Sonic the Hedgehog is finally spinning into theaters this weekend after several months of visual effects tweaking to correct the ghoulish mistake that was the title character’s original design. The film will mark the latest video game adaptation to hit theaters, a dragon that Hollywood has been chasing for over a quarter century and still hasn’t managed to quite get right. Because unlike film adaptations of other “low” art such as comic books, we’ve still yet to see a video game movie that was really, actually good.
I have no idea why that is. Making a movie out of established brands is pretty hit-or-miss (for every The Lego Movie there are around 30 of The Emoji Movie), so the temptation to just make a bland movie out of long-established tropes and slap a FInal Fantasy logo on it is probably hard to overcome. And in some cases, like 1993’s Super Mario Bros., the problem seems to stem from a lack of any real film-able narrative in the source material, forcing the filmmakers to create their movies based on what they think the game is about and ending up with a movie that could best be described as secondhand reporting of a crime scene.
That said, while there may not be any truly good video game movies, there are definitely fun video game movies, and a few that have managed to become classics. I’ve done my best to rank every one from Worst to Greatest, with a view notable caveats, because as it turns out there are a shitload of them. My list excludes any animated movies (even though I genuinely liked Ratchet & Clank), because if I start trying to rank all of the Pokémon and Street Fighter animes I will simply turn to dust in my chair. I also excluded a few straight-to-DVD and international releases, most notably the Tekken films and DOA: Dead or Alive, because I’m never fucking watching those movies. But other than that, this list is fairly definitive, so read on to discover which are worth a rental and which should go the way of the Nintendo Cereal System.