It's now official: Assassin's Creed has officially joined the ranks of failed video game adaptations. Has there ever been a good one? Is it possible for the kind of story telling found in games to translate well to film or not? I figured it was about time to go over some of the video game movies that nearly killed the genre, but if nothing else are great for a few laughs now. In no particular order because they’re all horrible.
1. Mortal Kombat
A running theme for all these movies was being loosely based off a game that had very little plot to begin with. Mortal Kombat takes us to a tournament setup by a bad guy to pit a bunch of good guys against his army of bad guys.
Also there’s a lightning god played by Christopher Lambert.
Also there’s a cyborg, and a stop motion animated character, more staples of 90’s movies! There’s some pretty decent martial arts action, and the good guys prevail. Over all it keeps pretty well to the spirit of the games, and it’s one of the better loved of any video game movies. The sequel “Annihilation” throws it all out the window, but this one is always worth watching.
2. Super Mario Bros.
Again, loosely based off a franchise with shifting plots for each game, doesn’t make for an excellent framework for a film, especially one experiencing rewrites each morning on set during filming. We are introduced to our beloved Nintendo heroes as actual plumbers (played by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo) who work in New York and are unwittingly pulled through a portal in a meteor impact site.
Sounds just like the game no?
They do fight “goombas,” which look like the Lizard from The Amazing Spider-man had an unfortunate run-in with a witch doctor. They also rescue Princess Daisy and fight King Koopa, played by Dennis Hopper. They set off some bob-ombs, jump high, and save the day. It’s awful, supposedly there’s a steel-book blu-ray release soon, just pirate it.
3. Wing Commander
To answer the question “does having someone with direct link to the vision behind the game in production help?” I give you Wing Commander, a complete failure directed by the game’s creator. The only notable actor being Freddie Prinze Jr. (savior of the Scooby Doo franchise,) and John Rhys Davies, and not really anyone else. The Terran confederation is at war with the cat-like denizens of the Kilrathi empire, The Kilrathi have attacked the confederation and stolen a computer with navigation coordinates that could lead them to earth. When their ship is damaged it’s up to our two heroes to take their fighters and protect our home planet from them. They pull off a brilliant maneuver only our heroes could, after nearly sacrificing one of them for the sake of the mission. Of course they both survive, and Freddie gets to kiss the girl.
4. Street Fighter
My personal favorite video game movie, Street Fighter fits that criteria yet again. A game with very little plot is shoehorned into a movie trying to make sense of it. All your favorite characters are there, sort of.
I suppose an international cast calls for an international incident, enter the mad despot General M. Bison played by the ailing Raul Julia. Having taken control of the fictional southeast asian country of Shadaloo and drawing the ire of the “Allied Nations,” especially Colonel Guile, the most American guy ever! So he's naturally played by the muscles from Brussels himself, Jean Claude Van Damme. With the heaviest accent ever, along with his compatriots Cami (Kylie Minogue,) and T. Hawk, who I think gets one line. Our other world warriors have to find their own ways in, Chun Li (Ming Na Wen) is essentially a kung fu assassin posing as a reporter that just happens to work with a famous boxer and sumo wrestler. The rest show up as Bison’s minions or prisoners of his evil plans. Oh yeah, then there’s Ken, Ryu, Vega, and Sagat as a batch of bumbling weapons dealers, I guess?
There’s plenty of decent martial arts action, some ridiculous gems of dialog, and it even ends with a freeze frame of everyone’s victory poses from the game. It makes no sense and the true star is Zangief, no matter what anyone says.