This week marks 20 years since the very first video game movie adaptation was released in theaters. The movie was Super Mario Bros. and it set the bar so low that it’s amazing another video game movie was ever greenlit. But since there are only so many books Nicholas Sparks can turn into movies per year, Hollywood has taken chances on adapting video games, and failed horribly. Over. And over. And over again. Here are a few games that should’ve stayed in the console where they belonged.
If you want to get a sense of how colossally bad Super Mario Bros. was, start with the main character, Mario Mario (yes, that’s what they called him), who was played by Bob Hoskins. Hoskins has noted on numerous occasions that the movie was “the worst thing he’s ever done.” And keep in mind, he has been in Spice World and Son of the Mask. But prior to booking Hoskins, the studio, by some sheer act of magic, was able to land another actor for the role: Tom Hanks. But they ultimately passed in favor of Hoskins. The studio would later go on to place bets against the Harlem Globetrotters and say that "guitar groups are on their way out".
The movie takes everything people love about the video game series and stomps on it like it’s a goomba which, in this movie, are 7-feet-tall, have tiny heads, and uncontrollably dance at the sound of music. Here’s how horribly far it strays from the game: Mario and Luigi don’t even put on the damn trademark suits until a full hour into the movie. The movie tanked in the box office that year but to its credit, it was up against Jurassic Park, a movie with very few Italian stereotype jokes.
After Super Mario Bros. failed, you’d think Hollywood would have steered clear of the video game experiment for a while. But they seemed determined to make kids even less physically active than they already were. After only a year, Double Dragon was released. It was a huge flop, taking in only $2 million at the box office. Reportedly, whoever was responsible for this movie was brutally beaten with nunchucks and then jump-kicked off a ledge.
What most people remember about Street Fighter is that it was sadly Raul Julia’s last movie. If he had turned down this role, he would’ve gone out on a high note with the Addams Family series. Not that those movies were Oscar-caliber but at least seeing him absolutely nail the Gomez Addams role was about a thousand times more fun than watching him get his ass kicked by Jean Claude Van Damme in the M. Bison get up while someone yelled, “Sonic boom!” or whatever happened in that thoroughly forgettable movie.
Hollywood must’ve figured, “As long as we’re making movies out of 16-bit 2-player combat games, we might as well throw in the one that every parent in America hates.” To Mortal Kombat’s kredit, the movie is fun in a sort of campy way but its PG-13 rating toned down the game’s trademark over-the-top violence. Seriously, no heart rip scene? What’s up with that? If you’re making a Mortal Kombat movie, you start with a heart rip scene and work your way backwards from there.
Whoever made the Tomb Raider movie clearly understood the finer points of the video game series, namely zooming in on Lara Croft’s heaving CGI boobs and keeping it paused there. They seemed to have spared no expense on getting Angelina’s chest just right. Outside of that, the movie falls way short of the experience of just sitting at home and playing the game in your underwear. But it is a great reminder that despite being Hollywood’s #1 A-list actress, Jolie hasn’t starred in a single good movie.
Boy, for a video game that’s known for being scary, Resident Evil sure resulted in a terribly unscary movie. Wait, correction: FIVE terribly unscary movies. Not that seeing Mila Jovovich killing zombies in skimpy apocalypse-chic clothes is the worst way to spend an afternoon. But still, why five movies? The answer is pretty simple. [makes money gesture with fingertips] These movies gross an insane amount of money internationally. The last two alone combined to gross over half a billion dollars. That’s like, Umbrella Corporation-level profits right there.
House of the Dead had the lowest budget of any video game movie ever ($12 million), and that includes Double Dragon which was made almost 10 years prior. You know your movie is in trouble when you’re getting a budget from 1994. But don’t worry! They landed director Uwe Boll who used his shady German tax shelter method of funding movies and churned out a real piece of cinematic crap with a 4% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Another Uwe Boll trainwreck. This one grossed even less money ($10 million) and netted an even lower Rotten Tomatoes score (1%. ONE. PERCENT.). Not even the acting duo of Christian Slater and Tara Reid could save this one.
Doom is essentially a video game about a guy with a gun. Approximately 9,000 guy-with-gun movies are made every single year, with half of them starring The Rock. Not sure why anyone thought we needed one loosely based on a video game that hadn’t been popular in over a decade. Though they did give the fanboys what they wanted: a brief first person camera shot. It's like you're IN the movie! Except you don't get to shoot anything. You just sit there.
The third in the trifecta of awful Uwe Boll video-game-to-movie adaptations was his disasterpiece. It opened to only $1.6 million and scored a 4% Rotten Tomatoes rating. After three flops in a row, most people would walk away from the camera and pursue a career more suited for them like taxidermy. But old Uwe would not be deterred and went on to make SEVEN more video game movies, including two more BloodRayne movies, an Alone in the Dark sequel, Postal, Far Cry, and two In The Name of the King movies (with another on the way). He also made a movie called Rampage which, thank the video game gods is not based on the arcade game. Please no one tell Uwe Boll about the Rampage video game.
Oh good, a movie based on the game Hitman. Because if there’s one thing we were dangerously low on, it’s movies about hitmen. Let’s leave the bald hitmen roles to Jason Statham, shall we?
Even though this movie hasn’t come out yet, it’s safe to say an Angry Birds movie stands about as much chance of being good as there does being a scene where a red bird flies into someone’s crotch. If Hollywood’s reputation has taught us anything, the cast of this movie will be Kevin James, David Spade, Whoopi Goldberg, [insert future talentless pop star du jour here], Alec Baldwin, and Ray Romano. The soundtrack will feature a song by Soulja Boy called, “Birds Got Swag On.” And the tagline will be, “Sometimes you SHOULDN’T feed the birds.” There you go, Hollywood. I pretty much wrote the whole thing for you. Call me, we’ll talk.