games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Video Game Movie Adaptations – Detective Pikachu, Street Fighter, More

May 21, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Detective Pikachu

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about video game-based movies. I’m positive I’ve done this in the past but there has been a somewhat new influx of movies in the past few years, so it’s time to revisit the topic. My main criteria here are that the movies have had to come out in America and be in English. I’m sure there are better Japanese adaptations of some games but if they aren’t easily watchable, it doesn’t make the cut. Let’s begin:

#8: Wing Commander

Wing Commander isn’t a good movie but it at least attempts to emulate the game series. Arguably the biggest problem with the movie is its lead, Freddie Prinze Jr, who has a befuddled look for 90% of the movie and has no chemistry with the cast. Another funny thing is that the Kilrathi look worse in the movie than in the games, and that is really saying something. Still, Matthew Lillard isn’t terrible and I do like the more “respectable” actors in the movie like David Warner and Tcheky Karyo.

#7: Tomb Raider

Of the three Tomb Raider movies, the 2018 is the best one, but that’s not saying a ton. They tried to emulate the 2013 reboot story but it doesn’t work out well. Vikander has the right athleticism for the role but not a great screen presence for the role. It is pretty solid casting as Dominic West as the dad though. Above all, the movie was just kind of boring. It didn’t do anything really “wrong”, it just wasn’t a fun enough experience.

#6: Assassin’s Creed

I was somewhat aghast when I saw this movie, in theaters, no less. I wondered how a movie could make such a huge misfire of its source material. Then I remembered that the World War Z movie got made and the answer of “Hollywood” fell into place. The historical segments of AC aren’t bad, good action and some proper AC stuff occurs. The problem is that the past only accounts for like 25% of the movie, and the other 75% is Michael Fassbender in the present, in an incredibly goofy Animus, whining about his dad. Fassbender claims he’s a fan of the game franchise, so then, why did the movie trash literally everything the game franchise said or did? At least Michael K. Williams got paid, so that’s alright.

#5: Dead Rising: Watchtower

I really only watched this movie for one reason: Keegan Connor Tracy. I like her as an actress and will give something a shot if she’s in it. She did fine (as usual) but the main guy, Jesse Metcalf, was about the most boring guy I’ve seen in quite a while. Watchtower (and its sequel, Endgame) have the main characters of Dead Rising 1 and 2, Frank West and Chuck Greene and literally don’t do anything with them. Jesse’s character, Chace, is also a journalist. Why not just delete him from the movie, and have Keegan’s character, Jordan, be the partner of Frank West? Could they only get Rob Riggle for an afternoon or something? Still, it had decent zombie effects, which is more than you can say for all of the Resident Evil movies.

#4: Silent Hill

The actual plot of Silent Hill is incredibly dumb. It’s even dumber if you haven’t played the games, like me. Still, the movie is actually suspenseful in spots and I do like the look of it quite a bit. Also, the Pyramid-Head skin rip thing was neat. It isn’t as stupid as other movies on this list, just kind of bland, but at least looking decent.

#3: Street Fighter

Street Fighter is a good definition of a “dumb fun” movie. It’s really dumb but parts of it are kind of great. JCVD as Guile barely works, but Raul Julia as M. Bison rules. It’s interesting how de-emphasized Ryu and Ken are, considering they were stars of the original SF2 game. Also, Ming-Na was passable as Chun-Li and Kylie Minogue was able to pull off a decent Cammy.

#2: Mortal Kombat

Until the next movie on this list, Mortal Kombat was still the best game movie done. It followed the basic framework of the game. The actors look approximately like the characters they are playing, and it’s the second best performance from Christopher Lambert, behind Highlander. It is also not embarrassing, there are jokes but it doesn’t get goofy and there was a respectable level of PG-13 violence in the movie. It’s far better than Annihilation or 95% of other movies based on video games.

#1: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Finally a video game based movie that isn’t completely awful. MK was good in 1995 but it hasn’t aged particularly well. Detective Pikachu, I imagine, will be pretty ageless when it comes to the future. Ryan Reynolds nails it as the main character, infusing Pikachu with some good snarky quips but also charm and character growth as the movie goes on. Justice Smith does a solid job reacting to what is going on in the movie and having to play off him. I actually dug the movie because it has some red herrings that elevate the plot more than a usual “kiddie” movie. Also, all of the Pokemon are represented really well, save for one dodgy CGI shot near the end of the movie, and really make the movie reality seem alive. It’s also the first (and only) video game based movie to actually score a “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, so that’s impressive in its own right.

For comments, list your favorite movies based on video games and why. Anyone who says Resident Evil is getting fired.

Next Issue
Top 8 Movies Based About Video Games

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison