Movies based on video games have not been very successful in the past. But that’s no reason for Hollywood to stop trying. After all, some of them still make a profit. In December, a movie version of Assassin’s Creed will hit theaters, starring A-list actor Michael Fassbender. And while hope springs eternal that this will indeed be a decent movie, worthy of the video game franchise, cinematic history tells us to think otherwise. After all, Hollywood is littered with many failed movie adaptations of popular video games. Here are 10 of the worst movies based on video games ever… and we mean worst!
10. Need for Speed (2014)
On paper, this movie must have seemed like a great idea. Actor Aaron Paul was fresh off his success on Breaking Bad, movies about cars and outlaws such as the Fast and Furious franchise were red hot, and Need for Speed is the bestselling video game series about racing, with more than 150 million copies of games in the series sold to date. Yet, the end product was slammed by critics for being an extended car chase and not much else. Need for Speed currently has a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Interestingly, one of the few positive reviews of this movie came from the vaunted New York Times, whose film critic A.O. Scott praised the film’s car chase sequences, and called the overall film “an energetic, unpretentious B movie.” High praise indeed! Despite the critical slamming, Need for Speed still grossed just over $200 million worldwide on a production budget of $66 million – making it a profitable film.
Given its storyline about a gun-for-hire known only as Agent 47, Hitman likely had more potential for a good translation to the big screen than most games. Yet, like every entry on this list, the Hitman movie let down fans and sent critics into a tizzy. In fact, with a collective approval rating of only 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, the 2007 Hitman film, starring actor Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood and Justified fame, is one of the worst reviewed movies based on a video game ever. Critics were particularly harsh concerning the movie’s excessive violence. Several critics also complained about a confusing plot and inane dialogue. In the end, they agreed that fans would be better off just playing the video game and skipping the movie. Yet, Hitman also ended up being profitable – earning $100 million at the box office on a $24 million budget. Hmmm, maybe there’s a reason they keep making movies based on video games? They seem to make money no matter how bad the movie ends up being.
8. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
How in the world did respected actor Jake Gyllenhaal (who is not Persian, by the way) get involved in this turkey of a film? For that matter, what the hell is Oscar winning actor Ben Kingsley doing in this flick? The 2010 movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was meant to be a big summer block buster. Instead the movie ended up being a critical disaster and a box office disappointment in America. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a rating of 36% (bad), and it grossed only $90 million in the U.S. That would be a decent amount except that the movie had a whopping production budget of $200 million. Critics dismissed the movie based on the popular video game series as “bland” and “pointless.” Other critics called it “disposable.” The good news is that this movie performed well at the box office overseas, particularly in Asia, which pushed its global box office (U.S. and foreign combined) to $336 million. So here too, this movie ended up turning a profit. Though it didn’t help Jake Gyllenhaal’s reputation any.
7. Mortal Kombat (1995)
If you didn’t realize that there was a movie based on the Mortal Kombat video games, you’re not alone. Released in 1995, the Mortal Kombat movie is downright forgettable. The only movie more forgettable is likely the 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. One of the first movies produced to capitalize on the growing popularity of video games, Mortal Kombat was also one of the first movies to disappoint gamers and just about everyone else. Of course, it probably wasn’t a wise idea to make a movie based on a violent video game that has no plot other than two characters trying to kick the crap out of each other. Ironically, the thing that seemed to bother gamers and critics most about this movie is that the filmmakers tried to impose a plot on the film, which just doesn’t work and was dismissed as “cheesy” and “dumb.” Mortal Kombat currently has a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation has a rating of only 3%. Ouch. However, the first Mortal Kombat movie made $122 million at the worldwide box office, which wasn’t bad 20 years ago. The sequel grossed less than half that amount.
