Every Live-Action Videogame Movie, Ranked

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Every Live-Action Videogame Movie, Ranked

Live-action videogame movies get a bad rap. It is almost entirely deserved. For decades, the film industry—including both Hollywood and international productions (mostly coming out of Asia, with some notable crimes against moviegoing committed by German-Canadian Uwe Boll)—has struggled to bridge the gap between these media. The heightened feel of games couldn’t translate to the more literal cinematic form, especially as directors and studios tried to fit oddball genre-mixing concepts and specific backstories into established genre and narrative templates. Interactivity and control, things that inherently immersed players into games and helped that strangeness go down more smoothly, couldn’t be replicated. Filmmakers faced uphill battles.

Now, however, games have adopted plenty of filmmaking techniques (in how they move their cameras, how they stage cutscenes and setpieces, how they unspool their plots) and cinematic special effects have progressed to a point where it’s possible to convincingly replicate some of gaming’s best moments that were built up in our imaginations. Naturally, it’s now time to rank every live-action videogame movie ever made.

Movies we’re not counting include “videogame movies” where, instead of being based on an existing game, the plot involves a fake videogame (the recent Jumanji entries come to mind), or any of the many, many animated films. Sorry, that means no Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within or Pokémon 2000. But if a videogame movie takes place in a live-action world, we’re counting it. Even if Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik is transported to a CG Mushroom Planet, there’s still a flesh-and-blood Jim in there.

We’re also not including things like Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn or Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, which were initially released as series and then stitched together into films. No fan films or shorts. We’re also not counting Zombie Massacre or its sequel, Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead, because the original game they’re supposed to be adapting—get this—never even came out. Ever. If a videogame movie is based on a videogame that doesn’t exist…well, it’s not getting on this list, that’s for sure.

They need to be feature films, from production to release, based on real games, so that we can track a direct line from Super Mario Bros. onward—noting how the world has come to accept gaming as a mainstream pastime while these two art forms continue to overlap more and more. Sure, there’re a lot of schlocky sequels and straight-to-video releases on this list. Many are hard to find. Most are hard to watch. But AAA adaptations are becoming the new norm, which means a new era for the videogame adaptation is already here.

Here’s our ranking of every live-action videogame movie ever made:

74. Chanbara Beauty: The Movie—Vortex

canbara-beauty-the-movie-vortex-poster.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Tsuyoshi Shoji

Somehow looking even cheaper than the original OneChanbara movie, Chanbara Beauty: The Movie—Vortex (AKA OneChanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers which tells you exactly all you need to know about this intensely amateurish film) feels like a rediscovered VHS copy of a movie some buddies made over a weekend one lazy summer after conning a few aspiring actresses. The tagline for the film, “She is back…aroused and unleashed!” sets the tone for director Tsuyoshi Shoji’s terrible sequel, which recasts its leads, rewrites backstories and even resurrects characters that died in the first film with no explanation. The effects are so ugly they make the pixels and polygons of the original look quaint and endearing. At least at its heart, it still somewhat resembles its game source: There is still a vaguely cowgirl-esque woman cutting zombies in half with a katana. And yes, she’s still in a fuzzy bikini. The swordplay looks like the viral “Star Wars Kid” was fight choreographer for a bunch of women in revealing costumes, all shot so amateurishly that even perverts looking for a titillating time will have difficulty making heads or tails of the exploitation at hand. Stiff, colorless and stagey in costume, make-up and acting, it’s only fitting that the film looks like a musty old Playboy left out to rot in the woods. Fans of the games could make a better version of an OneChanbara movie in the 80 minutes it takes to watch this one.—Jacob Oller


73. Dead Trigger

dead-trigger-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Mike Cuff, Scott Windhauser

Dead Trigger holds a special place in history, being the first live-action videogame movie ever adapted from an app. Other than that particular milestone, the Dolph Lundgren-starring zombie movie is mostly only notable for its troubled production: Original writer/director Mike Cuff was fired two days before filming, leaving Scott Windhauser to rewrite and helm the film. Its incredibly bad digital blood FX didn’t come from trouble at the top (use some squibs, people!), but its dull plot and the single-take feeling of its actors’ deliveries may have. The movie’s ultra-slow pace, casually sexist and creepy hero, and utterly humorless one-liners make Dead Trigger a bottom-of-the-barrel adaptation that’s less undead and more traditionally lifeless. It’s too boring to be so-bad-it’s-good, so boring that its amateurish editing (scenes trail off so meanderingly that you can sometimes see parts of the behind-the-scenes production, like the crash mats its stuntpeople fall onto) is almost excusable when you remember that the editor had to watch this film over and over. The least they could’ve done is buy a bucket of fake blood for their zombie movie. Alas, Dead Trigger even screws THAT up.—Jacob Oller


72. House of the Dead

house-of-the-dead-poster.jpg Year: 2003
Director: Uwe Boll

A group of kids head to an island rave, only to find out that it’s infested with zomb—okay, you know what? No words will ever truly describe how awful this movie is. Just watch this scene instead.—Megan Farokhmanesh


71. Alone in the Dark II

alone-in-the-dark-ii-poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer

Frequent Uwe Boll screenwriters/producers Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch take over this notorious franchise for the sequel, which no longer even has the dubious merits of Christian Slater or Tara Reid to its name. Slater’s returning main character has been recast, interestingly enough, by Rick Yune. Among Yune’s castmates are those plucked from Boll’s sad stable (Zack Ward, Natassia Malthe, Michael Paré, etc) and those genre fans are well-familiar with down in the B-movie slums (Danny Trejo, Lance Henriksen). The same frenetic editing style and blue-tinged hue afflicts this particular follow-up, which seems to be loosely adapting the 2008 entry into the Alone in the Dark franchise, with a little less frequency than a Boll-helmed film, but it still pops up from time to time. The rest of the film is spent on grave discussions of witches and magical daggers, a bit like if the entire first Lord of the Rings movie was about Frodo getting stabbed by a Ringwraith. Except everything good about Fellowship was done in the opposite manner, making it as boring as possible just to see if it could be done. It’s still as stiff and devoid of effectiveness as a Boll film, but without much of the egregious madness that makes the trash auteur’s work stand out, so there’s a case to be made that it’s even less worthy of a curious Z-movie aficionado’s time.—Jacob Oller


70. Alone in the Dark

alone-in-the-dark-poster.jpg Year: 2005
Director: Uwe Boll

Based on the mostly has-been casting choices, you have to wonder if these actors weren’t alone in the dark themselves with unpaid bills. Christian Slater is captain of this failboat as a paranormal researcher with special abilities. There’s a plot in here somewhere, but its holes are big enough for Mr. Slater to drive said boat through. If the movie doesn’t give you a seizure with its horrendous acting, ’90s graphics and Tara Reid usage, it’ll sure as hell try other ways. But Alone in the Dark did teach us one thing: Never let Christian Slater near your children. This kid will have nightmares for the rest of his life.—Megan Farokhmanesh


69. BloodRayne 2: Deliverance

bloodrayne-2-deliverance-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Uwe Boll

Muddy, shot almost entirely at night and plotted like a porn parody of Deadwood (that also happens to have vampires…at least in name), BloodRayne 2: Deliverance makes the first film in Uwe Boll’s franchise look like a fantasy masterpiece in comparison. Billy the Kid is a vampire (with an accent so unplaceable and unintelligible that the closed captions often just give up on him entirely) ruling over a Wild West town and it still manages to be stultifyingly dull with only momentary spasms of life—such as you might find in a corpse’s final moments after Rayne has separated its head from its body. Speaking of Rayne, this movie replaces Kristanna Loken with Natassia Malthe, who drags things down even further with her sleepy performance when she should be dragging them to hell. With the cut budget between the first film and this, Boll’s bad-yet-frenetic editing tricks and odd FX shots disappear in favor of slow, barely functional cinema. The power of its ridiculous premise shouldn’t tempt you: This is one Wild West Dracula best avoided.—Jacob Oller


68. Ao Oni ver. 2.0

ao-oni-ver-2-0-poster.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Hideaki Maekawa

Not a sequel to the original Ao Oni, Ao Oni ver. 2.0 has a new director (Hideaki Maekawa) and cast but involves the same characters doing the same thing as in the first film: Going into a mansion and encountering monsters. More than that, though, they follow a plot with many of the exact same moments. Released a year after the first, 2.0 feels like it’s barely a remake. In videogame terms, this version doesn’t even seem like it’s gotten a major patch. Actually, considering how its central demon somehow looks less threatening than in the original and it doubles down on the dull connection between the events in the haunted house and the videogame it adapts, it’s counterproductive: More new bugs than features. Instead of doing the “dead the whole time” trope, this one does the “stuck inside the game” trope. This franchise is a choose-your-own-adventure of bad movie writing. At least fans of the game have options if they ever dare the horrors of these adaptations.—Jacob Oller


67. Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge

tekken-2-kazuyas-revenge-poster.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Wych Kaos

In a minefield of straight-to-DVD or direct-to-VOD sequels, Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge is actually the rare videogame prequel film. Directed by Wych Kaosayananda (yes, of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever infamy), the film sees the return of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s Heihachi Mishima as the patriarch’s warped familial backstory is explained through an amnesiac Kazuya Mishima (Kane Kosugi, a wooden Kane Kosugi taking over from Ian Anthony Dale’s more enjoyably campy time in the role) figuring out his true identity. Strange family relationships are Tekken’s bread and butter, right behind martial arts, so that’s no surprise. What is is that the movie barely features any Tekken characters. The first film at least operated in the grand tradition of tournament action movies, rolling out everyone’s costume and moves for analysis by fidelity-conscious gamers. Here, well, it’s a weird tale so shoehorned onto the Tekken brand that it leaves the phrase “fast and loose” in the dust. Kaosayananda also serves as the film’s cinematographer, and he ineptly whips the camera around just as quickly. Featuring a pseudo-Christian villain in the vein of Johnny Mnemonic’s goofball preacher, who plants a bomb into our hero and enslaves him in some kind of vaguely explained assassin camp, Kazuya’s Revenge suffers dramatically from its asinine premise and nonsensical plot. It’s also filled with The Room-level dialogue and unsavory ridiculousness, like the adult schoolgirl constantly slurping on a lollipop (interestingly enough, played by Charlotte Kirk, the actress involved in multiple sex scandals that ended up bringing down powerful studio execs). Spending all its (limited) energy on the same choppy flashbacks teasing out broken and lost memories as well as these tasteless asides, there’s not much left over for the actual fighting—all of which does dull disservice to its cast of martial artists. What’s the combo for stabbing a man through the skull with a chopstick?—Jacob Oller


66. Ao Oni

ao-oni-poster.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Daisuke Nibayashi

Daisuke Kobayashi’s dull adaptation of the RPG Maker horror game of the same name, Ao Oni’s extended sequence watching someone play/talk about the game in question is indicative of the whole. It’s a film filled with stereotypical videogame adaptation flaws: Wooden performances, silly plotting and lots of filler that the creative team probably thought were nods to the fans at the time (the aforementioned scene being an ever-present culprit) but end up padding the already ridiculously short hour-long film. The film’s concept is as simple as can be. A bunch of kids go into a haunted mansion called “Jailhouse” where a blue demon starts going after them…eventually. First there’re some creepy phone calls and some slamming/locked doors with missing keys. Half-assed puzzles that must be solved (or at least interacted with to kill some time). It’s traditional RPG/horror stuff, and wouldn’t be compelling cinema even if done with an ounce of professionalism. Once the Oni actually starts doing its job, there’re some blood and guts splattered around, but even that base pleasure is undone by their strange juxtaposition with the cartoonish demon: He looks a little like if a bobblehead of Beast from X-Men was an anti-Semetic caricature.—Jacob Oller


