7 Video Game Movies You Should Watch

by Modis on April 28, 2017

video game moviesSerious video game enthusiasts know that movie tie-ins with beloved fan-favorite franchises can be dicey stuff, yet movies based-on games still tend to produce blockbuster hits that resonate with a large audience. While there are plenty of truly awful game-related movies out there, not all are cringe-worthy. Are you brave enough to dive into the odd, fascinating world of video game movies? Here’s a mix of retro classics and other more recent gaming film offerings worth checking out, for better or worse.

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Buckle up for a heavy dose of early 90s cheese. Super Mario Bros. the movie took a lot of strange creative licenses with the iconic Nintendo game it’s based-on, but it’s worth a wince-inducing watch just to soak in the primordial stew of weirdness and 90s nostalgia. A trans-dimensional jaunt kicks off this unexpectedly sci-fi spin on the classic game, which features some killer practical effects and a great deal more explosions and violence than you might expect from a family-friendly film based-on a bunch of colorful moving pixels.

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Instead of centering around a particular game franchise, Hardcore Henry sets out to capture the magic of an entire genre: the first-person action shooter. As a cyborg recently brought back from the dead, the movie’s protagonist is reluctantly thrust into a bloody mission to rescue his wife and thwart an army. The “save the world, rescue the girl” plot may not blow you away, but the fact the entire film is shot in first-person—though the hero’s own eyes—definitely will. This uniquely filmed homage to a fan-favorite gaming genre spins into an insane over-the-top action fest full of novelty.

The Wizard (1989)

Jumping back to gaming’s retro roots once again, The Wizard is a charmingly goofy 80s tale of young runaway brothers taking a cross-country road trip to enter a massive video game tournament. If the thought of watching corny 80s family movies doesn’t freak you out, then you might want to give this one a spin for Nintendo nostalgia’s sake, because the tournament in the film was notorious for unveiled gameplay for the then-upcoming Super Mario Bros. 3 game. It’s a campy cult classic.

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Mortal Kombat made waves in the 90s as one of the first gory games to spark a major controversy over video game violence with its brutal “fatalities.” The film is perhaps a little less grisly, but it does a good job for shining light on the backstory of this fighting game franchises original cast of combatants. Much like the game, Mortal Kombat the movie also features epic battles between core characters, tied together with snippets of interesting encounters and an overarching doomsday plot.

Resident Evil (2002)

An intense zombie horror game series known for its convoluted plot and frantic survival moments, Resident Evil proved that video games could indeed be properly scary. The 2002 film adaptation follows suit, to an extent, following a crack team’s attempt to stop the Umbrella Corp virus from being unleashed on the world. This is the #1 film to watch, if you want to see Milla Jovovich ninja-kick a zombie dog in the face. Just saying.

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Ever wonder how a mega hit physics-driven mobile game about catapulting grumpy flightless fowl at gluttonous oinkers would fare as an animated feature film? The Angry Birds Movie reveals all, including the backstory setup for said bird-flinging fun. Adorable, funny, and occasionally a little gross, this blockbuster hit mirrors the success of the franchise it draws from, ultimately answering the big question: why are these bird so angry in the first place?

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2006)

Essentially a massive movie length cutscene, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a groundbreaking achievement in its time. This fully CG movie pushed the envelope of visuals, aiming to deliver a unique Final Fantasy-themed sci-fi adventure with life-like characters and mature plot themes. It succeeded on many levels, and still stands up as a good example of “game movies” done right. Computer graphics have come a long way since then, obviously, but The Spirits Within sports great storytelling and sci-fi fantasy action that doesn’t feel too cliché or “gamey.”

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