bestvideogamemovies eipgaming
Content Type: Gaming News
Date: November 12, 2022

Video game movies have a bad reputation, and deservedly so. For every good video game film, there’s an Uwe Boll monstrosity. Most video game movies currently out there are shlocky horror or badly acted martial arts camp. On top of that, a lot of critics just don’t get video game movies; they don’t understand why you’d want to adapt a video game in the first place, and so they judge them more harshly than movies based on a book or on original IP.

But we’re living in a new Golden Age of video game movies. Filmmakers and critics who’ve grown up with video games are starting to make their own video game movies, and many of them are turning out to be fantastic. We’ve seen movies based on popular games prove to be box office smash hits, and movies based on Halo, Gears of War, Kane and Lynch, and even Clock Tower will hit theatres soon.

Here are the ten best video game movies as of November 2022, objectively ranked by IMDB rating and Metascore. This list is all over the place in terms of genre, from silly kids’ movies to graphic horror films. It doesn’t include short films that were created as ad spots. We’ve also chosen to only include one movie per series, so if you’re a giant fan of certain sequels, you won’t find them here.

These are the best film adaptations of video games, according to fan reviews:

Movie
Release Year
IMDB
Metascore
Why It’s Good
Sonic the Hedgehog
2020
6.5/10
47
Fast-paced kids’ movie fun
Silent Hill
2006
6.5/10
31
Underrated horror masterpiece
Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic
2010
6.5/10
N/A (direct-to-video)
Hellishly gory animated action
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
2019
6.5/10
53
Love letter to Pokemon
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
2010
6.6/10
50
Good old-fashioned swashbuckling
Resident Evil
2002
6.6/10
33
Camp horror cult classic
Warcraft
2016
6.7/10
32
Ambitious fantasy epic
Tron: Legacy
2010
6.8/10
49
Daft Punk soundtrack + aesthetic delight
Dofus: Book 1- Julith
2015
7.5/10
N/A (no English-language release)
Gorgeous animated fantasy based on kid’s MMO
Final Fantasy: Advent Children
2005
7.2/10
88
Lush, visually stunning sequel to brilliant game
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.5/10
47
“…a fast-paced joyride that’ll ring in entertainment for both fans and children.”- IGN

Hey, we’re as surprised as you are. This one edged out masterpieces like The Angry Birds Movie 2 for the number 10 spot. But if all you know about this movie is “creepy teeth Sonic will haunt my nightmares forever!” you could be in for a treat.

Sonic (2020) is definitely a by-the-numbers children’s movie, with Jim Carrey chewing the scenery as Dr. Robotnik and Sonic having to share the screen with a dull human policeman played by James Marsden. But it was clearly made with love, care, and attention to detail. It’s full of in-jokes that fans of the series will love, and Sonic’s redesign is a delight to see in motion. This movie also uses a surprising amount of practical effects, considering the amount of CGI onscreen — and who doesn’t love a filmmaker keeping that art alive?

You might notice that, while the IMDB score is relatively high, the Metascore is awful. This is going to be a recurring theme on this list. Critics do not get video game movies, and most of them don’t even try to meet them where they’re at. Fans of the series these movies are based on, and people who enjoy campy romps, tend to rate them higher than critics who are expecting something with a little more polish.

sonicthehedgehog2020 bestvideogamemoviesofalltime
If you haven’t seen the original Sonic design, for your own sanity, don’t go looking for it. It’s good-old-fashioned nightmare fuel.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.5/10
31
“a twisted masterpiece of set design“- Empire

If you like Silent Hill, horror filmmaking, or cross-cultural film analysis at all, you need to watch the original Silent Hill movie.

Silent Hill is the rarest of birds — a video game movie that fully understands the property it’s adapting and uses it to say things the original game developers never intended. It manages to capture the feeling of Silent Hill in more-or-less live-action, and the effects on display are as impressive as they are grotesque. Akira Yamaoka’s iconic soundtrack is in full force here — though it’s spliced in odd ways. The chemistry between the two leads is also fantastic.

If you like the original game, you may be disappointed that some of the horror was toned down for a film release. Alessa’s backstory, in particular, is both more and less disturbing. The choice to make Harry a woman was driven by sexism. And, as usual, Pyramid Head shows up without rhyme or reason. As a straight adaptation of the original Silent Hill game? Silent Hill isn’t faithful. As a horror film? It’s fantastic, on both a technical and creative level.

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Fun Fact: The monsters in this movie were played by dancers, to capture the eerie and otherworldly movement of Silent Hill’s twisted abominations.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.5/10
N/A (direct to video)
…anyone with a taste for gruesome hellish fun who is willing to check their more sophisticated sensibilities at the door will probably have a good time with this.“- Anime News Network

This movie is an adaptation of the Dante’s Inferno video game. If you liked that game… well, this is more of the same! If you disliked that game, you are not going to find anything here worth your time. It’s a bloody action cartoon, edgy for edginess’ sake, that loosely follows the plot of the game, mostly looking to capture the gory action. While it’s not an anthology film, it can feel like it at points: six different studios worked on this thing, and some of them are known for their great action animation.

