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411 Movies Top 5 3.14.14: Top 5 Video Game Adaptations
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 03.14.2014

Welcome to Week 417 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.


Bryan Kristopowitz

Honorable Mentions: Super Mario Bros (1993), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Double Dragon (1994)

5. Silent Hill (2006)

While the movie does tend to peter out in terms of its story in the last quarter, Silent Hill, directed by Christophe Gans, is a creepy as all hooha horror flick. The dread that Gans manages to build makes you queasy, and when the monsters start showing up things get even creepier. I only played one Silent Hill game (I think it was one of the sequels) and for the most part the movie resembles the feel of the game. I just wish the movie had a better ending.

4. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

This reboot of the movie franchise wasn't a major box office success, but I thought it was pretty cool. Instead of making a movie that feels like a video game, The Legend of Chun-Li more resembles the first in a low budget B-movie franchise. It has a little too much plot, but the cast is superb and the action scenes are fabulous. Neal McDonough is a revelation as the villain Bison, and Moon Bloodgood kicks ass as a cop investigating Bison's international crime ring. And Kristin Kreuk is excellent as the star and main character Chun-Li. It's a damn shame that we didn't get a sequel or two. I would have loved to have seen what was in store next. Would one of the game sequels become the basis for the movie sequel, or would the producers go with an original story?

3. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Directed by Simon West, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an insane action fantasy flick that manages to strike a fine balance between the straight up action stuff and the weird fantasy stuff. Sure, the whole thing is ridiculous but there's a consistency throughout, and it's that consistency that makes for a fun time at the movies. And Angelina Jolie does a great job as Croft. She's smart, she's sexy, and she can kick ass believably. The sequel is pretty good, too, but that movie, Cradle of Life, directed by Jan De Bont, blows itself up at the end. I mean, what the hell was that ending about? Why did it get all weird at the end?

2. Street Fighter (1994)

Street Fighter is a wonderful mash-up of what an arcade video game looks like (lots of bright colors, big action, fun) and a big budget Jean Claude Van Damme action flick. Back in 1994, at least for me, Van Damme's presence was the big draw. And it was weird thinking of Raul Julia, Gomez Addams hisself, as the villain. How was that going to work? Thankfully, Julia worked out beautifully. He's hamming it up big time, sure, but it's fun watching him have fun. Julia even comes off as a credible martial arts threat to Van Damme, and back in the mid-1990's no one was a real threat. Much like its later reboot, Street Fighter should have been the first of several movies. I really wanted to see what Van Damme could have done as Guile against another enemy.

1. Resident Evil (2002)

Instead of just adapting the mega popular survival horror video game Resident Evil and making a movie out of the video game, writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson used the game as inspiration to tell his own story. To me, that was a big gamble, as it would have been easier to just copy the game sort of shot-for-shot to appease the game's huge fan base. And when the movie came out lots of game fans complained. But, thankfully, Anderson's movie, starring his soon-to-be-wife Milla Jovovich, made enough money to become a major franchise. Five movies have been made (Afterlife, the fourth movie, is the only true weak one in the franchise) and a sixth one is set to happen at some point soon. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Michael Weyer

5. Street Fighter

This has always been a guilty pleasure for me, I saw it numerous times in the theater. Sure, it may go too far trying to ram every character of the game in there but the plotline of soldiers against evil dictator M. Bison (Raul Julia in his final performance) is still fun with a great pace and Jean-Claude Van Damme not bad as hero Guile. The script is a throw-back to fun '80's action movies and the characters do have moments like Chun Li, Ken and Ryu. Plus, a good sense of humor (seeing a truck laden with explosions coming at them on a TV, Zangief yells "quick, change the channel," earning baffled looks from everyone else) and you have to love Julia's performance, as when he says he honestly doesn't remember destroying Chun Li's village. "For me...it was Tuesday." A fun flick to enjoy on several levels.

4. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Some might sniff at not casting an English actress but let's face it, Angelina Jolie is a brilliant choice for Lara Croft. The plot may not be the fantastic adventure most wanted it to be but Jolie exudes the sexy edge needed for Lara, believable in fights, handling things with a wry humor and making every scene shine. The story may be a bit confusing at times with time travel and such but the direction is good, an international feel for things and Jolie's Lara is the star dominating it all. A shame the series didn't become the massive hit it should have as they definitely had the right leading lady to bring the video game icon to life.

3. Mortal Kombat Conquest

Running only one season, this syndicated 1998 TV series did a pretty good job working in the mythos of the game by showcasing ancient times where Kung Lao wins a tournament and has to protect Earth from Outworld, aided by a former guard and a thief (future genre hottie Kristinna Lokken). From the plotting of a captured Shang Tsung and ally/enemy Quan Chi to introductions of Sub-Zero and Reptile and some intriguing plot twists, it was a fun show with good martial arts action. I especially liked Jeffrey Meek bringing a fun edge to the dual roles of Raiden and Shao Khan and how it approached the games with respect. Sadly ending on a cliffhanger but does stand as a better way to work the MK mythos than most.

2. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

Released in Japan in 1994, this animated film does a better job than the live-action movie in capturing the feel of the games. The plot works in things as Chun Li and Guile separately hunt down crime boss M. Bison with Ken and Ryu facing off along the way. The fight scenes are fantastic with Chun Li vs Vega, Ken vs Ryu and almost everyone against Bison, all done in stunning animated work that makes you feel every blow and punch. Probably the best version ever of the video game you can ask for an definitely a treat to look up for fans to see a medium that knows how to do justice to a video game right.

1. Mortal Kombat

Younger gamers today don't get what a huge deal Mortal Kombat was, a monster hit that made arcades go-to and fans loved playing the brutal attacks out. For the 1995 movie version, the screenwriters mixed together facets of the game but did it in a smart way, making this "supernatural tournament" work out well and with a good cast: Robin Shou as Liu Kang, Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage and Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung. Christopehr Lambert was fun as Raiden, a god with humor and nice lines and Paul W.S. Anderson kept it hopping with his great direction. What's good is that it doesn't go for wire-fu or CGI but really good martial arts battles that get some great action alongside a cool score. Plus, Goro is a brilliant realization of CGI/animatronics better than most FX today. The sequel was a let-down but this stands as one of the few times a video game works on the big screen right.

Terry Lewis

Honorable Mentions: I'll be honest, I don't think there is that many genuinely GOOD video game adaptations but I'd be lying if I didn't find DOA: Dead Or Alive, Doom and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider watchable.

Away from movies, TV is a quality goldmine for video game shows. Sonic The Hedgehog SatAM, Digimon and Donkey Kong Country all bring back good memories from my childhood. Also, not an adaptation, but Resident Evil: Degeneration is a cool direct-to-DVD movie set in the Resi video game universe that's worth seeking out.

5. Earthworm Jim

True story: I never played any of the Earthworm Jim games back in the day. I guess they just passed me by since I never had a Sega Mega Drive. Buuut, the TV show I still remember fondly to this day. The bonkers humour, characters and plot are still as vivid as ever. I mean where else could we get away with watching such things as Queen Slug-For-A-Butt and Evil The Cat, all as foil for Jim, an Earthworm in a humanoid space suit. Yes it was as awesome as it sounds. In fact, go buy the boxset today. It still holds up surprisingly well. In fact, what was probably a niche viewed show I imagine for the early 1990's would rinse anything the kids are watching today.

4. Resident Evil

Hold back your pitchforks my friends. Just the first film, not the series on a whole. Whatever argument you can level at Paul W. S. Anderson for the trainwreck the future instalments of the film adaptations of Resident Evil turn out to be, you can't argue that the first is actually a reasonably good screen-to-screen transfer. Almost taking the same scenario of the first game with added amnesia, we find Milla Jovovich's Alice finding out about her past and dealings with pharmaceutical company with added bio-weapons Umbrella. Before she ended up becoming a Mary Sue, Alice was actually a fairly sympathetic character here (albeit a small part cliched), against the backdrop of the gothic mansion with an evil laboratory underneath filled with zombies, mutants and a murderous child computer AI that won't let anything get out at any means necessary. Where this succeeds is that unlike other video game big screen outings where it dilutes the original property, this feels a part of the game universe, like a side story away from Chris Redfield and STARS, as it doesn't step on any toes there in this better than average outing. The rest? Well that's part of a Top 5 for another time...

