Ever since "Super Mario Bros." disappointed children everywhere in 1993, video game movies have been synonymous with abominations. Though video games have increased in mainstream popularity over the past twenty years, they haven't increased in quality. However, in honor of the somehow fifth "Resident Evil" movie hitting theaters this weekend, I'll attempt to be optimistic and list the five most tolerable video game films.
5. "Resident Evil: Apocalypse"
The second installment of the lifeless, yet somehow immortal "Resident Evil" saga is not a particularly good movie. The special effects are goofy, the performances are embarrassing, the costumes are hilariously distracting and the action is the series' usual brand of unconvincing wire-fu kicks and punches. However, I would argue that "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" is the closest the series has come to being fun. It's got the feel of an old-school zombie movie, bringing the series closer to the actual source material. If written and made a little smarter, it could have been an entertaining, "Piranha 3D"-like combo of B-movie chuckles and scares. Instead, most of the laughs and enjoyment are of the unintentional variety.
4. "Resident Evil"
When you ask most people what the best video game movie is, the majority of film fans will say 2002's opening installment to the "Resident Evil" franchise. It's not glaringly flawed and features a few decent action scenes and jump scares. Plus, since it's the beginning of Alice's battle with the idiotically devious Umbrella Corporation, the plot isn't quite as nonsensical as its successors (but it still makes no sense).
That being said, there's something inherently depressing about "Resident Evil." Writer/director/hack Paul W.S. Anderson took the essence of the original video game series, threw it out the window and replaced it with a loud, generic Euro-trash action film with a bland lead (who has improbably become the series' main character despite not existing in any of the games) doing fake-looking flips and kicks. It is watchable, though, which is more than I can say about "Alone in the Dark."
3. "Max Payne"
The Max Payne video game series, a gritty noir saga about a cop with a tragic past, came essentially pre-made for a movie. The 2008 adaptation takes a few of the ideas from the game but for the most part is a convoluted mess involving dead families, evil drugs and strange winged demons. It also features Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis attempting to act with cold intensity, but it mainly comes off as just not acting.
However, in a genre strewn with cheap-looking "Matrix" knock-offs and other bland features, "Max Payne" has a visual style that is actually pretty impressive. Director John Moore may not have many ideas about storytelling or guiding his actors, but his black-and-white slow motion visuals are often captivating. It's a painful movie to think critically about, but at least it's pretty to look at.
2. "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life"
Much like "Max Payne," the "Tomb Raider" series of video games seems perfect for a movie adaptation. They're essentially just Indiana Jones adventures but with a lot more misogyny. The first film, unfortunately, was a confusing slog. All I particularly remember is a climactic dream sequence in which Angelina Jolie and the villain run up opposite sides of a pyramid. Or at least, I think that's what happened.
The second film, directed by "Speed"'s Jan de Bont, isn't a great feature by any stretch of the imagination. Its story, though streamlined, is still weak, and if a chase or action scene isn't breaking out, "Cradle of Life" loses most of its already minimal steam. Thankfully, De Bont has a decent sense for stunts and action, so if a moviegoer goes in expecting just some fun chases, the second cinematic adventure of the world's worst archaeologist isn't awful. And for a video game adaptation, "isn't awful" is like a four-star review.
2005's "Doom," the cinematic adaptation of the ridiculously popular 1993 first-person shooter, is not a great movie. It is not even a particularly good movie. It's a far dumber, far cheaper version of "Aliens" directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, the man behind "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li," one of the worst films I've ever seen.
What "Doom" manages to do, however, that no other video game adaptation has, is entertain on an almost consistent basis. The horror-infused action has some moderately cool, creepy moments, and it stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who is unmatched when it comes to radiating macho charisma. There's even an effective twist near the end, an unexpected feat for a video game movie. "Doom" can be defined by a sequence near the end that replicates the first-person perspective of the original video game. It's silly and technically sketchy, but what the heck, it's goofily entertaining.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Aug. 29, 2016
Regardless of one's taste in comedy, it's hard to imagine someone not having a place in their laugh-loving heart for Gene Wilder, the Milwaukee-born comedy legend and big screen star who sadly passed away today at the age of 83.
Published Aug. 29, 2016
The common complaint is that Netflix's movie collection isn't what it used to be. But with September serving as the start of the streaming company's new deal with Disney, we may have to hush about its failure to get good new big releases
Published Aug. 26, 2016
OnMilwaukee caught up with comedian and "Silicon Valley" star T.J. Miller - while he was in a cornfield, natch - before his upcoming Milwaukee set to chat about working with Steven Spielberg, dying painfully (in movies) and why he loves Appleton.
Published Aug. 26, 2016
This morning, the Bucks and Froedtert & MCW announced they will develop two new health-oriented facilities in Downtown Milwaukee: a new practice and training facility, as well as medical office building and health center for the near North Side.
Published Aug. 25, 2016
Today, County Executive Chris Abele released a statement in the hopes of clarifying Milwaukee County's stance on Pokemon Go. It's fairly identical to what his office and the Parks Department said yesterday - just this time, with a lot of puns.
Published Aug. 24, 2016
The year 2016 has seen some powerful, earth-shattering tiffs in just its eight months, and now our city has a pop cultural beef of its own: Pokemon Go versus the Milwaukee County Parks Department. OnMilwaukee spoke to players and the Parks director for reaction.
Published Aug. 23, 2016
It's never been easier to know about breaking news as it's happening on the ground - and then share that news with others. But the facts can easily become polluted with ever more convincing half-truths, lies and oftentimes simple confusion.
Published Aug. 23, 2016
This morning, the Milwaukee Film Festival announced its latest program lineup, this time for the homegrown Cream City Cinema category. From docs to music videos to dramas to shorts and more, here's what to expect at this year's fest.
Published Aug. 17, 2016
Beginning Friday night, the inaugural Milwaukee Women's Film Festival will present a three-day big screen showcase for women's stories. The project, created by Andrea Thompson, started with a simple question: What are you doing?
Published Aug. 12, 2016
A federal judge today overturned the conviction of Brendan Dassey, who was found guilty of being an accessory to Teresa Halbach's 2005 murder and served as one of the subjects in the hit Netflix docu-series "Making a Murderer."