There's not a gamer alive who could celebrate video game movies with a straight face. They're notoriously farcical, filled with bad writing, wooden acting, bad CGI, and awful direction.
Yet, there are a few movies based on video games that, while not brilliant, won't completely ruin your day. Admittedly, there really isn't that many, which leaves this list at five, rather than a more impressive ten. However, when you're not in the mood to commit to your controller or keyboard, you can scratch that itch with one of these distinctly average movies.
1. Need For Speed (2014)
Racking up an impressive 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, Need For Speed, based on the racing series from EA, was a commercial and critical flop. Held up for its atrocious characters and preposterous plot, it's hard to find anything particularly great to say about it.
However, a better way to look at this film is to appreciate its genuinely excellent car chases sandwiched between some really quite terrible writing. With the recent success of Baby Driver, many have been left needing their fix when it comes to car movies and, while Need For Speed lacks a good narrative, it doesn't lack loud engines and burning rubber.
2. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
If you thought Need For Speed's score on Rotten Tomatoes was impressive, Tomb Raider achieved an even better 20%. This film has that strange edgy attitude that every film in the early 2000s thought was needed, which makes this movie a bit of a cringe-fest.
Yet, surprisingly for this kind of film, they managed to bag a noteworthy star in Angelina Jolie, who starred alongside Daniel Craig (before anybody knew who he was) and Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones). This alone helped elevate this otherwise rather silly film. Aside from that, there's actually some decent action set pieces including an amusing chase to the top of a pyramid for some rather forgettable reason. If you're looking for something to fill the gap before next year's rebooted Tomb Raider film, this is probably your best bet.
3. Pokemon: The First Movie (1998)
Yes, it counts. The games came first. We're actually getting worse when it comes to critical scores, as this got an abysmal 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, I have fond memories of this film, and let's be honest, you don't watch Pokemon movies because you're a film buff! It's distinctly a movie for kids, but is surprisingly dark in tone (need I mention that bit where Ash gets petrified?).
I love Pokemon, so I refuse to say anything bad about this movie. Frankly, I quite like all the Pokemon movies, but this is the first. Plus, it starred Mewtwo, and who doesn't like Mewtwo?
4. Ratchet & Clank (2016)
Yep, this happened, and you'd be forgiven for not knowing. Nobody went to see it. Again, another abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes of 17%, going to show how uninspiring it was.
Thankfully, the film can rely on some good character designs borrowed from the games, and actually manages to be a relatively entertaining science-fiction adventure. If you played the series when you were a kid, you'll probably quite like it. If you now have your own children, they'll probably love it, as this is definitely a title aimed at young viewers.
As a side note, it has an awful tagline: "kick some asteroid," which is enough to put me off. Why did they think that was a good idea?
5. Warcraft (2016)
I really enjoyed this film. I definitely shouldn't have though, it's full of wooden acting, lacklustre dialogue and is a semi-acceptable rendition of Azeroth. Despite it all, though, I can't resist some orcs with big axes and wolves fighting humans with ridiculous armor.
Anybody who loves the Warcraft universe will enjoy this film. It features decent fan service and provided some proof that Azeroth could be translated to the silver screen. If there is any game universe that could spawn some good movies, it's Warcraft. Unfortunately, this particular one is rather hit-and-miss. However, with 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's the best rated film on this list, which is quite depressing.
Will We Ever Get Better Video Game Movies?
Gaming is becoming a bigger and bigger part of artistic culture, so it's inevitable somebody is going to hit gold with a production eventually. Unfortunately, it probably won't be any time soon. Only once studios start treating these films as serious productions, rather than a way to make some quick cash from fans, will there be anything of real quality. Maybe we'll get an Oscar nomination one day?
Are there any video game franchises you think deserve an outing in theatres?