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The 30 Least-Terrible Video Game Movies

Scorpion Mortal Kombat film

We haven't slept in over two and a half days. For over 60 hours, we've steeled our hearts, exorcised our sense of disbelief and resisted the temptation of looking at our phones to bring you this listicle. We have marathoned as many video game movies as we could endure to determine which video game movie was the least terrible of them all. See, films based on video games typically range from "solid" to "why do bad things happen to good people?" so it's not about determining which film is the greatest, rather which film is the least worst. What can one learn from this exercise in agony? That despite a fan's wishes, the best video game movies weave their own tales? That our seven-year-old selves were blithering clods for renting Mortal Kombat Annihilation twice from Blockbuster? No, we learned that while some films get to be about giant sharks, or robots becoming cops, others get to be based on that app on your phone that you play in the bathroom. After all, you can't write a movie about the triangle from Asteroids and expect to produce Citizen Kane or Shrek II.

Of course, there's a method to our madness. The top half or so of this list is pretty solid. We'd totally buy Number 1 on Blu-Ray. Number 30 though is straight-up just a bad film. Like, we actually shortened this intro just to emphasize how terrible Number 30 is, even though it's right here:

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30 HOUSE OF THE DEAD

House of The Dead film

House of The Dead is a highwayman of the spirit, robbing you of 93 minutes of your existence that you will never reclaim. Director Uwe Boll keeps using this antiquated rotating shot that spins actors while giving you nausea. At one point, a flashback morphs into migraine inducing strobe of stills set to cheap techno. Even the action is joyless, as actual gameplay footage is sprinkled into fight scenes and transitions.

The zombies don't even make sense! Instead of swarming our heroes, they just wait to be fought one by one. At one point, a zombie tries to drown a girl by holding her underwater instead of just biting her. Heed our warning: just watch Goldman from House of The Dead 2 on YouTube.

29 MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION

Mortal Kombat Annihilation Cyrax

Shao-Khan breaks the ambiguous rules of Mortal Kombat to invade Earth in 1997's Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. To be fair, having to win ten Mortal Kombats in a row over the course of 300 years just for the chance to invade Earth is ridiculous. So, we emphasize with Shao. Incidentally, Shao-Khan actor Brian Thompson seems inspired by Raul Julia's M. Bison, as Thompson is the only one having fun with this film that takes itself super seriously, despite it being about Liu Kang learning how to become a dragon.

Other nice things about Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: the soundtrack has "Megalomaniac" by K.M.F.D.M. and "Conga Fury" by Juno Reactor. Oh, Annihilation also passes The Bechdel Test, so that's neat.

28 LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE

If the second act of your Tomb Raider flick is set in a shopping mall, you're really missing the point. For 2003's Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, a virologist seeks Pandora's Box to destroy the world. So, Lara Croft teams up with Gerard Butler in what feels like a substandard Mission Impossible movie where "Ethan Hunt" was replaced with "Lara Croft."

Instead of solving ancient puzzles, Lara rides cool vehicles. For instance, Lara cuts herself underwater to summon a shark-lift. Lara also drives a motorbike on the Great Wall of China, which seems disrespectful for an archaeologist to do. Then again, Lara destroys every tomb and artifact she finds.

27 DEAD SPACE: AFTERMATH

Dead Space: Aftermath Framing Animation

So, Dead Space: Aftermath – the animated film based on Dead Space 2 – is pretty ugly. There should be a rule that if you're making an animated movie based on a video game, then the film's graphics should at least be as good as the game's graphics. Fortunately, the art style changes for a series of vignettes as the surviving members of the U.S.G. O'Bannon recount fighting the necromorphs.

The problem with Dead Space: Aftermath is that since an inferior animation style serves as the framing narrative, the most significant moments of each character's arc are ultimately lost due to the limitations of the animation. It's like watching Aliens, but if the Hive Queen fight was replaced with clip art.

26 SILENT HILL: REVELATIONS

Silent Hill Revelation Pyramid Head

As "revelations" implies, 2012's Silent Hill: Revelations explains away much of the plot of the first Silent Hill, much to the sequel's detriment. The first film just had an atmosphere that permeated throughout that is absent within Revelations, which just cribs Silent Hill 3. By the end of the film however, you're supposed to be rooting for Pyramid Head as he fights a knock-off Cenobite. No film should have you supporting Pyramid Head's actions, ever.

