Translating a piece of creative ingenuity from one medium to another is never an easy task and movies rarely live up to the book, play or video game from whence they sprung. But while there are a wide range of films based on the latter which don’t come close to cutting the mustard, there are a handful which are solid stabs at the challenge.
Just like the best casino films inspire a desire to enjoy the thrill of a flutter and the best sports films channel the passion and emotion of a plucky underdog battling the odds, so too do the best films based on video games make you itch to pick up a controller and get down to business. So without further ado, here are our favorite video game-themed movies based on that criterion.
Street Fighter (1994)
Okay, okay, okay, so this hammy 90s action flick might not be everyone’s cup of tea. After all, it features the bizarre decision to make Guile, one of the video game’s most uninspiring characters, its chief protagonist – then casts a Belgian to play the US Colonel. That alone can give a decent idea of the kind of inanity in store, with Kylie Minogue cast as Cammy and Raul Julia giving an over-the-top performance as M. Bison. Silly it may be, but silly fun nonetheless.
Sonic: The Hedgehog (2020)
Things got off to a rocky start for this movie reboot of one of Sega’s most beloved characters, as a huge fan backlash against the design of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog prompted a rapid U-turn on how he appeared onscreen. However, the release of the film two years ago was a pleasant surprise in its high-octane action, witty writing and feelgood factor. And with Jim Carrey in the role of Dr Robotnik, what’s not to love? Especially given his reprisal in the film’s sequel may well be his final role in cinema.
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
While most films based on video games are made with the explicit intention of appealing to the franchise’s existing fans above anyone else, Assassin’s Creed had the noble ambition of being a compelling piece of cinema in its own right. How? By enlisting an A-list cast, including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons and Michael K Williams, as well as imbuing its sequences with just the right blend of suspense, atmosphere and parkour. A strong effort.
Lara Croft (2018)
Although Lara Croft might be inextricably linked with an image of Angelina Jolie in the mind of many movie goers of a certain vintage, Alicia Vikander’s take on the Tomb Raider gives us one who is both vibrant and vulnerable at the same time. It was never going to worry the judges panel at Cannes, but it’s certainly an upgrade on the usual paint-by-numbers adaptations churned out by Hollywood and with auteur director Ben Wheatley apparently lined up to helm the sequel, it could be more arthouse than blockbuster.
Turning a beloved video game into a box office hit is never an easy ask and although these four films might not be as popular as the titles which inspired them, they’re a strong showing for the genre. What are your favorites?