With the recent release of Ratchet & Clank as well as the upcoming release of Warcraft in July, I think now is an appropriate time to look back on the video game films we’ve received in the past and ask ourselves one simple question; Is this ever going to work? Sure, there have been a few live-action video game adaptations that were worth sitting through (maybe like, one or two) but for the most part, they have been ungodly terrible. From their horrible production values to their complete and obvious disdain for their source materials, these are the video game films I found to just be the most offensive over the years. Now, before I start counting down, let me just clarify a couple things. For one, there are no tie-ups on this list, so don’t expect “Every Uwe Boll Adaptation” to be at number one (Even if it should). I have also chosen to include only one movie from each franchise. Believe me, I wish I could put every single horrendous Resident Evil film on this list but I opted against it for reasons of variety. With that being said, let’s count down the Top 13 Worst Video Game Adaptations.
I’m sure many of you expected this to be higher on this list but there’s a very good reason it isn’t; I actually liked this movie as a kid and it’s still a guilty pleasure for me now as an adult. However, despite that, I concede that it is a bad adaptation of the source material because, let’s face it, there was practically no source material to begin with. The story of an Italian plumber, dodging bullet bills and turtle shells, eating mushrooms for strength and saving a princess from an evil dragon worked for one reason and one reason only; it was a video game. When your game idea is that insane, how can you expect Hollywood to make a proper live action adaptation of that? The short answer is, they didn’t.
Koopa is reduced to a Donald Trump-like businessman, Mario & Luigi are played by a British man and a Latino, The Mushroom Kingdom is replaced with Dino-Hatten and Princess Toadstool (she was Toadstool before she was Peach… look it up) is called Princess Daisy (Daisy wasn’t a character in the games until after the movie). But believe it or not, these reasons aren’t ultimately why I put it on the list. I did that because this was the first one. Super Mario Bros. was the very first live action adaptation of a video game and because of its failure, it would forever leave a dark stain on the video game films of the future. Super Mario Bros. is most definitely an entertaining experience but certainly not a good movie.
12. ALONE IN THE DARK
There was a scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where Christian Slater looked up at Kevin Costner and shouted, “You ruined my life!” After seeing this film, I can only imagine Christian Slater saying that same line to Uwe Boll. Uwe Boll is the Stanley Kubrick of crap and, believe me, Alone in the Dark is not the only one of his films you will see on here. Alone In The Dark was a gaming series I never played and really had no interest in. That being said, I went into this movie not even realizing it was a video game film. I didn’t know until a few years later when I watched a making of documentary on Youtube. Apparently, the game was about the character of Edward Carnby investigating the paranormal while occasionally coming across invisible creatures. Well, this film just takes the bare bones of that thin storyline and somehow makes it even thinner.
How did they do that? It’s an Uwe Boll film! Hell, all they had to do was put glasses on Tara Reid to pass her off as a scientist. Such is the way of Hack Directors. But, the fact that it’s a horrible adaptation of its source material is just the tip of the iceberg. This film fails just as a film in general. The plot is inconsistent and wretched, the editing is awful, the characters are one-dimensional at best and, to top it all off, Tara Reid is playing a scientist (I’m sorry, I can’t emphasize the stupidity of that casting enough). Granted, I didn’t mind Christian Slater too much, given that I do love him as an actor but he is completely wasted in a film that clearly doesn’t appreciate his talents. The trailers made this film look pretty awesome but little did we know of the hell that awaited us.
11. MAX PAYNE
Normally, when I come across a movie that features Mark Wahlberg kicking ass, I’m pumping my fist in the air in excitement. However, upon seeing Max Payne, my middle finger jerked in an upward motion instead. To say I was annoyed would be an understatement. The Max Payne Series was suspenseful, dark and quite moving for an action based game. Well, when John Moore, the director of A Good Day To Die Hard, got his dirty hands on the movie, he pretty much looked at everything that made the games interesting and said, “Chuck it!”. Strangely that seems to be his go-to move with any project he takes on.This adaptation was so bad that Scott Miller, the producer behind the games, made a public statement against the movie, lambasting it to shreds. He was offended by the fact that in the film, the audience has no idea why Max is seeking vengeance.