Furthermore, Silent Hill: Revelations was a 3D movie, wrongfully equating objects coming towards you with fear. Director M.J. Bassett apologized to Silent Hill fans on his blog for Revelations. Ironically, Bassett himself is a Silent Hill fan who was displeased with the first film.

25 MAX PAYNE

max payne bullet dodge

Max Payne is a 2008 PG-13 action film based on an M-rated game, so you know it's going to be good. Mark Walhberg plays Max Payne, a detective trying to avenge his wife and son by investigating a failed super-soldier serum turned crazy-addictive street drug, Valkyr. Assisting Max is Mila Kunis as the dope Mona Sax. In a moment of desperation, Max doses himself with Valkyr, but instead of reenacting the super-unsettling blood trail maze from the game, he sees demons from Constantine.

Just...how are you gonna make a movie centered around the game where bullet time is a core mechanic, yet only use it three times? Even when Max dual-wields submachine guns, the fights are over instantly.

24 RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE

Nemesis HQ Resident Evil Apocalypse

Sure, this film almost ended the Resident Evil film franchise due to its critical reception. Yes, it also made Roger Ebert's "Worst List." We're not saying Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a good movie. We're saying Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a good B-movie, loosely based on Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Nemesis. Yes, Nemesis appears, albeit in a rubbery suit.

Picking up right after the first film, Resident Evil: Apocalypse ditches the plot and horror for explosions. Newfound psychokinetic Alice join forces with Jill Valentine and some other NPCs to escape the zombie-infested Raccoon City before it's nuked. Incidentally, Mike Epps might be doing his best performance ever as LJ, who was originally supposed to be portrayed by Snoop Dogg.

23 DEAD SPACE: DOWNFALL

Deadspace First Animated Film

Isaac Clark spends the bulk of Dead Space alone, so focusing the animated prequel Dead Space: Downfall on a group of characters onboard the Ishimura misses the tone of the survival-horror game completely. Then again, having a large cast of disposable characters means that everyone gets to reenact one of Isaac's unfortunate demises.

Though the source material is gory, the art style of Downfall is reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. This aesthetic gives the violence of Downfall a more "clinical" than horrifying sort of vibe, which is a good thing. Remember, the core gameplay mechanic of Dead Space is dismembering mutant space zombies. If the art style of Downfall were any more detailed, it would be legitimately unsettling to watch.

22 DOOM

The Rock leads a team of psychopaths, creepsters, flagellants, and Karl Urban to Mars in 2005's DOOM. The team is summoned to Mars because some science-nerds mixed Martian DNA with humans that mutates the subject based on their morality. Honestly, DOOM's plot shouldn't be fancier than "Guy rips and tears his way through Mars and/or Hell fighting space demons. Y'know, DOOM."

Do you wanna know Pinky's origin story? No, but the film will explain. In fact, nobody in DOOM actually goes to Hell – or a piece of Hell á la Event Horizon – rather they metaphorically go to Hell, which doesn't count. Worst of all, DOOM claims that "B.F.G." stands for "Bio Force Gun," despite being an R-rated film.

21 MORTAL KOMBAT

Scorpion Mortal Kombat film

Mortal Kombat follows three stories: Sonya Blade wants to avenge her partner, while Liu Cane wants to avenge his brother. Most importantly, professional actor/stunt-man Johnny Cage enters the tournament for street cred. Incidentally, Johnny Cage was originally based on Jean Claude Van Damme, who turned down the film role of Johnny Cage in order to play Guile in Street Fighter.

We've seen this film at least twenty times since it came out in 1993, but we still can't figure this out: what does the winner of Mortal Kombat actually get? Yes, if any of the humans win then Shang Tsung can't invade Earth, but is that it? Is the purpose of holding this tournament just to see who gets to invade which dimension?

20 RESIDENT EVIL

Resident Evil laser hallway

Resident Evil loosely follows the plot of the original game, as a team of highly trained operatives search a mansion masquerading as a biohazard research facility filled with zombies. Much like the game, Resident Evil acknowledges that the environment is just as threatening as the undead, laying out the Hive facility with creative traps. In fact, the laser-hallway scene was so memorable that the final fight of the final film takes place in this hallway.

Resident Evil is also the only entry in the series that attempts to be scary throughout. Unfortunately, Resident Evil perhaps follows the source material too closely, with many scenes just focusing on characters wordlessly exploring the facility. Though accurate, these scenes make Resident Evil drag a bit.

