Video Game Movies That Deserve A Second Life

Who loves video games – hands up? Yep, that’s all of you.

But making a film from a hit game is a tricky business and, for the most part, hasn’t been a sub-genre that has enjoyed huge success over the years.

Can Sonic The Hedgehog, which is released this week, change this? It for sure may well do, but for now, here are some video game movies which received a bad rap, but deserve a second chance.

Tomb Raider (2018)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Sorry Angelina Jolie fans, but we have hedged our bets on the reboot movie from 2018 which is easily one of the better-executed video game films, and is deserving of its place on our list.

Taking inspiration from the similarly-rebooted Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics game released in 2013, which took a much grittier, realistic route in reimagining Lara Croft’s history, critics and fans alike seemed to love this style.

Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) was cast as the new Croft, and Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthang (The Wave) was hired to direct, with the film charting Lara’s quest to discover the true fate of her father (Dominic West), who has been presumed dead.

While it didn’t break any new ground, Tomb Raider was a suitably bruising, energetic film with a great central turn from Vikander, grossing $275 million worldwide. A sequel is set to start filming this year with Vikander returning, and Ben Wheatley (Free Fire) directing.

Ratchet And Clank (2016)

Cinema Management Group

We can pretty much guarantee that a lot of you didn’t know there even was a film adaptation of Ratchet And Clank, let alone seen it, but yes, there was a big-screen version, and yes, it was pretty great fun.

Really any film that has a tagline ‘kick some asteroid’ is worthy of a place on our list, but in a sad twist of fate, the film came and went very quickly in cinemas back in 2016 when The Jungle Book and Zootropolis were doing the rounds.

Don’t let that or the mixed reviews put you off though, as this is an absolute blast. Something of an origin story, this one sees the first team-up of the dynamic duo as they set off to take down an evil space captain.

Keep your ears peeled for the voices of Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone who are along for the ride.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Warner Bros. Pictures

We can all agree that last year’s Detective Pikachu film was a big surprise, both in terms of its quality and in its box office returns, but it was perhaps its unique and hilarious marketing campaign that was the real winner.

From brilliant adverts, brand team-ups and seeing Pikachu reenact a sketch from Key And Peele, the strategy paid off handsomely and gave the film life before it had even landed in cinemas.

Indeed, under the direction of Rob Letterman (who made the superb Goosebumps big-screen adventure), Detective Pikachu was a bright, colorful and whimsical adventure for both kids and adults alike, with all of the Pokemon elements you’d expect, and the brilliant voice work of one Ryan Reynolds.

Grossing over $430 million worldwide, a sequel cannot come soon enough. ‘Pika Pika’ indeed.

Rampage (2018)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Now, this is a video game of the highest order. If you have never had the pleasure of its brilliance, then you should really start questioning your life choices because it is an absolute blast.

However, turning it into a film was something that was never really going to work, unless you got Dwayne Johnson to be in it, of course.

Switching up the ‘player turns into a genetically-enhanced monster’ mode, it’s actually man who is trying to play God and created said monsters, two of which are terrorising Chicago with only Johnson and his albino gorilla friend George who can stop them. What more could you want from a film?

A box office hit, Rampage is a huge slice of fun.

Mortal Kombat (1995)

New Line Cinema

We were going to go for Super Mario Bros. but that is a whole other story for another time (hint: it really is a doozy), so we have plumped for another underrated adaptation in 1995’s Mortal Kombat, which marked the first big Hollywood film for director Paul W.S. Anderson, who would go on to make 2002’s Resident Evil and some of its sequels.

Using characters from the first two games, Lou Kang, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade (who was originally set to be played by Cameron Diaz), and Raiden were brought together to fight Shang Tsung in a fighting tournament to save the planet. As you do.

A mixed critical reception didn’t deter the film which made over $122 million from its small $18 million budget. A sequel followed in 1997 and a reboot is currently in production, due in cinemas January 2021.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Columbia Pictures

At the turn of the millennium, Hollywood had begun pushing the boundaries of both computer animation and photo-realistic CGI, and front and centre of the latter was Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

A huge undertaking from Columbia Pictures and director Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, its production was unlike anything that had come before, and its budget ballooned to a whopping $137 million due to the size of the project.

Bringing such images to life led to the production company, Square Pictures, going out of business.

However, its legacy is still being felt today and despite being a box office failure (only recouping $85 million worldwide), it still stands as a brilliant achievement, and a hugely underrated film.

Sonic The Hedgehog races into cinemas 14th February.

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Scott J. Davis

Scott J. Davis

Contributing Writer

Scott is a freelance film and TV writer mainly found at HeyUGuys, where he covers both red carpets and junkets for the site. Scott can also be found writing for Fandom, Cineworld, The People's Movies and more when he's not in a dark screening room...