65. Postal

postal-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Uwe Boll

Perhaps Uwe Boll’s biggest swing at comedy, his shockless adaptation of Postal (featuring Boll staple Zack Ward and appearances by Dave Foley and J.K. Simmons) is a deeply racist, unfunny hackfest that feels as if Boll’s incompetent theft had looted the last trope from action movies and moved on to South Park. Boll co-wrote the unpleasant movie with another frequent collaborator, Bryan C. Knight (a prolific assistant director who thankfully learned his lesson and never wrote again), which means its dirt-dumb sense of grasping provacateur humor—either stale observational gags, aforementioned anti-Muslim hate, light critiques of corporate or religious cultures, or setpieces where scores of children are gunned down—is the only example of Boll’s ability to adapt a videogame as a dual threat writer/director. Perhaps the crass, facile and cheap source material resonated with him on an artistic level. If that’s the case, that makes it even more puzzling as to why the film takes an hour and fifteen minutes to actually get to the Postal Dude going postal. Like many things claiming to be edgy, it attracted its share of talent willing to attempt a political comedy version of Falling Down and Foley, at least, brings some energy (and nudity) to his performance. The gags are soundly beaten to death or glossed over almost completely as the random carnival of Card Against Humanity-like buzzwords collide in fits and spurts, revealing that Boll’s sense of comic timing actually falls short of his amateurish dramatic abilities. At least in his cameo appearance, he proves he’s better in front of the camera than behind it.—Jacob Oller


64. In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission

in-the-name-of-the-king-3-the-last-mission-poster.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Uwe Boll

“Thank god,” you may think to yourself. “The Last Mission. Finally Uwe Boll can retire.” Sadly, the title only refers to this particular fantasy series in the director’s videogame oeuvre, this entry of which once again features a modern-day hero thrust back to medieval times in a sort of loose metaphor for a person controlling an avatar in an RPG. Starring Dominic Purcell amidst a cast of Bulgarians (where the film was shot), the third In the Name of the King film oh-so-loosely associated with the Dungeon Siege franchise is about a criminal who kidnaps children learning to be a better person through fantasy combat. Really: Purcell’s character (the improbably named Hazen Kaine) is some kind of mob enforcer, murdering at will and locking two girls in a shipping container, who’s sucked back in time because his tattoo matches a magical medallion. Let that be a warning to all white people that get symbols they don’t understand inked onto their bodies. Kaine’s chosen one journey follows an even simpler, sillier, more profane plot than the second film in the franchise, with only actress Ralitsa Paskaleva showing any semblance of charisma in this black hole of Boll. Shaky camerawork, an even cheaper-looking dragon than the predecessor and witless fight choreography make it a mercy that this is really The Last Mission.—Jacob Oller


63. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

mortal-kombat-annihilation-poster.jpg Year: 1997
Director: John R. Leonetti

It’s not like the original Mortal Kombat was an expertly assembled film, but my god does it look like The French Connection compared to the mess that is Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. You know it’s a bad sign when pretty much the entire cast from the first movie decides to pass on the sequel, including Christopher Lambert, who had no problem making Highlander II: The Quickening. The plot makes no sense; the FX and costumes are all hilariously DIY-looking. The movie seriously looks like a bunch of strangers in a karate class borrowed their friends’ Comic-Con outfits and just shot whatever popped into their heads over the course of a long weekend. It also features one of the best bad line deliveries of all time. “Too bad you…will die!”Jim Vorel


62. In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds

in-the-name-of-the-king-2-two-worlds-poster.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Uwe Boll

In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds doesn’t boast the ridiculous (and ridiculously stacked) cast of the original—seriously, Burt Reynolds?!—watering everything down significantly. You know if you see latter-day Dolph Lundgren as the lead, something has gone awry. He looks and sounds thoroughly miserable in this fantasy, which sees him as a sort of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Sucked through time, the hilariously unimpressed Lundgren is A Vancouver Martial Arts Instructor in Uwe Boll’s Cheap Renaissance Fair. Really, everyone looks fresh from a Spirit Halloween—the King (Lochlyn Munro) is even caught adjusting his wig at one point in a scene that I still can’t tell is a joke or a mistake. Lundgren’s bored voiceover and mumbled quips damn any chance Michael C. Nachoff’s terrible script—all about the plague, a chosen one (Lundgren, naturally) and two warring factions—had at being fun. There are a few moments so utterly shoddy that you have to chuckle (an exceedingly ugly, rubbery dragon; a final showdown…in the cramped bathroom of a modern Vancouver residence), but the rest of Two Worlds is classic Boll: Stuffed with innuendo and groaners, impeccably artless in both shot choice and aesthetic, and thoroughly asinine.—Jacob Oller


61. DOA: Dead or Alive

doa-dead-or-alive-poster.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Corey Yuen

It’s hard to make a great movie based on a fighting game. It’s even harder to make a great movie based off a fighting game best known for having the nicest boobs in town. If cheesy fight scenes, hyper-sexualized women and a braindead semblance of a plot are your thing, you’re in for a treat. If you’re looking for oh, say, a decent movie, turn back now. Dead or Alive is a game filled with fierce beauties, but sadly the acting of their real-life counterparts doesn’t even amount to enough to fill a B-cup. This film would be better labeled DOA—dead on arrival.—Megan Farokhmanesh


60. OneChanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad

onechanbara-bikini-samurai-squad-poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Yohei Fukuda

OneChanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad is one of those movies that’s title basically says it all. Yes, it’s an even more specific horny game adaptation than that of BloodRayne’s dominatrix dhampir. The first film based on a zombie-slaying series best known for its katana-wielding bikini cowgirls, writer/director/cinematographer Yohei Fukuda doesn’t exactly have a lot to work with and delivers in kind. Eri Otoguro shows up, wears a cowboy hat, spins her blade in a variety of combos seemingly mapped directly from the hack-n-slash gameplay, and—yes—is ogled plenty by camera and characters alike in her bikini. The effects are a particularly disconnected kind of bad, but that may have to do with its relationship to games: Slashes, blood spatter, sparks and the like all look like the pixelated art that hits the screen on those light gun arcade games. At least they’re better than the lead’s fake tattoo, which is clearly a sticker peeling off her shoulder. These fail to compliment a sub-standard dumb movie—a classic revenge tale between human factions amidst a zombie-ridden world—with some truly left field bad choices. A sex scene, where instead of the Titanic hand on the fogged window, there’s nails scraping down glass like a chalkboard. A fully plush evil operating table. A sawed-off shotgun fired like an automatic. And despite all that, it still takes itself far too seriously for a movie subtitled Bikini Samurai Squad. At least its ten-minute final sword duel has some over-the-top camp appeal.—Jacob Oller


59. Doom: Annihilation

doom-annihilation-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Tony Giglio

It’s functionally impossible to make a Castlevania show or movie that feels like the tense platforming action of the game series, and yet the series is somehow the adaptation to beat. Doom: Annihilation, released in the same year, certainly wasn’t. There are two notable things about it: No demons show up until about 40 minutes in, and it ends right when we’re assured that the demon-slaying is about to begin. It feels especially egregious considering Doom, the game series, returned after a long time in the wilderness with an installment that kicked gamers’ teeth in, in the best kind of way. People are ready for something better than the 30th or 40th low-rent knockoff of Aliens.—Kenneth Lowe


58. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

in-the-name-of-the-king-a-dungeon-siege-tale-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Uwe Boll

One thing you’ll notice that videogame movie actors share in common is a willingness to work with the same indisputably awful filmmakers, because they’ll work for whoever pays them. Enter director Uwe Boll, a man who has never made a quality film in his career, but loves to poach “respectable” actors who have either hit the skids or simply don’t give a shit. This fantasy epic/videogame adaptation is absolutely chock full of hilarious casting, including Jason Statham as the star, Leelee Sobieski as the female lead, an incredibly confused Burt Reynolds as a medieval king and Ray Liotta as a FREAKING WIZARD. I don’t know what else I can tell you, except that John Rhys-Davies also plays another wizard, and that even with all these seeming advantages, the movie still doesn’t manage to reach “fun-bad” status.—Jim Vorel


57. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

street-fighter-the-legend-of-chun-li-poster.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

It’s hard to top the mediocrity of the first Street Fighter film, but The Legend of Chun-Li does it, and does it well. Where the first film at least had a so-bad-it’s-good charm to it, its successor simply tries too hard. She might be nice to look at, but Kristin Kreuk lacks any kind of serious spark as the titular heroine. Back to Smallville with you, Kreuk.—Megan Farokhmanesh


56. Higurashi no naku koro ni: Chikai

when-they-cry-reshuffle-poster.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Ataru Oikawa

Returning writer/director Ataru Oikawa’s Higurashi no naku koro ni: Chikai, released a year after the first movie based on these visual novel games, serves as the “Answer Arc” to the first film’s “Question Arc.” It’s an interesting formal concept borrowed from the games: Basically, instead of a sequel or a prequel to Higurashi no naku koro ni, it’s a different angle that looks to deepen our understanding of its central, creepy village’s weird mystery. I’m imagining these were shot back-to-back, as it’s the same creative team and cast. It’s a pretty engaging idea, shifting the perspective of things from the original film’s transfer student (Goki Maeda) to the schoolgirls who’re intrisically caught up in the spooky local folklore. But even if we didn’t know how things play out already (or at least one way they could have played out), this film’s novelty outweighs its narrative pull and the aesthetics follow suit—it’s not as fun on either count, the immediate darkness coming too fast to have the same impact as the first’s build-up and the climax going full steam ahead into an anime maximalism that doesn’t translate well to the more grounded live-action setting. Worse in quality and with fewer cinematic nods to the games, Higurashi no naku koro ni: Chikai ends up feeling like an hour and a half of deleted scenes—nightmarish interpretations of ones we’ve seen before or silly new moments—rather than a supplemental whole.—Jacob Oller


55. Resident Evil: Apocalypse

resident-evil-apocalypse-poster.jpg Year: 2004
Director: Alexander Witt

Godfather 2, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens…that’s a list of arguably superior sequels in franchises. It is also a list you will never find Resident Evil: Apocalypse anywhere near. One of two films in the series that lack Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm—he was occupied with Alien vs. PredatorApocalypse is muddled and frenetic even by the franchise’s usual “high muddle, high frenzy” standards. With much of the action shot in darkness and rain, even the predictable jump scares are somehow rendered less effective. What does this entry have going for it? In addition to franchise cornerstone Jovovich, viewers get a solid helping of Oded Fehr and Sienna Guillory as Carlos Olivera and Jill Valentine, a little Nemesis action and an answer to the question, “What has yellow-eyed scoundrel Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) been up to since terrorizing Ralphie and Randy Parker in 1983’s A Christmas Story?” (The answer? Ward can be found in a few places on this list, mostly with ol’ Uwe Boll.) —Michael Burgin


