Since 2010, nearly a dozen video games have left their respective discs and cartridges and made their way on to the big screen, and this migration isn’t slowing down anytime soon. With over 30 game based movies and television shows currently in development, we’re merely at the beginning of a video game movie renaissance. And despite their rocky history, we’re excited to see just what comes of it. In celebration of the recent release of Mortal Kombat, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the best video game movies you can watch right now. From The Angry Birds Movie to Resident Evil, this list has something to offer gamers and movie fans of all ages.
Run Time: 104 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
After the launch of Pokemon Go back in 2016, Pokemon became big in the United States in a way we hadn’t seen since the late 90s and early 2000s. As a result, interest reignited in the idea of creating a live-action Pokemon movie and seeing all our favorite cute creatures come to life — enter Detective Pikachu. Based on the 2016 video game of the same name, Detective Pikachu follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a young, jaded insurance agent who has given up his dream of being a Pokemon trainer after the death of his father. After a talking Pikachu enters his life, however, Tim sets off on a mission to figure out just what the deal is with this unusual pokemon as well as the truth about his father’s mysterious death. Aided greatly by its skillfully realized world of humans and Pokemons as well as the chemistry between Smith and Ryan Reynolds, who voices Pikachu, this film is atop a new generation of video game-inspired films that are poised to shatter the stereotypes born from some of the other entries on this list. And a lot of the ones that aren’t on this list.
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Much like Detective Pikachu, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie is, quite simply, a lot of fun. Jim Carrey’s performance as the villainous Dr. Robotnik is both zany and engaging, harkening back to some of the classic, over-the-top comedic performances from his prime. James Marsden fits well as leading man Tom Wachowski while Ben Schwartz adds to his growing resume of fantastic voice acting performances, creating an endearing and ceaselessly energetic portrayal of the speedy blue Sega hero. Despite the dramatic backlash towards the studios original artistic direction for the film, Sonic the Hedgehog is a good example of how to make a fun and charming video game movie for the whole family.
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
Staring Alicia Vikander, this 2018 reboot of the popular Indiana Jones-esque series is exciting and peppered with emotional moments made more tender by Vikander’s performance as Lara Croft. The locations are gorgeous and the action is thrilling, and while nothing about the movie is as iconic as Lara herself, it’s a good time and worth a watch.
A sequel was announced (for a March 2021 release target) after the success of the first film, but while that has yet to materialize, there was a late January announcement that Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green is set to take the reigns as writer and director, giving fans reason to be excited about the next chapter.
Run Time: 110 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
There was a lot of talk leading up to the new release about if Mortal Kombat would be the film to “free video game movies” from the curse of “mediocrity,” which is a harsh albeit valid question. But while this latest Mortal Kombat movie did nothing to pivot away from the trappings of video game movies, that might be part of its charm. The film is a wild, gory ride with melodramatic characters and a convoluted plot that is as fun to watch as the video game is to play. While the CGI can be a bit rough at times, the movie is pretty and, for the first ten minutes, actually pretty poignant.
How to watch: Stream for free on HBO Max
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 5.3/10
Director Paul W.S. Anderson is no stranger to video game movies. The Resident Evil series and 1995 Mortal Kombat filmmaker knows how to embrace the qualities that make game-based movies fun, and actress Milla Jovovich — who married Anderson back in 2009 — is seemingly always eager to accompany him on the ride. Here, the Resident Evil duo reunite for a movie based on the popular Capcom series of the same name and create a movie entirely driven by intense action sequences and gigantic beasts. While the plot is not particularly inspired or intricate, it’s a fun enough monster movie, which is essentially what to expect based on its name, if we’re being honest.
As famous as the mobile game is that inspired this movie, it pales in comparison to the film’s cast. Staring the voice acting talents of Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key, Sean Penn, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress, and, believe it or not, more, this movie is genuinely loaded with talent. While adults will spend the whole film giddily identifying who’s voicing who, The Angry Bird Movie is a vivid and vivacious treat for children, with plenty of silly jokes to keep them giggling as well.
How to watch: Stream for free on Hulu
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Apart from the Super Mario Bros. movie — which I was embarrassingly into as a geeky child — Resident Evil is the first video game movie I remember watching. And while it’s very different from the source material, it’s still one of the most engaging ones around. The movie follows amnesiac covert ops specialist Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she regains her memory, teams up with other operatives, and infiltrates an AI-controlled underground bunker filled with the undead. If you like zombie movies, there’s a lot to like here as this hits all the notes from gore-y violence, to a little dark humor, a lot of ridiculous fun, and some emotional moments sprinkled in as the team is slowly diminished and disillusioned.
Run Time: 116 min | IMDb:6.6/10
Prince of Persia tried very hard to be something similar to Pirates of the Caribbean but unfortunately fell a bit short. That doesn’t stop it from being fun to watch while existing in a similar vein to titles like Van Helsing or The Mummy, which a lot of people like for the unplugged fun that can be had while watching. While Jake Gyllenhal’s casting as the Prince of Persia himself is certainly a bit problematic (and something he, himself, seems to regret while categorizing it as a learning experience), he still delivers a typically solid performance. The film, itself, is filled with adventure, parkour, romance, and roguish charm, giving it some redeeming qualities even if it was a miss at the US box office.
How to watch: Stream for free on Disney+
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
At its core, Rampage is essentially a kaiju movie, albeit not as strong a contender as some of the more famous ones. If you like big monsters, burly men, explosions, and high-stakes action, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this scientist-turned special-ops story. Dwayne Johnson has improved a lot since his Doom days, a video game movie that, while streaming, didn’t make the list despite how hard Karl Urban tried to redeem it. The actor’s charm does a lot of heavy lifting here, and his fans will find more of that good ‘ol same in Rampage.
How to watch: Stream for free on HBO Max
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Much like Resident Evil, Silent Hill is an absolutely iconic horror series that is a treat to see come to life, even if it’s not the greatest adaptation. However, Silent Hill actually gets more right than Resident Evil, in my opinion, and is therefore probably more of a treat for fans of the video game series. In addition, Silent Hill is more than a zombie flick and is more deeply horrific, with an eerie atmosphere and monsters such as the undead nurses and Pyramid Head standing out among them. While Silent Hill is certainly not “prestige horror,” it’s a compelling movie that will definitely leave you a bit tense.