Video game movies may not have the best track record, but we love them anyway.

The Mortal Kombat reboot has finally hit the box office in America after years of development hell, and we’re about to find out if the wait was worth it. As we watch the reviews roll in, now is the time to reflect on decades of bad video game movies that you (probably) secretly enjoyed.

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

Simply put, Mario is a classic: a beloved franchise that continues to pump out new and exciting games for all ages. It seemed only natural, at the time, to adapt the game for the big screen – featuring the well-known Bob Hoskins. We know what you’re thinking: “How could they get this one wrong? It’s Mario!”

For starters, it had the weight of expectation on its shoulders – it was the first ever feature-length video game movie. Production was a nightmare for all the actors on board and the script was rewritten after the original was branded as being ‘too dark’ (we would rather see that version!). Nobody on set enjoyed the experience, it flopped and only made $20 million – losing $27 million.

Let’s hope that the new movie in 2022 won’t be a box office Bob-omb – we trust in Miyamoto. 

Live action Mario and Luigi holding up toilet plungers.
Credit: Hollywood Pictures

Street Fighter (1994)

Based on the hit ‘Street Fighter 2’, this cheesy movie kicked down the doors of every theatre and emerged victorious! Gamers were itching to see Ryu and Ken on the big screen, and following the popularity of the game, the movie was a commercial success. Everything went right for this movie, starring great actors (even Kylie Minogue) – but oddly enough – it was panned by critics left and right. 

Claimed to be too ‘campy’ with overblown effects and bad characters, it failed to win over movie critics. Apparently, even Jean-Claude Van Damme couldn’t save this movie from itself. It went on to be nominated at the Saturn Awards – and became regarded as one of the worst video game movies of all time. Despite that, it was good enough for the fans and sold plenty of home copies. 

The entire cast of the Street Fighter movie posing like their character victory poses.
credit: Capcom

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Get over here for the original Mortal Kombat movie! With just a budget of just $18 million, it made $122 million at the box office. It featured some incredible martial arts sequences and had some great production design behind it, but even that wasn’t enough to please those damn critics. 

Much like Street Fighter, real fans loved it and it became an instant classic in video game movies. It was so well-loved by fans that actors like Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Bridgette Wilson reprised their roles for some DLC content for Mortal Kombat 11 in November of 2020.

The new Mortal Kombat movie is taking a beating from critics, but we’ll leave the real verdict up to the fans.

Live action Sub-Zero striking a martial arts pose with three other men.
credit: Threshold Entertainment

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

One of the more mainstream and well-known video game movies is the Tomb Raider franchise starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft herself. It’s one of the highest-grossing video game movies, a box office success and its prominent female protagonist won praise from critics.

Unfortunately, despite Angelina Jolie’s stunning performance, she couldn’t save the movie from the abyss of a bad plot and boring action sequences. The director later blamed the bad reviews on taking some risks with casting, but we’re not so sure. In the end, we know we enjoyed the hell out of Lara Croft going up against the Illuminati. 

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft posing with two pistols.
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Resident Evil (2002)

The Resident Evil game series has an impressive history, kicking off in 1996 and making waves in the survival horror genre. A movie was the next natural step, with Milla Jovovich at the helm as a new, original character for the setting of Raccoon City. With a July release, Resident Evil capitalised on a long tradition of summer horror blockbusters – it couldn’t possibly fail.

It was a box office success, going on to be nominated for 7 awards – but (like always) the critics hated it. Even the fans seemed excited about it and got on board with the marketing that included a competition to design the movie poster! Despite the hate from the zombified hordes of critics, the seventh instalment of the series comes out this year. The fans have spoken – and so has James Cameron.

Milla Jovovich as Alice posing with a gun.
credit: Constantin Film

House of the Dead (2003)

House of the Dead is a video game movie you wouldn’t imagine ever becoming a box office hit. Based on a light gun arcade game with a simplistic storyline, there was very little content to make into a movie besides the zombie scares. That didn’t stop Uwe Boll from producing it, and going on to create one of the worst movies of the 2000s. 