19 HITMAN

Hitman 4 way fight Agent 47

Starring Timothy Olyphant as the bald, barcoded assassin Agent 47, 2007's Hitman sets 47 against other agents, corrupt cops and body doubles through a bullet-ridden story where the excessive amounts of blood are literally a plot point.

Sure, you can run and gun your way through every Hitman level like a clod. The beauty of the Hitman games though is that you can trigger special events to make eliminating your target look like an accident. Cinematic Agent 47 however seems to only know how to use firearms and tiny samurai swords hidden in his suit to solve his problems, only using a disguise once despite his super noticeable neck tattoo. Hitman is a solid action film, but little sets it apart from others.

18 RATCHET AND CLANK

Ratchet and Clank Film Commander Quark

In terms of video game movies following their source material, 2016's Ratchet and Clank looks like the prettiest Ratchet and Clank game, ever. The problem however is that you really can't have a PG-rated film focusing on the over-the-top arsenal from the series. Even worse, the genius-level juvenile humor from the team that gave us "Up Your Arsenal" and "Quest for Booty" is absent from this film.

That being said, Ratchet and Clank does feature the best use of the Wilhelm Scream. During a robot skirmish, one robot falls from a bridge, producing the cliché sound effect. We then cut to another robot reaching out to his fallen friend, screaming "Wilhelm!" in anguish.

17 RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

Retribution Resident Evil Ada Wong Leon Kennedy Albert Wesker Alice

For 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice and company has to escape Umbrella's simulation center, fighting through waves of zombies and special bio-weapons through recreations of cities. Basically, Resident Evil: Retribution is the Mercenaries mode from Resident Evil 4 made into a movie. For a less nerdy analogy, Retribution is Westworld but with zombies.

Resident Evil: Retribution is all about fan service, as in addition to adding in Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Barry Burton, everyone who perished in the previous films return. That being said, despite having a stellar Kevin Durant as Barry Burton wielding the canonical Colt Python, Barry never says "You were almost a Jill-sandwich!" Total missed opportunity for a fun movie.

16 FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE

Sephiroth Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete isn't for the casual movie goer, rather it is for the fans who fell in love with Final Fantasy VII. Speaking as Final Fantasy VII fans, we are eternally grateful that this film opens with an "explain like I'm five" summary of the game's plot, set to a montage of remastered cutscenes.

That being said, this film is plagued by annoying anime children. Like, the entire party finally reunites for a bombastic boss battle against Bahamut Shinra – only for the story to cut to newcomer orphan-boy Denzel. The final fight against Sephiroth however is transcendent – well worth watching Advent Children Complete if only to see the One Winged Angel returned with a remixed theme.

15 RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE

Resident Evil Afterlife Arcadia

Alice and Claire Redfield hold out in a prison with other survivors, restoring a heavily armored vehicle in order to make a suicide run to a boat through a zombie-filled city in 2010's Resident Evil: Afterlife. To recap: Resident Evil: Afterlife is basically Dawn of The Dead mixed The Walking Dead. Heck, Afterlife even takes the whole "sanctuary was actually a trap run by a cannibal" twist from The Walking Dead.

Though the plot is rote, Resident Evil: Afterlife has its moments. Wentworth Miller joins the cast as Chris Redfield, enabling Afterlife to lift the Wesker boss fight from Resident Evil 5. Likewise, Resident Evil: Afterlife is shot entirely in 3D without relying on that cheap "things coming at you are scary" trope.

14 WARCRAFT

warcraft

Warcraft makes us want for something unique: more CGI orcs, less live-action humans. On one hand you have Durotan, an orc protecting his clan amidst the Horde's brutal campaign. On the other hand there's the humans, preventing you from learning more about the orcs.

It's not that the human half of Warcraft is horrible. Rather, the orcs are just so intricately detailed and engaging that they make the live-action scenes look like a LARP session by comparison. Then again, perhaps the fact that we are willing to suffer through the live action scenes just to get back to the orcs reflects the quality of Warcraft's CGI. That being said, try watching Warcraft twice – it's inexplicably better the second time around.

13 RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Albert Wesker Resident Evil The Final Chapter

Despite having an increased cast in Retribution, only Alice and Claire Redfield return for 2017's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Fortunately, Iain Glen returns as multiple clones of Dr. Isaacs, who has always been the main villain of the entire series, apparently.

