Quite a few producers have tried to bring movies and video games together – mostly in vain. Actually, fans of both types of media have been watching a history of blunders and disappointments for over 30 years. Even the first movie adaptation of a video game, Super Mario Bros (1993), was so off the mark that it’s surprising how films à la Street Fighter (1994) and Mortal Kombat (1995) were allowed to emerge in the years that followed. Often it was because they somehow managed to recoup their money. And so it went on for the next few decades. To this day, positive surprises are few and far between. But there is hope: slowly but surely, filmmakers seem to have found the secret recipe for a successful adaptation. So we’re pleased to present a few highlights (yes, they exist) of film history that did justice to their video game templates – and they all come from the last three years. We’ll refrain from series adaptations, because that’s a whole other chapter…
Tomb Raider (2018): No, we’re not talking about the trashy flicks with Angelina Jolie shortly after the turn of the millennium. They could just about pass as passable, if we were to squeeze both eyes pretty tight. Shortly after the games-reboot came the accompanying film version with the talented Alicia Vikander in the title role – and much like the video game remake, Lara Croft here was more down to earth, more authentic and just – better. Okay, no one expected an adventure film on the level of Indiana Jones either, but in the universe of video game adaptations, this film was almost a treasure.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019): Pokémon fans had tv series and movies en masse on their favorite theme, but they were always animated versions. When the first live-action movie was announced, the excitement was huge. And what can we say: it did not disappoint. The cuddly collectible animals were all lovingly designed, the story was funny and fast-paced and the many Easter Eggs were also a joy. Plus: Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu. Pure fanservice!
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Along with Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog was the video game hero of the 90s. Almost 30 years later, Hollywood actually dared to make a feature film – and lo and behold, it worked. After fans had rightly criticized (to put it mildly) the design of the blue hedgehog, it actually turned out alright. Sonic was cute, the humor was right and Jim Carrey could really let off steam again. The film was a hit and Part 2 is set to hit theaters next April.
Mortal Kombat (2021): As with Tomb Raider, there were previous attempts at this franchise as well: 1995 and 1997 saw two films that have since achieved cult status – that’s right, because they are so ridiculous. But hope died last, and 2021 a Mortal Kombat movie was released that, while it won’t go down in cinema history, was solidly directed and approached the iconic characters, like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, with respect and almost affection. The brutal but satisfying action didn’t hurt, as well.