The speech of Super Mario Bros. is coming fast and hard, as the first trailer premiered this week. Everything from Mario’s voice to the film’s premise is up for debate right now, bringing back the age-old question: what makes a good video game movie?
To answer that, we look back at the past decades in video game adaptations, celebrating the ones that worked. Of all the attempts, which is the best video game movie?
Mortal Kombat (1995)
I’m not kidding when I say Mortal Kombat is the perfect movie. Paul WS Anderson somehow managed to strike the balance between not being ashamed of directing a video game movie, but also not letting his source material limit him. Here, it embraces the over-the-top violence and absurd lore of the games, allowing its cast to really kick in and throw themselves into the fight scenes. Hell, it just looks like a fun time. The sequel, Annihilation, followed the games way too faithfully and therefore absolutely sucked. In contrast, the latest, Mortal Kombat 2020, was ashamed of being a video game movie. Give me that nerdy classic anytime – it’s pure gold.
Final Fantasy: Spirits Within
Helen Ashcroft, Editor of Evergreen
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within may have been a box office bomb, blamed for the demise of Square Pictures, but that doesn’t stop it from being the video game movie that impressed me the most.
To this day, I remember the feeling of wonder watching it in the cinema. The visuals are absolutely stunning, and while the story could have been better in places, it was all so carefully crafted that I was absolutely in for it from the start. Its main weakness is that despite its Final Fantasy name, it bears little resemblance to the games. This may be the key to success.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
James Kennedy, Specialist
Modern video game movies are usually good. Detective Pikachu is fine, the Sonic movies aren’t terrible, and Rampage was quite enjoyable. They are usually watchable. However, being passably competent is not something that should be celebrated. But what about that 90s Mario movie? Sure, it’s a mess, but it’s a mess with a creative spark. This absurd and surreal nightmare is vaguely reminiscent of a less refined and less subversive version of Brazil. It’s not even that good, but it has similar energy and enthusiasm. The people behind the movie were clearly trying to do something interesting. And in this they succeeded. Super Mario Bros doesn’t just fade into the background. And when it comes to the dark landscape of video game movies, that may be enough to make it the best.
Joe Parlock, table editor
A great way to get around the usual video game problem of “being a bad adaptation that bothers fans” is to make a movie based on a game that hardly anyone has played, which is exactly what Werewolves Within did. . It took an obscure VR social deduction game and turned into a fun camp horror film full of inevitable gags, gore and betrayal, with a decent cast giving it an early 2000s budget feel. which really worked in his favour. You can’t mount something that had almost no hardware to fit in the first place.
David W. Duffy, Editor of Evergreen
Now you’re all reading this thinking I’m going for Jean Claude Van Damme’s seminal film, and that’s pretty hilarious. While I’ll still recommend giving him a watch for a classic Raul Julia performance – which was impressive considering he was terribly ill during filming – I cheat a little and go for Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. It’s an outstanding adaptation, and the choreography from the founder of the K-1 martial arts series was spot on. It helped cement the love for the show and inspired me to visit the arcades every weekend when my grandfather took us to the trailer in Berwick.
Stacey Henley, Editor-in-Chief
There are no good video game movies. There simply isn’t. Video games rarely have great stories at the best of times, and if movies try to change those stories to fit them faithfully, the results are rarely good. I mean, just look at what the other choices are here. There are a few great movies that incorporate video games (Scott Pilgrim, Wreck-it-Ralph, Guns Akimbo), but the video game movies themselves are bad. Even Detective Pikachu isn’t that good, but the Pokemon look neat and it’s fun, so that’s really all I expected.
Yakuza (like a dragon)
James Troughton, Interdepartmental Editor
Stacey already put Detective Pikachu on, so I’m putting Yakuza’s hat on the ring. It’s a video game movie in the most literal sense. Kiryu uses potions and heat attacks to gain the upper hand and beat down his enemies, with absurd combos and set pieces like a random fist fight in a grocery store. None of this really makes sense, especially if you haven’t played the game, but it’s a fun way to kill a few hours, so it captures the spirit of the games like nothing else.
sonic the hedgehog 2
George Foster, News Editor
I can’t believe we’ve come this far down the list and no one has mentioned Sonic the Hedgehog 2, not even Sonic advocate Rhiannon Bevan. The first Sonic movie was surprisingly decent, but the second has a lot more heart and brings a lot more love and respect to the series it’s based on. It’s cringe-worthy, but it’s the best kind of Sonic cringe and just a ton of fun to watch. Hoping the third one is even better.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Amanda Hurych, Evergreen Content Manager
I’m on Rhiannon’s side. If I’m being totally honest with myself here, I think we haven’t seen a perfectly made video game movie yet. Considering what we’ve seen so far, Mortal Kombat is the best we’ve got. Is it corny? Absolutely. Having the ability to make you cringe in a theater is kind of a must for game-based movies at this point. But it’s the most hilarious kind of nerdy you could wish for when it comes to a story based on otherworldly interdimensional beings hosting one-on-one martial arts combat with super more or less credible powers. And come on, that theme song? I can’t even hear the words “Mortal Kombat” without following it through my head with this iconic track. (Dun dun dun dun dun-dun dun dun dun dun-dun dun dun dun dun-dun dun dun dun du-du-du-dun!)
Next: Quiz: Are these games the remakes and remasters or the originals?