Sounds cool, but the problem with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is that camera cuts as hard as it possibly can. Seriously, the final fight starts at 1:23:30 – 85 quick cuts later and only 30 seconds have passed. Furthermore, Claire is thrown into a wall at 1:26:19, hitting the floor one second later after 6 camera cuts. For reference, it took Liam Neeson 14 camera cuts and 6 seconds to climb over a fence in Taken 3.

12 HALO LEGENDS

Halo Legends is an animated anthology film expanding upon the Halo universe through a series of vignettes. Through each story Halo Legends gives you the broad strokes of the universe, from The Forerunners to The Flood.

Of the ten tales, our favorite vignette would be "The Babysitter," centered around a team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers being saddled with a Spartan for an assassination mission using a sharp style. Alternatively, our least favorite is "The Duel," retelling The Arbiter's origins with stiff CGI animation overlaid with a hazy watercolor filter. While each vignette varies in both style and tone, every episode wisely utilizes music directly lifted from the Halo games, one of the most powerful parts of the series.

11 KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV

Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV

Yes, you may have to rewatch a few scenes from 2016's Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV in order to understand what's actually going on. Fortunately, Kingsglaive features Sean Bean and Lena Headey, two actors who know how to make you care about high-concept fantasy nonsense. Basically, there's a war between Niflheim and Linde, with Aaron Paul starring as Nyx of The Glaive – magic-wielding commandos who traverse by warping to their throwing dagger. These "warp-strikes" allow for over-the-top action scenes unique to Kingsglaive.

What's beautiful about Kingsglaive is its use of fantastical realism. Some of these CGI scenes are detailed enough indistinguishable from reality, only to be juxtaposed with otherworldly beasts and teleporting magic-ninjas driving Nissans.

10 TOMB RAIDER

Tomb Raider 2018

Tomb Raider is the 2018 reboot of the franchise, starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. Once Tomb Raider gets going, it's great, filled with gorgeous locales, thrilling tomb-traps and a dope soundtrack. The problem is that Tomb Raider spends too much time setting things up. For instance, Lara only pulls out her bow and arrows for the third act. Surviving the island – the rite of passage that turns Lara Croft into the Tomb Raider – is barely explored.

Lara doesn't even dual wield throughout the film, saving it for the sequel. We would've swapped out the unnecessary (albeit entertaining) first act of Lara Croft working as a bike messenger with Lara hunting Trinity mercenaries in predator mode.

9 RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION

Claire Redfield rifle Resident Evil Extinction

Predating the first episode of The Walking Dead by 3 years, 2007's Resident Evil: Extinction salvaged the Resident Evil films by weaving their own zombie tale. Extinction is the best looking film of the series, due to the intentional decision to film solely during the day.

Resident Evil: Extinction sets the series' tone back to survival-horror, featuring an extended cast that includes an awesome Ali Larter as Claire Redfield and Iain Glen as Dr. Isaacs. Our only real complaint is that Extinction uses the most cliché zombie movie subplot: Character gets bitten. Character doesn't tell anyone. Character bites someone in the last act. Apart from that, Extinction is an excellent zombie movie and the best Resident Evil film, ever.

8 LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider intro

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider hits the ground running with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft pitting dual handguns against a robot designed to destroy her while blasting "Absurd (Whitewash Remix)" by Fluke. Raiding gorgeous locales, Lara solves ancient puzzles with duel wielding to prevent the Illuminati from getting a time travel triangle. Also, Daniel Craig plays the rival Tomb Raider, resulting in a British man doing an American accent fighting an American woman doing a British accent.

The only problem with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is that the camera ramps down during some action shots. Also, there's this really corny scene right out of Global Guts where Lara races Ser Jorah up the side of a pyramid to grab the time travel triangle.

7 SILENT HILL

Silent Hill wide shot

Silent Hill isn't a retelling of the first game, rather a new journey to the unsettling town directed by a legitimate fan of the series. Just like the games, Silent Hill has this otherworldly fog that permeates throughout, immersing you in this Hell-adjacent town of ash. Everything is covered, from Pyramid Head and the soundtrack to "sticking your hand into a gross hole in a dirty bathroom to solve a puzzle." Also, Silent Hill is a feminist horror film, with the original draft having only Sean Bean appearing in two scenes.

