It’s complicated: a selection of the many, many worst video game adaptations

As explained in the previous post about the best film adaptations: video games and movies mostly seem incompatible. Whether it’s because of the imagery or the storytelling or the lack of passion for games on the part of the filmmakers – we have no clue. But it’s also a fact that things might be getting better: In recent years, the quality has increased many times over. So let’s hope that the curse of failed game adaptations has been overcome. In 2022, a first film version of the stunning PlayStation adventure series Uncharted will be released, as well as a new Super Mario film, believe it or not. However, the chance that these films will be slim in terms of quality is not small. Just recently, the remake of Resident Evil became a box office and critical flop. So here, as a warning so to speak, are more examples of video game adaptations that have earned the designation “film” only as a technical definition:

Alone in the Dark (2005): Is it a game? Is it a film? Is it a work by German director Uwe Boll? Yes, it’s a real Boll – and therefore real junk. Our Uwe has consistently delivered the most miserable video game adaptations in film history. Some are unbearable, some are actually funny because they are so incompetent that only laughter helps. The same case with his horror work House of the Dead (2003): Both stemmed from actually good scary games. Boll turned them into senseless trash that melts your brain.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009): Back in 1994, Jean-Claude van Damme’s “Muscles from Brussels” fought their way through a loveless and completely superfluous adaptation of the brilliant fighting game. While the old version at least benefits from a certain 90s charm, The Legend of Chun-Li really has nothing to offer anymore. A boring plot, completely miscast characters and bad fight scenes in a movie about fighting make for an early knock-out.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997): The Mortal Kombat game series was synonymous with fast-paced fighting combos, a diverse selection of fighters, and ultra-brutal finishers that took down the enemy for good. This movie, sequel to the 1995 Mortal Kombat flick, has fights, fighters and finishers. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for a movie that should tell a story or at least entertain with good effects or fights. The finisher worked, though: the movie adaptations of the famed game series came to an abrupt end. It wasn’t until 24 years later that Hollywood dared to tackle the material again, and this time it was even relatively successful.Hitman: Agent 47 (2015): The Hitman games have been delighting gamers since the year 2000 and are known for Agent 47, a taciturn killer with a barcode on his neck and an incredible variety of creative methods to take out his targets. The best ratings are for players who don’t fire a single shot. Unfortunately, this set-up already seems to have been too much for Hollywood: the first film version from 2007 was already a yawn-fest, while the 2015 version only offered a mixture of dull action and product placement.