worstvideogamemovies 2
Content Type: Gaming News
Date: November 19, 2022

Critics hate video game movies. We recently published an article about the best video game movies ever made, and one of the things that came up over and over again was how difficult it is to find a video game movie that critics would rate higher than “meh, C+ for effort.”

But after discovering some of the stinkers on this list… frankly, we don’t blame them. Each of these terrible video-game themed movies is worse than the last. Shoddy continuity, wafer-thin plots, terrible acting and directing, and absolutely no connection to the games they’re based on? If any of these films were your first introduction to video game movies, you’d run away from them, too.

The rules are the same as the last time: ten movies, ranked from ‘so bad it’s good’ to ‘just plain rancid’. We’re ranking these movies as objectively as possible by IMDB rating; if there’s a tie, we use Metascore to determine the “winner”. Only one movie per series gets to be on this list, because with some of these directors at the helm, bad things happen in threes. (Seriously, if we hadn’t implemented this rule, the entire list would be made up of a handful of movie franchises.) Let’s get to it!

Movie
IMDB Rating
Metascore
Why, dear god, why?!
Super Mario Bros
4.1
35
The first video game movie set the stage for what was to come.
Double Dragon
3.8
N/A
The guy who wrote every geeky millenial’s childhood couldn’t save this one.
In the Name of the King
3.8
15
The most damning thing about this movie is that I have nothing to say.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
3.7
17
Chun-Li should not be boring. How did you make Chun-Li boring?!
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
3.6
11
A sad sequel to a movie that wasn’t well-received to begin with.
Far Cry
3.2
N/A
How do you screw up Far Cry?! Oh. Hi, Mr. Boll.
The King of Fighters
3.0
N/A
The budget was low. The homophobia? Off the charts.
Bloodrayne
2.9
18
A vampire movie… set in the 18th century… with a cameo… by Meatloaf.
Alone in the Dark
2.4
9
How do you get a single digit Metascore?!
House of the Dead
2.1
15
A horror movie… with a director’s cut that’s a comedy.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
4
34
“The movie knocks your eyes out, at the same time it dulls the mind’s eye. Ultimately, it’s one more stop in the arcade, beckoning, waiting to soak up time and money.” – Los Angeles Times

This movie. My god. This movie. This movie was so bad that Nintendo waited thirty years to make another Mario movie. And when they did make one, they named it Super Mario Bros, just like this one. Presumably, they hoped that it would clog up the search results and we’d forget that this one ever existed. Unfortunately, if you’ve seen any part of this movie, it’s impossible to forget.

It’s a bad adaptation of its source material. It’s got a weird plot about an invasion of lizard people from a parallel universe where dinosaurs went extinct. The comedy, if you can call it that, is plodding. The acting is alternately wooden (Our Heroes the Mario Bros) and scenery-chewing (Dennis Hopper, as the ‘Koopa King’). The special effects would be impressive for the time, were they not anatomically improbable and frightening to small children. This is a gritty, 90s take on the franchise — an incredibly 90s take on the franchise — and it’s immediately obvious to anyone who watches it today.

Super Mario Bros. was the first movie ever to be based on a video game. If it had been in the hands of a director who understood the appeal of the Mario series, it would have changed Hollywood forever. As it is… it definitely set the stage for what was to come.

supermariobros1993 worstvideogamemovies
Dennis Hopper’s son asked him why he acted in this movie, and Hopper told him “oh, it’s so that I can feed you and buy you shoes”. Hopper’s son allegedly looked at him and said, “If it means you’re in this movie? I don’t want shoes.”
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.8
N/A
“…it’s a far better video game movie than you’d think. I mean, it’s still not good or anything, but it’s enjoyable for what it is.” – MutantReviewers

Double Dragon is based on the arcade game of the same name. It’s sci-fi martial arts camp, truly some of the purest 90s cheese committed to film. Bad fight choreography, worse acting, and special effects that have aged like milk? Say it ain’t so!