If you like Netflix’s Castlevania, Hellsing, or God of War, or if you’re interested in seeing how different animation studios tackle the same subject matter, you might want to give this one a look. If you don’t like gore for gore’s sake? Skip this one, there’s nothing here for you.

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I’m not the biggest fan of this game, so I’m going to be sitting in the corner with my eye twitching, muttering in medieval Italian. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate...
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.5/10
53
“…video game movies haven’t had the best track record, this movie is by and far the best example of how to do one right.”– IGN

This movie is pure fan service. If you like Pokémon, you will love every single second of it. The world of Pokémon is fleshed out and looks gorgeous. Pokémon from just about every generation at the time this movie was released are represented, and they’re beautifully animated. Toho’s renowned animation studio had a hand in this, and it shows; they bring these pocket monsters to life with the same care and attention to detail that they use for Godzilla himself.

If you don’t like Pokemon… well, this is very much a children’s movie starring Ryan Reynolds as a wisecracking animated character. It’s a good example of the genre, don’t get me wrong. A film being aimed at children doesn’t make it an inherently bad film. But the plot, characterization, and comedy mostly follow the beats you’d expect, and if you’re not a fan of Pokemon or children’s media, you can probably skip this one without missing much.

pokemondetectivepikachu bestvideogamemovies
“I work for the CNM blog making Pokémon listicles all day, okay? “Top 10 Cutest Pokémon.” Newsflash, they’re all cute!”
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.6/10
50
“handsome, fast-paced and innocuous adventure”– Hollywood Reporter

By all accounts, this movie’s just plain fun. It’s a campy romp in the style of The Mummy or Pirates of the Caribbean. The main character’s the titular Prince Dastan of Persia, who, together with a Princess, must stop an evil villain who controls the Sands of Time, contained within a mystical dagger. It’s full of swashbuckling action and one-liners, and light on plot and characterization.

Critics, of course, panned it, because it was a campy movie based on a video game, and even a movie based on a theme park ride would get better reviews at the time. But fans of both the games and the movies enjoy this one– and considering how passionate video game fans can get, that’s saying something. If you like classic swashbuckling action, give it a go.

princeofpersiathesandsoftime bestvideogamemoviesofalltime
Calling it now: Homura Akemi would love this one.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.6/10
33
“Is this the future of horror or just some bizarre fluke? Don’t ask me, I’m having too much fun to care.”– Austin Chronicle

Even as early as 2002, video game movies had a bad reputation. And horror movies weren’t much better. But the Resident Evil movie managed to buck that trend by being an absolute delight. It takes the basic premise of Resident Evil and turns it into an action movie. An evil lab is growing bioweapons, and the zombies and zombie dogs it created have run amok. Our protagonists have to break in and destroy the computer that controls the lab. Along the way, they meet a mysterious girl who’s struggling with amnesia.

Critics at the time weren’t sure what to make of Resident Evil- it was an action/horror movie! Based on a video game! It wasn’t allowed to be good! Why was it so enjoyable? But fans loved the movie; they felt like it captured the atmosphere of the games, campy acting and all. Resident Evil’s become a bit of a cult classic, and it’s spawned more sequels than the Umbrella Corp spawns viruses.

residentevil bestvideogamemoviesofalltime
Fun Fact: the makeup department had trouble wrangling the zombie dogs. They kept licking off their blood and gore makeup.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.7/10
32
“Tasked with brokering a peace between event-sized thrills, gaming lore and high fantasy, Jones embraces Warcraft’s world with laudable commitment…”– Total Film

Like death, taxes, and weird third-party controllers, the Warcraft movie was an inevitability. World of Warcraft has a huge and devoted fanbase; Blizzard likes money. It’s a match made in heaven, and sure enough, Warcraft became the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. It’s a big-budget blockbuster, with a ton of mo-cap acting, lush scenery, and intense magic effects. The story mostly takes place in the timeline of Warcraft I, when a horde of orcs, fleeing their dying world, invade Azeroth.

Warcraft, like so many movies on this list, is a love letter to the fans. The movie exists just as much to bring Azeroth to life on the big screen as it does to tell its own story. There are plenty of in-jokes, lore asides, and sequel hooks that will go over the head of anyone who isn’t a Warcraft fan; the film’s story seems to take a backseat to these references at times. Still, it’s the kind of lush, intense big-budget fantasy movie people have been craving since Lord of the Rings left theatres, and if you’re hungry for more of that, Warcraft has your back.