54. Far Cry

far-cry-poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Uwe Boll

A Uwe Boll film that’s not as notorious as Alone in the Dark nor one that led to a franchise a la Bloodrayne, Far Cry is a seemingly good fit for the filmmaker: It’s an action game made with advanced enough tech to make players feel like they’re in an action movie of their own making, and thus shouldn’t need to worry too much about plot or dialogue. But the openness and excitement of the game’s world is watered all the way down (as is the game’s plot, despite it all), essentially sticking the shooter back on the rails of its gaming predecessors. Boll’s unique penchant for conducting his usual acting cadre to inhuman, nails-on-chalkboard deliveries and his embarrassing sense of humor are present even throughout this standard-issue military thriller. A grimey kill here and there, an Udo Kier barely making a snack of the scenery—it can’t help a film infected by Chris Coppola and long meandering scenes of nothing put in to pad the runtime out to a feature’s length. Star Til Schweiger isn’t much of an action hero, which fits because Boll (a man who’s never met an explosion he couldn’t make boring, nor a scene he couldn’t make feel like an accidental parody) certainly isn’t much of an action director. Schweiger’s quiet quips fall flat (delivered so strangely that they often come off hilariously creepy) and his physicality doesn’t impress (especially when Ralf Möller shows up late in the film), while Boll’s constantly shooting things that sound like they’d be Fast & Furious-level bonkers and look like viewing a fireworks show through a muddy telescope lens. Both major players attempt their roles like kids trying on their parents’ shoes, their ill-fitting stumbles always flirting with disaster. Emmanuelle Vaugier (solidly charming) and a decently silly boat chase are bright spots, as are Boll’s attempts at making freaky, distended mutants—albeit in a so-bad-it’s-good way, because they all look like buff Powder. On the whole, Far Cry isn’t much worse than half the drek Nicolas Cage stars in these days, and in Boll terms, that’s an impressive achievement.—Jacob Oller


53. It Came from the Desert

it-came-from-the-desert-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Marko Makilaakso

The silly ant/alien/spider hybrids that come from the desert in It Came from the Desert might initially make you think that Marko Makilaakso’s adaptation of the classic 1989 game of the same name is in the same campy, silly vein as the source’s B-movie origins—or at least in vein of its modern monster movie equivalent, like the winking Piranha or Sharknado films. And, to its credit, it does seem to take a few stabs at comedy and subversion here and there. However, the vast majority of the film is overrun by its earnest “frat boy at Warped Tour” aesthetic that pits a bunch of drunk dirt bikers against its big bad bugs, all set to a soundtrack heavily featuring a single emo track seemingly making light of River Phoenix’s death by overdose. Needless to say, it leaves a bad taste and makes it clear that the film’s over-the-top bro vibe is all too serious. Some rough monster FX and a total, cynically mercenary lack of interest in the source material only make things worse.—Jacob Oller


52. Corpse Party Book of Shadows

corpse-party-book-of-shadows-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Masafumi Yamada

Director Masafumi Yamada returns to direct the sequel film to Corpse Party, which sees a similar transportative horror plotline (more kids doing more spells sending them to more haunted schools) descend into paranormal murder. At the same time, the survivors from the first film found a magical way back to try to reverse some of the wrongs perpetrated in the original story. What this latter point means is that the film gets to reuse lots of locations, costumes and even straight footage—a pretty sweet deal for the budget of a sequel released a year after the original. A less sweet deal for us, mostly because any value these bad films have lies in their schlock shock. Replaying the same kills again or showing the same fleshy aftermath for the first 40 minutes removes what little enjoyment it has to offer, especially when the back half of the film reverts to dull actors chatting their way through serial killer riffs (albeit with a juicy gouged eye sequence).—Jacob Oller


51. Max Payne

max-payne-poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: John Moore

Mark Wahlberg delivers what may be his worst performance ever to the beat of weird hallucinations and one of the most boring, poorly written revenge tales ever. Marky Mark would be ashamed of his future, Mr. Wahlberg. But hey, on the plus side, at least it didn’t feature a screaming baby for ten minutes.—Megan Farokhmanesh


50. Siren

forbidden-siren-poster.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi

Based on Forbidden Siren 2, a game that never came out in the U.S., this horror adaptation is set on a mysterious island that’s population up and vanished one time, Roanoke-style. However, instead of “CROATOAN” carved into the fence, “DOG” and “LIVE” were painted on the wall in what looks like blood. Not quite as intimidating, even through a mirror. Now its residents warn a family of newcomers (there hoping its youngest son’s health will improve) not to go out if its sirens sound. It’s a pretty dismal Scooby-Doo plot (with a hilariously bad twist ending) mixed with Uwe Boll-esque digital stylings (lots of weird, jarring camera moves and discolored POV shots), but the source’s unsettling potential actually peeks through the horror-colored melodrama on occasion thanks to the relative competence of director Yukihiko Tsutsumi.—Jacob Oller


49. Touken Ranbu

touken-ranbu-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Saiji Yakumo

The only film on this list to be based on a card game, director Saiji Yakumo’s Touken Ranbu sees the cast of the stage plays reprise their roles. Yes, there were also stage plays based on a card game and that card game is all about swords that are literally personified by hot dudes. That premise should give you a hint that the Touken Ranbu movie is like a Stefon bit in terms of wild videogame cinema: It’s got a little of everything. Anime wigs? Got ‘em. Time cops? You betcha. How about a score featuring what can only be described as a Japanese take on “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”? Folks, I’m happy to say “yes, indeed.” Unfortunately it’s also got uninspired fights and lame effects. Two forces—one of order and one of chaos—vie for the timeline, focused on the real-life 16th century assassination of warlord Oda Nobunaga, and it still manages to be boring. Watching a bunch of excellent cosplayers stand around discussing the high concept ideas surrounding them is a little like walking into the wrong panel at a comic convention. With prolific anime scribe Yasuko Kobayashi writing a relatively engaging story underneath all this madness, the Touken Ranbu film’s disconnect comes from director Saiji Yakumo, who’s primarily known for low-key romances and dramas. With such wild concepts being thrown around and with such heightened costumes, the general aesthetic and visual language of the film needs some of that over-the-top tokusatsu energy. Instead, when a handsome sword-man wearing tiny shorts gets into a sword fight in the past (why the sword folks also use swords cannot be explained), it’s shot with a matter-of-fact simplicity that makes it even more absurd and far less fun.—Jacob Oller


48. Dead Rising: Endgame

dead-rising-endgame-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Pat Williams

A bit of an odd duck, the Dead Rising sequel is both less fun and more competent than its predecessor. Gone are the zombie clowns with honkable noses, but now everything looks a bit more like you’d see it on a lower-tier premium TV channel instead of SYFY. Leaning far more into the military and corporate conspiracy raised by Watchtower’s plot, Endgame (released three years before the Avengers would set box office records with the subtitle) is a serious, drama-minded movie that could be mistaken for a lesser episode of The Walking Dead. Gone are the silly asides, dumb bro humor and over-the-top POV camera effects. You still get a bit of the games’ flavor, as duct taped weapons still rear their head (often into the heads of the undead), but watching these underwritten characters bash in brains of bald-headed super-zombies that all look a bit like Michael Berryman—walking through hallways and into server rooms—isn’t the same as the goofy variety of the first film. Even Billy Zane as a sort of zombie Mengele doesn’t help. Neither are great, but Endgame’s dull mediocrity is outpaced by Watchtower’s dumb highs and lows.—Jacob Oller


47. Hitman

hitman-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Xavier Gens

Poor Agent 47. The assassin’s creative and absurd tools of the trade have never gotten a fair shake on the big screen and bald, barcoded Timothy Olyphant’s first crack at things shows how consistently Hollywood overthinks its videogame adaptations. The film is so confused and loose—which seems hard for one of the most basic premises in videogames: “Kill that guy”—that it even starts with repurposed footage from James Cameron’s Fox show, Dark Angel. Chock it up to a terrible script. From Robert Knepper’s inconsistent Russian-Irish brogue to Olga Kurylenko’s punkish girl with a literal dragon tattoo, the characters and narrative are cardboard pieces you’ve seen a million times arranged into an incomprehensible mess. While there are actually a few creative action moments (shot with as little creativity as possible), you will never stop being confused as to why any of them occur. A Mexican standoff between Agent 47 and a group of henchmen all trying to kill him? Sure, throw it in. Olyphant snarls out his lines like a hairless Seth Bullock, but they’re all so ridiculous and dimwitted that it’s best to just let them rush by. Olyphant’s physical work here isn’t great either, though it seems hard for a real person to move like this trained-from-birth (or is he a clone?) killer without seeming like a stiff goober that would always stand out in any conceivable situation. It’s a bad and draggy movie, even at only 90 minutes, needlessly gross and cruel in parts that have nothing to do with the whole “hitman” thing—and it seems like the studio knew it at the time. Reports claim that director Xavier Gens was fired from the project before extensive reshoots. As Olyphant said of the French director at the time, “He doesn’t speak English, didn’t anybody see that?” While I personally attribute much of the film’s failure to writer Skip Woods, Gans certainly didn’t help things along and the open disdain Olyphant has for this entire production (that he only participated in to buy a house) is admirable and should be echoed.—Jacob Oller


46. Assassin’s Creed

assassins-creed-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Justin Kurzel

As we have seen, throwing money at a film doesn’t really add up to success, even if you get freaking Michael Fassbender to star in it. And really, why should it? Assassin’s Creed is a movie adapted from a game series with a laughably convoluted plot that is based on climbing things, jumping off of those things, and then dying because the sword fighting controls are garbage. The crucial part of all of those activities is that you are the one who is doing them, and this is crucial precisely because the Assassin’s Creed series has become a venue to debut glossy skinner box games that entice you to keep playing them for hours at a time through a series of shiny rewards and attractive, chirpy noises. If you strip that away, you’re left with people in silly costumes running around Italy or Egypt or wherever, just as you’re left with an extremely white Hollywood leading man running around in a vague Orientalist pastiche if you make a Prince of Persia adaptation.—Kenneth Lowe


45. Hitman: Agent 47

hitman-agent-47-poster.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Aleksander Bach

Hitman: Agent 47 spends copious time addressing people’s ability to change who they are, but there’s little difference in quality between this adaptation of IO Interactive’s videogame series and its 2007 Timothy Olyphant-headlined predecessor. Proving yet again that its source material is a thin premise upon which to base some derivative action, Aleksander Bach’s new film opens with an absolute barrage of exposition complemented by hordes of satellite-filtered computer graphics. It thereby kicks things off in the most confusing fashion possible, and sets the stage for a saga that makes little sense until at least midway through its story—at which point it resorts to merely copying numerous genre predecessors with embarrassing shamelessness. Most of that concerns robotic killer Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) and his mission to track down Katia (Hannah Ware). Making heads or tails of exactly what’s going on during this sequel’s early-going, however, is almost as difficult as it is unnecessary; Bach edits his material with such rapid-fire spasticity that the proceedings simply speed along in a blur of bullets and macho posturing, with little care for actual storytelling or dialogue that isn’t laugh-out-loud functional. The script is merely an obvious way to justify turning the amoral Agent 47 into a good guy, which occurs via some third-act heroics involving his eventual quest to kill a man, Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann), who wants to jump-start the Agent program. Le Clerq is intent on creating an army of super-killers because, well, he’s a bad guy, and that’s what bad guys do—just as Hitman: Agent 47, which also comes around to mimicking the Resident Evil franchise, clumsily apes from better movies because it’s a lousy one, and that’s what lousy ones do.—Nick Schager


44. BloodRayne: The Third Reich

bloodrayne-3-the-third-reich-poster.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Uwe Boll