The thing that makes Double Dragon stand out among game movies is its absolutely bonkers storyline. The plot of this film was written by Neal Shusterman (a writer known for mid-grade science fiction like the Unwind series) and Paul Dini, who… listen, if you’ve enjoyed a DC comics cartoon in the last 20+ years, Paul Dini had a hand in it. Batman: The Animated Series? Paul Dini. Batman Beyond? Paul Dini. Harley Quinn? DC Superhero Girls? Krypto: the freakin’ Superdog? All Paul Dini. He even wrote the original game script of Batman: Arkham Asylum. This guy has chops.

With a guy like Dini behind the story, you’d expect, if not something good, at least something interesting. And sure enough, he transformed what could have been a generic modern martial arts movie into a weird sci-fi epic, set in the distant year of 2007. Twin brothers, in the post-apocalypse, have to protect half of an ancient magic amulet from an evil mob boss. Unfortunately, Dini didn’t write the script.

The movie’s full of awful quips, ghastly fight choreography, bad acting, and odd casting choices. If this film had starred the Caped Crusader, instead of two generic dudes, maybe it wouldn’t be on this list. As is, of all the movies on this list, this is the one you might actually want to watch. It’s a fun movie; you can’t say it’s good, but it’s “so bad it’s good”. And it definitely leaves an impression on you, which you cannot say for some of the other movies on this list.

doubledragon1994 worstvideogamemovies
Paul Dini also worked on the Clone Wars cartoon. Yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I called him “the man who wrote your childhood”.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.8
15
“An awkward “Lord of the Rings” knockoff, it features both elaborate battles and bumbling humor, though it’s never quite clear when you should be laughing.” – The New York Times

And now we come to a name that will dominate this list; a director so infamous, so universally loathed among video game cinephiles, that the documentary about his life and career is simply titled Fuck You All. This director is none other than Uwe Boll.

Uwe Boll is a German filmmaker. I’d call him “the Tommy Wiseau of video game movies”, but Tommy Wiseau is a disaster artist, and Boll… well, you’ll see. Uwe Boll scooped up the rights to adopt a bunch of different video games into movies in the mid-2000s, and financed them himself. With no investors to hold him accountable, he used these video game movies as a tax shelter. Thanks to a loophole in German tax code, Boll recouped most of his investment for making the movie. So he didn’t have to worry about silly things like “quality” or “profit” or “making the fans happy”– he got to live out his lifelong dream of being a filmmaker and save himself a bunch of cash in the process. And boy, does it show. His movies are universally flops, and if you ask any gamer who’s a fan of one of his franchises about his take on the source material, they will froth at the mouth.

Why go on about Uwe Boll instead of talking about In The Name Of The King? Two reasons. First, so that when you see “this is an Uwe Boll movie”, you fully understand what that means. An Uwe Boll video game movie isn’t just bad; it’s fractally bad. Second: there is almost nothing to say about In The Name of the King. It’s allegedly a video game movie, based on an RPG called Dungeon Siege that was well-regarded at the time. But it has a couple of character and place names slapped on, and not much else to do with the game. It’s a fantasy movie that came out in 2007, so it’s trying very hard to be a Lord of the Rings clone. Of course, it has neither the budget nor the heart of the Lord of the Rings movies.

It’s a bland, uninspired turd of a movie… and this is one of Boll’s better films. Prepare to suffer, folks.

inthenameoftheking2007 worstvideogamemovies
There’s so little to say about this movie that let’s just put an unrelated fact in here: did you know Christopher Lee made not one, but two heavy metal operas about Charlemagne?
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.7
17
“Don’t be fooled by the low grade: This sequel-in-spirit to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 1994 dud doesn’t even succeed in being memorably bad.” – Entertainment Weekly

A Street Fighter movie ought to be a slam dunk. Colorful characters, fantastic globe-trotting settings, four iconic villains, and a simple plot based on becoming the best fighter in the world are a recipe for success. And the various Street Fighter anime films are highly regarded– had one of them had any critical reviews whatsoever, it would have made our ‘Best Video Game Movies’ list. But the live-action films are, by and large, panned. Critics hate them; fans are divided at best. The 1994 Street Fighter movie at least has the distinction of being an endless fountain of memes and Raul Julia quotes. But did you even remember Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li existed until we brought it up?