While Silent Hill's plot does get muddled by sticking to the more ridiculous parts of the series' mythos, there is a great twist ending. Unfortunately, this twist is immediately retconned by the sequel.

6 PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME

Prince-of-Persia-Film-Dagger

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, the eponymous Lion/Prince of Persia in 2010's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Framed for combination patri-regicide, Dastan must use his sweet parkour skills to assist Gemma Arteton's Tamina to the fabled sands of time in order to clear his name via time-travel.

Unfortunately the sands of time that power the dagger are a scarce resource. So, the dagger is only used four times during the film, rewinding time just a minute back. We wanted something like Edge of Tomorrow, where the Prince survives the film by undoing his mistakes. Despite its video game origins, Prince of Persia is a historical fiction period piece where the McGuffin just happens to be a video game item.

5 ASSASSIN'S CREED

Assassins Creed film

Nobody plays Assassin's Creed for the modern Animus sections. Despite this probable hyperbole, 2016's Assassin's Creed stars Michael Fassbender as both modern Cal Lynch and his Spaniard ancestor Aguilar. Since Cal's DNA matched Aguilar's DNA, Cal makes a perfect candidate for the Animus program, which is a less advanced Matrix that lets you live out your ancestor's memories. Within the Animus, Aguilar seeks the Apple of Eden, containing the genetic code for free will.

The theme of Assassin's Creed is free will, which is intriguing. The Animus works best if the candidate yields their free will, allowing for a better synchronization with their ancestor.This results in Animus candidates identifying as their assassin ancestors. Therefore, which Fassbender is acting within the Animus?

4 POKÉMON THE MOVIE: I CHOOSE YOU!

Ash and Pikachu Pokemon I choose you!

Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! is a 2017 retelling of the Pokémon anime that makes us want to get into Pokémon again. Just as the number of Pokémon jumps from 151 to 802, so does the quality of animation and world-building, like the montage of Ash grinding to get this third badge set to a rendition of the classic theme song.

Additionally, Ash witnessing Ho-Oh is explored, Butterfree says goodbye again and we finally understand why Incineroar is in Smash Ultimate. While Jesse, James and Meowth – that's right – return, they never actually recite the Team Rocket poem. Finally, we learn why Pikachu won't go into his Pokéball in a twist that's the Fight Club of Pokémon movies.

3 RAMPAGE

Ralph Rampage Film

During an early scene in 2018's Rampage, a Rampage arcade cabinet prominently hands in the background, reminding you what this film is about: Three super-hungry gigantic monsters fighting the military, eating people and climbing buildings while traveling in a straight line. This plot is a filmmaking challenge that Rampage meets with flying colors, not unlike a colossal albino gorilla chucking a helicopter at a tank.

There's also a great sequence of mercenaries fighting a giant wolf that's basically the Great Grey Wolf Sif boss fight from Dark Souls, but with guns. The final fight is The Rock vs. Godzilla vs. King Kong vs. Fruit Brute. If anything, Rampage makes us wish for a new Rampage game.

2 STREET FIGHTER

The beauty of 1994's Street Fighter is that since nobody plays Street Fighter for the plot, the film can do its own thing. Despite being based on a fighting game, Street Fighter is a comedy that sometimes throws out a flash kick. It's all a joke, as what should be a final gun fight between the forces of Shadaloo and the UN turns into a fist fight with JCVD as Guile and Raul Julia as a stellar M. Bison.

Seriously, watch Street Fighter, if only for M. Bison. Raul Julia has fun with the role, like when he pays Sagat with Bison Dollars, a currency bearing Bison's likeness that will be equivalent to five British pounds, once M. Bison captures their Queen.

1 NEED FOR SPEED

Need for speed Aaron Paul

Don't let the EA logo deceive you, 2014's Need For Speed is a high-speed action fest inspired by both the games and classic car films like Bullitt. Aaron Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, who has to drive from New York to California as recklessly as possible in under 45 hours to qualify for a high-stakes illegal street race hosted by Michael Keaton. Tobey is bolstered by his mechanic Rami Malek and Kid Cudi's Maverick, who mixes up the car action with aerial stunts and solid banter.

Need For Speed keeps the engine running, making even simple tasks like getting gas an event. The ending race is directly lifted from Need For Speed II: Most Wanted, especially the over-the-top wrecks.

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