Recently, it seems like video game movies just keep on getting better. Sure, there have always been titles like the RESIDENT EVIL movies and other franchises that performed well at the box office, but a lot of these movies sacrificed various elements of the original games that made them so enjoyable in the first place. But a lot has changed over the past few years, and it finally feels like Hollywood has found that perfect formula with the recent crop of video game movies. And it looks like this is just the beginning.
In honor of the release of UNCHARTED, the long-awaited adaptation of the popular PlayStation exclusive starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, we have put together a list of the five recent video game movies that are so much fun to watch.
Sonic The Hedgehog
Despite early backlash for the character model used in the first SONIC: THE HEDGEHOG trailer, this 2020 adaptation of the trailblazing Sega Genesis game of the same name did not disappoint upon its release and continues to be loved by audiences two years later. Set years after being transported from his world to Green Hills, Montana -- a play on the first level of the original game -- Sonic encounters the evil Dr. Robotnik who is hellbent on controlling the planet.
With Ben Schwartz providing the voice of the iconic blue speedster and Jim Carrey playing his longtime nemesis, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG is one of the funniest video game movies as well as one that feels faithful to the source material while also trying new things. All of that combined creates an enjoyable experience for fans of the series as well as those who never picked up a controller.
Remind Me SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 arrives in theaters on April 8th.
I know what you’re thinking, FREE GUY, the 2021 summer blockbuster starring Ryan Reynolds isn’t based on any one specific video game. And while that very well may be true, the movie about a non-player character breaking from the script to become a hero of his own is one of the best representations of a video game, especially in the “games as a service” era in which we’re in now.
There aren’t many video game movies that capture the freedom and destruction of open-world video games like the “Grand Theft Auto” series with all its digitized chaos. On top of that, FREE GUY takes everything that makes playing a video game so much fun and turns it into a movie, which as we have seen in the past, doesn’t really happen all that often.
There had been multiple “Pokémon” movies before the 2019 release of DETECTIVE PIKACHU, but none of those were able to pull off what Rob Letterman was able to do with this hilarious, action-packed, and surprisingly heartfelt story about a one-time aspiring Pokémon trainer named Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith, who travels to Ryme City in order to find his father, a detective who recently went missing. But instead of finding his dad, Tim encounters his partner Detective Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who’s also trying to get to the bottom of the story.
There is a lot about DETECTIVE PIKACHU that makes it such an enjoyable experience -- for fans of the games and new audiences -- but one of the biggest factors is the way in which it’s not really trying to adapt the beloved GameBoy titles, instead setting its story within the game’s world. Although Ryme City was created solely for the movie, the idea of a metropolis inhabited by humans and Pokémon alike feels like something you’d see in one of the many video games that have been released in the series over the years. Couple that with a great story with all kinds of twists and turns, and you have a recipe for not only a great video game movie, but also a superb cinematic experience. Let’s just hope we haven't seen the last of Ryme City or the DETECTIVE PIKACHU franchise.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, like FREE GUY, isn’t really based on a specific video game franchise, but instead follows a character, or a group of characters, living inside the dangerous world found inside the cartridge. In this 2017 sequel/reboot to the 1995 fantasy thriller JUMANJI, four teenagers find themselves trapped in a video game called “Jumanji” but instead of being themselves, they are avatars portrayed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black, each of which have special powers and weaknesses.
What is there not to love about JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE? I mean, it has everything you would want in a movie set inside a video game. There are tropes like power-ups, character archetypes, and even a non-player character guide named Nigel Billingsley, played by Rhys Darby, that is buggy like something out of a mid-’90s RPG. But most of all, it has a great story, impressive action, and a cast that just gets one another. When you can tell the filmmakers and actors are having fun, it’s hard to not have a good time.
Despite being one of the most violent and controversial video game franchises of the early 1990s, the first two film adaptations of “Mortal Kombat” failed to capture the magic, and brutality, of the arcade powerhouse. The 2021 version of MORTAL KOMBAT, however, doesn’t hold back on the gore or callbacks to the acclaimed fighter. This time around, the story focuses on Cole Young, a seemingly normal MMA fighter played by Lewis Tan, who quickly learns he is part of something much bigger than himself: the fate of the world.
Even though we never get the actual tournament in MORTAL KOMBAT, the various fight sequences throughout the movie more than make up for it. All the classic moves and signature fatalities are included, which really increases the fun factor throughout the movie. Sub-Zero, played by Joe Taslim; Scorpion, played by Hiroyuki Sanada; and Kano, played by Josh Lawson; all help the film capture the essence of the games. And that opening fight between Sub-Zero and Scorpion is just something else.
These are just some of the good video game movies that ended up being a lot of fun. With UNCHARTED and several other promising video game adaptations on the way, it looks like this trend will continue for quite some time.