Ah, game to film adaptations. Has it ever really, truly worked out for anyone? Anyone in the audience, we mean. No one's doubting the idea that Uwe Boll is able to lead a pretty comfortable lifestyle thanks to his rather infamous career producing them.
At times it seems pretty surreal that these flicks even make it to screen, given the critical panning that tends to follow in their wake. It almost seems impossible that they should all be that bad, doesn't it? Are we not judging them on the proper criteria? Should they be held apart from the greater whole of cinema and taken for a genre unto themselves? Perhaps even a classification of art all their own?
For now, let's skip those pesky questions and get to the things we definitely do know—they have a tendency to leave audiences feeling a bit unfulfilled, to err on the side of an understatement. We decided to draw up a list of twenty of the worst scoring video game adaptations according to Rotten Tomatoes, and then dredged up ten of the "best" according to the same rankings. And the first thing we learned is that even the "best" among them don't tend to do so hot among fans and critics.
But when venturing into the territory of video games adapted to film, pretty much any measure of success is something to be proud of. Marginally, anyway.
30 WORST: BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (0%)
Cowboys and vampires go together like ranch dressing and peanut butter in this sequel to the almost equally ill fated original video game adaptation. It comes packed to the brim with all the trimmings you’d expect out of a Uwe Boll flick—uninspired writing backed by uninspired performances and generous helpings of ham-and-cheese action sequences.
I guess a direct to DVD release would make sense, given the generous critical panning of the original, but did little to save it from scathing reviews and a complete lack of interest among audiences. A zero rating may seem harsh, but trust us, it’s entirely due.
29 WORST: Tekken (0%)
Film adaptations for fighting games have never worked out well, and that says a lot considering how low the bar is for video game adaptations in general. Tekken was more than happy to keep that trend intact. You know it’s bad when the director of the gaming franchise completely dismisses the notion of having any interest in the film whatsoever.
At its absolute best Tekken managed to pull off some passable fight scenes and stunt choreography, but not well enough to offset the thin plot, uninteresting narrative and nap inducing character performances.
28 BEST: Warcraft (28%)
That's right, our first entry for "best" kicks off at a 28% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yep, it's going to be that kind of list. Though it may not be on the bottom, it's difficult not to point out that 28% hurts just a little bit.
I don't think anyone truly expected what has become the leading standard in MMO gaming to make a transition to the big screen that could be described as successful in any way, shape or form, and despite completely bulldozing established Warcraft lore, there were apparently a few people out there that could be tepidly described as fans of this venture.
27 WORST: Alone In The Dark (1%)
Alone in the Dark allegedly operated off of a workable script that was meant to tie directly into the then upcoming entry in the game series, according to writer Erickson Blair. Then something happened. The Raging Boll happened.
And just like that, the initially subtle and scary thriller was made to include special army dudes, transdimensional portals, super cute archaeologist ladies and bullet time gun fights. Because, well, reasons! Needless to say none of these things managed to win over audiences.
26 WORST: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (3%)
Is there really much to be said for this one? We already know that fighting games just don’t translate to screen. The curse endures to this day. This is one of those movies you throw on specifically because the acting is so absolutely, hilariously dosed to the eyeballs on such a weird cocktail of distilled cheese and testosterone that it’s a wonder any of the participants survived.
Anyway, can we make a joke about the soundtrack? That’s unnecessary? Alright. In that case we’re pretty much done here. Moving on.
25 BEST: Silent Hill (30%)
The initial film outing for the Silent Hill franchise barely edges in to the right side of acceptable, and even that may be a bit of an overstatement. Silent Hill is a franchise that's capable of marketing off of visuals alone if need be.
Which apparently did rather well for it, considering the low bar for entry.
Though it does fall short on delivering the intensely psychological thrill ride that the games tend to bring to the table, seeming to hinge on the games' menagerie of iconic monsters in order to pull itself off.
24 WORST: House Of The Dead (3%)
I guess when you take the threadbare plot of a classic light gun shooter and decide to make a movie out of it, it leaves you with a lot of creative freedom to explore and deepen the narrative in order to fill in the gaps and produce a worthwhile story.
Apparently that creative freedom isn't necessarily a good thing, because what was done here barely passes for a B movie. With little to offer that you wouldn't find in much, much higher quality almost anywhere else in the horror genre, you're probably better off passing on this one outside of complete and utter desperation.