This is, allegedly, the story of Chun-Li’s quest for revenge against M. Bison. It’s meant to have the spirit of a Hong Kong action flick, and is meant to be Cool and Edgy. It even has an unrated director’s cut — that’s how edgy it is. Unfortunately, this means that the series’ entire identity goes down the tubes. No one is in their iconic costumes. Chun-Li sports a black catsuit, and everyone else is dressed like a normal person. Costuming is a very important part of filmmaking; it’s critical to establishing a set of place and the identity of a series. Bad costuming is the first symptom of an awful film. If Vega looks like a generic goon, something’s gone horribly wrong.

And sure enough, the dialogue is stilted, the acting is poor, the plot is bonkers in the bad way, and the film doesn’t even have the good grace to have a sense of humour about it. It’s trying to be Batman Begins; it winds up being forgettable drivel.

streetfighterlegendofchunli worstvideogamemovies
This was the poster in which Chun-Li looks most like herself. Kid you not: in every other poster, she isn’t even wearing blue.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.6
11
“It’s cynical and it’s depressing, and I would lock a child in a room before I’d show him Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” – LA Weekly

We tried to avoid sequels on this list. Everyone knows unplanned movie sequels are usually not as good as the first movie, and there’s usually not much to say about them. “This is a worse version of a movie that was kind of okay?” That’s dull. You don’t need to read that. No one needs to read that. But when a series has a fifty-point drop in its Metascore between the first and second movie, something has gone wrong in an interesting way.

And sure enough, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is bad. The original Mortal Kombat movie is something of a cult classic; it’s not a critical darling, but it’s a film many fans of MK enjoy. This sequel? It’s a direct slap in the face to anyone who liked the original. Most of the characters have been recast with new, cheaper actors. A fan-favourite character gets killed for shock value in the first act, with no dramatic payoff. The script makes the original movie look like Shakespeare, the acting is awful, and the ending leaves no room to continue (or fix) the story.

But all of these things could, in theory, be forgiven. A Mortal Kombat movie lives and dies not on its clever writing or powerful emotional moments, but on its fight scenes and effects. Yet those are ghastly too! In the original Mortal Kombat, most of the Kombatants did their own stunts; here, most of the actors have stunt doubles. The fights are dull and uninspired; even the Scorpion/Sub-Zero duel didn’t do it for most people. And the special effects took a hit, presumably to save money.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is the worst kind of sequel: a naked cash grab with less heart in it than the sixteenth recoloured ninja. Avoid it if you can.

mortalkombatannihilation1997 worstvideogamemovies
Fun fact: out of respect for the Thai culture, no major Thai historical artifacts were damaged onscreen. Also, it would have cost money for the special effects to “damage” them.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.2
N/A
“To my profound disappointment, though it may look and feel like a Golan-Globus production of old, Uwe Boll’s Far Cry is a far cry from being an American Ninja 2: The Confrontation for a new generation.” – DreadCentral

Far Cry is another one of those series you’d think would be a slam dunk to adapt. But take a look at the credits– there’s Mr. Uwe Boll again. And the movie was produced and filmed before the first Far Cry game hit store shelves. Oh dear. This is going to hurt, isn’t it?

Uwe Boll says he was trying to channel 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange with parts of this movie. We’ll leave the unfunny Clockwork Orange jokes in the dustbin where they belong, but let’s be real: the thing that Boll actually channeled was every 80s movie where a hero with an indecipherable accent and a square jaw mowed his way through a thousand identical goons. A lot of chase scenes on boats, a lot of explosions.

It’d be enjoyably bad, in a ‘generic action movie’ kind of way…. but the film’s writer also decided to attempt comedy. “Dying is easy, comedy is hard”, as they say, and this film’s comedy will make you wish for the “comedy” characters’ death. It’s tonally wrong for a gory action movie- it’d fit better into a film starring PeeWee Herman, or maybe Ernest. It’s farcial and every scene goes on way too long.

