Oh boy. What have we gotten ourselves into? Today’s challenge is a cinematic doozy, a flop-fest, a critique of the critically panned. It’s enough to give Ebert nightmares, for today we scrape the bottom of the Rotten Tomatoes barrel.
Yes, that means video game movies. They aren’t exactly Academy Award winners, let’s just say that.
Not a single film based on a video game released internationally since ’93 has ever scored any higher than 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now of course, critic scores aren’t everything. That’s why we have general consensus, which holds that these are some of the worst of the worst of the worst. Of the worst. Something can be so bad it’s good (somehow), but more often than not these movies are really, really bad/sappy/poor/ugly/cheap/terrible/messy/gratuitous/pandering/cheesy.
Obviously, a distinction can be made between movies based on existing video game franchises and movies that feature video games as part of the plot. There are the theatrical releases and the home releases. Live action and animated. For our purposes, we’re including all of these categories into today’s challenge…
“What is your Favorite Video Game Movie?“
…or “What is the Video Game Movie you tolerate the most?”
The Timely Mage
Mortal Kombat. I was a huge Mortal Kombat fan as a kid and was so excited to see the movie in theaters. After watching it I was actually very pleased with it and still am to this day. I think it’s one of the few game-to-movie attempts that actually went well and felt like a cohesive film. Mortal Kombat Annihilation on the other hand… (“3% on RT!” -TWRM) I don’t know what happened there but I still can’t finish that movie without cringing so hard my face rips itself apart.
The Black Humor Mage
Indie Game: The Movie is my favorite video game movie. The only good video game related movie is this documentary that focuses on different creators in different stages of their video game development . It’s interesting to see which games and creators the filmmakers picked before they were popular. They had good foresight because now many know what FEZ and Super Meat Boy are. This trailer that I’ve shared below does an awesome job of telling you exactly what the movie will be like, but not giving away too much. This is probably one of the best trailers ever made, to be honest.
The Rage Mage
So much to hate! I feel like a diabetic kid in a candy store! Super Mario Bros. tried to kill Bob Hoskins by stabbing him, electrocuting him, nearly drowning him, and breaking his fingers. Too bad it failed to finish the job. Everybody wonders what happened to Fred Savage through the years. The Wizard did him in. Pixels recently proved once and for all that no amount of modern special effects can make Adam Sandler funny. WarCraft showed the world that sweaty, overweight, white males do indeed have no lives. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider couldn’t be salvaged even by Angelina Jolie’s copyrighted cheekbones. Street Fighter took everything you loved about the game and made sure you’d never love it again. That was especially true for Raul Julia. Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within… you get a pass only because I already lambasted your crap in a previous post. Resident Evil, Max Payne, Prince of Persia, Silent Hill, Doom, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, Wing Commander and lest we forget the tears we shared: Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Returns (ironic I used so many colons there since the Pokemon movie is full of it). These may have been mildly entertaining, but so is waterboarding.
The Green Screen Mage
Wreck-It Ralph!! What? That doesn’t count? … Oh… (“It does count!” -TWRM)
Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete. Yes, the complete version does make a big difference. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is a dang good looking one. Watching it and finding all the little easter eggs and hearing your favorite music pop up was just so fantastic. And those fight scenes?? Come on, they were so over the top awesome.
The White Out Mage
I’m going to go with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within… It may not be the best written story… but a few years after its release, when I was in animation class in college, I was introduced to this film. I was just learning that I wanted to do something creative with my life. I remember watching it on the projector screen in my classroom as we discussed how much life was in the eyes of the characters and how their skin was luminescent. That sort of thing wasn’t common back then. This film will always be a piece of nostalgia for me and I will always consider it a work of art and inspiration.
The Well-Red Mage
Ladies and gentleman, 1989’s sci-fi summer blockbuster: Tron. Let’s not waste any black and white on Tron: Legacy, which demonstrated everything that’s wrong with modern film making. I’m talking about the classic Tron. It encapsulated the fever of the arcade scene. Like any good sci-fi it emphasized the looming dangers of technology developing at such an exponential rate that it outpaces ethics. I’m not going to “read too much” into Tron and label it a classic but it’s light-years ahead of most video game films based on existing franchises. It’s graphics are severely out-moded, out-dated and archaic but they still remain some of the most unique. I remember thinking this movie was hideously boring as a child, and it still is pretty slow-paced, but watching it again as an adult (especially in contrast with its sequel) made me realize how much of a sci-fi gem it is. The racing sequence is iconic for a reason. This is one movie that I wouldn’t be up in arms about if Disney gave it a proper reboot. And seeing as how they seem creatively-constipated enough to remake every Disney movie ever (prepare for a plot-twist-less Beauty and the Beast), I’m sure I’ll get my Tron.exe eventually.
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!