Mortal Kombat (1995)
It’s about as impressive as being known as the world’s coolest accountant, but “Mortal Kombat” is arguably the finest, or least-bad, movie adaptation of a video game thus far in terms of accurately reflecting its source. It helps that — despite the outrage its gory finishing moves sparked among easily offended scapegoat-searchers — the game’s premise (a group of fighters battling hand-to-hand to decide the fate of the planet) was so ridiculously over-the-top that all the filmmakers had to do was commit to a similar level of nonsense. They did.
Street Fighter (1994)
The makers of “Street Fighter” also embraced the silly. The game itself was a camper, more cartoonish affair than “Mortal Kombat” and the movie wisely chose the campest, most cartoonish action star around at the time as its lead: Belgian martial artist and professional pretender Jean-Claude Van Damme. The actor cast as his enemy, Raul Julia, brought a touch of much-needed craft to the proceedings. And Kylie Minogue was in it. Basically, peak-Nineties.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Possibly the closest a video-game movie has come to justifying the time and money involved. Director Simon West had a solid but unspectacular action-movie pedigree — remember “Con Air”? — background and produced a solid but unspectacular action movie. Angelina Jolie — then routinely ranked as the world’s sexiest woman — was cast as Lara Croft — routinely ranked as the world’s sexiest video-game character, to the chagrin of Ms. Pac-Man. Jolie actually did a good job of bringing Croft to life, putting in a performance that was way better than the film deserved.
Resident Evil (2002)
Another female video-game character much loved by those with an unhealthy interest in pixels, Milla Jovovich’s Project Alice is actually a refreshingly capable character who kicks ass without needing a man to ultimately step in to save her at the last. Jovovich’s onscreen presence elevates all six (six!) “Resident Evil” movies (just) above the level of trashy zombie/monster-slaying they’re striving for. Six, though…
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Jake Gyllenhaal! Ben Kingsley! Alfred Molina! Three heavyweight award-winning actors. So far so good, right? But. All three of these fine Caucasian actors were playing Persians. Not so good, right? And they were doing it in a movie apparently aimed at audiences that hate movies.
Silent Hill (2006)
The biggest wasted opportunity on this list, because it actually had some quality source material — a well-crafted psychological horror game — to work with. Visually, the filmmakers did a great job, capturing the eeriness of the titular foggy deserted town and producing some genuinely scary monsters. Unfortunately, due diligence apparently wasn’t a ‘thing’ for the casting director, and the film’s true horror lies in the acting.