Making a list of the best video games movies used to be a tough task. With studios opting for cheap spin-offs or loose adaptations rather than respecting what made those games so special to players in the first place. Happily, those days are behind us. With a new generation of directors who grew up gaming, and understand just how much potential lies in their fictional worlds and stories. Some studios, like Ubisoft, are even investing in making their own movies, and gems like the recent Werewolves Within are the result.
7. Mortal Kombat (2021)
The 2021 adaptation of Mortal Kombat scores a place on the list for the fight scenes alone, and has enough gore splashing around that fake blood supplies must have plummeted during production. Protagonist Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is a new addition to the Mortal Kombat universe. But his fate to fight in Mortal Kombat competition means we get to see fan favorites like Sub Zero and Sonya Blade in action. Sure the dialogue is a little clunky. But these characters get hit in the head a lot, so it’s perhaps understandable they’re not spouting Shakespeare.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog
The early signs for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie didn’t look good. Fans reacted badly to initial designs for the blue blur. So much so that the filmmakers went back to the digital drawing board. When the movie was finally released this year, it won over audiences with Ben Schwartz’s enthusiastic voice-over work and Jim Carrey hamming it up as Dr. Robotnik. The movie follows Sonic and a Montana sheriff as they try to evade Robotnik and track down Sonic’s iconic rings. Sequels are already planned for the later video games.
4. Resident Evil
Resident Evil has so many movies (six by our count) that it’s hard to pin a single one down to present a dead cert for this list. They range from the shambling effort that is Afterlife to, this, the original and (probably) the best. It’s streamlined and only pokes around at the edges of Resi’s sprawling lore, and with good reason. The emphasis is on the action.
That may grate with some but, back in 2002. A slow-burn experience through a mansion just wouldn’t have turned out as kinetic and overly entertaining as this first effort. And it still holds up well today. Milla Jovovich is exceptional in her role as Alice (and, honestly, doesn’t get enough credit) and the set-pieces come thick and fast. It’s also notable in that it looks to set-up sequels and sprawling universes long because Iron Man heard about the Avengers Initiative. Well worth a re-watch.
3. Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed felt like the moment video game movies stepped into the spotlight for the very first time. Where others were dismissed as oddities or only for a certain audience. Assassin’s Creed attempted to put that all to bed with a compelling take on the eternal struggle between the Creed and the Templar Order.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Michael K. Williams, Assassin’s Creed is a movie that doesn’t lack for stars. It gives the movie a real legitimacy and it is flanked by an impressive-looking Animus adventure in 15th Century Spain. And a parkour-heavy style that pays homage to the series without – as some movies do – going too far on the fan-service. Technically it may have disappointed some fans and filmgoers but give it another go. It soars higher than you might think.
2. Tomb Raider (2018)
1. Detective Pikachu
Here it is: the best video game movie: The minute we found out Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool himself – would be voicing the fuzzy little yellow guy. We knew Detective Pikachu would do justice to the Pokemon brand. The movie focuses on 21-year-old Tim Goodman. Who just wants to find his missing private investigator dad Henry and teams up with Pikachu in the process.
Cue lots of CGI, lots of sentimental stuff about family, and – most importantly – enough jokes to tickle a Snorlax.
Goosebumps director Rob Letterman is in charge of an eclectic cast. That includes pop singer Rita Ora, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, and the DJ Diplo. But it’s the love and care given to the Pokemon world-at-large that stands out most.