7 Films Based on Video Games That Are Actually Good (Somewhat)

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Numerous video games have been adapted into movies since the early 1990s or thereabouts but few of them have found favor with critics or audiences.

Movies based on video games tend to flop at the box office and get decimated by critics: whenever a new video-game-based movie comes out critics go for it with a vengeance. And yet, there are a few video game adaptations out there that people can actually enjoy, as long as they don’t take them too seriously.

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is an iconic series of fighting games that originally had practically no pilot at all: you just fought various opponents. Naturally, when the movie adaptation came out, its story was fairly spartan too. These days, you can only watch it if you bear in mind it was made back in the 1990s when we just didn’t know any better, CGI was in its infancy and a movie’s success often hinged on nothing but witty one-liners, comic relief, and the actors’ charisma. We’re talking Johnny Cage and Christopher Lambert, whose Lightning God can still even make Thor pale in comparison.

Resident Evil franchise

The Resident Evil movies were directed by Paul W. S. Anderson who had perfected his skills by making Mortal Kombat in the 1990s. The six films starring Milla Jovovich grossed a total of $1.23 billion at the box office, even though each installment cost a modest $40-60 to make. In other words, despite being diligently and consistently pilloried by critics, the Resident Evil movies remain today the highest-grossing video-game-based series in history.


A very ambitious project by Legendary Pictures and Universal Studios cost $160 million to make (and that doesn’t include the cost of the massive advertising campaign). Things didn’t look good at the box office and it probably would have been a flop if it hadn’t been for China where it made almost half its total box office: $213 million out of a total of $433 million. Critics, naturally, destroyed the film, pointing to how it was hardly breaking any new ground, but fans of the original World of Warcraft universe generally liked it (and traditionally, it’s canon experts who are the most demanding critics). The film could probably have turned out much better if the financial backers of the project hadn’t been interfering with the production so much: the scriptwriter/director Duncan Jones found himself having to please all the stakeholders at the same time, which was no small feat.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

The first Lara Croft movie did quite well at the box office and, all in all, it was a solid action flick despite its video game origin. The only weakness is the token supporting characters that have practically zero substance to them, including the one played by future Bond star Daniel Craig. You forget the guy the moment he exists the frame. One side effect of that is that Angelina Jolie and her character really stand out against such a dull gray background.

Max Payne

If you forget for a moment that Max Payne is based on an iconic game series, you can have quite a bit of fun watching it – it’s a good, average action movie starring Mark Wahlberg. If you start looking for some kind of meaning in what's happening on the screen, the movie (and possibly Mark) falls apart immediately. The action scenes in Payne are especially good (thanks, again, to Mark Wahlberg, an expert on this), and perhaps that fact alone was enough to keep Max Payne from flopping at the box office where it made $85 million on a $35 million budget.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Everything is fine with Prince of Persia – you’ve got great visuals (thanks to a $200 million budget – Joss Whedon spent almost as much to make The Avengers), there is believable chemistry between the main characters played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton, and Ben Kingsley delivers a wonderful performance. There is only one tiny mistake the creators made with this movie… They cast caucasian actors in a movie set in Persia (modern-day Iran). Naturally, in this woke day and age the film instantly was accused of whitewashing, came in for a barrage of criticism, and ultimately flopped at the box office. A sad, but these days, fairly common Hollywood story that was repeated almost verbatim a few years later with the release of The Ghost in the Shell with Scarlett Johansson in the leading role.

Silent Hill

In our opinion, the Silent Hill adaptation should have killed at the box office, but alas, what to us seems like a minor issue (some major differences from the game canon) really pissed off the fans of the original game. And yet, all in all, Silent Hill the movie touches all the bases of the original premise: it’s scary, creepy, and depressing. You don’t wanna watch it if you have anxiety issues. And even if you’re naturally calm, you might soon find your heart racing like crazy. And it’s got Sean Bean in it and no, it’s not a spoiler, or is it?