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The 41 Best and Worst Video Game Movies, Ranked

From Uwe Boll’s many efforts to Detective Pikachu and beyond, we run down the list of the best and worst video game movies ever.
Video Game Movies Ranked
By  · Published on June 27th, 2021

10. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic The Hedghog

It’s somewhat sad that the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog film will be most remembered for its pre-release controversy — the fact that the studio had to redesign the look of the film’s titular character after Twitter erupted with disapproval upon seeing the film’s first trailer. It proved once and for all that Sonic should never be shown with anything remotely resembling human teeth. What ultimately gets overshadowed is that the film itself isn’t terrible — it’s a fun, albeit simple family action comedy with fairly slick digital effects. And Jim Carrey shows up as a (literal) mustache-twirling villain, Dr. Robotnic, emanating the same energy he had as The Riddler in Batman Forever. It’s truly a sight to behold. [Neil Miller]

9. DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Doa Dead Or Alive

I know I’m supposed to dislike this, but come on, this absolute romp embraces its specific video game origin as well as any other film on this list. The game is a fighter known for its, err, bouncy pixels, and the film understands that — but it also delivers the goods as an action movie with some solid fights, thrilling wire antics, and more. Director Corey Yuen (So Close, 2002) is a genre pro with a filmography that includes second unit work on plenty of action gems, and he delivers a dynamic, energetic watch here. It’s clear his leads went through some real training for this with Jaime Pressly, in particular, looking like she’s truly and aggressively enjoying the physical stunts. Yuen also manages the most impressive commitment to narrowly avoiding nudity since the Austin Powers films. No, it’s not smart, and yes, the CG ain’t great, but is DOA an entertaining time with real action chops? Heck yes. [Rob Hunter]

8. Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider

For the reboot of Tomb Raider, a franchise that had languished in various cycles of development hell for a decade and a half, MGM and Warner Bros. opted for a much more grounded approach to bringing Lara Croft to life. They cast rising star Alicia Vikander, modeled her look after the recently rebooted (and significantly more anatomically realistic) video game character, and set off to make a straightforward globetrotting adventure film. It wasn’t perfect, but it was brisk and coherent and ultimately worked pretty well. It even carried forward the franchise’s most honored tradition, casting a dynamic actor in a villainous role and letting them go to town chewing scenery. In this instance, it was a wild Walton Goggins serenading Ms. Croft with sinister threats — and friends, that’s never not fun. [Neil Miller]

7. Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil

It’s hard to argue with this Paul W.S. Anderson romp landing near the top of the list as not only does it capture the game’s various elements, but it also kicked off one of the most successful horror film franchises. Milla Jovovich headlines as Alice, a woman with a weak memory but strong fighting skills, and this debut sees her spin kick a zombie dog. It’s arguably more relevant than great, but there’s lots of stylish fun to be had as Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, and others shoot, punch, and kick their way through zombified humans and monsters alike. Does the story get denser than it needs to be? Sure, but that’s why it’s followed by five sequels. [Rob Hunter]

6. Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat

As we get toward the top of our list, you may notice a trend — some of the better-appraised video game movies are Hollywood’s most recent efforts. Does this mean that the industry is getting better, over time, at adapting video games into coherent, watchable cinematic experiences? Perhaps. With every great failure comes an opportunity to learn. In the case of Mortal Kombat, the lesson learned was that fans of the franchise wanted to see authentic versions of their favorite kombatants, played by a diverse cast, spilling buckets of CGI blood. And that’s what we got. This simple, seemingly obvious approach yielded a film that delighted fans to the tune of a $100-million dollar pandemic box office haul, even with a simultaneous release on HBO Max. And, more importantly, delivered a fight scene in which Joe Taslim (as Sub-Zero) stabs Hiroyuki Sanada (as Scorpion) with an ice sword made from the latter’s own blood. Now that’s Mortal Kombat. [Neil Miller]

