriously. The infamous Super Mario Bros. movie definitely had a part to play there.
To be fair, video game adaptations don't tend to be exactly Oscar-worthy, and the perception surrounding them is largely justified. However, recent trends show a healthy improvement there, with the adaptations of the last few years being at least vaguely entertaining. Detective Pikachu’s success has allowed these films to get exposure, so we’ll be counting down the 10 best you’ll find here.
10 Resident Evil
The film is most definitely not the best, but it did spark one of the only true movie franchises based on a video game, which retroactively makes Resident Evil a significant movie. In addition to that, the first adaptation was a landmark film for its time, as video game movies were a real scarcity back in 2002.
There are a lot of issues here, primarily the fact that the huge departure in plot (it had an entirely original protagonist) didn’t make it feel like we were watching a Resident Evil adaptation. Still, it was by no means a bad starting point for video game movies to start shining.
You could swap the Rock from any one of his movies into another, and it’ll still feel as if he’s playing the same character. Rampage is no exception, as it feels like Jumanji on steroids. The film is over-the-top and extremely silly, but that’s what the viewer signed up for when watching it.
The Rock is the biggest draw in the business, and his star power is enough for us to care about a gargantuan gorilla who makes immature jokes like an overgrown man-child. The destruction on display is satisfying for those who enjoy that kind of action, although it might be too mindless for some people.
8 Silent Hill
Had Silent Hill retained the same sense of tension it created in the first half of its run, the film would’ve gone down as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The movie starts off incredibly well by presenting us with an uncertain setting of the town, and creepier happenings to boot. However, it becomes too jumbled in the story for many viewers' liking halfway through.
By then, you want the climax to hurry along, since the movie itself even seems to forget the characters it had in place. But simply for the incredible experience the first half of the movie provided, Silent Hill shouldn’t go ignored.
7 Mortal Kombat
When it comes to cheesiness, you could make a whole stuffed crust pizza out of Mortal Kombat. The film is so cheesy, you’d think it was made by a bunch of teenagers. And yet, there’s no denying the movie is very fun to watch.
After the first few minutes, you get into the setting and look past the lame moments. Once you’re invested in the action, Mortal Kombat shows a lot of heart. Plus, the film has aged well, reminding us of simpler times when movies didn’t need to be all big-budget set pieces to satisfy. It’s good enough to entertain, with some fun, memorable moments .
6 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Resident Evil may be seen as starting the video game film genre, but that was because it fit into that niche. Lara Croft: Tom Raider, on the other hand, was epic enough to be considered an original idea. A majority of the people who contributed to the $274 million it grossed at the box office went to watch for the amazing special effects, and a story that felt it had been worked on.
The film rightfully revolutionized the video game industry, by attracting the attention of people who didn’t play games. The problem with the film, though, is that it hasn’t dated all too well, and is nowadays considered an inferior effort to Indiana Jones and The Mummy. Nevertheless, this takes nothing away from Angelina Jolie, who was in prime form here.
You know what? Hitman gets a bad rap for no reason at all. The issue people have with the film is that it’s not the Hitman we expected. However, the movie is a solid action piece that never bores anyone watching.
We have a quality protagonist in Timothy Olyphant, and a premise that makes us care for the supporting characters. All in all, it’s certainly not a bad way to spend an hour and a half. Now, the gripe people have with it is understandable, since we expected to watch the sneaky Agent 47 and got the explosive version instead. Maybe if the film had been marketed differently, it would’ve been well-received. Still, this least Hitman was far better than the awful Hitman: Agent 47 in 2015.
4 Tomb Raider
Never has a video game film captured the feel of the source material and transferred it into the movie as well as Tomb Raider did. Unlike the previous films, this reboot was a faithful representation of the gritty, dark, and action-based Tomb Raider game reboot.
The Lara Croft in this version was tailor-made to be a role model for young girls and boys, and the story kept it simple and to the point. A criticism most voiced for the film was that it played the simple factor too far, and the pay-off from watching the story wasn’t as satisfying as it could’ve been.
3 Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Twenty years ago, we just didn’t appreciate animated movies as we do now. As such, we expected Pokémon the First Movie to be something revolutionary. Fortunately, though, the film has aged remarkably well and is now considered among the best of the many Pokémon movies.
It’s got the nostalgia factored down beautifully, with people who are now well into their late-twenties and thirties perfectly happy to watch the movie. The premise had all the Pokémon we’d seen by then on display, and the story had genuine heart. We shed more than a few tears at the end, just like all the Pokémon did.
2 Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
It is criminal how underrated this movie is. Unfortunately for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe formula hadn’t exploded into popularity when it was released, as the film would’ve been an instant hit today.
The pacing of the film combined what we’d seen in quality period action-adventure movies like Indiana Jones and The Mummy, and Prince of Persia basically has it all. You’ve got comedy, incredible stunts, fantasy sequences, the story sticking close to the video game, and the entire feel of its setting; there’s not much more you can ask for. Re-watching Prince of Persia reminds us that it’s a lot more fun that it is given credit for.
1 Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Of course, we had to reserve the top spot for what is now unquestionably the best video game-based film that’s ever been released. Pokémon Detective Pikachu kept all the nostalgia and the feels from the anime, and presented us with a surprisingly adult-oriented outing featuring the cutest Pokemon out there.
With the voice of Ryan Reynolds and the world being both modern and laced with the Pokemon spirit, Detective Pikachu is the template every video game-based film should use. You can take your kids to the movie, or watch it by yourself; either way, you’ll laugh, cry, and leave with a smile on your face.