by Chuck Walton
This week, Max Payne, based on the uber popular video game, opens in theaters. Will it be the next Resident Evil? Or the next BloodRayne? (that's o.k., no one else saw it, either). You'll be the judge. But to date, there have been 40+ movies based on video games. Granted, most are bad...real bad. But, we've still somehow managed to pick five that don't suck, and five that are so horrible...they're still horrible. Here we go...
The Best: #5 - Hitman (2007)
Hitman was panned by the majority of film critics. But no less than Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and said it stood at "the threshold between video games and art." If you haven't played the game, yeah, this story about assassin 47 and a plot to overthrow the Russian government can be a bit confusing. But Timothy Olyphant--sporting 47's menacing shaved head--is absolutely killer as always (a shout out to TV's "Deadwood" fans).
The Best: #4 - Final Fantasy (2001)
This one also received a mixed critical response. But once more, we turn to our favorite critic Roger Ebert who awarded the movie 3.5 stars. Plus, this is an environmentally conscious sci-fi actioner that bears the distinction of being the first feature film attempt at photo realistic CGI-animation (i.e. it looks like a video game).
The Best: #3 - Mortal Kombat (1995)
A video game movie, just like a video game, has to be fun. This mid-nineties entry nicely fits the bill. It's the story of a tournament known as Mortal Kombat wherein the dark forces of Outworld compete against Earthrealm's greatest fighters, with the fate of the entire universe hanging in the balance. Really, though, it's just an excuse to watch a lot of silly, cool martial arts fights. The techno theme song-"Mortal Kombat!!!"-still gets the blood pumping.
The Best: #2 - Tomb Raider (2001)
She's an Academy Award winner, and a reigning queen of the video game cinema genre. No one looks sexier sporting short shorts, a tank top, and a couple of guns than Angelina Jolie. As Lara Croft, a world-travelling tomb raider out to stop the evil group the Illuminati, Jolie proves that Harrison Ford and the boys aren't the only ones who can act and kick ass.
The Best: #1 - Resident Evil (2002)
If Angelina is a reigning queen, then Milla Jovovich is a reigning overlord. Three R.E. movies and +300 million dollars later, the series is by far the genre's most successful. Milla's name has become synonymous with XBox cinema. Remember her in any other movie (besides The Fifth Element)? Neither do we.
On to the less distinguished, yet equally amusing...
The Worst: #5 - Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Back in '93, the genre made its infamous debut with a feature starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as plumbers Mario and Luigi, who end up in an alternate reality where people have evolved from dinosaurs. Don't ask. Just sit back and enjoy the surreal experience of watching Dennis Hopper's crazy antics as King Koopa. And yes, this is the same Roland Joffe who directed The Killing Fields.
The Worst: #4 - Double Dragon (1994)
A year after Mario, the genre was still looking hokey with the release of Double Dragon, featuring Scott Wolf and Mark Dascascos as karate-chopping brothers trying to survive in post-apocalyptic "New Angeles." Yes, it's lame. But it's also just watchable enough to see T2's Robert Patrick ham it up as villain Koga Shuko, with Alyssa Milano playing the game love interest in distress. Apparently, it was a huge hit in South America.
The Worst: #3 - Doom (2005)
The Rock has no fear of kiddie fare like The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain, but we're not sure he brings up Doom at dinner parties. An inbred cross between Aliens and a bad Dolph Lundgren flick (how about I Come In Peace), Doom is so confused about its identity that it eventually switches to the first person shooter perspective...and we all know how much fun it is to watch someone else playing a video game.
The Worst: #2 - Wing Commander (1999)
What could be more chuckle-inducing than Doom? How about Scooby-Doo stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard as interstellar fighter pilots in Wing Commander? On the plus side, it is directed by the video game's creator, Chris Roberts. On the down side, well...do Pixar folks direct video games?
The Worst: #1 - BloodRayne (2006)
Video game movie scourge, thy name is Uwe Boll (who's directed three classic stinkers). This one rates 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for six Golden Raspberrys. Then again, Boll says, "I'm the only genius in the whole f@*#*# business." So...who's to judge?
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