It had a very limited release to Germany, Canada and the USA – and only made $1 million back in profit from a $12 million budget. Ouch.

The outcome was not good on either side, as audiences and critics agreed it as a terrible film. It’s safe to say you might have a better time playing Typing of the Dead – but it’s worth a watch if you like to watch terrible flicks with your mates.

Three characters firing weapons in House of the Dead.
credit: Boll KG Entertainment

Doom (2005)

The iconic first-person shooter – Doom – saw its film rights purchased and expired many times. It was passed between production companies for years, until it was finally hoovered up by Universal Pictures in 2004.

From the poster, you’d expect a classic sci-fi action movie, similar to Total Recall – but what we got was an underwhelming flick with a poor plot and unoriginal setting starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Even then, The Rock himself made it just about watchable for movie-goers. It barely made back what it cost to produce; making it a box office bomb and a poorly written love letter to fans of the series. 

On the upside, The Empire’s review wrote that it was “not quite as dreadful” as the Resident Evil sequel – so it had that going for it. 

Armoured men in a formation holding weapons with Dwayne Johnson at the front.
credit: John Wells Productions

Silent Hill (2006)

Based on the 1999 psychological horror game that has spawned sequels and even the famous, never-to-be-released Playable Teaser – in 2006 we got a Silent Hill movie. If you’re looking for a well-designed film that nails the atmosphere of the foggy town and nightmarish visuals – then Silent Hill is certainly for you! If you care about plot and characters, maybe stay away from this one.

Although Silent Hill did incredibly well at the box office – grossing $100 million worldwide – it received mixed reviews from critics. Negativity aside, fans of the Silent Hill series enjoyed the movie, and it captured the hearts of general moviegoers. It’s a film to be enjoyed with your friends with the lights out in complete silence. And, don’t touch that dial: we may see Silent Hill back on the big screen again sometime soon.

A woman firing her weapon as another woman next to her covers her ears and screams.
credit: konami

Hitman (2007)

Agent 47 made the big screen after 3 years in development in 2007 with his own movie, simply named Hitman (what did we expect?). Following the foundations of the original game about a hitman trained to kill from a young age, this action thriller had a hype train chugging at full speed and quickly became a box office hit. 

It’s not exactly recommended by critics, but if you enjoy incoherent plots with bad dialogue and violent action scenes, this is for you. It’s a movie to enjoy on a Friday night with your mates if you’re looking to have a laugh around the TV. Hitman was (unfortunately) revived with a reboot, which somehow managed to be worse than the original. We think it’s probably time to let Agent 47 retire once and for all. 

Agent 47 looking at the camera.
credit: Dune Entertainment

Assassins Creed (2016)

If you’ve ever wanted to see Michael Fassbender assassinate people, now’s your chance. Assassin’s Creed has always been a fun game with a complex storyline and many (maybe too many) details woven into it. Turning it into a movie seems like a good idea on paper – but even the outrageous budget of $125 million couldn’t save it from negative critics.

It may have made history in terms of big-budget video game movies, but when fans and critics are united in hatred it’s hard to see the positives. A sequel was in the works despite the negativity but was unfortunately cancelled due to Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Rest in peace, Mega Man and Assassins Creed.

Michael Fassbender holding a spear.
Credit: Ubisoft Motion Pictures

What does the future hold for video game movies?

Video game movies have a solid track record of commercial success with plenty of negative criticism. There are always going to be bad movies in this genre, but fans seem to fall in love with these cheesy flicks anyway! Whether it’s a guilty pleasure, or people love it despite its flaws, then who cares what the critics think!

Sonic the Hedgehog is getting a sequel, and we’re expecting Uncharted and Borderlands to release their first movies soon. Who knows, maybe the first amazing video game movie is around the corner. 

If we’ve got you in the mood for gaming, then download the Stakester app today and play your favourites – like FIFA 21 and Call of Duty – for real money and prizes.