Top 10 Worst Videogame Films
It feels like nowadays we’re living in a resurgence of videogame films. I have a theory that this is down to the fact that the majority of film directors that are making these adaptations now actually grew up playing videogames more so than directors from the 90s to the 2000s, where, at that point, going after a videogame would be fundamentally a fool’s errand or a quick cash grab. But, with us now finally starting to get really good big blockbusters based on videogames, with both Pokémon Detective Pikachu doing well at the box office and receiving good reviews, and Sonic The Hedgehog becoming the highest grossing videogame movie whilst also being a good film, I think it’s important to go back, look on these movies and figure out which films should filmmakers be avoiding? I was considering doing a Best Videogame Movies List, but the list of really good videogame films is very slim, and some of them even require foreknowledge of the videogame. This is mostly from the Anime adaptations that seem to come out. Though, some of these are still really great. Professor Layton and The Eternal Diva really should be seen by virtually anyone, and I defy you to have a better adaptation than Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. Seriously, that one is excellent, and considering it came about from a licensed fan film says it all, that CapCom decided to put their full approval behind is amazing. Seriously, check it out.
Now, obviously there are a ton of bad videogame films out there, so some didn’t make the list, for whatever reason that I decided. This would be either because I simply didn’t think they were that bad or that my connection with the videogame film meant it didn’t really sting when it went badly wrong, or I simply haven’t seen them. For example, the Angelina Jolie Lara Croft films didn’t make the list, in spite of the fact they’re fundamentally really dull. Likewise, the Jean Claude Van Damme / Raul Julia Street Fighter movie didn’t make the list, in spite of the fact its quality is pretty appalling, but it’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good films that I just want to put on every so often. I really struggle to understand people who really hate that film. Trust me, we’re coming back to Street Fighter before it’s done, but let’s face it, you’re not getting the excellent animation and cool fan service of the Street Fighter 2 animated film, and you’re not getting the intense character drama and well-choreographed martial arts of Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. Let’s move onto the actual list.
I hate putting this film on the list. I adore the Final Fantasy series. It was one of the series that practically made me a fan of role-playing games. And The Spirits Within in theory is an interesting concept. Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi had been sitting on this idea for several years, ever since he was making plans for Final Fantasy 7, and he finally put it into production several years down the line, with a massive budget and serious amounts of computer technology used. This film had a £135,000,000 budget, which considering that, yeah, that doesn’t seem too much by today’s standards, at the time was a massive budget. And I will give it credit; the animation in it looks decent. The actors are expressive and even the celebrity voice cast that was brought in to voiceover these characters, including Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin and James Woods, are pretty good. But, oh god, this film is dull! It’s so, so dull!
I really don’t understand what was going on with this film, but really, this film not only bears virtually no relation to its game series in any sense or fashion – going from high fantasy mixed with a bit of a Diesel-punk edge to a weird, ultra-hi-tech sci-fi epic – it also doesn’t seem to really have a coherent story or even many coherent characters. The thing is all over the place in terms of its plot and Ming-Na Wen gives a really subdued performance in the lead role. It’s a weird movie all round, and you can clearly tell by the way it’s paced and handled that co-directors Hironobu Sakaguchi and Motonori Sakakibara don’t really understand about pacing films. They are primarily videogame directors. It’s no wonder that this film was a massive loss for the company which they never recovered from. The animation studio was even shut down. Its only credit after this was an animated short to promote the upcoming Matrix videogame. And when it was all said and done, this film is a depressing mess. I’ve actually heard a lot of people defend this film, saying that if you take Final Fantasy out of the name and just concentrate on it as The Spirits Within it’s a much better film, but I seriously disagree. The film is mired in bad performances, a non-coherent story and some dreadful resolution to some of the plotlines. It’s not an appalling story so that’s why it’s so low on the list, and trust me, there are way worse films, but this one stung for me.
I think I had to put a Pokémon film on here, although that being said, the Pokémon movies have never really been incredibly offensive. In fact, prior to when I had to review this one for the site, I would have said Pokémon 4 was the worst film of the bunch since it’s a massive Princess Mononoke rip-off, but with everything just worse in every sense of the word. It even had some bizarre scenes that the dubbing company actually commissioned to be added for the movie with very little good reason. However, that is when I saw Hoopla and The Clash of Ages. This film’s way worse. Say what you like about any of the other films, they never felt this commercially driven. Hoopla and The Clash Of Ages really only exists as a massive promotion for the then upcoming Pokémon Omega, Ruby and Alpha Sapphire games that were coming out. We got a paper-thin plot, really annoying characters and a plotline where it felt like the main core cast didn’t really have much of a reason to be in it. Unlike all the other Pokémon films which, yeah, are getting seriously overabundant at this point, this one felt like it had absolutely no point whatsoever to exist. It’s a fundamentally poor film, and it’s really the one I would recommend skipping above all others. It really is the equivalent of just binging on M&Ms that have gone off – lots of pretty colours that you will make you feel sick afterwards.