After its trip to the Wild West (unfortunately not quite like another sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West) abandoned nearly all the set-up of the first film, BloodRayne: The Third Reich tries to somewhat situate its heroic half-vampire into a history-spanning mythology. It’s a more energetic, better-lit entry in the franchise than the second film with its heroine sporting an even lower-cut outfit. After six minutes of credits fading in and out at a nauseating pace (only to be matched later by an equally nauseating dream sequence’s FX), the overwritten and overwrought movie starts going nuts. In between the original’s near-mediocrity and the sophomore entry’s dismal dullness, The Third Reich is a stilted carnival ride led by ringmaster Clint Howard as a Nazi scientist ready to go full Renfield. It’s so silly and inept that it strays into so-bad-it’s-good territory, with dialogue, accents and delivery styles that’ll leave you just as incredulous as its venture into softcore bisexual vampire porn. Truly trashy—just like the source material. But watching Howard snivel out the film’s barely-English script is a unique pleasure that just you won’t find in good movies.—Jacob Oller


43. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

prince-of-persia-the-sands-of-time-poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Mike Newell

With Disney at the helm, was it any surprise that the film adaptation of Prince of Persia turned out to be nothing more than a pretty face? The movie is full of great special effects with little else to back it up, not to mention the glaring inaccuracy of the lead casting choice. You’re great, Jake, but you’re not Persian. No, no, we know you got really tan and worked out. You’re still a white dude.—Megan Farokhmanesh


42. Rampage

rampage-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Brad Peyton

Rampage, which essentially throws The Rock, a few handsome co-stars, a gaggle of semi-competent CGI shots and a bunch of “BREAKING NEWS: MONSTERS ARE ATTACKING” talking heads to provide exposition into a blender, pours out the chunky mix into a bowl and sort of shrugs and says, “Eh, eat it, I guess.” The Rock plays a primatologist at the San Diego Zoo who has developed a friendship through sign language with an albino gorilla named George. One night, debris from an exploded space station (don’t ask, though it’s worth noting that the space station explodes in the first scene of the movie, and it’s probably the best scene in the movie) lands near George and the next morning, he has nearly doubled in size and has a severe aggressive streak. And he’s just getting started. Other pieces of debris landed near a wolf and an alligator, which is how they all fit into this; I suppose we should just feel fortunate none landed near a chicken, though that would have made for a much funnier movie. It’s uninventive, mostly dull CGI that we’ve seen hundreds of times before, without any sort of wit or scope to it. It’s just a by-the-numbers skyscraper collapse with massive mutant monsters and The Rock riding it down into hell. If that’s by the numbers, imagine what the rest of this is like.—Will Leitch


41. St. John’s Wort

st-johns-wort-poster.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Ten Shimoyama

Sometimes an adaptation is too caught up in its origin. St. John’s Wort sees director Ten Shimoyama take on Otogiriso, the seminal horror visual/sound novel that helped define a form and bring the genre more solidly into videogames. That game came out the same year as Alone in the Dark, but gets a far more faithful adaptation—though the end result is of similar quality. While it adds a superfluous framing device (the characters are making a horror game!), the film keeps the effective premise of the game: A pair of these game designers wind up in a spooky old mansion that one has inherited. It doesn’t bode well for them that one is played by Megumi Okina, who starred in Ju-On: The Grudge. They slowly look around the place. Minimal. The visuals go hard in the other direction. Shot conventionally, in POV handheld, through omnipresent black-and-white security cams and even as if the real-life characters were in conversation with 16-bit game representatives, Shimoyama throws a lot at the walls of this haunted house to see if anything sticks. Found footage reverses itself, frames freeze into game-like stills—there are even multiple endings! It’s all way, way too much for what’s supposed to be an atmospheric exploration of a creepy old manor. It’s like a music video director came in to give The Haunting of Hill House what they think is “pizazz.” And St. John’s Wort doesn’t lack for pizazz. It doesn’t make for a scary film (what kind of spooky old mansion lacks electricity but has Wi-Fi?) or a particularly good adaptation, but it certainly has enough going on that it’s hard for your attention to wander.—Jacob Oller


40. BloodRayne

bloodrayne-poster.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Uwe Boll

BloodRayne is a painfully cheesy vampire thriller that sports what is perhaps director Uwe Boll’s most recognizable and underutilized cast: Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane and Ben Kingsley all seem bound to the film by some kind of blood curse. Some halfway interesting and gory kills break up the intensely rote story of a Blade-esque half-vampire working out her demons—and as far as Boll’s filmography is concerned, these are crowning achievements. Rayne’s got her blades and her characteristically tight clothes going for her (even star Kristanna Loken is going for it, though not exactly getting there) and Boll’s overactive editing, Guinevere Turner’s terrible script and, well, the rest of the mediocre-to-terrible affair working against her. At least you get to see a vampire Meat Loaf hang out with some Romanian sex workers in his single scene.—Jacob Oller


39. Wing Commander

wing-commander-poster.jpg Year: 1999
Director: Chris Roberts

You can consider Wing Commander an exercise in “videogame adaptation in name only,” as this very much feels like a stock-standard sci-fi script that was sitting around, only to have the name of a fairly obscure videogame franchise bolted onto it in an attempt to make it more relevant. One can only assume that producers thought this might be able to expand its potential audience in nerd circles, but honestly: Who was the guy in 1999, trying to pitch that there was a big Wing Commander fanbase out there desperately wanting a big-budget, big-screen adaptation of the flight simulator series? To their credit, they do actually stick with the cat-people alien antagonists of the Wing Commander series, but beyond the basic outline this movie is really the softest of soft sci-fi, existing primarily as a star vehicle for “hot young leads” Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard and Saffron Burrows. Looking like a Starship Troopers rip-off that completely left the social satire of Paul Verhoeven’s film behind, Wing Commander is forgettable fluff that doesn’t even do us the favor of being incompetent in a memorable or flashy way. —Jim Vorel


38. Doom

doom-poster.jpg Year: 2005
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Doom’s story is simple enough. A group named the Rapid Response Tactical Squad is assigned a mission to Mars to check out the Olduvai facility, a space station overrun by monsters. The next hour and a half follows the group as they’re torn to pieces. The director of the movie is cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak, known for his work on films such as Prizzi’s Honor and Falling Down. Being a cinematographer, one would think he would know a thing or two about lighting—but Doom suffers terribly from a lack of it, so much investment put into capturing the right atmosphere that most of the film’s action is compromised. Likewise, the choreography is bland and cartoonish. The final fight sequence between Sarge (The Rock) and Reaper (Karl Urban) is more of a display of the Rock’s wrestling past than an actual fight, tossing Karl Urban around like a rag doll, mindlessly picking him up on his back in an airplane spin maneuver before hurling him down to the ground. There is a saving grace at the end of the film, however, and the scene delivers a blast of what the original game was all about. The first-person shooter sequence goes back to the basics of the game for its inspiration. When Reaper wakes up in a haze after being injected with a C24 serum, he goes on a first-person rampage to search for his missing sister Samantha (Rosamund Pike). The entire sequence is a simulation of the computer game condensed into a small portion of the film: Five minutes loaded with CGI, gun blasts and buzzing chainsaws delivering a world of hurt to the demon inhabitants onboard. It’s all-out war folded into mere minutes. The sad thing is that so much time is spent with the protagonists tiptoeing around the facility hoping to not wake any of the monsters that the movie plays out too much like a typical horror film. Everything boils down to the last few moments, where timidity is exchanged for pure brute force. Reaper cuts through the remaining demons quickly, and his scene caters to the fans of the original game through excessive violence, a quality strangely lacking in the rest of Doom.—Turner Minton


37. Legend of the Ancient Sword

legend-of-the-ancient-sword-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Renny Harlin

This is a wild card: Renny Harlin directed this Chinese adaptation of the fantasy RPG Gu Jian Qi Tan 2. What the man who helmed Deep Blue Sea and Die Hard 2 is doing conducting this CGI mess is beyond me, but at least he seems to have had a lot of money to play with when putting it together. Its frenetic MacGuffin hunt and terrible dialogue overwhelm the decently realized fantasy-steampunk aesthetic, and each weird anthropomorphic critter (an octopus man, an elephant man—but not like that—and even a terrible comic relief panda) that waltzes by is far more interesting than anything happening in the actual plot. There’s an evil tree, a handsome merman and multiple robot brawls…and it still manages to zip by in ways both confusing and dull. It’s a whirlwind of wuxia twirls and “get X so we can find Y and stop the evil Z,” all amped up so fast and furious that it’s liable to give you a headache. However, there are certain moments where the combined fight choreography of the main party’s members accurately reflect how awesome you imagine your team of wizards, monks and fighters would be in action. These moments of videogame fidelity and the circus-like energy and promise of its visual design keep Legend of the Ancient Sword from being quite as bland as its title.—Jacob Oller


36. Silent Hill: Revelation

silent-hill-revelation-poster.jpg Year: 2012
Director: M.J. Bassett

Following one of the better horror game adaptations in the original Silent Hill six years after the fact, Revelation sees the franchise taken over by writer/director M.J. Bassett with half the budget and half the results. (It also takes half the movie to actually get to Silent Hill.) The trials of Adelaide Clemens’ Sharon, whose multiple moves and identity changes were all meant to keep her from the haunted locale of the title, just aren’t compelling and are hard to completely square with either the first film or the games’ plots. It’s a hazy mix of destiny, grief and dualistic dream-realities (this last note perhaps the film’s most interesting aspect in a queer reading of the film) that never coalesces into anything more than endless exposition trying and failing to tell you what the hell is going on. But perhaps the film is most notable for being the ignominious film debut of Jon Snow actor Kit Harington. Harington’s character is a blank both in script and performance, the latter perhaps exacerbated by him needing to focus on his spotty American accent. At least Clemens has a hell of a scream. It doesn’t help that the pair are set opposite Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss and Malcolm McDowell. Nobody in the cast is doing grade-A work, but the leads and script are the weak links in a subpar sequel. Revelation is also muddier and noticeably less visually engaging than its predecessor—even with the over-the-top flying fingertips (AKA Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, the film also tries to be one of those horror movies). Yet, being a Silent Hill property, it’s still got some freaky monsters (I really do like its mannequin spider) slicing and dicing through their own localized little Hellraiser nightmare. Bassett’s direction is at least better than her script and her crew stages some spooky locations, but our main Revelation watching the film is that they should scrap this film franchise and start from scratch.—Jacob Oller


35. Company of Heroes

company-of-heroes-poster.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Don Michael Paul

Company of Heroes feels like a bit of a cheat. Is a WWII movie with the title of a WWII game still a videogame adaptation, or just similarly branded historical fiction? Of writing team Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (Da 5 Bloods, The Rocketeer), De Meo went on to write the game’s sequel, so there are some bonafides on display here. But the other way this movie feels like a bit of a cheat as a game adaptation film is that it just gets to be a war movie. We know war movies, we know WWII. That first hurdle most videogame movies hit, the stage-setting exposition, vanishes and the film gets an effective head start on its peers. Sure it plays a little fast and loose with history, but hey, it’s easier to get than most of these films. Aside from a known setting (The Battle of the Bulge, following some ragtag Americans on One Last Mission that keeps on getting more complicated), Company of Heroes also boasts a decent cast. Tom Sizemore, Sam Spruell, Vinnie Jones! But even these elements only really bring it up to the level of a cheap, subpar military thriller. Director Don Michael Paul, who would go on to helm a slew of bad IP sequels and spin-offs (so, so many Tremors movies), seems to have just discovered the concept of zooms and telescopes in and out on soldiers’ faces like they’re so many Jims from The Office. It’s a little hazy and dull, and the dialogue can be fairly overwrought, but everything’s at least put together in a way that makes sense and the cast isn’t phoning it in from the front—and that’s about as heroic as it comes when in the company of videogame adaptations.—Jacob Oller


