Year after year, some ambitious filmmaker tries to translate the narrative, characters, and thematic elements of a video game into a movie. At first, this doesn't seem like a bad idea: there are great stories in video games with a lot of deep detail and lore, colorful, vibrant characters that seem over-the-top in entertaining ways, premises and pacing that rival some of the greatest works of fiction, and size and scope of worlds that can be larger than those in film. Unfortunately, many of these video game-inspired movies turn out to be adequate at best, and downright awful at their worst.
Let's briefly discuss some of the worst of both mediums when it comes to video game-based movies (and unfortunately, there are plenty to choose from).
Assassin's Creed (2016)
Not even the combined acting talents of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons could save the movie based on Ubisoft's popular ancestor assassin franchise. Like the weaker Assassin's Creed games, the movie's plot loses itself with the future-present animus scenes and the search for Adam and Eve's apple, a corny MacGuffin that is supposed to be the secret to world peace. The combat in some scenes is dizzying, and it's hard to believe that a character asks in the middle of the action: "What the f--- is going on?" That's about as on-the-nose at it gets if your story's characters can't keep it straight.
A genetically-engineered professional killer-for-hire is a character archetype made for Hollywood, and yet, Timothy Olyphant turns in a boring action movie in this critical bomb based on Agent 47. With awkward dialogue, clichéd set pieces, and some straight up bad acting, this movie feels like it comes from a completely different universe of quality compared to the games. They've tried to redo Hitman as a movie since in 2015, but even while that more recent movie is also bad, it still manages to be enetertaining compared to this drivel.
House of the Dead (2003)
One director consistently pops up on these "worst video game-based movie" lists and that is Uwe Boll, best known for shambling together some of the worst video game adaptations. Among them is this campy horror film based on Sega's light gun arcade games. It's disjointed, brainless, and more dull than a movie about eight people fighting an army of zombies should be. Worse, it abuses in-game House of the Dead footage as a lazy special effect during scene transitions. You have to try very hard to make this terrible movie off of such a good license.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Forget being based on (at best) a middling horror game franchise: this movie is widely considered one of the worst movies ever put to film. Shoddily made by Uwe Boll again as director, this movie has plot holes you can drive a truck through, crappy special effects, and the most tenuous of a connection to the video games. One critic said Alone in the Dark was "so bad, it's postmodern." There's even a ten-minute opening back story scroll that's read aloud when the movie beings - riveting!
Super Mario Bros (1993)
No list of the worst video game movies ever made is complete without the tragedy that is 1993's Super Mario Bros. Production on the film was so hellish, actor Bob Hoskins (who plays Mario) was once asked what the worst job, biggest disappointment, and what one moment from his career he wanted to edit: the answer to all three was this movie. Somehow morphing into a sci-fi comedy romp, it dares to ask what a realistic Goomba is in human form (no thank you), Bowser (even worse), and the worst incarnation of Yoshi. This is the perfect example of taking your excellent source material and managing to make it both too faithful to the original and so nonsensical that Nintendo has since never adapted any of its games into live action movies. Super Mario Bros is a colossal bummer on almost every level.