Movies made from popular videogames and comic books have long been a Hollywood tradition. Dating back to the Flash Gordon serials of the 30s and 40s to Richard Donner’s Superman the Movie from 1978 all the way to the current explosion of films from the Marvel and DC universes, successful adaptations have blasted across our screens.
When it comes to adapting video games, it doesn’t always go well. So many popular games had great potential but never panned out due to bad scripts, direction, acting, etc. While there have been only a few successful game-to-film adaptations, many could have been great films if more thought had been given to their productions.
10 Double Dragon (1994)
A fun video game with colors that popped and characters that fought their hearts out, Double Dragon made its way to cinemas in 1994. Director James Yukich and no less than five screenwriters came together to bring the popular video game to the movie-loving masses.
Critics and fans agreed, the film failed on every level. The filmmakers tried to keep the color-coated look of the game which made it all look silly. The casting of professional Martial Artist Mark Dacascos was a great choice but his partner was played by TV star Scott Wolf who had no Martial Arts training whatsoever, and it showed. A skilled costar for Dacascos, not so lite a visual and thematical tone and harder fight choreography could have saved this film from being the silly video game movie mess that exists.
9 Warcraft (2016)
This was a highly anticipated film from a respected filmmaker. Duncan Jones found respect as a director with his 2009 debut Moon but found ridicule for his 2016 adaptation of the popular game Warcraft. The film was a loud strangely edited mess that was savaged by critics and audiences alike.
What looked to be an homage to the films of the great Ray Harryhausen and Sword and Sandals films such as Gladiator became another badly scripted and clunky film where the CGI took over in place of a good story. The film has a few fans but if Jones had made it more like the Harryhausen films of old and concentrated more on the battle scenes, this could have been something special.
8 In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2006)
Uwe Boll is perhaps the most hated filmmaker working. He adapts video games and is known for insulting the fans by completely changing what made the games popular in the first place. In his 2007 adaptation of In the Name of the King, he crafted a film with a horrid screenplay, bad sets, and even worse action scenes. It is bizarre how Boll enlisted actors such as Burt Reynolds and Ray Liotta to lend their talents to this dud.
A story such as this one would have benefited from a filmmaker such as Ridley Scott or John Milus, two great filmmakers who know how to craft battle films and have proven it with films such as Gladiator and Conan the Barbarian.
7 Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
The second attempt at adapting the Hitman game, Hitman: Agent 47, failed worse than the first. Rupert Friend was cardboard-bland as the titular character. The action sequences were boring and any excitement that may have snuck in was ruined by the overuse of slow-motion and an overdone musical score.
A proper filmmaker could have crafted a John Woo-styled action thriller if given some time to care for the screenplay and direction. As it stands, this is director Aleksander Bach’s one and only effort.
6 Doom (2005)
Space Marines fight with killer machines on the planet Mars. What a perfect chance to make a modern homage to the Alien films. Sadly, this film misses almost every target as director Andrzej Bartkowiak tries too hard to please teen audiences with mindless references to the first-person-shooter aspects of the game.
Doom could have benefited from a darker tone and more dangerous foes, as in James Cameron’s Aliens. A sharper grip on the film’s action moments could have created many edge-of-your-seat moments for its audience. As is, the film is a messy waste of money and talent.
5 House Of The Dead (2003)
A hugely popular video game series, House of the Dead could have birthed the next great horror film series. Sadly, the film was given to Uwe Boll. The tale of people trapped on an island full of zombies could’ve played very well but Boll drains the films of any thrills or fun. Both gamers and horror fans were disappointed.
This could have been a darker film that utilized its horror film elements to great effect. Perhaps the godfather of the zombie genre, George A. Romero should have been the studio’s go-to director for this one.
4 Bloodrayne (2005)
Ben Kingsley, Michelle Rodriguez, Udo Keir, and Geraldine Chaplin in a film would make one think it would be a serious effort. Unfortunately, Bloodrayne is another failed video game adaptation from Uwe Boll. Kristanna Loken is actually quite good in her performance as an Eighteenth-century vampire hunter. Loken is good but it is the film that lets her down by its haphazardly executed action scenes and preposterous dialogue.
This is another film that would have been much better taking a more serious path and creating a Hammer Studios horror vibe rather than the inert and comic vibe it shoots for.
3 Max Payne (2008)
John Moore directed this 2008 cinematic incarnation of the dark and violent video game Max Payne. Mark Walhberg was miscast as the haunted anti-hero of the title. The film was dark and brooding but failed to capture the style and tone that made the game special.
The film wanted to be more of a cool action thriller than a dark and violent meditation on evil, as was the game. Walhberg broods and tries to be interesting but fails. A more Horror-edged slant would have greatly enhanced the film and helped it to play better to audiences.
2 Street Fighter (1994)
Everything was in place for 1994’s Street Fighter to be the hit of the year. Jean Claude Van Damme was the star, Raul Julia was the villain, and Steven E. de Souza, screenwriter of 48 Hrs, Commando, and Die Hard, was writing and directing.
The film was big and loud and full of action but it failed to catch fire. Nothing truly worked, as the studio forced the director to keep taking out the action and cut way back on the violence until the film became almost a parody of a big-budget action extravaganza. Without studio interference and keeping with de Souza’s vision, the film could have been a solid and entertaining action classic and spawned better sequels and television series.
1 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
The film version of Mortal Kombat was created with care, keeping what makes the game so beloved but creating some interesting situations while displaying well-choreographed fight sequences. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation did none of these things and was a massive failure.
In the first movie Christopher Lambert did so well as Raiden but was replaced by James Remar, who was lost in the role. The sets looked phony, the FX seemed cheaper, and the fight sequences were lackluster. There was literally no fun to be had. The filmmaker should have upped the ante by making the sequel even bigger and with more elaborate fight scenes. This didn’t happen and fans were disappointed by the film.