23 WORST: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (4%)
It’s really hard to imagine that this was a good idea in the first place, but Mr. Boll has a gift for forcing cash-grab movie adaptations from unlikely sources, as will undoubtedly become increasingly apparent over the course of this list, if it hasn’t already.
Eh, let’s face it. You came into this perfectly aware of that.
The star-studded, albeit misplaced casting disappointed in almost every way imaginable, though it’s hard to fault them for deadpan, unenthusiastic delivery of cringe worthy dialogue. You do get to see Ray Liotta try to portray a medieval bad dude, and that’s hilarious to the point of almost becoming an accidental redeeming quality.
22 BEST: DOA (Dead Or Alive) (33%)
In a truly bizarre twist of fate, the film adaptation for this hormonal beat 'em up apparently managed to charm a few moviegoers. Though as to how or why, well, we're having difficulty nailing it down.
I guess gratuitous swimsuit shoots can really do a whole lot for you when it comes to getting your rating boosted. Though it is kinda hard not to have a chuckle at the ham-fisted reference to Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. And I mean really, they did at least adapt a few of the major plot points, ridiculous as they were. So that's something!
21 WORST: BloodRayne (4%)
Well, it fared better than the sequel. But just barely. BloodRayne is a campy attempt at action-horror that just can’t seem to find a note to hit, which says a lot. Because Meat Loaf is in it, as a vampire, providing a concrete answer to the age-old argument as to whether or not you can cast Meat Loaf as a vampire and still screw things up.
The answer is yes, yes you can. Indeed.
The flick’s an absolute drag, and it’s most certainly because vampire Meat Loaf was not cast as the titular BloodRayne. Really, it would have gone a long way. The move would have potentially set this film up for multiple Oscar nominations and rewritten Uwe Boll’s reputation as a champion of not only the cinematic arts, but humanity as a whole.
20 WORST: Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li (6%)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'll probably keep saying it for many, many years to come. Storytelling isn't the strong suit of a fighting game. Sure, it's a fun, if entirely campy secondary consideration, but rarely if ever are these games marketed on the premise of a riveting narrative experience.
And the continued failure to adapt them to the screen does little to dissuade that opinion.
As if anticipating a poor reception of the ludicrous melodrama making up the entirety of the script, the film skipped a critical pre-screening and went right into the DVD market. Oh, and also they did end up casting one of the Black Eyed Peas, namely Taboo, as Vega. So that's... a thing.
19 BEST: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time (36%)
Jake Gyllenhaal has been pretty open about his experience with this flick, even going so far as to advise other actors on the... let's say quirkiness of working on the set of a video game adaptation.
But critically, it isn't the worst.
The film managed to hit some high notes in terms of action sequences and general storytelling. While it didn't exactly woo audiences in totality, it did manage to stand out among its peers, for whatever that may be worth.
18 WORST: Postal (7%)
Okay, really. I’m going to have to cut off the Uwe Boll entries at some point. Outside of getting repetitive, I really, really want to avoid any situation where he might be tempted to drag me into a boxing ring to beat me absolutely and completely senseless.
You think that’s funny? He actually does it. Seriously, look. I’m kinda scared.
Anyway, Postal’s awful. Luckily hopes weren’t exactly stoked for this one as the games weren’t particularly good, or noteworthy outside of the edgelord shock value they were marketed on.
17 WORST: Silent Hill: Revelation (8%)
On the surface, Silent Hill seems like something that should see an easy transition to the big screen. A complex and layered psychological horror plot and an outstanding gold mine's worth of visuals unique even to the tired and well tread roster of horror flick go-to hooks. Heck, even the first adaptation met almost lukewarm reception.
Unfortunately, it looks like it was all downhill from there.
We have the usual lineup of criticisms, a weak delivery and an unfaithful and incomprehensibly adapted plot despite a moderate box office success.
16 BEST: Resident Evil: Vendetta (43%)
With the sheer volume of movies they've managed to milk out of the Resident Evil franchise, it's hard to imagine a list of video game adaptations where it doesn't pop up, no matter what context it's in.
And in this instance, they really didn't seem to do too bad.
