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Movie Review

5 Great Video Game To Movie Adaptations!

For a long time video game movies have had a bad rap. Everyone agrees that the 1993 Mario Bros. movie and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation were terrible films. But in recent years we have come a long way from those critically panned films. Am I saying that we are getting Oscar-worthy films out of these properties? Absolutely not. I don’t expect something amazing from a video game adaptation, I just expect good homages and understanding of what those games are.

In the wake of the recent Super Mario Bros. movie obliterating the box office and the HBO The Last Of Us series receiving critical acclaim, people are starting to come around on videogame to film/tv adaptations. In fact some are saying they may eclipse superhero films as the newest hot trend! I say that these adaptations have BEEN good for a while now! Here are five past adaptations that I believe are great and faithful enough to their source material.

Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider (2018) is a great film adaptation of the game franchise because it manages to capture the essence of the games while also creating its own identity. The casting of Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft is excellent. Vikander brings a sense of vulnerability and determination to the character that is reminiscent of the newer iterations of the game series (The last three main games).

Lara Croft hanging on for dear life.

The film also does an excellent job of translating the action and adventure elements of the games onto the big screen. The action sequences are well-choreographed and intense, and the film’s pacing keeps the audience engaged throughout. Additionally, the film’s cinematography and visual effects capture the grandeur and danger of the exotic locations that Lara visits in her quest.

Another factor that makes Tomb Raider a great adaptation is its focus on character development. The film takes the time to establish Lara’s backstory and motivations, making her a relatable and empathetic character. We see her physically reacting to making her first necessary kill, and it is faithful to the game. By showing this the film elevates itself beyond a mere action movie and becomes a character-driven story with emotional stakes. Walter Goggins also makes for a compelling and dangerous villain, kudos to him for that portrayal. There were plans for a sequel but they never, sadly, quite got off the ground.

Unfortunately the critics didn’t think too highly of it, garnering a 6.3/10 on IMDB. But it accomplished what it set out to do, not what they demanded.

Mortal Kombat (2021)

This film stays true to the original game’s core concept of a brutal fighting tournament, and it does so with great visuals and intense action sequences. The filmmakers have paid careful attention to the game’s characters, costumes, and signature moves, ensuring that the film feels like a faithful homage to the series.

One of the least acknowledged aspects of the film though is that it actually has character development. Kano becomes a progressively worse character, morally speaking. While Cole becomes a steadily more heroic and capable fighter throughout the film. The movie delves deeper into the backstory of the game’s beloved characters, providing them with well-rounded personalities and motivations. This allows the audience to connect with and care for the characters, adding depth to the film’s action-packed scenes.

Some of the roster for Mortal Kombat (2021)

Furthermore the strong performances from its cast are worth mentioning. From Lewis Tan’s portrayal of the lead character, Cole Young (Who I actually kind of liked), to Hiroyuki Sanada’s nuanced performance as Scorpion, the cast brings their A-game, ensuring that every scene is engaging and thrilling.

Lastly the movie features a well-crafted storyline that expands on the game’s mythology, adding new elements and characters that seamlessly fit into the existing world. Mortal Kombat 2021 is a great film adaptation of the game series because it respects the source material, features excellent character development and performances, and expands upon the game’s mythology in a way that feels organic and exciting.  

Despite it receiving an average review score of 6/10 on IMDB there is still a sequel in the works.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a fantastic film adaptation of the classic video game series. The movie manages to capture the spirit of the game, with its fast-paced action, vibrant visuals, and the signature blue blur’s endearing personality. The film stays true to the game’s core concept of Sonic and his friends thwarting Dr. Eggman’s evil plans, and it does so with style, flair, and pizazz. Honestly I think the second outing for everyone’s favorite chili-dog-guzzling rodent is better than the first one!

Excellent use of fan-favorite characters from the game, such as Tails and Knuckles, goes a long way in establishing a core central cast of critters that everyone in the audience can enjoy. The characters are introduced in a way that feels organic and true to their personalities, allowing fans of the game to connect with them and enjoy seeing them on the big screen.

Sonic and Tails

Furthermore the film’s heartwarming storyline explores the friendship between Sonic and his allies, while also introducing new challenges and obstacles for them to overcome. The movie manages to balance its action-packed scenes with moments of humor and heart, making it an engaging and enjoyable experience for all ages. Finally,, Jim Carrey’s return as Dr. Eggman is worth mentioning. Carrey is at his comedic best in this (and the prior) film. It is a must-watch for fans of the game and anyone looking for an enjoyable and thrilling movie experience. While the critics were not impressed, at the time of it’s theatrical run it was one of the highest grossing video game adaptations of all time.

Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu is a great film adaptation of the popular video game series for several reasons. Firstly, the movie manages to capture the charm and humor of the game, while also adding a unique spin to the story. The film follows the beloved character of Pikachu, who has been reimagined as a hard-boiled detective, and his human partner, Tim, as they solve a mysterious case in the world of Pokémon.

Another significant aspect of Detective Pikachu is the film’s stunning visual effects. The movie brings the world of Pokémon to life in a way that feels realistic and immersive, making it a treat for fans of the game and newcomers alike. The film’s attention to detail, from the design of the Pokémon to the bustling cityscape, is impressive and adds to the overall enjoyment of the movie. 

Pikachu, doing some grand-standing.

Ryan Reynolds is terrific as an amnesic Pikachu who happens to be a detective of sorts. The few battles that are depicted feel authentic and like true portrayals of the games’ signature core mechanic. Kudos to that team!

Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City (2021)

For what it is worth, this movie was clearly a passion project. The movie attempts to stay closer to the source material of the video game series than any other live-action RE film ever has. It has a sharp focus on horror elements and a faithful adaptation of characters and locations. One of the significant aspects of the film is the attention to detail in recreating the iconic locations and characters from the game series, such as the Raccoon City Police Department and fan-favorite characters like Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. 

The film also introduces new elements that expand upon the game’s mythology, making it an exciting experience for both longtime fans and newcomers. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City features a divisive but well-crafted storyline that follows the game’s core concept of a virus outbreak and the fight against the Umbrella Corporation. It attempts to have the first and second game take place simultaneously. Which is very creative but not executed incredibly well. The movie’s blend of action and horror elements creates a tense and thrilling experience, keeping the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats.

S.T.A.R.S. team about to head into the Spencer mansion.

Lastly, the film’s performances…are not great. The biggest let-down of this film (besides the budget VFX) is that the actors feel kinda off. I love this movie but even I have to admit this isn’t an Oscar nominee for a reason. That said, it probably has more respect for the source material than any film on this list. The references and easter eggs are a delight to find. The film, overall, gets more things right than it gets wrong. Critics might disagree though, IMDB has it at a 5.2/10. I gave it a slightly more favorable review here.

Closing Words

It’s hard to nail a great video-game-to-film adaptation as not every game lends itself well to such a switch. The best films can do is simply look at the frame/bones of a skeleton and see what makes the most sense for that intellectual property. What do you guys think about this list? Are these genuinely good? Or are these stinkers? Leave your comments down below, I always take my time to read them. Until then, stay geeky!

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