It’s a common rule of nature. Games based on movies always suck, while movies based on games, also always suck. But hey, we know where studios are coming from. If a game is making millions and becoming a pop culture smash, then it’s only fitting a movie would have to be made. The problem is there’s yet to be a good movie that’s been adapted from a great video game. Deny it all you want, but let’s be honest, even “Mortal Kombat,” while cool, just wasn’t faithful to the game. It was PG-13, Shang Tsung was a younger man, and the movie is very cheesy these days.
Like everything pop culture related, fans simply will not be able to agree on an idea for a movie, nor will they all enjoy what the adaptation is, even if by some miracle it happens to be a masterpiece of filmmaking, but these are the movies as they are, and all of them are really bad. In honor of the upcoming “Prince of Persia” and “Street Fighter” adaptations, we’re exploring the slew of bad video game movies, and what we wanted. Hey, we’re not going to pretend you’ve never seen this list before but we just had to get our licks in before the next big screen adaptations on film appears and possibly changes the way we think of video game movies. Hey it could happen. It’s got to happen sooner or later, doesn’t it? And hey, maybe you’ll see a choice here that just may steam you up some.
Let us know what you think and which movies we should have included.
Super Mario Brothers
Format: Live Action
WHY IT SUCKED:
Dennis Hopper as King Koopa! That makes so much sense. Who do you think of when you hear the words King Koopa? Why Dennis Hopper of course. And of course you have to turn Luigi in to a Hispanic who is also twenty years younger than the hero. This isn’t Bob Hoskins or John Leguizamo’s finest hours. I don’t think anyone expected “Super Mario Bros.” to succeed, realistically, but when it’s Super Mario and his brother Luigi, you still have to have hope that it won’t let us down. It did. And it was awful. But there were some interesting devices added that provided some logic to the film universe of Mario.
He and Luigi had super powered boots that explained why they could jump so fast, Yoshi has a brief appearance as a pet dinosaur with the entire movie surrounding the dinosaur species, and there were even the Bob-ombs used as weapons as you could do in some of the games. But “Mario” had the right idea turning the story in to an action comedy, it just couldn’t break out of the C grade camp and humor rut to allow some good action to take place. Even if it had to be terrible, there at least could have been some kick ass fun out of it. But how seriously could you take large bodies with dinosaur heads and Dennis Hopper with bleached spikey hair, anyway? Worse more, there’s even an allusion to a sequel in the closing scene. Ow.
There are just some things that can not be adapted in to a live action format. Comics, books, and many times even video games are best left to their medium only and “Super Mario Bros” is the case in point. Mario is a racial stereotype. He’s an Italian plumber who runs down pipes and has one of the cheesiest accents we’ve ever heard. He’s named Mario for Pete’s sake. Sorry, but there’s just no turning that in to a movie without failing. An animated movie? There also wouldn’t be much point, as Mario isn’t quite filled with a sprawling story. Let it be.
Format: Live Action
WHY IT SUCKED:
It’s a game turned in to a movie turned in to a game! How wacky! With adaptations there will always be liberties taken, but it should liberties that could benefit both crowds of the source material and not just please the studios solely. The all American military man Guile ended up being the main character of the flick which made no sense unless they aimed to appeal to the American market instead of Chun Li who would be, I presume, more interesting to Asian audiences. But that was contradicted with the casting of Jean Claude Van Damme, the man who played all American Guile sporting a Belgian accent. Huh? This is Van Damme at his all time low, the point where his popularity had peaked and he was no longer the action star of guilty pleasures we’d enjoyed seeing.
It should have been a piece of cake. Chun Li has a score to settle with M. Bison, meanwhile a group of soldiers led by Guile infiltrate his crime syndicate. Sadly, it wasn’t that easy. Every single inch of “Street Fighter” was absolutely awful and this film has gone down as a truly painful example of why fighting games have very little chances working as actual movies with linear plots. Once again tossing in every character they can, rather than sticking to the original cast of the Street Fighter II game, “Street Fighter” was cheesy, ridiculous, featured some of the worst acting of all time and even managed to waste Ming Na, a usually strong actress who aced Chun-Li without much of a hitch. The plot is there for “Street Fighter,” they just didn’t want to take advantage of it. Instead we just got colorful characters fighting each other, and shockingly, that’s not what we wanted. Also, there was never a street in this movie.
It is as we speak and so far the reaction to it has been pretty terrible. The stills aren’t inspiring much optimism from me with Kristen Kreuk playing the title character Chun Li. There are about a million things wrong with that sentence. As well there’s Neil McDonough as M. Bison which is a formula for failure in spite of the man’s talents. This reboot is proving to be no better than Van Damme’s effort.