Even though campy and overacted, Vendetta is a departure from the live action flicks in keeping close to the original material with full CGI and tying in to the plot of the actual source material. It could be that this is where filmmakers should start taking notes when it comes to making movies from video games.
15 WORST: Double Dragon (8%)
Another one of the earlier attempts to bridge the gap between gaming and film media, Double Dragon released in 1994 to appropriate and expected critical rejection. With acting chops that seemed fresh out of a high school stage production, even following a dead simple, on-the-rails plot couldn't save it.
Interestingly, the video game series ended up taking cues from the film, borrowing and implementing elements that it introduced such as special transformation moves, and even borrowing actual scenes for the 1995 installment of the side scrolling beat 'em up.
14 WORST: Hitman: Agent 47 (9%)
Look, if you just want to watch a dumb action romp with guns, explosions, and a bald guy then by all means, check out Agent 47. You’ll have an alright time.
Otherwise, you’re really not missing much of anything with this one.
Because the things you’re not getting out of this are as follows: a meaningful continuation of the Hitman saga, a well written story, or innovative, well choreographed stunt and action sequences. But as long as none of these things rank too highly on your list of priorities, well, go right ahead and give it a go.
13 BEST: Pokémon: I Choose You! (43%)
On the decidedly "best" end of the spectrum we have a Pokémon film that managed to pull it off. As well as it could, anyway. I mean hey, you really don't have to do much right in order to get a Pokémon movie to go over well, but as should be apparent by now, even doing that much with an adaptation of this nature is a tall order.
So good job, guys. You did it.
This was a pretty recent addition to the Pokémon media lineup, hitting theaters in 2017, and largely seems to serve as a reboot of Ash's adventures into the more recent generation of Pokémon. It didn't do too badly, but that could also be attributed to the Pokémon exclusives accompanying various international releases.
12 WORST: Wing Commander (10%)
When you see Matthew Lillard on the cover of anything that isn't SLC Punk, you're probably in for a bad time. He's a fine guy, but bad luck seems to follow him from set to set. Though the curse of this being a video game adaptation probably did this one in long before anything else, naturally.
Wing Commander, needless to say at this point, wasn't as well received as the classic series of pilot sims it was adapted from. As seems to be the trend, leading man Freddie Prinze Jr. recollects his experience on this set less than fondly, going so far as to admit that he "can't stand" the movie. Ouch.
11 WORST: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (12%)
Final Fantasy has had an awkward but flirtatious relationship with film over the years, and of course anyone that's seen a cinematic in any Square Enix game can see how it would work. And we've seen how it can work, via Advent Children and The Spirits Within.
But then, unfortunately, we have Kingsglaive.
While it wasn't an out and out failure, garnering some praise for its inventive and impressive visuals, the expressions "confusing" and "bogged down" seem to succinctly summarize audience reactions to the deeply politically rooted narrative. With a Final Fantasy adaptation, I'm really unsure how you avoid that one.
10 BEST: The Angry Birds Movie (44%)
It really pains me to say anything nice about Angry Birds, so bear with me as I muscle my way through this one. I really just can't argue with the numbers here. They managed a passable integration into cinema, somehow.
Fleshing out the gripping narrative of the mobile sensation to degrees highly desired by fans and non-fans alike, The Angry Birds movie weaves a tale of loss and redemption for leading bird Red, and manages to impart the value of anger management by way of allegorical... look, it was colorful, so kids probably liked it. That's probably the only reason why this movie did okay.
9 WORST: Super Mario Bros. (14%)
Super Mario Bros. is often hailed as the holy grail when it comes to bad video game to film adaptations. And it’s a title well deserved. On a list featuring so many picks that can be described as “so bad they’re good,” it’s still a standout feature.
The liberties taken here are absolutely amazing in their absurdity. The plot is nonsensical, and the art direction is this bizarre mashup of science fiction, cyberpunk and desperate attempts to ground the Mario universe in “gritty” realism capped off with some of the most forcibly shoehorned references that we’ve ever had the strangely pleasurable misfortune of bearing witness to.
8 WORST: Pokémon 4Ever (13%)
Yeesh, even Pokémon can't catch a break here. I mean I'd hardly expect pure cinematic excellence when it comes to a Pokémon flick, the original series based on the games really didn't have to try very hard to capture my then young and still developing imagination. Even the movie rebooting said series got a nod in this very list. And yet here we are.