3. Silent Hill

Again, this isn't a world beater at any stretch of the imagination but for a screen-to-screen adaptation, the first outing of the fog filled literal hellhole town called Silent Hill is worth your time. The town is capture perfectly and feels like a real character, nawing on the character's heels as the predominantly female cast is put through the wringer to survive. The director Christophe Gans manages to throw in a lot of nods from the games without directly ripping them off, which in this day and age of unoriginality and plagiarism is a skill worth keeping. Atmospheric and not your bog-standard modern horror, this like the earlier games manages to get under your skin and stay there, with a tremendous sense of mood and downright creepiness.

2. Pokemon

Ah this. Being a 90's kid I got caught up in the Pokehype as it swept the world. I hoovered up everything I could - the games, the trading cards, toys - but I was always glued to the anime. The adventures of Ask Ketchum on his quest to capture and train Pocket Monsters or Pokemon to become the world's greatest Pokemon trainer are fairly common but what made them so memorable were the individual episodes dedicated to exploring more of singular Pokemon and their evolutions, their characteristics and the like. For what was thought of as a craze, Pokemon is still very popular today with the same card game, anime and video games being produced with the numbers totalling way above the original 150. It went up on Netflix here in the UK at the start of the month and I'm already halfway through the original series again. A product of it's time, but what a product.

1. Street Fighter

Had to get that in. Yes, the big screen adaptation of Capcom's premier fighting simulator is probably not the most truthful video game film ever, but by god, is it entertaining. Possibly one of the best cult action films of the 90's, we see Jean Claude Van Damme's Guile take on Raul Julia at his best in his final outing before his untimely death as M.Bison in a "so bad it's good" vision of Street Fighter. There's so much to enjoy in this fantastic outing from Commando, Die Hard and The Running Man scribe Steven E. de Souza - Instead of doing a tournament film which seems to be tradition with fighting game adaptations, we get a cross between the spy, war and epic genres with a film which shoehorns every character and reference to the second game it possibly can albeit not quite right. Guile and Bison having a sweary, slanging match on live TV, pop star Kylie Minogue as Cammy and Raul Julia as M. Bison in general, so much to enjoy here, it has to be seen to be believed.

Shawn S. Lealos

5. Street Fighter

This movie has two things going for it Jean Claude Van Damme hamming it up in a typical 80s styled Van Damme adventure movie and Raul Julia going fabulously overboard as the villain General M. Bison in what was tragically his final movie role. But, wow, that was a role to remember how fun Julia was as an actor.

4. Silent Hill

This game was one of the scariest games I have ever played (although I haven't played games like this in many years) and the movie did a great job of taking the atmosphere of the game and putting it up on the screen in glorious manner. The movie was directed by Christophe Gans, a director I was excited to see get the job based on his amazing movie Brotherhood of the Wolf and he did not disappoint in the visuals. The story is just average, but man this movie looked amazing and had some great creature effects.

3. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

While some critics seemed to dislike it, "Prince of Persia" was a fun action movie based on one of the earliest action-adventure video games. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the Prince who sets out to save his kingdom using the mythical sands of time and ends up leading a very satisfying adventure film. It is nowhere near as bad as people pretend it is.

2. Resident Evil

Paul W.S. Anderson gets a lot of flak for his adaptations, but he did a good job in building Resident Evil from a simple adaptation of the very popular video game into a successful box office franchise. Milla Jovovich has starred in all the iterations and the first film remains a solid horror action story when Anderson wasn't just repeating himself.

1. Mortal Kombat

One of the early positive efforts in the video game adaptations was the movie Mortal Kombat. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, this movie was a straight B-level action movie that succeeded due to the inclusion of elements of fun, as well as entertaining fight scenes. One major highlight is Christopher Lambert's over-the-top cheesy performance as the God Raiden, plus there was Johnny Cage's signature move, which I always did when I played the game. The fact that the second movie killed off Cage made me hate that one forever.


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