34. Warcraft

warcraft-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Duncan Jones

Here directing as well as co-writing, Duncan Jones doesn’t bring to his third feature any of the passion he has shown in interviews and at press conferences towards the game which inspired this unholy creation. Jones probably really is the WOWer he claims to be, but the material just doesn’t seem like a good fit for him as a filmmaker. Jones’s previous projects, Moon and Source Code, were lean and moody psychological sci-fi, whereas Warcraft is a dumb, lumbering, colorful fantasy epic. In the hands of Jones, before now a somber and introspective director, a film that could have been at least mindlessly entertaining is unexpectedly dour. The only actor to emerge with anything resembling dignity is poor, franchise-less Toby Kebbell, always the best thing in dud blockbusters failing to go to series (Prince of Persia, Fantastic Four, now Warcraft). As our sensitive orc hero Durotan, the mo-capped Kebbell doesn’t exactly give a moving performance—none of the characters are developed enough for you to care about any one of them—but there is at least a sense that he’s made of flesh and blood, and not papier-mâché like everyone else. Jones has insisted his original two hour, forty minute cut of Warcraft was a more developed experience, with characters further fleshed-out, but it’s difficult to imagine the film being any more pleasurable when the overall product is this ropey.—Brogan Morris


33.Need for Speed

need-for-speed-poster.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Scott Waugh

Because he made his name as Jesse Pinkman, the meth-dealing, rap-loving partner of Walter White on Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul now runs the risk of being permanently identified with that character. This is hardly the worst fate—he won two Emmys for the role, and the show has entered the pantheon of great television dramas—and it’s no doubt that he wouldn’t have gotten starring film vehicles without the Breaking Bad connection. But his turn in Need for Speed isn’t an incredibly encouraging sign of where he’ll go next. Hardly a car wreck but also not nearly as edgy as it thinks it is, Need for Speed peddles adrenaline with a relentlessness that can be charming. But the film rarely electrifies—more often, it just makes you jittery. And that’s when it’s not outright annoying the hell out of you. Need for Speed is directed by Scott Waugh, one of the two directors of 2012’s Act of Valor, a Navy SEAL action movie that featured actual Navy SEALs, real U.S. military equipment and bullets, and no CGI. Authenticity seems to be Waugh’s passion, and in Need for Speed he again aims for a thriller that’s light on phoniness, focusing on practical stunts that make the car chases as believable and tense as possible. (There’s a disclaimer at the end of Need for Speed that warns the audience not to try any of the stunts.) This commitment to authenticity is commendable, but like with Act of Valor, the realism in Need for Speed doesn’t add up to much when the story and characters are so shopworn. —Tim Grierson


32. The King of Fighters

the-king-of-fighters-poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Gordon Chan

Adapting a relatively standard, grounded fighting game (no fatalities in The King of Fighters, where it’s all mostly tournament-centric), this movie from prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Gordon Chan boasts something a little unique: A more complicated plot than its source material. Adding in a sci-fi twist to things—where tournaments take place virtually, as if the fighters were controlling digital avatars of themselves via Bluetooth earpieces—makes things way too complicated…and that’s before the ancient artifacts and alternate dimensions come in. I mean this is a game series known best for introducing the now-prevalent team mechanic, where players would choose three fighters each. Simple, right? It doesn’t need to have this much plot. When things are actually happening, and it’s not just hallway discussions or overwritten nonsense, there’re some interesting aesthetic choices that actually click thanks to sheer strangeness. Chan loves a Dutch angle, and shoots ridiculous things (a lesbian couple getting pulled out of a steamy situation in order to fight Ray Park, ultra-committed, in full hockey pads) with the right amount of joy. There’s the extremely white Tom Cruise lookalike lead who’s supposed to be half-Japanese (and is played by an Asian actor in flashbacks). Maggie Q is alright. And the fights are pretty fun when they’re actually…happening. The King of Fighters’ main problem is the frequency of combat. It’s not called King of Complicated Conversations. A side note more fun than the film: KoF’s fight choreographer was David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2), who appears as Terry Bogard.—Jacob Oller


31. Corpse Party

corpse-party-poster.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Masafumi Yamada

Some legitimately gross and fun kills make this sleepy adaptation (which takes place as a group of schoolmates accidentally find their way into a haunted school from one of their ghost stories) a horror movie that almost lives up to the Corpse Party title. Director Masafumi Yamada adds some disturbing imagery and splattery gore into a script too hung up on its own mythos, though wading through stagey exposition of elementary school slashers and resentful ghosts for a good sledgehammer-to-the-head shouldn’t be payoff enough for the discerning horrorhound. There are easier, more energetic and downright better ways to get your goopy fix.—Jacob Oller


30. Dynasty Warriors

dynasty-warriors-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Roy Chow

After reigning as a best-selling, multifaceted media franchise for two decades, a live-action Dynasty Warriors movie has finally joined the ranks of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Released internationally by Netflix, the film is based on the series of hack ‘n’ slash games where you run around a massive battlefield as a litany of heightened interpretations of Chinese historical figures, extravagantly beating the asses of entire enemy armies. Set in an era important to both Chinese history and literature (as said history inspired the formative 14th century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms), Dynasty Warriors leans as hard into military mythologizing as it does its rowdy crowd warfare. Writer/director Roy Chow’s managed both straight drama and big action in the past, but the sheer scope and weight of the source materials bury Dynasty Warriors’ moments of fun. While the story encompasses political plots, military maneuvering and legendary weapons, things mostly boil down to three utterly dignified, statue-like heroes—Liu Bei (Tony Yang), Guan Yu (Han Geng) and Zhang Fei (Justin Cheung, in terrible Tropic Thunder-level brownface)—trying to overthrow a usurping warlord they once saved, while Cao Cao (Wang Kai), a ruthless minor-official-turned-would-be-assassin, is on the run for trying to take down the same man. Unfortunately, though the Lord of the Rings-esque scope isn’t inherently bad—with much of the staging replicating the feel of the games—the execution is. In trying to pull off these ambitiously large battles, Chow’s combat is so effect-heavy and intangible that it has similar problems to actual videogames: The camera clips through the ground, digital extras can easily be seen repeating the same animations and few assets (horses, fire, shockwaves, arrows, people, the ground) actually look like they belong in the same universe, let alone that they’re interacting with each other. The relative competence of the one-on-one fights—and the often creative, amusing ideas attempted in the larger battles, like alchemically-enhanced soldiers spurred to such bloodlust that they start gnawing on a galloping horse’s leg—make it clear that Chow has something to offer when he’s not needing to patch over problems with distractingly subpar effects. Videogame movies could do much worse than Chow’s familiar brand of cheese—especially when the swirling fight choreography adds in some punchlines of its own. Soldiers deploy some 300-style shield formations, otherworldly blades fling people into the air like Sauron hacking away at wimpy humans and, in the film’s best moment, a miniboss henchman decapitates opponent after opponent, sending heads flying back to their home base like so many kicked field goals. Trying to do too much with too little in both its action and drama, Dynasty Warriors either blazes through developments to get to important anecdotes or slows time to a crawl as conversations unfurl like loading screens, which fills the narrative with non sequitur, qinggong-like leaps from topic to topic. Sure, we get flashes of grand romance, betrayal, corruption, friendship and loyalty, but any depth to these qualities is missing—maybe it’s coming later as downloadable content?—Jacob Oller


29. Like a Dragon

yakuza-like-a-dragon-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Takashi Miike

While the year before the release of director Takashi Miike’s Like a Dragon saw the Takeshi Miyasaka-helmed short film Like a Dragon: Prologue come out on DVD, this is the definitive live-action adaptation of the beloved Yakuza franchise. Set in Kamurocho, the franchise’s analogue for Tokyo’s red light district, Miike’s film loosely adapts the first game in the series—telling the interwoven stories of gangsters Kazuma Kiryu (Kazuki Kitamura) and Goro Majima (Goro Kishitani). The tone of the game is a solid match for Miike: Just like his Ace Attorney adaptation, the blend of over-the-top maximalism (flashy suits, big guitars and bigger fights), farce and drama click well with his strengths. Kitamura’s turn as Kiryu, long-suffering and dignified as he navigates the mundanity and absurdity of semi-cartoonish mob life, keeps his sections walking the delicate tightrope best. The rest? Well, the slapstick is a bit much, especially considering that Kishitani’s drunken swagger comes off more lazy than unhinged. His meandering rampage through a sweaty Tokyo heatwave is just as hard to follow as the rest of the film’s petty crime threads. The script’s attempt to capture the vibe of the game’s open world, where the main plot is punctuated by the player stumbling into silly side quests, is often too distracting for a traditional film narrative. Sadly, the early chaotic fights and neon lights are staged with such frantic fidelity that the film’s quickly flagging energy is an especially disappointing blow. Whether you’re looking for the sprawling yakuza soap opera of the game’s plot or the charming silliness of its sidelines, Miike’s uneven entry is far too underwhelming for Kiryu to declare “That’s rad.”—Jacob Oller


28. Resident Evil: Afterlife

resident-evil-afterlife-poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

The fourth film in the Resident Evil franchise reins in the setting after the long, doomed road trip of Extinction, with much of the action taking place in a pretty banging opening “when clones attack” sequence at a Umbrella facility in Tokyo, ye ol’ “prison facility surrounded by hordes of undead” in Los Angeles and a tanker/research facility. Apart from the opening, the film is pretty much the standard affair of explosions and “next up to get dead,” though it does introduce a new monster, the Axeman (modeled after Resident Evil 5’s Executioner Majini). Also, if you’ve ever wondered where Wentworth Miller’s excellent work as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold in The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow was born, we present you the actor’s portrayal of game protagonist Chris Redfield. —Michael Burgin


27. Tekken

tekken-poster.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Dwight H. Little

As far as fighting game franchises go, Tekken’s goes off the rails relatively quickly in its set dressing for the “bring a bunch of strong folks to a world tournament” event that tends to be the center of these arcade-born series. So seeing as director Dwight H. Little’s adaptation barely scratches the surface of the lore while setting his over-edited tourney of martial artists (whose choreography isn’t terrible when the camera focuses on them and not reactions of random audience members) in a post-apocalyptic, hyper-capitalist cyberpunk future…well, it feels—like many videogame movies—like a watered-down action movie that’s been reskinned. Here, it’s like three or four action movies that’ve had their tropes crushed together, with the only things signifying the arena combat and dystopian armies as belonging to the game series in question being people saying “Tekken” a lot and the halfway decent hair and makeup design that actually feels polygonal in an enjoyably silly way. Unfortunately, without many differentiating factors between itself and other fighting game adaptations (aside from a father-son dynamic that’s like Darth Vader met a bad kung fu dub), Tekken gets knocked out early in its subgenre’s bracket.—Jacob Oller


26. Dead Rising: Watchtower

dead-rising-watchtower-poster.jpg Year: 2015
Director: Zach Lipovsky

While Dead Rising: Watchtower is far too long and shot like a miniseries—with extended interludes and fade outs serving as chapter/ad breaks for the straight-to-Crackle film—director Zach Lipovsky actually shows signs of life in this undead romp. A single relatively ambitious action sequence, bits of visual humor and a marked understanding of the source material’s tone keeps things better than your average by-the-numbers, trapped-behind-the-wall zombie fare. Sure, the plot and main characters are pretty awful, but a recurring bit where the game’s protagonist Frank West (endearingly played by Rob Riggle) deadpans silliness on a TV news show is a bright spot in an otherwise dreary script stuffed with facile critiques of the military and journalism. If all you need is a zombie survivor duct taping something to something else in order to create an improbable weapon, Watchtower has you covered. Those looking for a more traditionally watchable movie (despite a few flickers of talent shown by Lipovsky), should keep searching these post-apocalyptic lands for a better option.—Jacob Oller


