Excited for the upcoming barrage of movies based on video games? So are we…sort of.
While the thought of a feature film based on a franchise like Assassin's Creed is enticing (who doesn't want to see Michael Fassbender scurrying around on rooftops and stabbing templar jerks in the face?), the fact remains that most big screen adaptations of video games are, in a word, lousy. Bad scripts, low budgets, terrible acting, clueless direction, and a general misunderstanding of the source material have made the video game adaptation a Hollywood punchline.
The good news? The times are changing for geek culture; just witness the difference in quality between older films based on comic book characters (we're looking at you, Catwoman and Daredevil) and the likes of "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Avengers." Superhero films are being taken quite seriously these days. Perhaps one day games will enjoy the same treatment. A guy can dream.
No one, however, dreams about these 10 epic duds. Roll film!
Super Mario Bros. -- 1993
Box office: $21 million
Budget: $48 million
What's left to say? The game that kicked off the video game film adaptation is universally regarded as the granddaddy of bad video game movies, and for good reason: it's a train wreck. Considered "the worst thing I ever did" by Mario actor Bob Hoskins and a "nightmare" by King Koopa Dennis Hopper, its laughable plot, ridiculous make up, and total disregard for the sanctity of the game's characters resulted in gaming's first official film flop. Maybe the good script was in another castle.
Double Dragon --1994
Box office: $2.3 million
Budget: Not available (but we're guessing it was small)
A game about two brothers who beat up a gang using an awesome backward elbow strike and lots of knees to the head, Double Dragon was a killer co-operative coin-op. As a film, though, it couldn't throw a punch to save its life. Set in the future world of 2007, the Double Dragon movie starred a pre-"Party of Five" Scott Wolf, a post-"Who's the Boss?" Alyssa Milano and the timeless, hilarious hairdo of "Terminator 2" bad 'bot Robert Patrick. Unfortunately, it didn't star a decent screenplay.
Street Fighter -- 1995
Box office: $99 million
Budget: $35 million
At least the third video game film adaptation to strike in the early 1990s wasn't lacking in star power, boasting the talents of Jean-Claude Van Damme (Guile), Kylie Minogue (Cammy) and even the great Raul Julia (M. Bison), who would sadly pass away prior to its release. Not that he missed much; the movie's painfully bad fighting sequences robbed fans of the one thing they figured it would get right, while the cringe-worthy dialogue mumbled by Van Damme made it nearly impossible to follow. Some consider it a "so bad it's good" guilty pleasure, but most of us just want to Dragon Punch it into obscurity.
Wing Commander -- 1999
Box office: $11.5 million
Budget: $30 million
Gamers spent nearly a decade blasting enemies in the pioneering Wing Commander series. Too bad none of them managed to shoot down this stinker before it left spaceport. Though it was directed by franchise creator Chris Roberts, the film strayed far from the path of the games, as evidenced by the fact that Freddie Prinze, Jr. (remember him?) was cast as protagonist Christopher Blair -- a role previously played in the games by seasoned space ace Mark Hamill. Even worse was the ridiculous look of the cat-like Kilrathi. We've seen better costumes in a Comic-Con bathroom.
House of the Dead -- 2003
Box office: $13 million
Budget: $12 million
The Martin Scorsese of bad video game movies, director/amateur boxer/professional troublemaker Uwe Boll has never met a game he couldn't ruin as a film. His first affront, "House of the Dead," tried to honor its source material -- a 1997 Sega light gun game -- by tossing a bunch of teen ravers onto an island teeming with zombies. Gore ensued, as did enough awful filmmaking to turn Boll into an video game villain overnight.
Alone in the Dark -- 2005
Box office: $5.1 million
Budget: $20 million
Another Uwe Boll classic, this horror film scared showgoers for all the wrong reasons. Based only tangentially on what many consider to be the first survival horror game ever (which itself was based on the works of horror legend HP Lovecraft), it starred Christian Slater and Tara Reid as a detective and scientist who run around in the dark spouting forehead-slapping dialogue while killing everything — including our attention span.
Bloodrayne -- 2006
Box office: $3.6 million
Budget: $25 million
Vampires are all young and hot these days, but in 2006, they kind of looked like Ben Kingsley. Apparently exhausted from being a singularly talented actor, Sir Ben decided to take a breather from being a super classy guy by slumming it as the king of the vampires in this Uwe Boll catastrophe. Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriquez, Billy Zane and even Meatloaf put in appearances, but such scintillating star power couldn't save this bloodsucker from the burning light of critics.
DOA: Dead Or Alive -- 2007
Box office: $7.5 million
Budget: $21 million (estimate)
How do you turn a video game best known for a, uh, 'top-heavy' approach to fighting into a feature film? You don't change much, apparently. No surprises here: a bunch of bikini-clad, buxom brawlers wind up duking it out on a tropical island lorded over by Eric Roberts. Directed by Hong Kong action film vet Corey Yuen, the film's fight sequences were actually decent. The meandering script was not, though, and while it managed to earn a few million worldwide, DOA: Dead or Alive was dead on arrival in the U.S., raking in a bomb-tastic $480,000 in three weeks.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale -- 2008
Box office: $13 million
Budget: $60 million
Give Uwe Boll credit: the guy can put together one helluva cast. Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman and Burt Reynolds brought their prodigious chops to this nonsensical fantasy epic. But even such a formidable band of thespians couldn't defeat Boll's wonky script and cheap visual effects. The craziest part? Despite losing tens of millions, Boll actually filmed a sequel starring -- why not -- a time-travelling Dolph Lundgren.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li -- 2009
Box office: $12 million
Budget: $50 million (estimate)
Another Street Fighter? Barely. Slow, uninspired and dreadfully dull, this homage to Street Fighter veteran Chun Li told the riveting tale of a girl seeking revenge for the death of her father by having boring conversations with Chris Klein. Also she fights people, including Michael Clarke Duncan. There may be more to it, but we kept falling asleep.
Note: Box office data provided by Box Office Mojo and include worldwide figures.