The Greatest Films Based on Video Games


If you’ve ever owned a games console, the chances are, you’ve probably played at least one game that has been based on a film or TV show. Some of the most popular video games of all time drew inspiration from the work of Hollywood, perhaps most notably being the Grand Theft Auto series which has borrowed from films and shows like Scarface and Miami Vice.

Then there are the officially-licensed titles that contain the actual characters, soundtrack, and other content from motion pictures. One of the most popular movie-based games ever made is GoldenEye 007, a first-person shooter for the Nintendo 64 that lets players step into the shoes of the legendary spy, James Bond. 

Online casinos have even got in on the act, creating slot games that feature the characters from popular movies. Some of these include Ted, The Expendables, and Power of Thor, all of which use the Megaways mechanic that increases the number of paylines. 

However, while the traditional direction of travel has been for video game developers to create titles based on movies, some filmmakers have actually gone the other way, taking inspiration from the gaming world to create new feature productions. Some have been spectacular flops, but others have been huge hits, here are some of the greatest examples.


Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Released in cinemas in the spring of 2019, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a mystery film that draws on the concept and content of the 2016 video game of the same name. Although it wasn’t the first movie to feature characters from the Pokémon franchise, it was the first to be live-action. 

Nintendo, the company that owns the rights to the Pokémon video games, has been very cautious about making live-action movies based on its intellectual property after the 1993 abomination Super Mario Bros. became a huge commercial flop and was widely ridiculed by critics and fans. 

However, Pokémon Detective Pikachu helped the Japanese company to forget much of the hurt from nearly 30 years ago. The film generated $433.9 million at the box office from a budget of $150 million and was received favourably by most critics. 

It’s success was helped by its great cast, which included Ryan Reynolds and Ikue Ōtani who both voiced Pikachu, as well as Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, and Suki Waterhouse. 

Following how well it was received, it has been reported that Nintendo and Netflix are working on a new live-action series featuring Pokémon characters.


Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider (2018) wasn’t the first attempt to create a film about the popular action-adventure video game series. The first of these was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), a production that was profitable but described by some as a “disaster”. 

Learning from the mistakes of the first film, Tomb Raider, was much better. It featured the Swedish actor, Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, Dominic West as her father, and Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel. 

While the plot wasn’t anything groundbreaking, Tomb Raider makes up for it by being true to the games, being progressive in its portrayal of Croft, and having some decent special effects. 


Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat was an outlier among video game movies when it was released in 1995 as it was a commercial success and received reasonably positive critical coverage. The film has only scored 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s received 60/100 from Metacritic and an A- from the audiences polled by CinemaScore.

These positive perceptions were created by its authentic atmosphere and visuals and some impressive fight sequences. 

That’s not to say there is a very deep and meaningful story behind Mortal Kombat, it’s a film with little depth, but that, in itself, is not necessarily bad. It makes it an easy and fun watch, especially for anyone that is familiar with the video game franchise. 

It’s relatively free from gore, so it feels a little more sanitised than the games, but it’s got more acrobatic martial arts than you’ll know what to do with.

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