Okay, so I had to go to Prince of Persia with the kids. Boy was that painful. As I muscled through the relentless barrage of clichés and predictable plot developments, I thought to myself, “Is this the worst Video Game Movie ever?” Answer: Probably not. But are there ever any good ones? Surprisingly, there are . . . Of course, I’m not including any of the Pokemon movies because, well, it’s Pokemon.
One more thing: There are a few hidden song goodies in here, too. Just ’cause you’re all so dang special.
Runners up: Movies that weren’t as bad as they should have been: Doom and Hitman.
10. Silent Hill (2006).
I don’t have much to say about this first entry. I can’t say I liked it, but I didn’t hate it, and lots of people I know liked it. So it gets the number 10 slot.
9. Street Fighter (1994).
Street Fighter was directed by Steven E. de Souza, a comic book writer who is currently attached to direct the Sgt. Rock movie. On the one hand, he’s the guy who wrote Die Hard. On the other, he’s the guy who directed Beverly Hills Cop 3. From the foundation of such ambiguity came this strangely satisfying film. It’s also the best Jean Claude Van Damme film ever, and also starred Oscar winner Raul Julia in one of his most screen-eating roles. Don’t concern yourself with plot or acting, just come for the cheesy violence.
8. Tommy (1975).
Okay, pinball isn’t a video game, but it is an arcade game. It’s on the list, but I ranked it low for lack of being an actual video game. I had to include it, though. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to post Eric Clapton’s brilliant performance of Eyesight to the Blind . . .
. . . And a cover . . .
7. Hitman (2007).
This post notwithstanding, I’m not much of a gamer. I think most video games are pretty boring. So I had no idea that this movie, in which the always compelling Timothy Olyphant plays a dude raised by monks to be the perfect assassin and spends an hour and a half pretty much shooting everything he sees, was based on a series of video games. If I had known that, I might have avoided the movie. But I really enjoyed it. Of course, I like pretty much everything Olyphant does, including his current TV series, Justified.
6. Wargames (1983).
“It’s still playing the game!” Not just a good video game movie, a good movie in general, about a game called Global ThermoNuclear War and a little hacker boy played by Matthew Broderick. Who appears not to have aged a day since he made that movie. Must be all the lovin’ he gets from Sarah Jessica Parker. So although the movie is a little dated, he isn’t.
Anyhow, this is one of several films on this list that were not based on video games but were about them. Think that’s cheating? Well, you try to do a top 10 list like this and not include crappy movies like Tomb Raider. This was the only way to make it work. And everyone knows every list worth a damn has to have at least 10 items.
5. Mortal Kombat (1995).
One of two films on this list directed by Paul W.S. Anderson–talk about having a niche specialty–Mortal Kombat starring Christopher Lambert and a group of unknown, young and attractive martial artists was surprisingly good. Particularly if you went in expecting it to be a steaming pile of crap. The effects might not be impressive by today’s standards, but the fight scenes still hold up well. Caution: Do not confuse this film with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. You’ll be sorry.
4. Tron (1982).
I’m too lazy to investigate whether the game or movie came first, but the game was pretty awesome. This was the quintessential video game movie: It’s all about being in a video game. The special effects, for its time, were great. It was the first film to specifically target gamers as an audience, and it actually received some fairly positive reviews. With Tron: Legacy coming soon, and Jeff Bridges reprising his role from this film, everyone should get a hold of this on DVD and check it out again. It’s more than a little dated, but it’s a classic.
3. EXistenZ (1999).
First of all, by way of disclaimer, I have to note that this is a David Cronenberg film. Now, I love Dave’s work–he’s one of my all-time favorite directors–but I recognize he’s not for everyone. Particularly because this isn’t a Scanners/History of Violence/Eastern Promises Cronenberg film. It’s a Shivers/Videodrome/Dead Ringers Cronenberg film: One apart from the mainstream, freaky and disturbing as hell. It’s about a fictional virtual reality game that plugs into users’ spines, looks suspiciously like an umbilical cord, and gradually takes over their existences. The word “isten” means God, which fits the philosophical themes of the film. It is an exploration of the role of fantasy and faith in our lives. Like a few other films on this list, this is a movie about a video game, not based on one. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law.
2. Resident Evil (2002).
First of all, you get to see Milla Jovovich’s bare rib balloons, which is always a good thing. Second, this is actually a very solid zombie flick and is even occasionally scary. The sequel was pretty good, too, but the third one was godawful. The fourth comes out this year, and based on the first two, I’ll probably go see it, but it will probably be a huge let down. All the films are directed by Paul WS Anderson, also known for directing the remake of Death Race starring Jeremy Statham, another very good, very violent B-movie.
1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007).
If you love to stare at geeks, marvel at mullets, or enjoy a good slice of life documentary, Seth Gordon’s film about the competition between the two best Donkey Kong players in the country is perfect. It is a truly excellent film and, surprise of surprises, is actually touching. It should be required viewing for all video game fans, and is far and away the best video game film in history. Winner of several best documentary awards, including a People’s Choice.