Turning an amazing video game into a movie is an incredibly difficult task that every director fears. Usually, video game storylines are meant to be played and interacted with. Therefore historically, movies based on video games were not among the greatest of films, and we understand why. A lot of the time these games take upwards of 20 hours to complete, so cramping all of that in a single movie can be challenging, to say the least. I still can’t find it in my heart to forgive the people responsible for the Resident Evil movies.
A lot of the time animated films fare way better than live-action films, as it is usually easier to include some of the video game elements. As a long-time gamer, I decided to share my thought on the video game movies I thought were the best. I tried to stay as objective as I could, but there might be some biased decisions in there. So, let’s get right into some of the best video game movies out there!
8. Angry Birds (2016)
Angry Birds was one of the most popular mobile games back when I was still in school. I swear, I could not name a single person that did not have the Angry Birds app on their phone. Even though I think the movie should have come out a few years sooner to capitalize on the popularity of the game, I still liked it. The star-studded cast really did their job of lending their voices to the animated characters amazingly and really made it fun to watch. I first saw it with my baby sister when it came out and let me tell you, she loved it so much that it became almost a weekly viewing in our house.
The movie follows our protagonist Red, who is the beloved red bird from the game. After being sentenced to anger management therapy, Red needs to become the hero his island needs. You see, the pigs visited their island and at first, they seemed friendly, and only Red was suspicious of them. But after they betrayed the birds, robbed them, and escaped, he must embrace his inner fury and lead his people to retrieve what was once theirs. If you haven’t seen it yet, I definitely recommend it!
7. Tomb Raider (2018)
Come on, we’ve all heard of the Tomb Raider games. Tomb Raider 3 was even the first game I remember playing, it was the game that started my gaming journey – so obviously I’m a bit biased towards the series.
There were multiple Tomb Raider movies released, notably the two movies starring Angelina Jolie. The movies were nothing special, but Angelina Jolie was an amazing casting that made them watchable.
But I do have a soft spot for the 2018 movie. I have probably seen it at least 10 times so far, and I’ll probably rewatch it again right after I finish this post. It is based on the 2013 game with the same name and is considered a reboot of the Tomb Raider movie universe. The story follows young Lara Croft, who embarks on a journey to her father’s last known location, with hopes of getting closure. She travels to the island of Yamatai, where her father was hoping to find Himiko, the mythical queen who was said to command the power over life and death.
I thought Alicia Vikanders was a brilliant choice for the role of Lara Croft. It was also really obvious that the movie was setting up a sequel as well, but sadly we never got it. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years.
6. Warcraft (2016)
World of Warcraft is the most known MMORPG game on the planet. Even though I have never played the game, as I’m not a big MMO guy, I still recognize the impact this game had on the gaming world.
The movie takes place in Azeroth and features both Orcs and Humans, who are at war. A portal separates their world and sometimes, a horde of Orcs comes through that portal to steal humans. The reason for that is that the Orc leader has the ability to suck the energy from humans and even some of the Orcs. Because of that some of the Orcs turn to rebels, and they team up with the humans to stop him.
The cast was great, and Travis Fimmel did an amazing job in his role as Anduin Lothar. Again, I never played the game, so I can not really judge how much justice the film did to it, but overall, it was very enjoyable.
5. Pixels (2015)
Some of you might not classify Pixels as a video game movie, but I definitely feel it deserves its spot on this list. As humanity started its space programs, one of the rockets they sent out included some of the distinct achievements of humanity – among it some of the classic arcade games. An alien race found those records and assumed humans were challenging them to a contest, so they created weapons based on our arcade games and attack Earth.
The movie is an amazing comedy, which every gamer who has ever been to the arcade can appreciate. I never was particularly good at arcade games, as Donkey Kong used to kick my butt every time, so the movie really gave me joy when they finally took him down. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Peter Dinklage are just some of the names that make this movie a great experience. If you haven’t seen it and you are curious about what a live-action Pacman would look like, watch it today!
4. Sonic the Hedgehog
Ah yes, Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone’s favorite speedster! I still remember when the first trailer for Sonic was dropped – I was horrified. The original Sonic design was something straight out of a horror movie, as the studio tried making him a bit too realistic. But the studio listened to the community and changed the design, so we got the Sonic we all love.
In the movie, Sonic gets stuck on Earth, where he must keep the rings from falling into the wrong hands. At the same time, he must be careful to not get caught by the evil doctor Robotnik, who desires Sonics power for unspeakable things. Jim Carrey did an amazing job portraying the Dr. Robotnik, for me personally he was the best part of the whole movie.
3. Mortal Kombat (2021)
If I had to choose between Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, I would choose Mortal Kombat 10 out of 10 times. I have played the last 4 games and loved them! I’m also super excited for the new Mortal Kombat 1 releasing this year, can’t wait to get into it!
Attempts to make a Mortal Kombat movie were made in the 90s already, but I do not want to talk about that. The 2021 movie was a pleasant surprise to me though. Some people were complaining about the main character who has absolutely no connection to the video game lore, but I didn’t mind him. The movie was exactly what I hoped it would be – a gory action film. Josh Lawson caused chaos as Kano just like he was meant to, and the Scorpion vs Sub-Zero showdown was everything I would hope it to be.
I can’t wait for the sequel which is finally in development. The first movie teased Johnny Cage and I’m intrigued to see how he will be handled on the big screen.
2. Detective Pikachu (2019)
I never really knew I needed to see Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu until I actually saw Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu. Detective Pikachu is a mystery fantasy comedy film based on the Pokemon franchise. The Pokemon franchise is probably one of the most known gaming franchises in the world, I still sing the anime opening song to myself from time to time.
An expert detective Harry Goodman goes missing, and his son Tim returns to town to find out what happened. he is accompanied by a talking Pikachu, which only Tim can understand. They embark on a quest for the truth, but they end up trying to save the whole city. If you have ever played Pokemon, this is definitively a film for you.
1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
This has got to be one of the best video game movies of all time and is my personal favorite! A lot of people were skeptical about Chris Pratt being cast as the lead Mario, but I think he did an amazing job. The movie was fun from start to finish and I was hoping it would never end.
The plot follows our beloved Mario brothers, Mario and Luigi, who wish to become the best plumbers in New York City. But after a series of unfortunate events, they end up getting sucked up a Warp Pipe and separated. Mario lands in the Mushroom Kingdom, while Luigi ends up in the Dark Lands. Mario races against time to save his brother with the help of classic characters Princess Peach, Toad, and Donkey Kong.
Even though the whole casting was amazing in my opinion, Jack Black as Bowser really stole the show. Bowser wishes to marry Princess Peach and is willing to do anything to make this happen, even if it means destroying the whole Mushroom Kingdom. Jack Black’s amazing rendition of Peaches was definitely a highlight of the movie, and I could not stop singing it after leaving the theater. And of course I’ve got you covered, you can listen to Peaches right here!
These are my favorite video game movies of all time! I could include some of the shows based on video games, such as Arcane and The Last of Us, but I have another post planned for that. Even though it can be hard to transition a video game to the movie screen, these movies show that it can be done. I really hope more games get the movie adaptations that do them justice, as I feel the gaming world has countless incredible stories to tell. But adaptations such as the Resident Evil series really make me afraid of my favorite games being ruined (yes, I’m still salty).
Which of the video game movies is your favorite? Do you agree with my list? Let me know in the comments below!