25. Super Mario Bros.

super-mario-bros-movie-poster.jpg Year: 1993
Director: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel

The ill-fated adaptation of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros remains perhaps the gold standard in “pitch the game out and just make a movie” videogame adaptations, effectively abandoning what little source material existed about Mario and Luigi to create something else entirely…and that “something else” was deliriously strange. Granted, beyond the words “Italian plumber,” it’s not as if Mario truly had much in the way of recognizable characterization, which the screenwriters here seemed to recognize as a totally blank slate to craft a bizarre tale about “Mario Mario” and “Luigi Mario” being sucked through an interdimensional portal to battle a scenery-chewing Dennis Hopper in “Dinohatten.” At times, the production design is genuinely inspired, rendering Dinohatten as an obnoxiously chaotic, steam-filled, spark-throwing dystopia of metal catwalks and leather-clad BDSM bikers, like something out of a fetishist fever dream. Thing is, not a single element of that design in any way evokes something one might recognize from playing any entry in the Mario series, at least not until decades later in something like Super Mario Odyssey. A modern Mario film would likely compensate with a blend of live-action and computer-generated characters, a la 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog, but here we’re left with cartoonish action that never comes even close to tangentially evoking the beloved property it’s supposedly based on. The result is fun, as an exercise in “I can’t believe someone made this,” but even with ironic detachment you can’t rationalize that it makes sense as a Super Mario Bros. adaptation. —Jim Vorel


24. Street Fighter

street-fighter-movie-poster.jpg Year: 1994
Director: Steven E. de Souza

Stray too far into “bad” territory, and you wind up with a just-plain-bad movie, as it goes for the majority of films adapted from videogames. (Thank you, Uwe Boll.) But the Street Fighter movie hits that ultimate B-movie sweet spot: It’s laughably under-rehearsed and under-choreographed, every single line of dialogue could charitably be described as “stilted,” the special effects are reminiscent of a high-school theatre club production and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s accent is gloriously, gloriously indecipherable. It’s obvious that the U.S. was still riding a post-Gulf War high when Street Fighter was made; Van Damme stars as Colonel Guile, commander of an “Allied Nations” task force sent to take down the evil drug lord General Bison, who is holding the world hostage for $20 billion through a never-fully-explained doomsday device. Just why the American-badass Guile has a thick Belgian accent is never fully explained, but that would have required consideration of such things as “plot” and “character.” So what, then, saves this mess of a campy action flick? One thing, and one thing only: A Herculean case of overacting from Oscar-winner Raul Julia. (It’s something of an insult-to-injury situation that this was Julia’s last role before he passed away from cancer.) Julia delivers some truly stellar one-liners as Bison. Is it a little bit weird that this was Julia’s swan song, when the man is the only Serious Actor in this movie? Yes, absolutely. But something tells me Julia would have wanted it this way. His performance single-handedly turned one of the worst movies of all time into a cult classic, by sheer dint of his overacting. Not only is he an Oscar-winner, but he’s a cult icon now too. For us, the Street Fighter movie is so bad, it’s amazing. But for Julia? It was just Tuesday.—Michael Saba


23. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

lara-croft-tomb-raider-poster.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Simon West

Relatively charming performances from Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig (not to mention a tasty villainous turn from Iain Glen) keep this overly complicated adventure—dealing with secret societies, planetary alignments, strange devices and monsters ranging from big spidery robots to killer statues—from completely drowning. Yet the struggles are ever-present, simply because there’s so much set-up and so little pay-off. Scene-setting, character introductions, lame quips and travel all mean that by the time Jolie’s still-potent portrayal of Croft gets to solve puzzles and dodge bosses, half of us are nodding off on the couch. It laid important groundwork for future adaptations of the franchise and, arguably, for female-fronted action films in general, but not because of director Simon West’s filmmaking. He just couldn’t juggle all the then-standard necessities of adapting (and explaining) a known IP while telling a compelling story—especially one based in action.—Jacob Oller


22. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

resident-evil-the-final-chapter-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla Jovovich’s vitality elevates Resident Evil: The Final Chapter above being just a retirement party for one of contemporary cinema’s most durable franchises. She’s so good at playing a somber badass that by now she could easily sleepwalk her way through these movies, but she’s managed to stay engaged with the material and with her role despite going through the same routine for a decade and a half. Kill monsters, gain superhuman powers, lose superhuman powers, die, regenerate, start again. Alice is so much a part of her DNA that the line between the actress and the character has irrevocably blurred. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter isn’t just Alice’s story. It’s their story—it begins with Paul W.S. Anderson and Jovovich, it ends with Anderson and Jovovich, and there’s enough wiggle room in the final shot that if they ever feel like it, it can keep going with them, too. Anderson isn’t a very disciplined filmmaker, but he does have a better sense of how film and videogames intersect as mediums than most, and that works in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’s favor. There’s a casual attitude to the way Anderson approaches writing, as though he considers dialogue and plot obstacles to the real meat of Resident Evil as an action-horror hybrid: watching Jovovich go toe-to-toe with hulking abominations or take out squads of assassins in fight scenes lifted right out of The Book of Eli. You could build a drinking game around the number of times someone says, “Damn you” or “Get out of there” or “Behind you,” though make sure to have emergency services on speed dial if you do.—Andy Crump


21. Resident Evil: Extinction

resident-evil-extinction-poster.jpg Year: 2007
Director: Russell Mulcahy

This third film in the franchise is in some ways a sun-drenched antidote to the claustrophobic Resident Evil and dark, rain-soaked Apocalypse that preceded it. As a result, especially when compared to Apocalypse, the film feels a bit lighter on its feet and more coherent. Besides introducing the popular game character of Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), Extinction expands the stakes (and Alice’s power set) while otherwise ticking off one zombie trope after another as the plot advances. This isn’t a criticism—this is a horror franchise, after all—and if anything, the shift to more of a Mad Max (Road Warrior) meets, well, more Mad Max (Beyond Thunderdome) helps this installment stand out even as the plucky band of survivors are, predictably, plucked by the constant flood of T-virus-afflicted monstrosities. —Michael Burgin


20. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life

lara-croft-tomb-raider-the-cradle-of-life-poster.jpg Year: 2003
Director: Jan de Bont

With the difficult (and often detrimental to quality) introductory work already done for him thanks to the original 2001 film, director Jan de Bont’s sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life, started off at an advantage. With better action, less scene-setting and a plot more mired in Raiders of the Lost Ark-style mythic silliness than family drama, Cradle of Life is quite a bit more watchable than the film preceding it even if its strengths and weaknesses don’t change much between movies. Gerard Butler joins Angelina Jolie in the charming adventurer department, with Ciarán Hinds providing a suitably big yet controlled baddie. Humor, some decent stunts, and great monster attack give de Bont’s follow-up bright spots as it skirts the difference between National Treasure’s modern treasure-hunting and Mission: Impossible’s more high-tech antics. It’s still overlong and drags in parts—and that plot, even if it’s stealing from better movies, is still rough—but it’s hard not to smile seeing Lara blistering down the Great Wall of China on a motorcycle.—Jacob Oller


19. Yo-kai Watch: Soratobu Kujira to Double no Sekai no Daiboken da Nyan!

yo-kai-watch-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Shinji Ushiro, Takeshi Yokoi

The third film in its series and by far the longest title on this list, Yo-kai Watch: Soratobu Kujira to Double no Sekai no Daiboken da Nyan! follows two fully animated film adaptations of the Pokémon-like games with a hybrid live-action/animated movie. The fascinating formal twist of this hyperactive kids’ movie is that it’s very, very aware of the potential and limitation of its pair of media types. In fact, the film’s entire plot focuses on a girl who wants so badly to escape into a world of endless possibility, where realism needn’t apply, that she’s actually warping reality back and forth between animation and live-action. The cutesy script lands a couple solid and strange gags regarding the transition (Ryoka Minamide’s Kaito, when first warped to the land of flesh and bone, is obsessed with the details of the real world—especially the pores in his skin) on top of some traditional monster-fighting plotting that culminates in a silly but fun final battle. In between, though, it’s stuffed with repetitive filler—some being excusable fan service and some just killing time—and unfortunate looking Yo-kai. Their smooth, plasticky aesthetic wouldn’t be that off-putting if it wasn’t so directly juxtaposed with the crisp anime, but they are and it makes them look cheap and mascot-like. Good animation’s hard to beat! Yo-kai Watch: Soratobu Kujira to Double no Sekai no Daiboken da Nyan! might not be as impressive as its title, but it’s a harmless sugar rush that’s self-aware enough to poke fun at its own premise.—Jacob Oller


18. Resident Evil: Retribution

resident-evil-retribution-poster.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

As a franchise based on a videogame series that is itself pretty recursive, the Resident Evil series is laden with callbacks, flashbacks, throwbacks and comebacks. Add in all the clones—so, so many clones—and any tour through the movies means lots of familiar faces and tons of familiar places. Resident Evil: Retribution, the penultimate entry in the Jovo-verse, relies on its recursiveness more heavily than most in both setting and cast, which is a plus for anyone who enjoyed the characters of Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and even One (Colin Salmon). It also injects some “new” game characters in the form of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb). Retribution also seems to possess more clarity of plot and pacing than some of its fellow entries. This has less to do with any newfound sophistication of storytelling and more with character dialogue being full of variations of “Now we need to do this” or “Oh no, the Red Queen is doing this or that!” (followed often by an image of the homicidal AI giving an order that, indeed, does this or that). For bonus cinematic style points, Anderson throws in some Mortal Kombat-flavored “X-ray shots” of bones cracking and organs failing, which, though of dubious dramatic importance, did make me wonder if a shared universe was pending. —Michael Burgin


17. Double Dragon

double-dragon-movie-poster.jpg Year: 1994
Director: James Yukich

Compared with the Super Mario Bros. adaptation a year earlier, Double Dragon can be credited for at least being in the wheelhouse of/looking more or less similar to the game that inspired it, which was almost as light on plot as a Mario title. There’s nothing to the original Double Dragon game beyond “Billy and Jimmy Lee fight gangsters to get their lady back,” although we personally prefer the half-assed nature of Double Dragon 3, which famously managed to label the brothers as “Bimmy and Jimmy” in its intro. The fact is, a beat ‘em up game structure just lends itself to a movie far more naturally than a fanciful platformer like Mario—all you need for this movie is a villain, some protagonists and a bunch of goons to eat spin kicks to the face. Throw in some gibberish about a magical medallion and magic powers, and it practically writes itself. Rewatching it today, Double Dragon falls squarely into “charmingly bad” territory, replete with silly costumes and solid stuntwork, thanks in part to the presence of future John Wick/Iron Chef star Mark Dacascos as one of the two brothers, and the film’s only concession to its non-white origins. Although really, the movie belongs to Robert Patrick’s patently absurd crime lord Koga Shuko, rocking a frosted hairstyle that makes most of the fashions from The Warriors seem positively demure in comparison. —Jim Vorel


16. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

resident-evil-welcome-to-raccoon-city-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Johannes Roberts

Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City approaches Capcom’s Umbrella chronicles precisely as I’ve been begging someone to attempt through adaptation. There’s an inherently cinematic dread to Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 that I’ve long yearned to see duplicated beat-for-beat on screen. Shinji Mikami and Hideki Kamiya emphasize impractical camera angles, which hide moaning threats, and the intimate fear flowing through characters, which infects players as they grip their controllers tighter. Why not trust these time-tested blueprints that already exist as videogames? That question no longer requires asking since Johannes Roberts has written and directed as faithful a Resident Evil movie fans can ask for, with some original flourishes. Roberts blends the central narratives of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 in this joint effort, starring all your recognizable favorites. Roberts’ dedication to replication is respectful and meticulous, understanding the brilliance that Capcom once achieved in survival horror development. Frames are painstakingly dittoed in succession, whether that’s a trucker grabbing his greasy cheeseburger off the dash or the infamous zoom on Resident Evil’s first munching zombie face. They’re nostalgic callbacks but also seamlessly translate to theaters. Anything from ornate keys to staple characters to cartoony orphanage greeters ground franchise obsessives in a Raccoon City that meets Resident Evil: Apocalypse at its scariest—except Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City stays within its horror focus throughout the reboot. Survival horror remains the name of Roberts’ amusement: At last, the terrifying Resident Evil movie you’ve been waiting for. Fortune favors the familiar, but Roberts also takes small swings to promote a hybrid vision that becomes a mixed bag. Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City isn’t a grand slam, but it’s a chilling and thoughtful Resident Evil adaptation that does the series proud.—Matt Donato


15. Tomb Raider

tomb-raider-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Roar Uthaug

Alicia Vikander gets the hell beaten out of her in Tomb Raider. In this muscular, uneven, ultimately disappointing reboot of the videogame action franchise once guided by Angelina Jolie, the Oscar-winner gives a performance that’s believably, arrestingly physical—she runs, punches and jumps with aplomb. But what’s perhaps most remarkable is the vulnerability she brings to the role of globetrotting adventurer Lara Croft. No matter the gargantuan CGI obstacles thrown her way—no matter the stabbings, bruisings and concussions she endures—she reveals a steeliness tempered by the acknowledgement of the pain and terror she’s feeling at every moment. It’s Tomb Raider’s sole concession to the limits of physics and the human body, and it’s easily this impersonal film’s most likable element. Unfortunately, the one thing Croft and Vikander can’t defeat is the merciless machinery of the Hollywood blockbuster. With its allusions to Indiana Jones and its shameless copping of the frenetic razzle-dazzle of contemporary action filmmaking, Tomb Raider can be enjoyable junk. Director Roar Uthaug (the Norwegian drama The Wave) efficiently propels Vikander through the frame, whether she’s roaring through busy streets on a bike, about to plunge over the edge of a waterfall or desperately leaping across a perilous ravine. This reboot invests in its character arc—depicting Croft as a young woman who’s become a survivor despite longing to reconnect with her father—but not at the expense of skimping on the pyrotechnics audiences would expect from a film like this. Outside of Vikander’s performance, Tomb Raider tends to go on autopilot, either too scared or uninspired to reimagine this blah action-adventure material. Croft has to go through so much—it would be nice if she didn’t have to fight her own movie, too. —Tim Grierson


14. Higurashi no naku koro ni

when-they-cry-poster.jpg Year: 2008
Director: Ataru Oikawa

Writer/director Ataru Oikawa adapted the first story arc of murder-mystery game series Higurashi no naku koro ni, which mostly involved adapting the look, feel and plot since the games themselves are effectively visual novels with an emphasis on sound and the unreliability of its mysterious narratives. The result is Stephen King by way of the Persona games—a big city transfer student (Goki Maeda) encountering the strange, corrupt creepiness of a small town, colored by uniquely Japanese cultural elements—told in the style of a soapy Tale from the Crypt. It’s macabre with a low-fi charm, a campfire story’s oogity-boogity sense of morality and showmanship. While it sometimes has some of that explicitly creepy sound design that reminds us it’s actually based on a different kind of media, this adaptation is relatively familiar and more than a little goofy. But even with the maniacal vamping of its evil schoolgirls, Higurashi no naku koro ni manages to have a little fun and find some endearingly spooky moments along the way.—Jacob Oller


13. Resident Evil

resident-evil-poster.jpg Year: 2002
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

In Resident Evil, director Paul W.S. Anderson borrows from classic horror movie tropes made popular by films such as George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Ridley Scott’s Alien to depict a group of protagonists within an enclosed space fighting off monsters. Anderson makes heavy use of the kind of cheap jump scare tactics—loud banging noises; jarring music—that have become too predictable to startle any sci-fi horror fan. The protagonists are largely incompetent, following the “no man left behind” mentality and stubbornly protecting one character by the name of Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), who’s bitten by a zombie halfway through the movie anyway, leaving the confrontation between the crew and Zombie Rain a lot less shocking. Yet, there is one scene (which would later find its way into Resident Evil 4) that actually makes this movie worth watching—one that amps up the gore and manages to be ingenious enough to overcome the lackluster action that surrounds it. Main badass Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her cronies find themselves facing off against a rather unfair game of laser dodging. In an ode to the classic security system scenes in heist films such as Mission: Impossible or Entrapment, our protagonists dare to challenge the technological prowess of the underground facility’s artificial intelligence system, appropriately dubbed the Red Queen. After venturing into a room that spells trouble, the door locks behind four members of the group, leaving them trapped in a narrow corridor. The claustrophobic setting of the underground facility is amplified by an immediate threat of death and a sickening method for killing the victims. In the film’s earlier action setpieces, everyone is going through the motions of a typical zombie-action film, but with the Laser Corridor, our disposable heroes face an unexpected challenge. The room seems to be almost toying with the soldiers: Lasers move without reason, shifting about to pick off victims one by one. In the last act of carnage, the lasers form a gridlock pattern, inescapable for the last person who has, until this point, managed to outsmart the room. Funnily enough, the sequence feels like a self-aware re-incarnation of the opening scene from Cube (1997), a similarly constructed sci-fi horror film about an unfortunate group of people narrowly escaping traps like mice in a pseudo-sexual science experiment. But whereas the scene in Cube puts its one victim at ease rather quickly, the laser room scene gets its jollies out of teasing before pleasing. Hey, who ever said viewers can’t have fun watching people get diced into hamburger meat?—Turner Minton


12. Silent Hill

silent-hill-poster.jpg Year: 2006
Director: Christophe Gans

Despite the success of the games, Silent Hill still stumbled a bit in its big-screen debut. It’s visually impressive, but its story wandered around as much as its main character. Although the plot vaguely follows along with the game, it never fully packs the seriously creepy punch that makes the Silent Hill franchise so good. Still, it’s a movie that strangely gets better with repeated viewings—if you can make it past the first round.—Megan Farokhmanesh


11. Werewolves Within

werewolves-within-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Josh Ruben

With the release of his feature film debut Scare Me last year, director Josh Ruben put himself on the horror-comedy map with his tale about horror writers telling scary stories. With Werewolves Within, Ruben further proves his skills as a director who knows how to walk that delicate line between horror and comedy, deftly moving between genres to create something that isn’t just scary, but genuinely hilarious. The cherry on top? This is a videogame adaptation. Werewolves Within is based on the Ubisoft game of the same name where players try to determine who is the werewolf; Mafia but with shapeshifting lycanthropes. Unlike the game, which takes place in a medieval town, Ruben’s film instead takes place in the present day in the small town of Beaverfield. Forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) moves to Beaverfield on assignment after a gas pipeline has been proposed to run through the town. But as the snow starts to fall and the sun sets behind the trees, something big and hairy begins hunting the townsfolk. Trapped in the local bed and breakfast, it’s up to Finn and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) to try to find out who is picking people off one by one. But as red herrings fly across the screen like a dolphin show at the local aquarium, it feels almost impossible. Just when you think you’ve guessed the killer, something completely uproots your theories. Writer Mishna Wolff takes the core idea (a hidden werewolf in a small town where everyone knows each other), and places it in an even more outlandish and contemporary context to pack an even funnier punch. While the jokes never stop flowing in Werewolves Within, Ruben and Wolff never lose sight of the film’s horrific aspects through plenty of gore, tense scares and one hell of a climax. This film full of over-the-top characters, ridiculous hijinks and more red herrings than you can keep track of is a great entry in the woefully small werewolf subgenre.—Mary Beth McAndrews


10. Mortal Kombat

mortal-kombat-2021-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Simon McQuoid

The 1995 Mortal Kombat film is still one of the better live-action videogame movies and one of the most faithful cinematic adaptations of a game, yet it still couldn’t quite represent the bloody depths of MK’s depravity under the restrictions of a PG-13 rating. (And the less said about Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the better.) A quarter of a century later, director Simon McQuoid’s feature debut gives the supernatural fighting franchise a facelift and that coveted R-rating, with blood geysers that’d leave Quentin Tarantino and Sam Peckinpah envious. It’s not just added in for some adolescent awesomeness factor, though it punctuates already delightful choreography with bright-red visual exclamation points. It’s a grounding element that keeps the fights from feeling plastic, fake or ethereal. People lose arms, get cut, take damage. They feel necessarily mortal, in part because we’re constantly reminded of their bloody biology. While the gore level might feel like a small component of a film, it’s indicative of this Mortal Kombat’s understanding and ability to be over-the-top without being out of control. But fights are only as good as their kombatants, and Mortal Kombat’s selection screen is star-studded and pitch perfect. In addition to Tan, the cast is of predominantly Asian heritage, a welcome development that allows veterans like Hiroyuki Sanada and Chin Han to steal scenes (the imposing haughtiness of Han’s soul-sucking Shang Tsung pairs perfectly with the quiet show of deadly magic from Joe Taslim’s supervillainous Sub-Zero) and rising stars like Ludi Lin and Max Huang to make the case that they’ve always belonged in the spotlight. Lin’s fire-blasting Liu Kang is particularly charismatic, able to balance deadpan and mystical seriousness on top of the physical requirements of the role…and it doesn’t hurt that he’s absolutely diesel. Mortal Kombat is blockbuster filmmaking that manages to be a satisfying action film, thanks to tactile and intimate one-on-one fights—and a “kid with a blank check” carnival ride for those who love the franchise. It might not fix videogame movies overnight, but Mortal Kombat might finally deliver their sweepingly bad reputation a devastating fatality. And yes, it has a “Get over here!” moment so good it’ll give anyone who’s spent time with the arcade fighter goosebumps.