5. Rampage (2018)


One of the things that made the Rampage video games — a series that originated as an arcade game in 1986 and spawned numerous sequels across multiple platforms in the 90s and early aughts — fun was that they put the player in the position of an iconic giant monster and the whole point of the game was to cause as much destruction as possible. You could play as George, a facsimile of King Kong, or Lizzie, a Godzilla-like lizard monster, or even a giant wolf named Ralph. What mattered most was that you caused as much destruction as possible. It really should’ve come as no surprise that director Brad Peyton and star Dwayne Johnson, fresh off their 2015 collab on the disaster opus San Andreas, would make a Rampage film work. They tweaked the story a bit, inserting The Rock as an extremely jacked zookeeper trying to keep his gorilla friend George safe from mutagens, the military, and, eventually, other giant monsters — but they didn’t forget that it’s all about chaos and destruction and a sub-2-hour runtime. [Neil Miller]

4. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Resident Evil Retribution

World War II zombies, new faces in Li Bingbing and Kevin Durand, old faces in Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr, not one but two of those big, ax-wielding Silent Hill knockoffs, highly entertaining and often creative action sequences tethered together by pure nonsense? Yeah, this fifth film in the series goes for broke and has a big, messy, fun blast along the way. Is there even a cohesive narrative anymore? Damned if I know (despite the “previously on” section of the opening act), but I don’t think that’s even important at this point. The film moves like gangbusters from one elaborate set-piece to the next, each offering some new playground destined for destruction in a hail of bullets, a wall of flame, or a wave of water. It’s madness done right. [Rob Hunter]

3. Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill

As mentioned previously, the ideal video game adaptations deliver both a good film and a clear connection to the source material, and few movies on this list manage both as well as Christophe Gans’ creepily nightmarish Silent Hill. The game is a piece of survival horror as you wander a seemingly abandoned town, and the film puts the always great Radha Mitchell in your place as she goes looking for her daughter. Roger Avary’s script leans into the cultish, creature-filled world, and the visuals deliver memorable beats again and again including those pyramid-head monstrosities. Silent Hill tells an engaging tale and captures that rare feeling of being lost in a world without rules or reason. [Rob Hunter]

2. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu

The long history of video game adaptations is littered with unimaginative, incoherent drivel often hindered by an attempt to strictly adhere to the inspiring video game’s story or world-building rules. This obsequious devotion to the source material has gotten many a filmmaker in trouble and ultimately landed their film much lower on this ranked list. Detective Pikachu is the antithesis of that storytelling servitude — creating something fresh and vibrant and only loosely adapted from the video game of the same name. Its polished visuals and coherently-constructed story give life to an almost photo-realistic world in which Pokemon and humans live side-by-side and it benefits greatly from the surprisingly effective comedic duo of Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith, ultimately delivering an experience that many critics were comfortable calling “the best video game movie of all-time” upon its release — at least, the best up to that point… [Neil Miller]

1. Werewolves Within (2021)

Werewolves Within Movie

Look, I get it. Putting a film in the top spot that hasn’t even officially opened yet is a boldly irresponsible move, but having watched Josh Ruben’s terrific slice of comedic horror three times now I’m confident in this pick all the same. The game is a VR-based experience where you and seven other players attempt to deduce or mislead regarding the identity of the killer werewolf, and the film captures that ensemble feel with a fun cast delivering both laughs and suspicious behaviors. It’s the closest thing to Clue (1985) since Clue — in fact, the film’s only real fault is that it doesn’t include multiple endings (or a werewolf break as a nod to 1974’s The Beast Must Die) — and it makes for a highly entertaining whodunnit. Sam Richardson headlines hilariously, and he’s aided by Michaela Watkins, Harvey Guillén, and others including a crazy great turn by the amazing Milana Vayntrub. Also, and this can’t be understated, Werewolves Within is written by the very talented and funny Mishna Wolff. [Rob Hunter]

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.