If you’ve ever played a video game you should know that apart from the fact that the creators earn by buying the games, they also earn money by selling their own merchandise and selling the rights to their brand (with certain restrictions) to some studios to turn them into great movies (or maybe not).
In this article we will talk about the 13 best videogame movies of all times, so don’t expect us to talk about Mortal Kombat, let alone the super movie Street Fighter. 🙂
- Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
- The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007)
- Atari: Game Over (2014)
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
- War Games (1983)
- TRON (1982)
- TRON: Legacy (2010)
- Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)
- Resident Evil 3: Extintion (2007)
- The Wizard (1989)
- Wreck It Wralph (2012)
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
- Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
Direction: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
Cast: Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillen, Tommy Refenes
Indie Game: The Movie’ is probably the best documentary about the world of video games that we can enjoy. Focusing on the figures of independent developers Phil Fish -‘Fez’-, Jonathan Blow -‘Braid’- and the duo made up of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes -‘Super Meat Boy’-, the film explores the calamities, doubts and the convulsive emotional state to which some artists are subjected, who, by opting for creative freedom, find themselves risking everything in companies where success and absolute failure are separated by too fine a line. Exciting.
The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007)
Direction: Seth Gordon
Cast: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell
Ten years before bringing ‘The Beach Guards’ to the big screen with the cinematic rebound starring Dwayne Johnson, and long before the advent of e-sports, Seth Gordon made his debut with this fascinating documentary that tells the story of the hard fight between a teacher and a businessman to win the title of best player in the world of ‘Donkey Kong’. A premise that portrays between screens, joysticks and quarter coins a sort of geek analogy of the American dream, articulated with an unusual dynamism in an essential and fleeting hour and a half.
Atari: Game Over (2014)
Direction: Zak Penn
Cast: Howard Scott Warshaw, Joe Lewandowski, Robert Rentschler
Atari: Game Over’ takes as its starting point one of the most popular myths in the video game industry, according to which, in some New Mexico desert, all the existing copies of ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, considered by many as the worst game in history and the reason that led to the bankruptcy of the popular company that gives the title to the documentary, are buried. Based on this and following the excavation that aims to unearth the hundreds of thousands of cartridges allegedly buried, Zak Penn’s film explores the figure of the creators of the infamous video game while recapitulating the failures that bankrupted Atari.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Direction: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara
Cast: Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Ming-Na Wen, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland
The script for ‘Inner Strength’ may not have done much justice to the legacy of SquareSoft’s – now Square-Enix – perennial RPG franchise, but the film is still among the best adaptations of a video game to the big screen. If only to justify it by its spectacular technical features, which gave us an animation that unlocked the jaws of our own and strangers in 2001, this cinematic incursion of ‘Final Fantasy’ deserves to be included in this list.
War Games (1983)
Direction: John Badham
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, Barry Corbin
In the late 1970s, the Cold War entered into a new dynamic, with the Soviet bloc equaling – and hence surpassing – the United States in the number of nuclear warheads for the first time. It is not surprising that with this political context and the beginning of computer democratization, John Badham gave birth to this hilarious 1980s techno-thriller classic with a very young Matthew Broderick bringing the world to the brink of the holocaust with a keyboard, mouse and retro interfaces.
Direction: Steven Lisberger
Cast: Steven Lisberger Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor
Although ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ is the first film in history to use computer-generated graphics, this cult Disney classic starring Jeff Bridges, produced the same year, seems to be the essential piece to understand the genesis of CGI and its rise in the industry. Ignored by the academy -which considered computers to be a “trap” when it came to making special effects- and not very successful at the box office, the risky ‘TRON’, its powerful visual imagery and its approach to cyberpunk and video games make it worthy of the transcendence it has achieved over the years.
TRON: Legacy (2010)
Direction: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, James Frain
Twenty-eight years after the premiere of ‘TRON’, Disney recovered the mythology of Steven Lisberger’s original film and put Joseph Kosinski at the helm of a second part that aimed to limit its innovative plot to recreate the cybernetic world with the ambition and spectacularity that the media did not allow in 1982. The result shines by itself; elevating the franchise’s imagery to a new level, providing an invaluable visual stimulus and, above all, delighting the ears of the respectable with a soundtrack composed by Daft Punk to be repeated in a loop over and over again. Too bad its protagonist had the same charisma as a wooden stool.
Warcraft: The Beginning (2016)
Direction: Duncan Jones
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper
Although I have enjoyed the occasional game of ‘Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos’, I have never been particularly fond of Blizzard’s transmedia universe, so it is impossible for me to evaluate Duncan Jones’ third feature film as an adaptation. However, despite some of its visible shortcomings, I can praise the British director’s work as an epic fantasy entertainment as chaotic and empty as it is efficient in its quest to build a first class digital show. However, given the wonderful cinematic sequences of video games, this film was completely unnecessary.
Resident Evil 3: Extintion (2007)
Direction: Russell Mulcahy
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Mike Epps
This is possibly the best adaptation of a video game to the big screen ever. With the original film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson in 2002 hot on his heels, this third part of the franchise raised the stakes – and the fun – with an excessive twist that turned the routine undead story into a sort of post-apocalyptic madness in the purest ‘Mad Max’ style. It still doesn’t live up to Capcom’s games, but it’s a real pleasure to see the Jovovich handing out tow to hordes of dusty zombies.
The Wizard (1989)
Direction: Todd Holland
Cast: Luke Edwards, Vince Trankina, Wendy Phillips, Dea McAllister, Sam McMurray
Leaving the sometimes inevitable nostalgia aside, it must be acknowledged that ‘The Wizard’ is not particularly notable for its cinematographic value. In addition to the usual story of runaway children, told by a Fred Savage who was at the height of his popularity thanks to the success of ‘The Wonderful Years’, this Universal production stands out thanks to the brazen product placement in which, in addition to several video game classics such as ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’ and ‘Double Dragon’, there is room for one of Nintendo’s most disastrous inventions: the infamous Power Glove.
Wreck It Wralph (2012)
Direction: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk
I must confess that, even if I end up fully enjoying them, I find it very difficult to overcome the laziness that invades me when I consider facing an animated film. My love for the world of video games made ‘Wreck It Wralph’ one of those few exceptions that confirm the rule, leaving me completely amazed at his trailer so much reference to the most diverse eras and franchises of the medium. As a feature film, it goes without saying that it more than meets the expectations generated by a Disney production; as an ode to the “video game” universe, it is a real delight.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Filmaker: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan
This late sequel to the 1995 classic directed by Joe Johnston not only pleasantly surprised all those who were skeptical of the quality of the product, providing a self-conscious adventure film with a delicious rhythm and a great sense of humor and showmanship; it also knew how to embrace the canonical codes of the video game and adapt them to the film medium like no other feature film to date, taking the narrative of the original to a new level.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill
Practically at the height of the second part of ‘Jumanji’ in terms of the translation of the narrative mechanisms and the video game is Edgar Wright’s fantastic fourth feature film. In addition to the scheme of “levels” that Scott must overcome to conquer Ramona – in the form of fights with his ex-partners – through which the script is structured, its infinite references – both direct and visual – to the universe of interactive entertainment make it one of the best films with video games as a backdrop produced to date.
As always, this selection is based solely and exclusively on my personal criteria, so I invite you to tell us what you consider to be the best films about video games that have been made to date. Don’t forget to share via facebook with all your gamer friends. A hug!