Format: Live Action
WHY IT SUCKED:
Like most other video game movies, the studios just can’t seem to find the potential in the story set in the video game, so instead they turn it in to a dark comedy. “Double Dragon” for instance went from a cool revenge fighter to a darkly comedic camp fest that failed in being anything resembling funny or interesting. Cast an inexplicable rising star like Mark Dacascos along with the “It Boy” Scott Wolf and you have two retards wearing colorful outfits that may as well have preceded “Power Rangers” by a long shot. Apparently taking its cue from the short lived animated series, “Double Dragon” was absolutely drowned in black comedy, B movie special effects, typical nineties industrial fashion, and Alyssa Milano in probably the worst hairdo we’ve ever seen in a film. “Double Dragon” could have been a dark revenge thriller with a martial arts twist about two young fighters avenging Billy’s girlfriend while trying to kick ass through the futuristic wasteland. Instead we got a man in a blond flat top and a really fat monster. What fun.
A dark thriller set amidst the apocalyptic wasteland with Billy and Jimmy fighting to save Billy’s girlfriend while realizing their prophecy could make for some great movie going entertainment, as well as an excellent action thriller in the vein of “Children of Men.” Except with much more kicking and punching.
Mortal Kombat/MK: Annihilation
Format: Live Action
WHY IT SUCKED:
Don’t lie, you still get goose bumps when Sub-Zero and Scorpion come out from behind Shang Tsung on the boat, don’t you? I do too. Hell my brother and I almost started screaming for joy when they appeared, but then it… it became worse. Disappointing but not out of character, director Anderson turns “Mortal Kombat” in to a kid affair for the entire family, but granting us some edge at times. The sad thing is that the game simply wasn’t too marketable to children, thus in order for the audience to enjoy it, Anderson should have given it a hard R with some gore or at least one fatality that didn’t cop out. Scorpion shot his flames in vain, Scorpion froze people without blood shed, and Blade never blew her kiss. Though inserting gore in to a flick doesn’t automatically make it good, it certainly could have helped. Bad animatronics filled the screen along with terrible writing, awful action sequences, and a finale that just screamed idiocy.
Goro, one of the biggest and most well known characters of the series looked absolutely terrible, with horrific animation mixed with a body suit that looked hideous even in 1995; though Anderson and co. was able to capture characters like Kano, Cage, Kang, Scorpion, Reptile, and Sub-Zero, there’s really nothing else redeeming about this mess. Come on, the whole time Scorpion was shooting his spear, you honestly weren’t thinking “When is he going to hook someone with it, already?!” He never does. PG-13 rating you know. Now, let us speak of the abomination known as “Annihilation.” This should have been an excellent sequel, I mean the first flick had us begging for a humongous showdown between the forces of evil and Earth’s fighters. Then why did this stink so badly?
Because New Line took to the approach that led to the successful but universally hated “Batman and Robin”: When there’s no story, fill the screen with recognizable characters and let fans do the work. If you didn’t think this movie could get any worse, you have to enjoy how they kill off Johnny Cage in the first ten minutes alone. Being such a likable character in the first film, it’s pretty ridiculous to see him taken down so quickly. In his place we’re given the quasi-Subzero aka his brother, a slew of lame villains adapted from actually entertaining menaces in the video game and of course Jax, the cyborg armed black stereotype who fought baddies with a fist thumping and a catchy one liner fit for a blaxploitation flick. “Annihilation,” as everyone knows, is awful.
For years there have been rumors of a reboot with a new studio picking up the franchise to completely start from scratch or to continue after Annihilation reclaiming what people enjoyed about the first movie. But I think it’d be best to slap on an R rating, give us some great horror action and make “Mortal Kombat” a damn bad ass restart. I want to see Scorpion spear someone for fuck sake.
WHY IT SUCKED:
The animation was amazing. The technology breathtaking. The voice acting superb. The landscape design immaculate. The movie boring as piss. For months and months I could vividly remember all sorts of ads and magazine articles exploring the deepest of molecules in character Aki Ross’s hair, as well as the shockingly life like motion capture tech that allowed this animated movie to come to pass. And it flopped. And then you had to wonder why they didn’t cast actual actors. Not that it would have made much of a difference anyway, since as far as we know, the “Final Fantasy” games never involved reincarnated monsters, ghosts of demons, and mysticism steeped in strong Buddhist undertones.
What emerges from “The Spirits Within” is a lot of extrapolation, plenty of dialogue, and action that goes nowhere all with a villain that’s basically non-existent and only symbolic rather than menacing. While I’m not always a fan of villains that are evil for the sake of being evil, in this case, it wouldn’t have hurt. Why else introduce a rag tag group of soldiers in the vein of “Aliens” only to have them fight one dimensional soul sucking phantoms? I mean, it’s not the worst movie ever made, but with all the fuss about the animation, they couldn’t have provided a better story? I’m not sure who the hell this movie was appealing to, but it wasn’t kids, it wasn’t adults, and it certainly wasn’t the fans of the game franchise. That’s for damn sure.
There was a sequel on DVD that stuck truer to the games than “The Spirits Within” did. But as for a reboot of some kind? I think Hollywood has all but given up on animated movies that appeal to adults. Let it be, let it be. I don’t think I really want to see animated characters with humongous swords and motorcycles racking up points and collecting gold. I never much liked the “Final Fantasy” series anyway, so I’m firmly against another movie from the game.