Prince of Persia commits one of the one worst crimes a bad movie can commit; it’s boring as hell! Not to mention, the fundamental miscasting of Jake Gyllenhaal as the prince. That’s right, Jake Gyllenhaal is the Prince of Persia. I’m just going to let that one sit for a while… Now, Prince of Persia does follow its videogame plotline pretty accurately, however it’s just really dull. It’s a rather faithful adaptation of the Sands of Time videogame, but the Sands of Time have a very basic plot to accompany the gameplay. Turning that into a film means we have what was already a barebones plot dragged out to a feature-length production. Ben Kingsley gives one of the least subtle performances of his entire career as the villain. And good god, you’d think he’d learnt his lesson after being in another film that’s on this list. You’ve probably guessed which film I’m on about if you’ve seen it. I’ve had a ton of people defend this one, but I was bored out of my skull watching it. The acting’s not great; the action scenes are pretty dull and it doesn’t look like much budget’s been put behind it which, considering this film was distributed by Disney of all people, shows how little the production company gave to this; and I am just looking at the clock any time I’m watching this one, waiting for it to be over.
I’m betting that a bunch of you never actually knew this film existed. Look, The King of Fighters was not always the best idea to adapt into a film considering that Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken had all bombed before this film came out, and King of Fighters is not exactly the most popular fighting videogame. But, if you’re going to do it, at least make it competent and recognizable. King of Fighters looks like it has a lower budget than all the films I’ve mentioned, which, if you’re including Tekken in that list, considering that that film went straight to DVD everywhere outside of Japan, that’s saying a lot. Maggie Q really should fire her agent after this considering she was appallingly miscast in the lead role of Mai. Promoting her to lead character, with my knowledge of videogames, is a baffling decision. It resulted in a completely changed and mostly unrecognizable Terry, who’s one of the most iconic-looking videogame characters, his popularity to such an extent that he got added to the Super Smash Bros roster last year. Now, if you like these sorts of games, you do get some of decent fight scenes, but man is it weird! They kind of took King of Fighters plot, which was rather generic, and tried to mix it up by adding some weird Matrix subplot (because this film came out around about that time everyone was ripping off The Matrix). And good god, just avoid at all costs. This films really feels like it was made at a pitch meeting where everyone was taking cocaine.
Double Dragon’s another film I actually forgot existed until I made this list, but then the memories came flooding back. I have no idea what they were thinking making this film. It’s just a really appallingly, low-budget mess. Say what you like about the Street Fighter film, at least that one has some campy fun in it. This one doesn’t really have that so-bad-it’s-good angle to it; it just feels like a really weird mess. The fight scenes are really crap as well, and the fact it’s rather loose on what relation it bears to its source material is rather laughable. It’s a film that’s largely been forgotten and rightfully so. The only good thing that’s come out of this is now that one of the leads became the host of Iron chef in America.
Not even The Rock could save this film. Doom is based on one of the most influential videogames ever made, so it makes no sense to have a film this appalling to accompany it. It’s fundamental rubbish of the highest order – the effects were laughable when this film came out, and they look even worse by today’s standards; the lighting in this film is horrendous, giving Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four a run for its money, and The Rock, who was your biggest asset for this film, is appallingly miscast. I keep telling people: The Rock in theory can play a good villain but he seems to not be working in practice. It’s very hard to make someone that likeable into someone we should hate.
I’ve talked a lot about the Street Fighter films and this is the one I really don’t like talking about. Why CapCom was involved in this I have no idea because they didn’t have any input. It was clearly not in any attempt to adapt their videogame. Legend of Chun-Li makes a ton of sense; Chun-Li has an excellent character arc. But it has no real bearing to its videogame, and it seems fundamentally flawed in every way, shape and form. Neal McDonough plays M. Bison in this one and puts on this weird, over-the-top Irish accent for some reason, despite the fact the character is not Irish in the games and Neal McDonough has never done an Irish accent in any other film he’s done (and it shows). Kristin Kreuk is bored playing the lead character, and the action scenes are some of the worst edited I’ve ever seen. You’ll really question why Michael Clark Duncan was in Oscar-nominated films after seeing it. And good god, there is a subplot in this film which involves Bison transferring all of his good side into his recently born child right after birth. I am not joking. This is genuinely in the movie. This film might have even been lower on the list if it wasn’t just for that infamous scene alone. Seriously, it’s staggering to think that this was left in the movie.