This movie’s budget was 30 million USD. It made back less than $1 million USD. It was a box-office bomb, and it didn’t even explode its way into the hearts of fans.

farcry2008 worstvideogamemovies
This actor was perfect for the job, at least. He looks like every single 7th generation FPS protagonist did the fusion dance.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
3.0
N/A
“I would’ve accepted a Dragonball: Evolution level of ineptness. That movie is so wonderfully terrible that you can’t help but laugh your head off while watching it. Unfortunately, King of Fighters didn’t even give me that. It just a bad film with mediocre-to-decent fight scenes.” – A Beautiful Film Worth Fighting For

This movie is bad on every conceivable level, and not in a fun way. Some parts of this movie were offensively bad; others were just plain bad.

It’s a bad movie on a craft level, for one thing. It’s got all the cinematic flubs that you’ve come to expect from the films on this list. Corny dialogue, stilted acting, bad directing, a budget too small to afford feeding the protagonist a ham sandwich, costuming that ranges from ‘bland’ to ‘thoughtless’… You know the drill by now. It also commits the one sin that a martial arts action flick should never commit: the fight scenes are bad. If you’re going to make a low-budget Hong Kong martial arts movie, which KOF is trying to be, you at least need the fight choreography to match.

It should come as no surprise that it’s also a terrible adaptation. The bad costuming means that no one “looks like” themself. Our protagonist doesn’t use her signature fans to fight; in fact, all the action is kind of generic. Oh, and the ‘protagonist’ of the film is a side character in the games. Terry’s not our lead here. The plot revolves around a fighting tournament with dimension hopping, which as far as I can tell is ripping off Mortal Kombat more than paying homage to King of Fighters.

But we got angry at this movie, and it has nothing to do with its production quality or its adaptation fidelity. King of Fighters: 2010 is a profoundly homophobic waste of celluloid. If you don’t want to read about homophobia, skip to past the poster.

In the King of Fighters games, a major antagonist has two secretaries named Mature and Vice. They’re badass, sadistic office ladies who are quite competent villains in their own right. So far, so good! The names are a bit silly, but we’re in fighting game land; everything’s a bit silly. But this movie decided to make them lesbians, and then have the villain turn them into his mind-controlled S&M henchwomen. By kissing them. Yeah. Keeping the soapboxing to a minimum: this kind of homophobic plotline has no place in a movie from this millennium.

King of Fighters 2010 is a mess, and even without that plotline, it wouldn’t be worth a recommendation. With that plotline? Kill it with fire.

kingoffighters2010 worstvideogamemovies 1
This Japanese poster was the only one we could find. Looks like even the production company wants you to forget this one exists.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
2.9
18
“Boll simply delivers the turgid drama and incompetently staged action sequences that have made him the unstoppable Big Boss of the gaming community…” – The A.V. Club

The next three movies on this list were all produced and directed by– you guessed it– Uwe Boll. If you thought things were going to get better, you’ve got a wild ride ahead. All of these movies regularly make lists of the worst movies of all time, and it’s hard to pick which is worst.

BloodRayne is a vampire movie about a corset-wearing action girl named Rayne escaping from a freak show and teaming up with a group of vampire hunters to get her revenge. This has nothing to do with the plot of the games. The original game centers around Rayne looking for her father and fighting Nazis. So we’re already off to an interesting start, and it only goes downhill from here.

Everything this movie touches turns to cheese, and not in a good way. The acting, directing, cinematography, and fight choreography are all what you’d expect from a film this far down the list. Again, bad costuming is the first symptom of a bad movie. This historical costuming is so hysterically bad that it makes Braveheart look like a model of accuracy. Combine that with the rampant anachronisms in the writing and total lack of regard for the games’ original setting, and you’re left wondering: why on earth is this movie set in the 1700s? For heavens’ sake — it has a cameo by Meat Loaf.