While a Pokémon movie did indeed make one of our top entries, obviously it comes full circle to make one of the worst as well. The leading complaints seem to revolve around a predictable and disappointing plot, but come on guys. What did you expect here?
7 BEST: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (45%)
Although the plot borderlines on indecipherable, The Spirits Within was among the first video game films to flirt with a warm reception by audiences. It does do a few things differently by not adapting directly from a game's plot, but writing a new chapter within the context of a Final Fantasy venture, as new titles often do in the series of games. Which is a move that actually makes sense for anything Final Fantasy, so it works.
The CGI, especially considering the time at which it was developed, is incredibly beautiful, and it likely owes a great deal of its success to the talent involved there. But considering that's the standard for anything Square has even come remotely close to putting its hands on, nobody should be surprised over that one.
6 WORST: Street Fighter: (18%)
Why don't I just provide an excerpt from Colonel Guile's motivational speech preceding the climax of the film?
I feel like it says more than I ever could.
But in the interest of avoiding outright plagiarism, I'll just provide you with a link right here. You're welcome. Anyway, what's there to be said? Before The Legend of Chun Li, we had this cinematic marvel in outstanding badness. Instead of just going all out mad libs on the litany of sins committed, let's just continue to focus on the casting of Jean-Claude Van Damme as the all-USA street fighting commando army guy.
Yeah, that should leave the appropriate taste in your mouth.
5 WORST: Max Payne (16%)
There were efforts made here. Max Payne follows a loose mirror of the original game’s plot, delivers on some relatively solid action set pieces, and roped in some major talent in the casting department.
But as per usual, things didn’t quite pan out in terms of storytelling.
A few plot gaps here, some realism inconsistencies there, and an altogether underwhelming delivery by Wahlberg as the leading man didn’t do much to encourage a critical embrace of this noir thriller. Despite a decent box office showing and a few lukewarm critical appraisals, Max Payne just didn’t pull through as a film.
4 BEST: Tomb Raider (50%)
With a Tomb Raider movie, all you really need to do is make a singular, solid casting decision. Just one. That's all that you need to do right. And I'm guessing that they did just that with Alicia Vikander for this 2018 reboot, because this movie didn't rub too many critics the wrong way.
Not too many critics, anyway. That's the key phrasing here.
It can be difficult to argue whether this one actually delivered on scripting and shooting that wasn't just sitting on the absolute wrong side of awful, or simply rode along on the fortunate casting decisions to keep it from sinking into the gutter. But 50% in this neighborhood means they did something right, and we definitely can't say the same for the 2001 Angelina Jolie portrayal.
3 WORST: Assassin's Creed (17%)
You could totally be forgiven for playing any of the titles in the Assassin’s Creed series and thinking, “You know, this could be a decent movie.” And in all seriousness, the action sequences and special effects brushed shoulders with being sort of good when it comes to this adaptation.
The problem is that nothing else about it really did.
And that’s a shame, because the casting’s not too shabby. Fassbender could’ve been a good lead with some more talent at the writer’s desk. But the unfocused narrative hinged heavily on foreknowledge of the series and really just wasn’t adapted very well. Maybe next time, Ubisoft.
2 WORST: Doom (19%)
It’s Doom. There’s not a whole lot to get right here. Demons, guns, space. The formula is simple, it’s easy to follow, and it should all go down smooth. And really, this movie went two for three there. Not bad, right?
It’s just that it managed to, you know, do them terribly.
Nevermind the fact that we lost demons for some pseudo-sciencey genetic experimentation stuff, because we’ve got bigger problems here. The plot unfolds like terribly written fanfiction, and it’s rife with self-referential humor and puns that can make even the sturdiest cringe aficionado squirm uncomfortably.
1 BEST: Rampage (52%)
You can safely call this one the shock of the century for me, as while I wasn't a personal fan of the endeavor to begin with, it seemed like it was completely out of left field. I mean, Rampage? As a film? Now? Forget it.
Audiences didn't agree, to say the least.
While in terms of film in general the rating is still a bit poor, it stands neck and shoulders above almost all of its peers as far as reception goes. The Rock's a pretty tall dude though, so maybe that isn't as surprising as it seems. Or maybe people just like really big monsters. Or both.