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 February, a movie version of Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theaters, starring A-list actor Jim Carrey. 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 is our list of 10 movies based on video games that you’d be better off forgetting.
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. 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.
9. Hitman (2007)
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 blockbuster. 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. 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 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 a minimal 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.