6. Warcraft (2016)
One of the biggest cinematic disappointments from 2016 has to be Warcraft, the movie based on the insanely popular World of Warcraft game. Actually, Warcraft is a whole franchise that comprises of video games, novels, and other media that has been created by Blizzard Entertainment. The film, which was greeted by a flamethrower from critics, was supposed to be the latest entry in the expanding Warcraft universe. Unfortunately, bad computer animation, a sappy plot about fathers and son heading off to war, and lame character development sunk this film project. The movie holds a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only grossed $47 million at the U.S. box office – on a budget of $160 million. Again though, thanks to foreign movie ticket sales (especially in China), the movie ended up grossing more than $400 million worldwide. Have they no taste in China?
5. Doom (2005)
Based on the classic first person shooter and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the 2005 movie Doom is about space marines who are sent to investigate strange events at a research facility on Mars, but find themselves at the mercy of genetically enhanced killing machines. Of course, the space marines have no choice but to blast their way off the Red Planet and to safety. While this movie was one of The Rock’s first forays into films, it is not really worth anyone’s time. As with the Mortal Kombat movie, there is always a danger in trying to make a movie based on a video game that has very little plot. Movie critic Roger Ebert said it best when he wrote: “Doom is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won’t let you play.” This movie currently has a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is one of the few movies on this list that didn’t turn a profit – grossing $55 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million. Thank goodness The Rock went on to make better movies.
4. Max Payne (2008)
Yes, there was a Max Payne movie. And yes, it starred Mark Wahlberg. Billed as a “neo noir thriller,” the producers of this movie tried to make it in a style similar to the Sin City movies – i.e. black and white with dashes of red and lots of CGI effects. It didn’t work and this movie hit theaters like a lead anvil. A box office disappointment, having grossed less than $100 million worldwide, Max Payne holds a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers collectively rolled their eyes at this flick, as did gamers and fans of the video game franchise who were always skeptical that a movie based on this material would work. One critic summed it up best with his one word review of this movie: “Payneful.” Apparently Mark Wahlberg won’t respond to questions about this movie in interviews. Tells you all you need to know.
3. Wing Commander (1999)
Where’s actor Freddie Prinze Jr. when we need him? Hopefully he’s not off somewhere making a sequel to this turd of a movie from 1999. The Wing Commander movie, based on the once popular video game, is interesting for the fact that it was directed by Chris Roberts, the same guy who created the video game series. Sadly Mr. Roberts was not a skilled or experienced movie director. This may explain why Wing Commander turned out so badly. A bad story, poor acting, and almost no character development, plus some pretty cheesy special effects, made this film a huge disappointment. Some film critics called sitting through this movie “excruciating” and “mind numbing.” It currently has a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was a massive box office bomb, grossing only $11 million worldwide. It quickly ended up on video store shelves.
2. Street Fighter (1994)
If you’re one of the few people (and there are only a few) who are wondering what happened to the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme, you might want to start by referencing the Street Fighter movie from 1994. Based on the video game Street Fighter II, this movie stank up movie theaters briefly before heading straight to Blockbuster Videos discount bins everywhere. The Muscles from Brussels could not save this terrible movie from itself. Aimed at kids and families, this movie was torn apart by critics who complained about the excessive violence, lame story, and the fact that it starred Jean-Claude Van Damme. Richard Harrington of the Washington Post summed it up best when he wrote simply: “Game Over.” This movie has a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed less than $100 million worldwide. Sadly, Street Fighter spelled the beginning of the end for JCVD.
1. Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Is it us, or were the video game movies from the 1990s particularly horrendous? They don’t come much uglier than the 1993 disaster of a movie that was Super Mario Bros. Made for $50 million and meant to be a big tent pole summer blockbuster, this film made only $20 million worldwide – classifying it as a true box office bomb. Critics, gamers, and moviegoers in general hated this mess of a film. It has a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Our question is: Who are the 15% of critics that actually liked this stinker of a movie? What’s interesting (and a little scary) is that there were so many talented people involved in this film. Respected Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper, and John Leguizamo all signed on for this movie. It must have been for the pay check, right? Please, tell us it was for the pay check!