In light of recent developments with the confirmed Assassins Creed movie and the cancelled Bioshock film, I’ve decided to gaze into the past and review the surprisingly short list of existing videogame-to-movie adaptations. After close to six hours in, I realized this whole genre was ripe for lambasting, so down the rabbit hole I went, searching in earnest for the worst of the worst. What I present to you now is a short synopsis of my findings, and while there are plenty of sequels that deserve a good waterboarding, I’ve decided to stick to original releases for this little list of horrors.
#10. Hitman (2007)
While definitely not the worst of the bunch, Hitman certainly earned its place on the tail-end of the list with its horrible cast and dry plot. I’ll never forget the character assassination Agent 47 suffered at the hands of Timothy Olyphant, whose every line was deadpanned through clenched teeth and a stern look. Maybe the agency should send someone else for their upcoming Hitman: Agent 47, set to debut August 2015.
#9. Max Payne (2008)
It is with a heavy heart that I include a film featuring Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg. It’s with an even heavier heart that it happens to share the same name as one of the greatest games of my early teen years. Max Payne, a visually appealing if not unoriginal (yes John Moore, I’ve seen Sin City before) adaptation, took the words “artistic liberties” a little too far when they threw in raging hell demons and cut out hlaf of the story. The end result, something more akin to Constantine than Payne, left me so entirely bored that I shrugged off nearly halfway through.
#8. Prince of Persia (2010)
While the low-hanging fruit here would be to cite the racial controversy surrounding the choice of Jake goddamn Gyllenhaal to portray a Persian, I can just as easily pick on its incongruent Disney-rated humor/violence and inability to make up its mind over which Dastan it wanted to feature (You can’t be Warrior Within moody and Sands of Time personable at the same time, your majesty). Though it isn’t a horrible movie by most standards, it earns a spot on the list because of wasted potential. You have the backing of Disney, which basically amounts to all the money in the world, so why are you still pumping out crap?
#7. Mortal Kombat (1995)
While six year-old me saw this as the greatest thing since Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, adult me looks on in a solid state of cringe. Though its sequel and spinoffs were much, much worse (I cannot stress this enough), the movie itself fell far short of expectations. Cheesy graphics and awkward dialogue aside, how hard is it to make a decent movie of just one one-on-one fight after another?
#6. DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
While it shares the bench with Mortal Kombat in that it too is nothing more than a one-on-one brawler, the Dead or Alive franchise is better well known for its rather well-endowed cast of fighters. Sure, the idea of scantily-clad women fighting one another to the death sounds like a great movie, but for some reason, director Corey Yuen decided it wouldn’t hold up without some kind of hackneyed back story. Though the fight scenes themselves are fairly decent, they’re far too spread across painful dialogue and acting to match. Even the promise of busty babes brutally bashing one another could not stem the flow of B-rated actors choking on their lines as if their throats were made of shaving cream and sand paper. However, to their credit, there is a beach volleyball scene…
#5. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
It very well may be that one-on-one brawlers are far too linear to operate properly with a forced storyline. Like Mortal Kombat and DOA, the whole point of any Street Fighter game was to beat opponents senseless round after round, so when the movie tried to insert a single character’s history, the whole thing came off as forced. The whole film kept switching its emphasis from the story to action at a pace some would find nauseating. Perhaps the one good decision director Andrzej Bartkowiak made during Street Fighter’s production was casting Taboo (Black Eyed Peas) as Vega, as I’m almost positive it required neither makeup nor costume change.
#4. Doom (2005)
The Rock (he’ll never be Dwayne Johnson to me, you traitors) has lent his name to quite a few theatrical flops, but fans of the classic FPS Doom will never let him live down his 2005 foray into the videogame world. While the movie under any other name would have been borderline tolerable, the fact that such a longstanding franchise was slaughtered by mediocre lines and washed-out action amounts to treason in some circles. This goes without even mentioning the fact that an invasion from Hell is apparently swappable with some type of deadly virus. Sure, next time you see him, tell Satan his work is just as easily carried out by aggressive chicken pox.
#3. BloodRayne (2006)
Ah yes, it was only a matter of time before one of Uwe Boll’s fiascoes made it to the list. Where the movies previously listed may have toyed with the original story a bit and added their own embellishments, BloodRayne spits in the face of Terminal Reality and creates an entirely new story for the sake of…well I don’t actually know. With fairly decent actors participating in stage fighting akin to a school of blind children armed with broadswords, BloodRayne runs around in skimpy undergarments with not but the name to connect it to its mother franchise.
#2. Far Cry (2008)
The movie adaptation to the Far Cry series is the first and only member of this list to have gone straight to DVD, and while there may be even more atrocious titles that skipped the big screen, this Uwe Boll blunder easily stands tall among the worst of the worst. While the names of the main characters and the use of loosely-defined genetic science remain similar between the game and the movie, little else can be said in terms of praise for the latter. Like its sister above, the Far Cry Uwe spawn falls victim to acting and set pieces reminiscent of third-grade school plays, and is thus better left alone.
#1. Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Are you really even all that surprised? It’s almost an unspoken rule that no other title could ever hold first place in a list of history’s worst film adaptations. Sure, the CIA may have played Barney songs on repeat as a means of interrogation, but I promise you, watching more than four minutes of John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins ruthlessly slaughter the two most iconic heroes in the entire industry is enough to crack even the most stalwart of minds. It’s 104 minutes of pure, live-action terror, ripped straight from the drug-addled minds of tweakers who perhaps only briefly glanced at the cover of a Super Mario Bros. game through a store window. I would even go so far as to say that there is no greater blight on society than Super Mario Bros., though we must never forget it, lest we allow history to repeat itself.