games / Columns

Top 8 Movies About Video Games – The King of Kong, Ready Player One, More

July 2, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
The King of Kong

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I know I’ve been threatening this topic for a while, so here we are, Top 8 Movies *About* Games. This is different than just movie adaptations like Mortal Kombat or Assassin’s Creed. This is movies where video games are the central (either directly or indirectly) topic. Let’s begin:

#8: WarGames

WarGames is a solid little movie, truth be told. The only reason why it’s on the 8th spot, is because it hasn’t aged particularly well. Let’s be honest, the size of WOPR alone is kind of hysterical. BUT, it is a semi-decent representation of the early 1980’s computer scene. Also, it did launch the career of Matthew Broderick and that is nice. The pivotal scene is actually really well done, at least in my view.

#7: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The best thing about Jumanji 2, like everything else she is in, is Karen Gillan. She’s effortless charming and fairly believable in the role. I think my main issue with the movie is that I don’t really like the idea of visiting Jumanji. I liked the first movie more, because it took place in the real world and just had the jungle stuff encroaching on reality, like the book did. Still, the cast worked well together, it had a good blend of action and comedy and the third looks fairly decent as well.

#6: The King of Kong

While WarGames feels old because it is, hell it’s older than I am, The King of Kong seems old because of the subject matter. In the film, Billy Mitchell is portrayed as a coward, somewhat “bad boy” but a legitimate gamer for his records. The past year hasn’t been kind to Mitchell though, with accusations/proof of cheating and lying about his skill. So by that metric, The King of Kong is great, just seeing what an egotistical jackass he is. I would actually love it if they made a sequel of this movie, interviewing everyone from it, and seeing what has become of their lives.

#5: Brainscan

I don’t think Brainscan is a particularly “good” movie but I have a soft spot for it. This was a movie that came out right before the start of Edward Furlong’s slow, depressing slide into irrelevancy and drug abuse. The movie is about a morbid teen (Furlong) getting a new horror-themed video game and it lets him experience what it would be like to kill someone. It soon summons “The Trickster” who urges him to play and kill even more. The movie seems somewhat of a reflex of the “violent games cause kids to become violent” trope in the mid 90’s, but the film itself is fairly decent, if a tad corny. It also had a pretty good soundtrack, from what I remember.

#4: Ready Player One

This movie gets a lot of hate…and I mean a *lot* of it. I don’t really get it. It’s not some of Spielberg’s best or anything, but it’s a competent movie with a fairly light plot. It’s basically a mix of The Wizard of Oz and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with a lot of pop culture stuff thrown in. The big battle in the end is particularly video game heavy with Halo Spartans, Battletoads, and Street Fighter characters running around, for starters. That’s not even mentioning the whole climax of the movie is centered around Adventure.

#3: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim isn’t really based around any single game, it’s more some of the tropes that video games have. Things like extra lives, coins erupting from defeat enemies, having to fight mini-bosses before you get to the main one, etc. Also, I think all the band names are from video game objects/titles. The movie is an interesting (and well done) examination of how some people view video game reality when it mixes with actual reality.

#2: The FP

Oh man, do I love this movie. People think it’s dumb but they really don’t get the point. The movie is about two rival gangs, the 245 and the 248 are fighting over control of “The FP” (Frazier Park). And how do they do this? By playing, and possibly even dying from, “Beat Beat Revelation”, a DDR-style game. IT’S GENIUS! The FP is a take on almost every other clichéd sports movie in the world, under-dog hero taking on powerful/villainous antagonist, but it’s all filtered through a white-trash, wigger sensibility that is always funny to me. Some of L-Dubba-E’s (the bad guy’s) lines are the most memorable in all of cinema. There’s a sequel out now, FP2: Beats of Rage, which is a much more confident movie, but does drop a little of the humor. The FP is one of the best examples of a dumb movie executed in a highly intelligent way.

#1: Wreck-It Ralph

I’m not sure of the actual order, it’s not my department, but I would rank Wreck-It Ralph as one of the 3 best Pixar movies. The other two would be Toy Story 1 and Wall-E, for those that are keeping score. I think one main reason Ralph works so well is because I think gamers like the idea of video game characters just kind of hanging out. It’s very much the Toy Story framework, but when the lights go out and the people leave, all the video game (or toy) characters come alive and are mostly friends. That’s actually one thing I really did like about Wreck-It Ralph, Felix isn’t presented as a dick. Felix is a bit of a show-off and oblivious to Ralph’s feelings, but it’s not born out of malice, just kind of general cluelessness. If he was presented as some macho jackass, or as someone constantly putting down Ralph, then the movie wouldn’t work at all. Also, I think the lack of video game stuff did hurt the second film. While it did have that Death Race-type of game, the movie just seemed off by having Ralph and Vanellope going to the internet, instead of doing more game stuff.

For comments, list your favorite movies about video games and why. Anyone who says Pixels, is fired.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison