The best video game movies of all time
What are the best video game movies? If there’s one type of film that has a lesser reputation than video game adaptations, we haven’t seen it yet. And rightly so, given how many of the worst movies have come from games. Some, however, manage to break the mold and become decent action movies.
In fact, a select few might even be considered awesome. Some damn good horror films, animated movies, family movies, and others have come from filmmakers tackling games, either adapting an existing franchise or exploring certain mechanics in one way or another. Even esteemed directors have done it, proving that the general cynicism of Hollywood isn’t entirely widespread.
In our efforts to ensure that you always have the best movies handy, we sifted through the mud to find the video game gems to seek out. here are the best video game movies, containing both films that use games mechanically and direct links. You might find a hot take or two – we’re definitely outliers on at least one – but we promise there’s something to it all. Keep an open mind!
What are the best video game movies?
- resident Evil
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
- sonic the hedgehog 2
- Werewolves inside
- silent Hill
- Detective Pikachu
- Super Mario Bros.
- free guy
- Dead Space: Fall
Resident Evil (2002)
The 2002 film adaptation of Resident Evil takes a lot of liberties with the source material horror games, but keeps it intact enough to feel recognizable. More sci-fi than the gritty original game, Paul WS Anderson’s take features a huge Umbrella Corporation facility beneath the notorious Spencer Mansion, where the T-Virus has only just begun to run rampant.
A STARS team is called in to investigate, but our protagonist is the new Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, rather than Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. She’s just as good at killing the undead and helps make this a zombie movie worthy of its moniker.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Upon entering, it seemed like such a shameless attempt at nostalgia. Although Robin Williams is inimitable, Dwayne JohnsonJack Black and their co-stars elevate Jumanji-but-it-is-videogames into one of the best legacy sequels we’ve had.
The lead actors strip away the great sport of being avatars of their teenage years, and the level of video game literacy in the storyline makes for an exuberant satire of the medium. Even for those who don’t understand the jargon, it’s just plain fun.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)
It seems like a small miracle that the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie ended quite well. That the second would manage to be an improvement in almost every way is almost inconceivable. Miles ‘Tails’ Prower in tow, Sonic takes on Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles for the Chaos Emeralds in a mish-mash of his classic platformers.
There’s plenty of nodding in Jeff Fowler’s confident follow-up, from Robotnik’s contraptions to Sonic’s zips and bounces through labyrinthine areas. Not even a superficial human subplot can break its rhythm, making it one of the best Blue Blur misadventures of this century.
Werewolves Inside (2022)
Unless you have the namesake VR version, you’d probably think Werewolves Within was based on the board game of finding the lycanthropic monster in the room. Josh RubenThe animated thriller is more akin to the latter, as a group of small-town residents find themselves stranded in a local hotel during a monstrous killing spree.
New ranger Finn, played by Sam Richardson, is stuck trying to figure things out, helped by the slightly oddball Cecily Moore, played by Milana Vayntrub. Taking inspiration from Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, tension and laughter are equal parts, along with sleek cuts and decor to keep the mood going. A very interesting thriller.
Silent Hill (2006)
Is it as good as Silent Hill games? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a decent horror film on its own. A woman named Rose takes her daughter Sharon to Silent Hill in an effort to heal her visions of the strange and disturbing town. They are separated at the entrance, forcing Rose to navigate the foggy places, encountering all sorts of disturbing creatures in the process.
Director Christopher Gans personally asked Konami to license the film adaptation, and you can sense a love for the source material among the grime and fog. Pyramid Head is a terrifying mass, and the disjointed swarm of nurses is as scary as it gets. None of this is as disturbing as it should be, but enjoyable all the same.
Detective Pikachu (2019)
Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu really could have gone either way. Sure, he’s charismatic and beloved, but becomes one of the most iconic anime characters into a shrewd investigator was risky. Luckily, Reynolds isn’t in full mode, instead complementing Judge Smith, who is trying to figure out where his father disappeared to.
It’s a great angle into the world of pocket monsters that allows us to see how humanity and Pokemon have become co-dependent without retreading games or series. Seeing characters like Charizard and Gyarados on a large scale is amazing, tickling a fantasy those who were there when the red and blue Pokemon Games arrived have hung on for decades.
Super Mario Bros: The Movie (1993)
A Financial Disaster That Barely Looks Like Any Super Mario game never done; yes, of course, everything is true and valid. But look past the accepted wisdom, it sucks, and you’ll see John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins frolicking through the Mushroom Kingdom under the supervision of Terry Gilliam.
Somehow, between the many directors, Super Mario Bros has concluded an idiosyncratic mix of early ’90s American sci-fi and staple games. Goombas are legal mutations administered as punishment to criminals, and the streets are full of debauchery. One thing remains the same: the king of Bowser’s castle, here a slimy politician played by Dennis Hopper. Hollywood hegemony is often so bland that you crave something completely weird. Super Mario Bros is that if nothing else.
Free Guy (2021)
You think you know this one from the trailer. Ryan Reynolds is an NPC in an open-world MMORPG game who gets god mode and challenges human players and developers behind his environment. But then the full story contains AI autonomy, a societal uprising, and an underlying commentary about fostering a small, safe community over ever-changing growth.
Free Guy is the kind of Reynolds movie he has a knack for, where his schtick is used as a hook for something that’s surprisingly deep. Eccentric and slightly clueless game development CEO Taika Waititi is near you if you know a lot about systemic issues in the industry, and that’s just one of the ways Free Guy might surprise you.
Possibly the most moving film David Cronenberg has ever made. It’s not just the visuals in this treatise on our sense of reality that dissipates, it’s the sound. The snapping and crunching of bones and teeth as characters construct weapons from animal remains is nauseating, an effective spotlight on how we treat digital bodies.
Released the same year as The Matrix, Cronenberg’s image is more pathological, pushing through the layers of the eponymous game. The players, including Jude Law and Ian Holm, slide deeper down the rabbit hole to the point that an exit becomes impossible. But maybe that was always the point.
Dead Space: Fall
John Carpenter has expressed interest in making a Dead Space movie, and he’ll be hard pressed to top the number of cut limbs in this animated prequel. Set in the perspective of the original Dead Space survival gamethe Ishimura mining ship picks up a mysterious item called the Marker that some teammates become adamant about.
The marker’s effects on people don’t end there, as some transform into horrific necromorphs who begin maiming other passengers. Soon, only these strange alien creatures remain until another ship responds to a distress signal. Nearly 90 minutes of limbs and torsos.