In the games, we know right away why Max is seeking vengeance so we are able to identify with him and get behind him from the word go. In the movie, we don’t know anything about him or why he does what he does until a crappy little flashback sequence about halfway through the film and even the flashback is incredibly vague. This adaptation either omits important things from the games or changes them to the point where they’re almost unrecognizable. Also, the film adds in a confusing subplot regarding demonic creatures that seem to resemble Valkyries from Norse Mythology. Okay, first of all, Valkyries were Female Warriors in Norse Mythology, not demonic entities and secondly, the games never featured Valkyries; Ever! I can’t believe how half-assed this adaptation is. But even ignoring the differences from the games, it’s still just a terrible movie. Even actors like Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Beau Bridges can’t save this mess that’s so up its own ass in terms of style, that it never takes the time to care about substance. If you want to see Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis in something good, watch Ted. Just avoid this movie like the plague.
Years ago, I unwrapped a Nintendo Gamecube on Christmas morning. One of the few games I received with said Gamecube, was Bloodrayne, a game about a Damphir (half human/half vampire) killing Nazi’s and Vampires in World War II. Now that’s a game, my friends. Unfortunately, the movie adaptation was directed by Uwe Boll so, sadly, we’re screwed. Instead of having the awesome, sexy vampire that the fans knew and loved kicking nazi ass, we instead have Rayne (played remarkably without an apology by Kristanna Loken) in medieval times, fighting random vampires and ridiculous looking monsters, alongside probably the most random cast I have ever seen. I mean, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Madsen and even Meat Loaf, actually wanted to be in this movie. Why? Did they all need to pay off an HD TV at the same time?
The movie features a story that makes no sense, terrible acting, and some horribly choreographed action scenes. It’s actually quite sad when the bad action puts you to sleep faster than the bad story does. Not to mention, Loken and Matthew Davis have probably the most awkward sex scene you will ever see in a film. It comes out of nowhere, has nothing to do with the rest of the film and is never brought up again after it happens. I challenge any porn star out there to try and make a sex scene this awkward. It cannot be done! The script for the movie is credited to Guinevere Turner, who also wrote the film American Psycho. The problem is, when she submitted the script, Uwe Boll read it over and changed most of what she had written. In the documentary, Tales From The Script, Turner is quoted as saying, “I just want to say for the record, for those who have seen Bloodrayne, about 20% of what I wrote is on the screen. The only one laughing at the premiere was me. It’s a twenty-five million dollar movie and it blows.” Guinevere, my dear, no one is arguing with you on that front.
Do ya smell what The Rock is cookin’? Well, if it’s another action movie so horrible that it would give G.I. JOE: Retaliation a run for its money, then yes, yes I do. Doom is based off the immensely popular first-person shooter games of the same name, in which you play as an anonymous marine, fighting off demons after a portal to hell is opened. Well, this adaptation got the marine part right and pretty much nothing else. Based more off the third game, Doom 3, it revolves around a group of space marines, led by Karl Urban and The Rock, that infiltrate a research facility after it is attacked by an unknown enemy. Is it demons that came out a gateway to hell like in the games? The answer is if you think a video game adaptation actually took the time to get the story of the game right, can I buy some pot from you?
No, there is no gateway to hell in this movie. Of course not, instead we get this half-baked story about a 24th chromosome that was injected into people, causing them to become the monsters of the movie. I really don’t get what the logic was behind this change. In all of the games, the monsters are demons from hell. What was the purpose of even adapting this game into a movie if you can’t even get the main concept right? But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that, even though there are no demons, the monsters are still referred to as demons and the term “go to hell” is thrown out constantly throughout the film. Just because you say the word “Hell”, doesn’t make it so. Oh, and just FYI to the writers of this movie, Marines are not Soldiers. They are Marines. If you’re going to make a movie about Marines, please stop calling them soldiers every five minutes. Thank you and have a nice day.
8. DOUBLE DRAGON
Let me just say that when I heard there was actually a Double Dragon movie out there in the world, I could not wait to feast my eyes on it and it’s probably for different reasons than you may think. Personally, when I’m reminded of Double Dragon, I don’t think about the arcade and NES game that I only played every once in awhile. No, I think of the badass cartoon series that I’d watch on Saturday mornings. So I figured any movie that could put something so well written and constructed on film would be instant gold and this, my friends, is why I’m not in the stock market.
Instead of something intriguing and interesting (in all fairness, I’m talking about the cartoon, not the plotless game), we have a story about two nitwits who constantly run from danger, never stop complaining and are, I guess, tasked with defeating this Vanilla Ice looking lawyer played by Robert Patrick. There’s also something about Alyssa Milano leading a gang. Oh yeah, because when I think Alyssa Milano, I think of a gang leader who tortures people by feeding them spinach (I’m not making a joke, this happens in the movie, folks). The game was pretty plotless as far as I can remember but it was a fun “beat em’ up” regardless of that. This movie is about as far from fun as you can get. It’s stupid, lazy, badly directed, badly written and features some of the most irritating main leads I’ve seen in any film. Needless to say, any dystopian future where Andy Dick is the weatherman, isn’t worth visiting.