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Fun fact: Uwe Boll, notorious adapter of awful video game movies, reportedly begged to direct Warcraft. A Blizzard representative told him, “We will not sell the movie rights, not to you… especially not to you.”
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
6.8/10
49
“A triumph of art direction, sound design and Gallic phat beats, but could do with a script upgrade and fun.exe patch.” – Empire

Is Tron a video game movie? You could make a case either way. On the one hand, Tron has definitely had its share of video game adaptations at this point, from 80s arcades to a PS4/XBox 1 Endless Runner. On the other hand, Tron was a movie first and a video game second. On the third, vestigial hand, Tron is a movie that’s fundamentally about video games, in a way that some of the games on this list just can’t aspire to be.

The son of the original film’s protagonist ventures into the virtual world, seeking his long-lost father. Along the way, he makes new friends, explores an upgraded version of Tron’s virtual world, and listens to some sick Daft Punk beats (yes, they did the entire soundtrack, and yes, it’s by far the best part of the movie). The film’s equal parts loving homage to the original Tron and attempt at updating its 80s computerscape to the standards of modern CGI. It’s spectacle over substance- but if any franchise deserved that treatment, let’s be honest, it was TRON.

tronlegacy bestvideogamemoviesofalltime
I might need to spend less time in the Wasteland. This third hand is becoming a problem.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
7.5/10
N/A (French film, not in wide English release)
“And the least we can say is that we are in no way disappointed, the work summoning imagination, humor and emotion at the same time, while maintaining throughout its 1h38 a sustained rhythm which should capture the attention of the little ones.” – Abus de Ciné, translated via Google

If you’re not familiar with French-language children’s media, you’re probably wondering what the heck a Dofus is or why it’s ranked so high on this list. Dofus is a French-language MMO that’s primarily aimed at a younger audience. It’s made by the creators of Wakfu, and it’s wildly popular in France and French-speaking countries. It currently has a larger playerbase than MMOs you might have heard of like The Secret World or Star Wars: Galaxies, and most French millenials who are gamers have a certain degree of nostalgia for the game. And its associated media– multiple TV shows, mostly — have the production value to match.

Dofus: Book 1 is a children’s fantasy movie set in the world of Dofus. It’s a pretty typical children’s adventure story– you’ve got your innocent young hero, your wise old mentor, your missing parents, your black and white dragon eggs that serve as MacGuffins, and so on. What really stands out about this movie is the animation. The backgrounds are beautiful and detailed and clearly drawn from the game’s world; the character designs are fantastic, and the animation is fluid, especially in the fight scenes. And while this clearly takes a lot of inspiration from anime, it also takes a lot of inspiration from French comic art, which has a very different style to it than the heavily Disney-influenced stuff you get in the US. It’s a delight for the eyes.

Sadly, if you don’t speak French, you can’t legally watch this one and have it make much sense. If this film had a Metascore, or if it was legally available in English anywhere, it’d crack #1 with ease. As is, it’s inaccessible to a huge chunk of folk, which is a crying shame.

dofusbook1 bestvideogamemovies
Dofus: somehow, the French answer to both Runescape Classic and Wizard 101.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
7.2/10
88
“Coming from a team that’s used to making CG cinemas less than five minutes long, Advent Children is a surprisingly auspicious debut. Here’s hoping they do it again.” – 1UP

One of the first movies on this list to crack a C grade, and deservedly so– Square Enix’s team are still some of the best animators and CG storytellers out there. This was their first attempt at a feature film, and the official, canonical sequel to Final Fantasy VII. Advent Children was released primarily as a direct-to-DVD film, but also received a PSP release. And it came out at the exact right time to get the critical attention it deserved… at least, from game reviewers.

Advent Children’s proved controversial over time. Some FFVII fans love the redesigned characters, expanded backstories, and new conclusion to a story they loved. Other fans dislike the redesigns, plot, and interpretations of the characters. And non-fans reported being confused by the film, because you need the context of an hours-long RPG to understand what’s going on.

Even with that context, though, some fans found Advent Children to be confusing or muddled. But that was a deliberate choice. The writers of Advent Children didn’t want to make a Hollywood movie, where every scene is explained to you over and over again; they designed every scene to be open-ended, and make you ask questions. Ultimately, how you feel about Advent Children will heavily depend on how you interpret it.

finalfantasyviiadventchildren bestvideogamemovies
(Note: This is not a video game.)

Those were the ten best video game movies, as ranked by IMDB. But this list will almost certainly be outdated before long; we’ve got new video game movies coming out left and right, from Super Mario Brothers to Firewatch. With a new generation of critics at the helm — critics who understand that video games can be art — and a new generation of video game movies on the way, you just know some of them will crack an IMDB 8/10 before long.

Did we miss a video game movie you love? Are you mad The Angry Birds Movie 2 or Street Fighter 2: The Movie didn’t make the cut? Let us know in the comments!

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