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Top 5 Best Video Game Movies

Updated on December 15, 2017
M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer has been a gamer for more than 20 years, with a preference towards adventure games like the Legend of Zelda and Tomb Raider.

Before I get into my list, I feel it is important to add two disclaimers. The first is that this list is not comprehensive. I have not seen every video game movie adaptation there is, but I feel that I’ve seen enough of them to justify a top 5 list. As I watch more and, hopefully, find more good ones, I’ll add them together into a top 10 list.

The second disclaimer is that when I say these are the ‘top 5 best’, that doesn’t mean they are good movies when compared to movies that are not video game adaptations. Writers, directors and actors have had an extremely difficult time adapting these games into movies, therefore how good they are is measured not by normal movies, but by other video game movies. To put it in simpler terms; video game movies usually suck so bad that they have to be placed in a category all their own. So these movies are good by comparison to other video game movies. Keep that in mind. These are also my opinion, and you have every right to disagree.

Now, without further delay, here are my top five picks in no particular order:

Mortal Kombat

Released: 1995

Synopsis: “A handful of people on a leaky boat are gonna save the world?” Exactly! The basic concept behind Mortal Kombat is that other-worldly forces are gearing up to fight in a tournament that will decide the fate of the world. The thunder god Raiden must then quickly assemble his own group of skilled fighters to represent all things good in the tournament. What follows is a series of fight scenes between our protagonists and some of the more colorful villains from the video game. Considering that its source material boiled down to one guy fighting some other guy, they did a pretty good job giving it a purpose.

My Take:

When I was younger I was a fan of the Mortal Kombat video games more in theory than in practice. I was bad at them, and anyone who fought against me could beat me without any prior experience with the game. The same is often true today, because I remain a button masher when I play video games. But this didn’t deter me from being interested in the game and the movie. In fact, the release of the movie was an epic moment for me and my brothers. We became obsessed with it, to the point of endless quoting long after it disappeared into obscurity. The movie made decent money at the box office which spawned a sequel (don’t watch the sequel) and it holds up relatively well today. It has its moments of cheesy acting and special effects, but ultimately you can still have a good time watching the mortals battle to save the earth.

Tomb Raider

Released: 2001

Synopsis: Continuing the work of her deceased father, Lara Croft quickly finds herself caught up in an ancient struggle with the Illuminati who are attempting to uncover an artifact that will allow them to control space and time. Lara must then outpace the villains and find the artifact first, using only dual-pistols and short-shorts.

My Take:

I’m not going to lie; my interest in the Tomb Raider video games spawned not from the game play, but from the massive torpedoes the main character (Lara Croft) was sporting. To the point that I had never played a single Tomb Raider game and I was still obsessed with the character (give me a break, I was a teenage boy). I waited for the movie, over-hyping it each day, until finally it hit theaters. This movie was also a commercial success (again, don’t watch the sequel). I had mixed feelings about it as the character of Lara Croft didn’t quite match up to what I had in my head, but the movie proved to be a fun find-the-artifact style of adventure, akin to Indiana Jones. And, for the record, I did eventually play a tomb raider game. When Crystal Dynamics took over as the developer, I got hooked forever.

Resident Evil

Released: 2002

Synopsis: A secret underground facility, known as the hive, is suddenly and irreversibly infected by the T-Virus, an airborne sickness that turns people into zombies. The protagonist, Alice, is just as confused as we are since she just woke up a few minutes after the movie began and can’t remember a thing. What follows is a slow reveal of how we got to the beginning of the movie while our main characters fight to stay alive in a zombie infested underground facility. Alice is a pretty cool character despite not being in any of the video games.

My Take:

The Resident Evil movie franchise is a curious thing. In most cases a video game movie doesn’t earn enough money to warrant a sequel, and when it does, the sequel is god awful. That is not the case here. In fact, I would recommend every sequel to this movie as they continue to enrich the storyline of not just the movies but the video games as well. If you’re a fan of zombie apocalypse movies, then this is right up your alley whether you’ve played the games or not. If you have played the games, then you might have to wait until you watch the second movie to see familiar characters. They did a decent job of blending the two storylines, but if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation, you might be disappointed.

Prince of Persia

Released: 2010

Synopsis: A boy from the streets (Dasdan), finds himself in the eyes of the king as he performs a noble deed. The king takes him on as an adopted son and raises him in royalty. When he comes of age and his father’s army invades a neighboring kingdom, he discovers a magical dagger that has the power to turn back time. He must then rush to uncover his father’s murderer and save the world from certain doom, with only the help of a sassy princess.

My Take:

This movie was sort of killed before it ever got out of the gate. It released in the summer of 2010 with the hopes that it would become another blockbuster franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean. However I don’t think Jake Gyllenhaal had the same appeal as Johnny Depp. Not to mention most of the characters in the movie didn’t really pass as Persian. That aside, the movie was a lot of fun. With a blend of action, magic and time travel it made for a movie that deserved more credit than it got. I was a huge fan of the game (Sands of Time) and I was happy to see that they managed to carry over a lot of the better story elements from the game. Hopefully more people get to see it on DVD.


Released: 2005

Synopsis: We’ve traveled to Mars and established a small colony there, but a problem has arisen and we must send in an elite team of commandoes to investigate. Turns out Mars has some secrets in store and our commandoes soon find themselves battling monsters and picking up weapons that could level a building. BFG baby!

My Take:

I was never really a fan of the Doom video games. I played a little bit of them, but first person shooters don’t appeal to me very much. So I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw this version with The Rock and Karl Urban. The biggest draw was a ‘first person’ sequence at the end of the movie. In other words, the camera goes into the perspective of our protagonist for a short period of time, just like the video game. In practice this worked surprisingly well and it kind of makes me wish they had done it more. In the end, it proved to be a fun action movie with a unique story.


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