7. KING OF FIGHTERS
Look, I’ll put it bluntly here, I’ve never played King of Fighters. I’ve heard great things about it and how it’s one of the most popular and beloved fighting games of all time but I’ve never played it myself. I was more into Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter growing up. So yeah, this movie didn’t offend me as an adaptation, personally. Oh no, it offended me based solely on its incompetence as a film. All the Matrix rip-offs, Maggie Q high-kicks, and Ray Park one-liners, in the world, couldn’t save this train-wreck. I watched this movie twice and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell the plot is. Okay, so there are these fighters who put on ear pieces, which transports them to a different reality and they fight… for some reason… sorry, the movie does a piss poor job explaining it. I’m trying here, people.
Then there’s this villain, played by Ray Park (who admittedly was giving it his all), who wants a sword or something. Yeah, I couldn’t follow this movie. The film’s pacing is awful and the plot switches around so much that it’s damn near impossible to understand it… and every time it switches, about ten plot holes pop up that make no sense. I can’t even imagine how disgusted the fans must be. After looking up images of the game characters and comparing them to the actors they got to play them, I can easily say that I would be burning every copy of this movie with a blowtorch if I was a fan. The casting was wrong, the story had no originality and what’s worse, it’s beyond boring. It took me three sittings of this film to finally finish it. A betrayal of source material and a betrayal of filmmaking, King of Fighters certainly earns its spot on this list.
6. MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION
Out of all the live action adaptations made, Mortal Kombat (1995) remains one of the best. However, it’s letdown sequel remains one of the absolute worst. Coming off the heels of its predecessor, a mere two years after its release, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation had no respect for its audience, continuity or even the actors from the previous film as all but two of them have been replaced. It boggles the mind when I think about it because the ending of the first film clearly set up a sequel. Was New Line Cinema just too damn cheap to have the same actors sign on for it? In regards to story continuity, it’s incredibly distracting as the characters we loved in the first one not only look different but are, for some unexplained reason, wearing different clothes. As for the villain, don’t even get me started. They took Shao Khan, the badass, nearly impossible to beat, final boss from the second and third games and turned him into a whiny little pre-madonna bitch with daddy issues. Oh and, for reasons I can’t fathom, they thought making him Raiden’s brother was a good idea. Someone, just shoot me now.
While the first movie was based almost entirely off of the first game, with a few sprinkles of the second game scattered throughout, this was based more off the third one and, with no way of making them interesting, tries to shoehorn in every character from the game that you can think of; Sindel, Centauro, Cyrax, Sheeva, Jax, etc. Even Sub Zero and Scorpion make an appearance again, despite being axed off in the previous film. They try to give a half-assed explanation that the Sub Zero from the first film was this Sub Zero’s brother. The problem is, this Sub Zero only has one scene, as does Scorpion, so why even have the two of them in the movie. Their scene was just a little bit of nothing. The reason? The movie doesn’t care. They just wanted to throw the characters on screen without giving any thought as to why we would want to see them on screen. For a game that features a library of fun and unforgettable fighters, this poor excuse for a film did them no justice at all.
5. TEKKEN: BLOOD VENGEANCE
Look, I’m just gonna come out and say this as bluntly as I possibly can; I do not like Tekken! No, I mean, I really do not like the Tekken games. Why? Because they are all, quite literally, the same game. They all involve someone throwing an Iron Fist Tournament to lure someone out of hiding and occasionally someone who was good will turn evil because of some “Devil Gene” crap. I’m sorry, I’m just not a fan. The games are really stupid. For as bad as some of the Mortal Kombat games got over the years, at least they changed it up and told new stories every once in awhile. Now, that being said, let me ask you this? Even with the extensive knowledge and passion you have from the games, how can any of the fans like this movie? No, I’m not trying to be patronizing, I’m honestly asking because, quite frankly, having knowledge of the games made me understand this movie even less and the damn thing made no sense to begin with.
