Top movie adaptations of popular video games

Movie adaptations of video games

In the 1990s video games became a staple of every person’s childhood and today they are more popular than ever amongst people from all generations. It was only a matter of time before video games would be immortalized in movies. Some adaptations have been better received than others and some have not always lived up to fans’ expectations. Here are some of the most well-known or successful movie adaptations of popular video games:

Super Mario Bros. (1993)


When dinosaurs were obliterated by a meteorite they were revived in an alternate dimension called Dinohattan. Dinohattan is ruled by a germophobic, obsessive-compulsive dictator called King Koopa (modelled after the video game character Bowser). Meanwhile, Mario and Luigi are two plumbers working in Brooklyn, New York. Luigi falls in love with a girl named Daisy who is later kidnapped by Iggy and Spike, two of King Koopa’s henchmen. Mario and Luigi then set off to this alternate dimension where human-dinosaur hybrids rule the world to save Luigi’s beloved “princess”, Daisy.

This is the first movie ever to be based on a video game. The story is very loosely modelled on Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. and its franchise, and at the time of its release it was slammed by critics. However, now it is considered to be a cult classic due to its dark atmosphere and unusual storyline.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, then-president of Nintendo, sold the creative control of the project but made the filmmakers promise that they won’t turn it into a sweet or lovey-dovey story. It is said that Yamauchi was not happy with the end result and didn’t hand over licenses again up until Donkey Kong’s appearance in the 2015 flop Pixels.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)


Once every 5,000 years a planetary alignment occurs. The Illuminati, an ancient secret society, is searching for a key that will enable them to control time if it is used during this alignment. That key happened to be hidden in Lara Croft’s mansion and later stolen by the Illuminati. It is up to Croft to recover the key and stop the sinister society from fulfilling their plan of world domination.

Despite this film getting negative reviews upon its release, it ended up being the highest-grossing video game adaptation of its time (it was only surpassed in 2010 by the movie Prince of Persia).The sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, was released in 2012.

Lara Croft was played by Angelina Jolie who received weapons training from an SAS instructor and did the bungee-ballet (featured in one of the opening scenes of the movie) on her own without a stunt double. A fun fact is that when Lara first finds a pack of wolves in the film she says “A-ha” which is a nod to the phrase the character utters in the video game each time she finds a new item.

Resident Evil (2002)


A virus has escaped within a secret facility called The Hive. It has turned the staff into zombies and released the mutated animals that illegal experiments were carried out on. The facility’s computer has closed off the base. A military unit is sent by the parent company, Umbrella Corporation, to go in and shut down the computer. They then need to fight their way back out through zombies and mutants before the virus spreads to the outside of the facility.

Resident Evil is a survival horror game originally released in 1996. Since its first inception there have been more than 20 official Resident Evil games released alongside some remakes and there is more on the way in the future.

There have been five Resident Evil movies to date, all of whom have starred Milla Jovovich as the main character Alice. The first movie was released in 2002. Interestingly, all of the cuts on Jovovich were real and no special effects make-up was used. This may be due to the fact that Jovovich did all of her own stunts and actually hurt many of the stunt people whilst filming due to her above-average fighting proficiency.

Silent Hill (2006)


Rose da Silva’s adopted daughter Sharon starts sleepwalking and cries out the name “Silent Hill” while doing so. To find out the origins of Sharon’s nightmares, Rose takes her to Silent Hill. On the way there Rose and Sharon are involved in a car accident after a mysterious child suddenly appears in the road before them. Rose is knocked out and awakens to find Sharon missing. She sets out to find Sharon in the now-foggy Silent Hill and encounters freakish monsters while on her quest.

This film adaptation of the Silent Hill video games includes elements from the first, second, third and fourth releases. For around five years the director Christophe Gans struggled to get the rights from Konami (the video game publisher of the Silent Hill series). They were finally granted to him after he sent a video interview to Konami explaining his reason for wanting to do the film and how meaningful video games are to him. A second Silent Hill film titled Silent Hill: Revelation 3D was released in 2012 by director and writer Michael J. Bassett, but it was universally slated by fans and critics.

Many of the creatures featured in the first film were played by real-life dancers as they needed flexibility to carry out some of the unusual movements. One of the more memorable creatures are the Dark Nurses. When they first come alive the actors were filmed backwards and then the film run in reverse to recreate the strange and eerie stumbling movements.

Street Fighter (1994)


Colonel Guile and his team of martial arts heroes come up against the dictator M. Bison and his villainous cronies after a civil war breaks out between the Rebels and the Allied Nations in the fictional Southeast Asian city of Shadaloo.

One of the more corny movies on this list, Street Fighter stars martial artist movie legend Jean-Claude van Damme as Colonel Guile. The movie is based on the Street Fighter II: The World Warrior video game released by Capcom back in 1991. The film altered the original motivations of the characters and gave it a more comical feeling.

Even though the movie wasn’t well-received by critics it still made three times what it cost to produce. All of the characters you see in the Street Fighter II game like Bison, Chun-Li, Zangief, Vega, and Balrog, you will find in the film. The film gave all of the characters both names and surnames, something that is not really done in the original video games.

Upcoming video game movie adaptations

*  Ratchet and Clank (26 April 2016)
*  The Angry Birds Movie (20 May 2016)
*  Warcraft (10 June 2016)
*  Uncharted (30 June 2017)