9. Sonic the Hedgehog

sonic-the-hedgehog-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Jeff Fowler

The simplicity of Sonic the Hedgehog, a generic family-friendly action/adventure based on Sega’s flagship videogame character, is both its saving grace and its downfall. It doesn’t overcomplicate the run-and-jump platformer source material by cramming in a ton of schlocky blockbuster lore (see 1993’s Super Mario Bros), but the script by Patrick Casey and Josh Miller is so by-the-numbers that it comes across as a Mad Libs genre template with the infamous blue hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) inserted as the kooky alien archetype. You know the drill: The alien, or creature from an alternate dimension, somehow ends up on Earth while escaping from bad guys in their home turf. The creature forces an alliance with a group of human characters who are reluctant to help it at first, but eventually build a strong bond with it. Which of course leads to an overblown special effects climax with the alien and human characters facing the bad guys together, teaching the kids a lesson on the importance of teamwork or something. Yet the movie’s real joy, if there is any, lies with Carrey fully embracing his ’90s rubberface days. Director Jeff Fowler makes the right decision by letting Carrey’s signature madness loose on such a vanilla scoop of family entertainment. Carrey chews the scenery until there isn’t a crumb left. Only he could get away with coming across as the true cartoon character in a film that has an actual cartoon character as its hero. May the comedy gods bless him for that.—Oktay Ege Kozak


8. Fatal Frame: The Movie

fatal-frame-the-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Mari Asato

While horror game franchises like Silent Hill and Resident Evil were able to spin an easily accessible genre into relatively successful Hollywood films, their contemporary, Fatal Frame, never quite crossed over. That’s surprising, because J-horror remakes made a huge splash in the early ‘00s (2002’s The Ring, 2004’s The Grudge). So 2014’s Fatal Frame: The Movie, from writer/director Mari Asato (who also helmed Grudge source franchise entry Ju-on: Black Ghost), was already a bit of an oddity. The script’s themes, which pull from the games and Eiji Otsuka’s novelization, concern not just the curses and supernaturalism surrounding its central Catholic girls’ school, but doomed queer longing and literary allusions to Ophelia. Asato’s use of negative space and assured direction, which has a deliberate pace that pairs well with the soft voiceover fleshing out its characters’ interiors, grounds the film without ignoring some hallmarks from the game. POV sections made to look through a grainy antique viewfinder are the film’s biggest formal nod, but some weird disjointed sound design, crossfades and low-key scares help the film channel spooky, atmospheric coming-of-age films like Picnic at Hanging Rock in its best moments. It can get a bit repetitive and slow—and has some ideas that just don’t work (a mentally handicapped gardener)—but Fatal Frame is one of the better pure horror game adaptations.—Jacob Oller


7. Monster Hunter

monster-hunter-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

From Mortal Kombat to the Resident Evil franchise, writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson has consistently proven himself to be the king of videogame adaptations. He is able to take beloved properties and mold them into entertaining narratives that encapsulate their ethos and are accessible to both franchise fans and novices alike. This is no different with Anderson’s latest film, Monster Hunter, adapted from the popular Capcom franchise. He continues to create larger-than-life narratives that are just plain old fun. Monster Hunter is a film for any audience member ready to watch a violent showdown between man and beast—there is no need to be familiar with the games to enjoy it. Instead of placing the film entirely in the realm of monsters, Anderson chooses to show the transition from our world to another in order to situate newcomers and have it feel like they are experiencing the same discoveries at Artemis (the audience surrogate literally thrown into this new world). Devout fans of the franchise will love the fan service, such as the absolutely ripped Meowscular cat chef called a Palico, and recognize all of the monsters from various missions. Rather than just creating something that follows the games’ rather lighthearted tone, Anderson leans heavily into body horror elements that make these monsters all the more terrifying. As the audience is not actively playing the game and experiencing the adrenaline rush from dodging monsters, Anderson compensates with dangerous, bursting egg sacks and nasty webs full of dead bodies.—Mary Beth McAndrews.


6. Ace Attorney

ace-attorney-poster.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Takashi Miike

The Ace Attorney franchise has a special place in my heart as a mix between over-the-top cartoonish humor and mysteries that draw unexpectedly thorough connections between cases in the life of defense lawyer Phoenix Wright. With a relatively traditional and realistic dramatic setting (ok, there are mediums that can channel ghosts and trials only last three days), it seems like a lock for a cinematic adaptation success. And director Takashi Miike’s Ace Attorney mostly delivers. Everything in the aesthetic—from the outrageous hairstyles (rivaling that of any live-action DragonBall Z adaptation) and excellent score to the menu system (realized with a hilariously high-tech courtroom machine) and splitscreen—is present in Miike’s maximalist adaptation. That said, condensing the interconnected and heightened criminal cases into the film’s 134 minutes would be a tough ask even with the ample slicing and dicing done to the investigation sections, and the extremely faithful narrative suffers a bit dramatically from not having the game’s moments of distraction and exploration that helped push clues and details to the corners of your mind while world-building and tone took precedent. In fact, it’s so long and naturally segmented that it feels less equipped for a movie than for an oddball series. Let’s get one of those going on a streamer, shall we? But despite its length issues, it’s just such silly fun—and most scenes, like a winning flashback that turns an elementary school classroom into a courtroom, work even better in live-action than in the visual novel-esque games. Wright (Hiroki Narimiya) and rival attorney Miles Edgeworth (Takumi Saito) both handle their characters ably and Miike is in full playful visual comedy mode, so even if it’s a bit overlong and overwrought, it’s an adaptation that won’t leave you shouting “Objection!”—Jacob Oller


5. Pokémon Detective Pikachu

pokemon-detective-pikachu-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Rob Letterman

Starring Ryan Reynolds as a PG version of Deadpool and wide-eyed baby angel Justice Smith, Pokémon Detective Pikachu tosses together the Pokémon fanbase with lightly grizzled noir cinema, a coming-of-age story and a dash of family drama. While that may seem like a meal with too many ingredients, the end result is rather filling. Tim Goodman (Smith) exists at that stage of early adulthood when friends slip away to different corners of the globe, and one’s direction in life must be decided. Tim contents himself with the life he’s built as a junior insurance adjustor. When he learns his policeman father has been killed in the line of duty, he travels to the literal urban jungle of Ryme City, where humans and Pokémon live side by side in adorable harmony. Of course, his father’s death isn’t cut and dry. Soon, with the help of his father’s Pokémon partner, Pikachu (Reynolds), Tim becomes an investigator in his own right, navigating the not-so-mean streets of Ryme City and learning to dream bigger than he ever dared before. This film is fantasy, and the results are magical. I would venture to say that Pokémon Detective Pikachu could be the best use of hyper-realism because it’s not trying to fool the audience. It completely skips the uncanny valley in favor of a wickedly fun, albeit unnatural look. While there are ample missteps—a villain the audience doesn’t really care about, a lack of epic fights that brought the original audience to both the games and shows, and a predictable plot—the film manages to be a hell of a lot of fun, capturing the spirit of its source material as effectively as a well-aimed Poké Ball.—Joelle Monique


4. Mirai Ninja

mirai-ninja-poster.jpg Year: 1988
Director: Keita Amemiya

While Super Mario Bros. was the big mainstream Hollywood adaptation that gave videogame movies their reputation, Mirai Ninja AKA Cyber Ninja actually kicked off the trend. The Japanese film, based on a moderately successful arcade game, hit theaters in 1988—half a decade before Bob Hoskins’ and John Leguizamo’s plumbing misadventures. And yet, with its princess-saving plotline, it actually has a few things in common, though they diverge completely when it comes to quality. Probably because the former takes its Italian plumbers into a surreal nightmare and the latter has a goddamn CYBER NINJA. This tokusatsu from writer/director Keita Amemiya (who, aside from being a prolific filmmaker, went on to also be a character designer in many games later in his career) is completely fun in both design and action, which all takes place in a setting that thankfully never screws around anywhere close to the real world. The cyberpunk-meets-Sengoku aesthetic is consistent both internally and with the game itself, giving the scrappy humans’ wood-and-metal guns and mechanically enhanced katanas an endearing handcraftedness when compared to the intimidatingly black, insect-like robots or the Power Rangers-esque baddies that make up its Quirky Miniboss Squad. Speaking of, Mirai Ninja understands the narrative link between side-scrolling gameplay and action films like 1978’s Game of Death, where Bruce Lee ascends different levels of a pagoda guarded by unique minibosses. In this way and others (the entire end sequence comes straight from the arcade cabinet’s end credits), the film understands its source like many, many later game adaptations wouldn’t. While the action is just as amusingly cheesy as its buckwild storyline, Mirai Ninja is full of wonderful little elements that make it an absolute blast from start to finish: Those great ‘80s electricity bolt VFX, lots of exploding robot heads and downright cool miniature work. At just 70 minutes, the first live-action videogame movie is one of the shortest and sweetest.—Jacob Oller


3. Neko Atsume House

neko-atsume-house-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Masatoshi Kurakata

Yes, that cutesy mobile cat game got its own live-action movie. And honestly, Neko Atsume House resonates with me. Not just because it’s about a worn-out writer who escapes his lonely life and blows off deadlines to hang out with a bunch of cuddly cats. Not just because said writer is fed up with pop cultural expectations that media be saturated with zombies, ghosts and “sexy ladies.” But all of that, combined with a charming look at ego, ambition and enjoying the simple things in life—shot with quirky energy by director Masatoshi Kurakata and led by a charmingly eremitic Atsushi Ito. Filling out the cast (where it’s not already filled with fuzzy little friends) Shiori Kutsuna and Tae Kimura both stand out in nicely written supporting roles. It’s hard to go wrong with lots of adorable cat footage, and Neko Atsume House showcases its cleverness both in aesthetic (soft pastels and lit bright as a cat-magnetizing sunbeam) and narrative. It really does capture the spirit of a game based around getting nice kitties to stick around, positioned sweetly into a light drama. Just be careful it doesn’t convince you to uproot and seek out your own rural pet oasis.—Jacob Oller


2. Mortal Kombat

mortal-kombat-1995-poster.jpg Year: 1995
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

It’s funny to think that any videogame or cinema geek ever spoke a negative word about Mortal Kombat when it first arrived in 1995. If only they’d known the horrors that videogame adaptations would visit on moviegoers in the years to come—many of them from MK’s own Paul W.S. Anderson—they likely would have been far kinder to this trailblazer, which frankly is as inspired an adaptation as the genre has ever seen. In the 25 years since, Mortal Kombat has become a bar that few subsequent adaptations have ever managed to clear, in terms of how faithfully it captures the characters, settings and tone of its videogame inspiration. The original roster of Mortal Kombat fighters are faithfully translated to the screen, leaving not a single character behind, with casting that is frequently pitch perfect—from the majestic mane of Robin Shou as Liu Kang to the instantly iconic line delivery of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung, it’s an impeccable ensemble. The action is tight, the screenplay allows plenty of space for various characters to have the one-on-one fights that are the hallmark of the series, and most importantly it simply feels like the Mortal Kombat franchise. Much of this comes down to excellent production design that has stood the test of time, with extremely impressive sets and an insanely detailed, full-body monster costume for Goro that is frankly incredible and difficult to top a quarter of a century later. Living up to the silly panache of Mortal Kombat is still a difficult feat for any videogame adaptation. —Jim Vorel


1. Detention

detention-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: John Hsu

The sole Taiwanese entry on this list, writer/director John Hsu’s Detention, adapts a game with deep ties and relevance to the country. Set during the ‘60s during the decades-long period of brutal martial law known as the White Terror, this horror is political to its core. The follow-up game, Devotion, was pulled for its Easter egged mockery of Xi Jinping. Unsurprisingly for stories with such bold political track records, the film version of Detention was not released in China on government order. And it lives up to this subversive reputation. If anything, Detention’s blend of haunted school ghost story and period-set political allegory feels like it’s following in the footsteps of Guillermo del Toro’s work exploring the Spanish Civil War. Alternating a historical, sepia look and the washed-out surrealism of a nightmare—all set to a moving and melancholy score punctuated with creeping sound effects—Detention is one of the best looking and sounding videogame adaptations. It’s also the straight-up scariest. Hsu almost seems like he’s showing off at points, giving us side-scrolling shots that mimic the game and making them work through his impeccable framing and pace. The faithful storytelling, full of contradictions and self-denials, helps the mood of paranoid terror stick, where you can’t even trust yourself, let alone your classmates or countrymen. The spiraling consequences of a selfish act march ever onward like so many pairs of thudding jackboots. Detention’s monsters make you jump, but its humans and their all too human cruelties—torture, arrest, execution—make up the film’s most striking and lingering images. This isn’t just a great videogame movie, but a great movie in general.—Jacob Oller