IMDB claims that this movie’s script was a first draft, and we believe it. Everything about this flick needed more time in the oven, and it didn’t get that time. But BloodRayne can be a good time, if you go into it expecting schlock. That’s more than you can say for the next two entries on our list.

bloodrayne2005 worstvideogamemovies
As the protagonist, Rayne can dress however she wants. Nobody else in this movie has an excuse.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
2.4
9
“So inept on every level, you wonder why the distributor didn’t release it straight to video, or better, toss it directly into the trash.” – The New York Times

It should not be possible to get a single-digit Metascore. A Metascore is an average of all critical reviews a movie receives. If even one reviewer decides, “eh, video game movies are bad, we’re grading on a curve here, so let’s give this one a 7/10”? That movie’s Metascore can jump five or ten points. A movie with a Metascore in the single digits is so bad, so universally panned, that every critic who watched it gave it an F… and most critics gave it a low F.

Alone in the Dark is an award-winning masterwork, if by ‘award-winning’ you mean ‘multiple Stinker awards, a Razzie nomination, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association’s Worst Film winner’. It’s an adaptation of the survival horror classic Alone in the Dark, if by ‘adaptation’ you mean ‘a film that borrows the title and the main character’s name, and absolutely nothing else’. It’s a real mess of a movie — so much so, in fact, that the filmmakers had to add a text scroll during the opening credits, so that the audience could have a ghost of a chance of fathoming what’s going on.

And what isn’t going on in this movie? Ancient Native American civilizations. Secret artifacts. A government program turning orphans into sleeper agent monsters. More talk of light and darkness than you’d get in your average Kingdom Hearts? Let’s throw that in the pot too! Combine that with all the other bad movie sins, and you’ve got a film that even bad movie aficionados will hate: directing, acting, cinematography, music — you name it, it doesn’t work.

Alone in the Dark fans have had it rough these past few decades. The original game is widely regarded as the birth of the survival horror genre, but every remake, sequel, and reboot of the series has been a critical disaster. But Alone in the Dark (2005) might be the worst thing to happen to this series.

aloneinthedark worstvideogamemovies 1
The poster makes you think you might be getting some lovely H.R. Geiger body horror. Regrettably for everyone, what you’re getting is confusion.
IMDB
Metascore
Review Quote
2.1
15
House of the Dead, sadly, is so bad it’s bad.” – Boston Globe

Alone in the Dark regularly tops lists of the worst movies ever made. If we were going by Metascore alone, it’d top this list. But we’re using IMDB scores here, so that means that there’s one movie that’s worse. One video game movie that even the most undiscriminating fans of video game movies will agree is bad. One video game movie, made by Uwe Boll, to rule them all.

House of the Dead (2003) is another one of those contenders for ‘Worst Movie of All Time’. Unlike Alone in the Dark, it’s a fairly paint-by-numbers zombie film. A group of college kids go to an isolated island to attend a rave. Unfortunately, the island’s light on partying and heavy on zombies. They have to escape, the only ones to make it out alive are the cute straight couple, blah blah blah, we’ve all seen this song and dance before. Even if you don’t like zombie movies, you know that this is cliche.

It’s difficult not to repeat the lists of these movies’ sins. Acting? Feugh. Directing? Blecch. Costume design, creature design, set design? They’re all wretched. And unlike Alone in the Dark, with its bizarre plot and nonsensical twists, they don’t even have the good grace to be interestingly bad. The only other thing this movie has to offer are scantily-clad women– and even back in 2003, if that was all you wanted, you could find that without sitting through an entire movie.

This movie is so bad at being scary that the Director’s Cut is a comedy, complete with dubbed-in fart noises, pop-up notes about every inconsistency and plot hole, and refilmed “funnier” takes on certain scenes. It also adds in the cut gore effects and more footage from the House of the Dead video game, but at that point, why bother watching the movie? You could just play the game, and you’d probably have more fun.

houseofthedead worstvideogamemovies
Or you could play Typing of the Dead. That one’s always a good time.

We’re living in a golden age of video game movies. Everything from Five Nights at Freddy’s to Firewatch is getting its own flick. Combine that with video game TV shows — Cuphead, Castlevania, Captain Laserhawk, and that’s just the C’s — and we’re not going to run out of good video game adaptations any time soon. Heck, even Super Mario Bros. might redeem itself with the Jack Black/Chris Pratt movie coming out next year. No matter what kind of games you like, there is an adaptation you might enjoy.

Considering how spoiled we are for choice, and considering how much these movies suck? We’re better off consigning them to the dustbin of history.

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