Movies and video games have never worked well together. By itself, the video game industry is a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. When coupled with the big screen, video game adaptations more often than not struggle to even make their money back. Sometimes, this is due to the fact that the movies are just poorly made. More surprising are the ones that have strong, well-known actors in lead roles, yet still manage to fall short of expectations. Here are some great examples of serious talent wasted on terrible adaptations:
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
By 1993, Mario fever had the world in its grip, so it was really only a matter of time before a major motion picture version of Super Mario Bros. was in the works. Unfortunately, when it was, it was one of the worst films ever created. Even though Super Mario Bros., which you can find on Youtube, featured Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the koopa-smashing heroes battling against an evil Dennis Hopper as King Koopa, the entire film fell flat on audiences. The story revolves around the plumbers helping archeologist Daisy who has been captured by evil gangster King Koopa and held in a parallel universe. The crazy story, which is way off-base from the actual story of the game, was the least of the issues for Super Mario Bros. Behind the scenes, it seems everyone associated with the film hated working on the project. All three actors have expressed their dislike for the entire process.
Street Fighter (1994)
You would think that after the flop of Super Mario Bros., filmmakers would have learned something about making a video game film. When Street Fighter (now on Hulu) was released in 1994, it was more proof of the money-chasing mentality that has permeated the video game adaptation market. Starring the popular Jean-Claude Van Damme with a cast of talent including Raúl Juliá, Ming-Na Wen, and Kylie Minogue, the film was simply a bunch of martial arts fights thrown together. The biggest fault was the change of tone, inclusion of cheesy one-liners and the sense the movie was one long never-ending fight scene.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Not the worst video game adaptation by far, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider still had its fair share of issues. One of the rare times when a game adaptation has actually made money, this film was still ripped apart by almost everyone. The only saving grace for many was the star power of Angelina Jolie, but even Jolie was not powerful enough to help this film. Lara Croft is thrust into an adventure to solve a puzzle and unlock a great power in a film that pales in comparison to almost any of the video game franchise storylines. While Tomb Raider (find it on Vudu) has gone on to be one of the most successful video game adaptations ever, audiences have always been equally polarized on both sides of the fence.
Silent Hill (2006)
Generally regarded as a good video game adaptation, Silent Hill earns that distinction more from lack of competition than being a well-made adaptation. The source material is a horror-survival series similar to Resident Evil. The story of the film, which regularly plays on cable, involves a mother who takes her daughter to the town of Silent Hill and strange things begin to happen. The story is not taken directly from the games, but the general creepy tone and a lot of details from the games are added in. The movie was praised for its visual appeal and starred Sean Bean and Laurie Holden, but was condemned for its over two-hour run time, pointless scenes, and confusing plot. A sequel was made, but it was not a success in any respect.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the hero in this fantasy-adventure involving mystical sands that have the power to destroy the world. The great Ben Kingsley stars opposite Gyllenhaal, but even these two actors together couldn’t stop Prince of Persia (streaming info here) from being disliked by fans and critics. The storyline follows that of the game by the same name fairly closely, but when it comes to movies, fans want more substance. The acting fell flat and many theater-goers were simply bored to tears.
Turning an interactive experience like gaming into a spectator activity is never an easy task. In some cases, this has been done well, but by and large, video game adaptations fall short of fans’ expectations. Strong casting can never hurt, but relying solely on star power and fan obsession to drive a major film is never a good idea. To win fans over, filmmakers will have to take our love for these properties and take them even further than the game designers ever imagined.