I’m fairly convinced that whatever Illumination Pictures brings out in the next couple of years – which I’m betting now will become the highest grossest videogame movie – will still do a better job than this piece of crap. No one on set cared about this movie whatsoever. Lead actors Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo practically admitted they were drunk on set most days and didn’t actually care about the film they were making. This was the first big-budget videogame film and it shows. The filmmakers clearly had no idea how to adapt this material, and have to give weird, long explanations for why the Mario Bros can do what they do. The script is crap, Dennis Hopper tries to recover things by hamming it up as the villain and doesn’t succeed at all, and the special effects have aged appallingly. Seriously, just skip this one. Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto has gone on record to say that he regrets the film’s creation and it’s probably that reason that it’s taken nearly 30 years before we get another Super Mario Bros film. Illumination Pictures, this is a prototype of how not to make this franchise into a movie.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is on many objective levels probably a better film than most of this list, but Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a film that makes me angry to know it exists. This film was meant to culminate all the plots of all the films in one go, and it only does that by a minute and a half into the movie retroactively changing everything that happened, thus making the entire series pointless. If you put any time into this terrible franchise of terrible movies, this one film means it was entirely a waste of your time. Not to mention, it continues the series traditions of butchering the characters, having a non-sensical plot that has no regard for anything that’s going on other than Paul W. S. Anderson showing off his wife Milla Jovovich again. It has yet another cloning subplot which we were all sick off by this point and bears no relation to its game. And this time, it uses a fundamentally bizarre excuse to bring back Ian Glen from the third movie for no reason and make him the main villain even though the third movie established he was not the main villain, and it’s purely just because he got popular on Game of Thrones.
This film is such a mess. It has no regard for its audience whatsoever. It’s got one of the most insane plots I’ve ever seen, about humanity succumbing to a zombie apocalypse within 24 hours. I have no idea how that works; does humanity just decide, ‘Ah, we’re done fighting the zombies at this point. I know we’ve been fighting for several years but okay, I’m done now’? And it has one of the most insulting endings that contradicts virtually everything that happened up to that point, including the first film which is the only one that this one seems to have any ties to. I saw this one in cinemas and had to take a train to Manchester to see it. That’s an hour each way, just because I wanted to be done with this franchise once and for all, and it actually felt like it punched me in the face on the way out. Resident Evil is getting rebooted into another film series and Anderson’s not going to have anything to do with it. Goodbye and good riddance… is what I want to say, but then I found out he’s directing a Monster Hunter adaptation and is also having Milla Jovovich in the lead role. So now we have to put up with more of his videogame adaptations. Great.
I could have filled up a lot of this list with director Uwe Boll’s movies but he’s way too much of an easy target, and most people who know about his terrible personality and his terrible films know that his stuff is bad, and that he mainly goes for videogame adaptations ebcasue they’re an easy cash-grab. But, to be fair, I wanted to highlight a lot of different directors and adaptations so keeping most of his movies off the list made sense. So I decided only one Uwe Boll film should make the list. I nearly put Alone In The Dark on the list just for how badly made it is in virtually every sense of filmmaking, but then I remembered BloodRayne is a thing. BloodRayne is one of the most appalling films I have ever seen in my life. There is no care to the script, the action scenes are some of the worst-choreographed I have ever seen in my life, and everyone from Kristanna Loken to Michael Madsen, to even Ben Kingsley of all people – who clearly was just in it for a paycheck – are giving terrible performances. In fact, Ben Kingsley’s barely in the movie. I swear none of his scenes go beyond two minutes of screen time. Which is weird considering that BloodRayne is a film that’s so dull and nonsensical it feels like it goes on for hours. If you want to know how poor this script is, there’s a scene later during the film where Rayne goes through several traps to get a relic that makes her immune to water. As soon as she grabs the relic, the temple activates a trap that brings water in the room. So, they put a water trap in to protect a relic that makes vampires immune to water. Yeah, for some reason in this film’s continuity, vampires can’t touch water, even non-blessed water. This film is just pure rubbish on every level and the fact it got two sequels baffles me in every regard. Seriously, steer clear. This one and all of his films are not even so-bad-they’re-good; they’re just bad, cynical and kind of depressing when you really properly think about them. Well, the only thing I think I can recommend about this film is that Meatloaf gives one of the campiest performances of his career.
Well, that’s it for me for this time. Please avoid these films and seek out some really good videogames films; there are some out there.
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