Hollywood hasn't traditionally had a great track record when uses video games as source material for its blockbuster movies. For every Resident Evil or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, there's a Super Mario Bros. or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
So, if you're not a fan of movies based on video games, you're definitely not alone. However, that attitude might change in the future, or at least Hollywood is going to try to change whatever thoughts and feelings you associated with movies based on video games in the past. There are a few video game film adaptations hitting theaters in the near future (Ratchet & Clank, Angry Birds, Warcraft) as well as many more in development (Minecraft, Tetris, Gran Turismo), so expect movie screens across the country to look a lot more like your computer screen in the coming days, months and years.
One of those hoping to revamp the video game movie genre is Hitman: Agent 47, which was released in theaters Friday. As the title of this movie suggests, Hitman: Agent 47, which stars Rupert Friend in the lead role, is inspired by the Hitman series of games where you play as an assassin for hire. Hitman: Agent 47 is a reboot of sorts of the 2007 movie Hitman starring Timothy Olyphant. Coincidentally, the Hitman video game series will also be getting a facelift with a new reimagined game out Dec. 8.
Before we move on to the future of video games on the silver screen, let's not forget to look at the movies that have come before that paved the way for these upcoming films. Hey, they weren't all bad. Most of them had at least a few redeeming qualities like heart-pounding action, crazy special effects and quotable lines, even if they didn't completely live up to the video games on which they were based. Give the following movies based on video games — and a couple of video game documentaries — another stream on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, and you might just have a change of heart.
Netflix Instant Streaming:
Atari: Game Over (2014)
It was one of the most famous urban legends in video game history. For 30 years, it was rumored that there existed a landfill stuffed with thousands of cartridges of Atari's massive 1982 flop E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. It sounded just as unbelievable then as it does now, but this is one myth that actually turned out to be true when video game archaeologists finally unearthed the landfill in April 2014.
A documentary crew was also on the scene that day to capture the exciting excavation, which is detailed in the documentary Atari: Game Over. However, even more importantly, this eye-opening film traces the downfall of one of the most influential companies in video game history. Also available on Hulu with a Showtime subscription.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012)
Halo is a massively successful first-person shooter series, so it's no surprise that someone had the idea to translate it into a live-action film. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn follows the adventures of a freshman United Nations Space Command cadet who quickly has to learn how to protect his school from alien invaders. The only problem with this movie is that as you're watching it, you'll be wishing you could help take down those baddies, too. Also available on Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu.
Heavenly Sword (2014)
Most movies based on video games differ aesthetically from their source material. However, Heavenly Sword's feature-length film will make you think that you're watching a 90-minute long version of the game without any actual gameplay. However, that just means if you love the game, you'll probably love this movie, too. If you don't, the acting talents of Anna Torv, Alfred Molina and Thomas Jane, all of whom lend their voices to characters in the film, should keep you entertained.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is one of the most successful movies to be based on a video game. That's mostly thanks to Angelina Jolie's kick-ass turn as the titular character, which helped pave the way for her to become one of the biggest Hollywood stars today. Tomb Raider is one fun ride, and that's all you really need from an action movie, whether it's based on a video game or not.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003)
Jolie returns as Lara Croft for this Tomb Raider sequel. It's pretty much got all of the bells and whistles of the first film, except for Jolie running around in that famous silver wetsuit in this installment. That's a pretty, shall I say, noticeable, difference.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat has and always will be my favorite movie based on a video game. Featuring most of the main characters from the successful fighting game series as they assemble for a combat tournament organized by an evil emperor hell-bent on destroying the world, Mortal Kombat is action-packed, campy and has an epic theme song. It's everything I could have asked for in a movie based on a video game — or a movie in general, really.
Video Games: The Movie (2014)
Whether you want to learn more about the development, marketing and culture of video games or are already a diehard gamer, Video Games: The Movie is a documentary that will immerse you in the world of video games past, present and future. With some star-studded appearances from the likes of Zach Braff, Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick, Video Games: The Movie is ultimately about why people love video games and why they will probably continue to do so for years to come.
Wing Commander (1999)
Any video game, even the most basic, can be turned into a full-blown movie. Just look at Wing Commander, the 1999 film based on the successful series of space combat simulators by the same name. Though you'll probably have more fun actually playing Wing Commander (or watching Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s other movie from 1999, She's All That), this is is a decent sci-fi film with some neat interplanetary battles. Also available on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
If you subscribe to Showtime with Hulu, you can watch this horror flick based on the successful survival game series of the same name. It's way scarier than the early games in the series, especially since the first installment looks like a gamified version of Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" music video. So, you know, don't watch it alone in the dark.
House of the Dead (2003)
Before directing Alone in the Dark, Uwe Boll was at the helm of another movie based on a horror video game, House of the Dead. With zombies running amok in House of the Dead, the video game is gorier than Alone in the Dark, and as a result, the movie adaptation is, too. You can access this film on Hulu with a subscription to Showtime.
Need for Speed (2014)
Another movie that requires a Showtime subscription to stream on Hulu is one of the more recent films based on a video game to hit theaters, Need for Speed. This hit racing game series was turned into a major racing movie starring Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul. Though it didn't really reach the level of The Fast and the Furious franchise, there's already a sequel in the works for this film, so you better catch it now before it passes you by.
Street Fighter: Round One: Fight! (2009)
Unfortunately, the so-bad-it's-good live-action adaptation of Street Fighter starring Jean-Claude Van Damme isn't available on Hulu. However, you can watch this 2009 movie that's actually based on Udon's Street Fighter comic book series. It'll give you your fill of Ryu, Guile, M. Bison and the rest of the gang with some nice visuals, too. Also available on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
House of the Dead II (2005)
Zombies are all over the place in entertainment these days (Fear the Walking Dead, anyone?). If you still need more of these gross, ghoulish walkers, you can catch the House of the Dead sequel on Amazon Prime Instant Video. House of the Dead II is just as over-the-top as the first movie, which means it should keep you just as entertained.