The film features several characters from the games, as the producers intended this to be a “faithful representation”, but some of the characters like Lee and Ganryu aren’t at all faithful to their game counterparts so… yeah, what were they doing? Also, the movie revolves mostly around a friendship between Ling and Alisa (who later turns out to be a robot… it’s the Japanese way) and yet, when all is said and done, they have nothing to do with what is actually going on in the movie. The main storyline has nothing to do with either of them, so why are they even in the movie, let alone the two main protagonists. They don’t do anything. Apparently, from what I could gather, the main story was set up by Heihachi so that he could draw Jin and Kazuya out of hiding in order to gain more power or something like that, I don’t know, I’m surprised I was still awake at that point. The producers said that they wanted to make a movie that “would please all audiences and not just Tekken fans.” Well, I must say, they failed on both counts. While it features the characters from the games and even looks like the games in terms of its animation, it fails to get much right regarding it. It disregards the game storyline at several points. Final Fantasy: Advent Children worked as an extension of Final Fantasy VII because it was ACTUALLY an extension of Final Fantasy VII. As a film in general, Tekken: Blood Vengeance fails even worse because nothing makes any sense unless you’ve played the games and even then it’s 50/50. I’m sorry, it’s hard to put into words how much I hate this movie. I wasn’t a fan of Tekken to begin with and this movie certainly didn’t help its case.
4. RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE
My favorite video game series is Resident Evil so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I hate the movies with a bloodthirsty passion. They don’t follow the games, clearly have no respect for the storyline or the characters and seem to only exist so that Paul W.S. Anderson can keep his wife relevant (when in reality, they’re probably holding her back from better roles). Milla Jovovich, you are so much better than this. I don’t care if Paul W.S. Anderson directed the first Mortal Kombat. As far as Resident Evil is concerned, the man should be held accountable for crimes against my youth. So yeah, not a fan of these films, but if I had to choose the worst, it would be Resident Evil: Afterlife. Why? Because it’s boring and I mean, boring. This film just fails on every single level. There’s hardly any action, despite the fact that it’s an action film. The new characters it introduces are incredibly boring and how it portrays Albert Wesker and Chris Redfield is beyond insulting. Resident Evil: Afterlife spits in my fanboy face every chance it gets. There’s no plotline, instead just opting for random characters doing random things; nothing happens. I’m sorry, this series ruined Resident Evil and this film was the crowning achievement of garbage in the franchise. I hate these movies so much, I’ve decided to stop talking about it and give my buddy a shot. Join me at #3 but for now please turn your attention to the next paragraph where my good friend and associate, Collin MacGregor (contributor for TheNerdStash.com), would like to say a few words:
Collin MacGregor’s Thoughts:
Sorry Adam but even this film is too much for one person’s rage. Resident Evil: Afterlife is not only a poorly produced, directed, acted, and written film, but a slap in the face to the fanbase. Despite the previous entries in this series, they usually have had nothing to do with the actual games themselves. This has been to their benefit because let’s face it, Resident Evil hasn’t had the most cohesive narrative in gaming. Yet, for whatever reason, this all got thrown out the window; as director Paul W.S. Anderson tries to cram so much fan-service into the script that he forgets to make an actual movie. Characters like Chris Redfield come out of left field and offer nothing to the story, the film does nothing especially interesting with the Alice clones, and it’s content to just rip fight scenes straight out of RE5. Oh ya, the executioner is in this movie because…why wouldn’t he be? Apparently so are the Las Plagas, despite never being mentioned, and did anyone actually proofread this script!?
3. WING COMMANDER
What if I told you there was a sci-fi action game series out there that was so amazing, you got to play as Mark Hamill… sounds pretty sweet, right? Okay, you couldn’t do that until the third game but Wing Commander was a brilliant game series. The critically acclaimed third game in the series, Wing Commander III: Heart Of The Tiger, was a space sci-fi simulator that was intercut with live action cutscenes. It was like playing a game and watching a movie at the same time and it was glorious. Many other games were trying this at the time but most of them failed because as you played them, you realized how cheap they felt next to Wing Commander. Not to mention the cast that this game series managed to get; Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Tim Curry and even Josh Lucas (before he was Josh Lucas). So you’d think a live action adaptation, directed by the creator of the series, would be a slam dunk, right? I mean, they pretty much already made the movie as half the game is movie cutscenes so this being adapted just feels like a no-brainer. Now, taking into account what I just said, look at the picture above this paragraph… Allow me to cry for you.
