Last time we took a look at a few of the video game-based movies that are generally considered to be the better of lot, though when dealing with a group of films of this caliber, labeling some as being of higher quality than others is akin to saying that some gunshot wounds to the head are more preferable than others. After watching any of the following films, you just may very well be praying for such a wound to end your suffering. Watch all five of these movies back-to-back and survive the experience, and you will be a prime candidate to replace Satan when he retires…because if these cinematic monstrosities don’t faze you, nothing in the underworld will either and you might as well get a job running the place, though you will be in an excellent position to repay the producers of these films for what they have unleashed upon mankind. Let the hurting begin.
5. Street Fighter (1994): When fighting games first made a splash in the arcades, two seemed to stand out among the rest and were all the rage: Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2. There was much excitement when these games made their way to home console systems and stores had a hard time keeping them in stock. This was the era when video game-based movies was a new idea and when it was announced that both titles would be adapted for the silver screen, there was a fair amount of enthusiasm. Sadly, such enthusiasm was squashed when this film came out. Sure, the game’s “plot” was tweaked a bit, but the inclusion of some notable acting names seemed to indicate that all was well. Wrong. What fans got was a mess that included fictional nations (Shadaloo) and groups (The Allied Nations aka the AN), an evil megalomaniac warlord who had poor taste in clothes but who made up for it with his overacting (Raul Julia in his final role) and a group of good guys, led by the ever-wooden Jean-Claude Van Damme, determined to stop him but who seem only slightly better organized than the Keystone Cops. Between all the silly “action” and corny dialogue, people were left wondering if they had somehow wandered into the wrong theater. Despite all the silliness, this film can still be entertaining when one is in the right frame of mind – say after a double dose of Prozac.
4. Super Mario Bros. (1993): There is usually just one question in the minds of those people who have just completed viewing this film in it’s entirety: what the hell was that? Based on Nintendo’s supremely popular series that focused on the adventures of an Italian plumber and his brother (I’d like to hear the pitch session for that one), this was the first “big” film to come along that was based on a video game. After it hit theaters, it’s a wonder it was not the last. The movie tries too hard…waaay too hard, to incorporate all the elements that made the games so popular and at the same time merge such fantastical themes with our own mundane reality. Here we get an alternate universe with “Dinohatten” – a place crawling with sentient lizards. Toss in Dennis Hopper as King Koopa, some goofy performances, silly storylines and even sillier action scenes and you get a film that seems like an eight year-old’s wet dream…if an eight year-old could have wet dreams. While Bob Hoskins makes for a passable Mario, John Leguizamo looks nothing like the Luigi I know. And what is with having their last name being Mario? That makes Mario a Mario. Mario Mario? That is just idiotic! And the Goombas! People with de-evolved heads. Just the heads, mind you! I think the ones with the de-evolved heads were the producers of this mess.
3. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997): I’m sure it was a shock to many that the first Mortal Kombat film earned enough of a profit for some idiot in a suit to greenlight a sequel. Not that the film was really that bad, it is just that…it wasn’t really that good, either. Regardless, a sequel was authorized and two whole cast members returned for a second romp. I’m sure they regretted it. Picking up right after the first film ended, this installment sees the Earth being overrun by lots and lots of bad dudes for the good guys to stop. Add or mention just about every character that ever showed up in a MK game and you have a film that just does not know where to focus it’s attention. There is just way too much going on with too many plot threads to properly manage it all. In spite of all this hokiness, the film was successful enough to spawn a short-lived prequel television series as well as further installments in the game series. As if all this was not bad enough, there is a third live action movie in the works! Please, let it end already!
2. Alone in the Dark (2005): This film has got to have the longest opening text scrawl I have ever seen. It was like reading a book! It goes on and on about dark dimensions, forgotten Indian tribes, weird experiments involving children and other stuff. Any film that has to squeeze that much exposition into the first few minutes is already in trouble. The film then gets even more messy by showing us the only child to have escaped those experiments…only now he is an adult and looks just like Christian Slater. Throw in some more baggage that includes secret government agencies, strange Indian artifacts, silly monsters that live in the dark and neutralize any electrical gadget with their mere presence, ancient prophecies, a scientist with a secret and nonsensical agenda, odd creatures being implanted in people’s bodies and the absolute biggest stretch of all – Tara Reid as an intellectual, and you have a movie that is just flat out drowning in a sea of poorly realized ideas. The acting is not any better, either and the actors show all the enthusiasm of people in line to get their teeth pulled with pliers and no anesthesia. Now, I have never played any of the Alone in the Dark computer games, but from what I have read about them, this film seems to have little if nothing to do with them. Then again, at times it seemed to have little or nothing to do with it’s own opening text scrawl! I’m betting the games had a much more cohesive narrative flow than this train wreck and probably had endings that at least made sense! Brought to you by the new king of hack filmmakers, Uwe Boll.
1. House of the Dead (2003): Another fine (fine is being used as a substitute for crappy in this case) production by Mr. Boll and was in fact his first feature film based on a video game. If only it had been his last. Up to this point I thought it was just the Italians who could make a really crappy zombie flick, but along comes Boll and shows us the error of that way of thinking. This waste of time is actually a prequel to the video game series and centers upon a bunch of idiotic thirty-year old teenagers who are staging a rave on an island in the Northwest. Unfortunately for them and us, this island is also the home of some really bad dudes, including a horde of zombies. A group of late comers arrive and find that the party is indeed over, but the mess is just beginning when the place is soon overflowing with ghouls. On top of that, the creepy guy who operates the boat that got them to the island is a gunrunner and the cops are hot on his ass! That’s ok, cuz all of these morons just happen to be experts with firearms and highly proficient marksmen! Go figure! Those guns are coming in handy now! UGH! I don’t know what was worse about this film – the truly idiotic action sequences (especially the big graveyard battle), the insipid characters populating this travesty or the habit director Boll has of slipping in clips from the freakin’ video game! Being forced to watch this film should be considered a crime outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
There you have it, the bottom of the barrel of video game movies, but just don’t go counting your lucky stars yet for having survived the experience. No, because for some reason that defies every major religion on the planet, Uwe Boll has decided that producing films based on video games is his calling in life. Inflicting House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark on us wasn’t bad enough. He recently released his latest game-based film, Bloodrayne…and even though that bombed big time, Boll is already putting the finishing touches on his next mess, Dungeon Siege. Truly, the nightmare is just beginning. Now Double Dragon isn’t looking so bad anymore. On top of all that, we also recently saw the release of the Doom film. I think the title to that one pretty sums up the state of films based on video games.