This movie is so wretched that it’s actually kind of scary. The storyline is ridiculous, the characters are annoying cutouts and the CGI, even for back then, is horrible. They had everything they needed; the creator of the games at the helm, the sets, the designs, etc. Sadly, they didn’t bother to get the actors because instead of LUKE SKYWALKER & BIFF TANNEN, we now have half the cast of Scooby Doo. Oh, sweet Jesus, why? Freddie Prinze Jr. looks bored to even be in the movie and the whole pilgrim subplot they give him has nothing to do with the games. Matthew Lillard is as annoying as ever and I wanted to smack him whenever he showed up. The film, somehow, wants me to believe that Saffron Burrows is a soldier and a fighter pilot (do I even have to make fun of this?). How could you ruin this so bad? It’s not just the casting either. If you’ve played the game, you will be appalled at how much they get wrong. The Kilrathi, the villains of the series, are portrayed very late in the movie and with no skin. Yeah, they were frickin’ tiger beasts in the game and now they’re an army of Mr. Bigglesworths. On top of that, I swear the spell check was broken the day this film was being edited as the film constantly spells character names and even simple words wrong. When your computer says “Security Breech” instead of “Security Breach”, you have a problem; it’s called being incompetent.
2. STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN LI
Street Fighter (1994) with Jean Claude Van Dam isn’t a good movie but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a guilty pleasure of mine. I liked it as a kid and even now, I just view it as 90’s camp. Again, I would never say it was good or a faithful representation (it’s not) but I still find a lot to enjoy about it (Raul Julia kicks God in the nuts). However, when I heard about this movie, I was anticipating the hell out of it. The trailers made it look great and making Chun Li the central character, seemed to make sense. On top of that, having Chun Li played by Kristen Kreuk seemed like a good idea. I liked the actress on Smallville (at least until season 7, when her character completely wore out her welcome) and, for awhile, it looked like she would be a rising star. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see this film. I went into the theater with the highest expectations and walked out asking myself one incredibly important question; “What the hell did I just watch?” This movie is bad beyond all belief. You can make fun of the 1994 film all you want, at least that movie’s bad moments are entertaining.
Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li is a boring, tedious mess that has no idea what it’s trying to be. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a faithful adaptation, a standard martial arts film or a deep drama and it fails on all counts. Chun Li is an annoying little orphan girl, looking for revenge on M. Bison, the man who killed he family. In this movie, Bison (played by Neil McDonough) is more of a businessman; a businessman raised in Bangkok, who has an Irish accent that seems to come and go as it pleases. Yeah, I don’t care what race you are, you are not going to have an Irish accent if you were raised in Bangkok. Either way, they make Bison boring. Say what you will about Raul Julia in the original film, he certainly did not make this character boring. It’s a shame because Neil McDonough has proven before that he can play a menacing villain. Here, he’s stuck with a script that refuses to give him a chance. The same thing goes for most of the cast. Kristen Kreuk is a fine actress but she’s given little to work with. Moon Bloodgood is a good actress but is given little to work with. Chris Klein is… a horrible actor and delivers pretty much what you expect. Okay, back on track, while the original Street Fighter movie tried to throw in as many game characters as possible, it at least gave them all a purpose in the story. Here, the only two that do anything are Bison and Chun Li. Balrog, Vega and… yeah that’s pretty much it, are sidelined. They do nothing in this film. But probably the most insulting thing is that for a movie called Street Fighter, there is hardly any fighting in it. From the director of Doom, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li is another video game adaptation that clearly doesn’t care.
1. HOUSE OF THE DEAD
Here it is, at the bottom of the barrel, House of the Dead. The film is about what you’d expect from Uwe Boll; a bunch of dumbass college kids goes to rave on a deserted island and discover a horde of pirate zombies trying to kill them. (No, not kidding, that’s actually the premise). Now, I know what some of you might be thinking; This is the worst? How is this the absolute worst? Surely Resident Evil: Afterlife and several other Uwe Boll abortions were worse than this film, right? No, this is undeniably the worst for me. While all the other films on this list aren’t good they are, at the very least, complete films. Someone actually shot a full movie with actors and a full script. House of the Dead is so horrible, it’s actually hard for me to even call it a “film”. Why? Because half of it isn’t a film. A good half of this movie is video game footage. No, I’m serious, without any context or reasoning whatsoever, the film will randomly cut between its own scenes and footage from the video game.
That’s why it’s the worst to me. Yeah, any adaptation can be a piece of crap as we’ve previously established, but it takes a special kind of lazy to not even complete the film you are making. Uwe Boll is a director who simply doesn’t try or care about the films he’s making and nowhere is that fact more prominent than in House of the Dead. House of the Dead is terrible on its own but when you intercut gameplay into the scenes, it just makes me wish I were playing the game instead of watching this god awful movie. Top it all off with horrible acting, bad characters, a plot so bad a fourth grader could have written it and the most confusing shootout I’ve ever seen in any film, and House Of The Dead is more than worthy of being named the worst video game adaptation of all time.
So what did you think of our list? Be sure to comment and stick around for more articles at TheNerdStash.com
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.