Video game movies don’t have the best reputation, and many are closer to curiosities than masterpieces. But there’s still plenty of fun in these movies, especially if you don’t take them seriously. Here are 10 video game movies worth watching.
Update, 3/30/23: After reviewing our guide, we’ve verified our links are working and added two new recommendations.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Sonic the Hedgehog
For many fans, 1995’s Mortal Kombat was the first legitimate video game movie, an action-filled spectacle with an indelible soundtrack and a genuine affinity for the game that inspired it. The movie captures the simplicity of Midway’s arcade fighting game with familiar characters and catchphrases. It features expertly choreographed martial arts within a vaguely fantasy-inspired storyline (which is really just an excuse for more fight scenes).
Mortal Kombat is streaming for free with ads on Tubi and is available for digital purchase ($9.99+) and rental ($2.99+) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
It seemed a little odd that the first-ever live-action Pokémon movie would be based on the spin-off game Detective Pikachu, but that turns out to be the perfect choice for a fun sci-fi movie with broad mainstream appeal. Cute little monster Pikachu becomes a cynical detective voiced by Ryan Reynolds, solving a mystery in a futuristic city populated by humans and Pokémon. Pikachu teams up with a missing police detective’s son (Justice Smith) in order to track down the young man’s father.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is available for digital purchase ($14.99+) and rental ($3.99) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
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German filmmaker Uwe Boll made a career out of directing almost universally reviled video game adaptations, including Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead. Postal is Boll’s feature-length middle finger to his critics, an aggressively offensive comedy based on the button-pushing video game series. Postal is vulgar, violent, and deliberately unpleasant, featuring cameos from both Boll and game designer Vince Desiderio as themselves, essentially taunting the audience. It’s uniquely awful and awfully unique at the same time.
Postal is streaming for free with ads on Tubi and is available for digital purchase ($2.99+) and rental ($0.99+) at Amazon.
Do you like seeing giant monsters fight? Because that’s what you get in Rampage, a loose adaptation of the popular 1980s arcade game. Dwayne Johnson gets top billing, but the real stars of this movie are the mutated animals (gorilla, crocodile, and wolf) that wreak havoc across various landscapes. There’s more plot to this movie than there is to the simplistic game, but the filmmakers still introduce only as much narrative as is necessary to get the monsters to attack (and to give Johnson some cool one-liners).
Rampage is available for digital purchase ($9.99+) and rental ($3.99) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
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Director Paul W.S. Anderson has attracted a cult following for his brand of no-frills action filmmaking, and he’s the main auteur behind the successful Resident Evil franchise. Anderson directed four of the six movies based on the Capcom game series, starting with this opening installment. The first movie introduces Milla Jovovich as Alice, a covert agent battling against the zombie apocalypse unleashed by the sinister Umbrella Corporation.
Resident Evil is streaming on Netflix ($6.99+ per month) and is available for digital purchase ($7.99+) and rental ($2.99+) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
One of the most critically acclaimed video game adaptations, Silent Hill turns the creepy horror game into a creepy horror movie. Radha Mitchell stars as a mother searching for her missing daughter in the haunted town of Silent Hill. The more she explores the town, the deeper she falls into a nightmare world, with characters and imagery taken from the game. It’s a surreal, disturbing movie that follows the unpredictable logic of a dream.
Silent Hill is available for digital purchase ($12.99+) and rental ($3.99) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
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Sonic the Hedgehog
After years of attempts to bring Sega’s flagship character to the big screen, Sonic the Hedgehog became a major box-office hit in 2020 with its mix of sci-fi action and goofy comedy. Ben Schwartz voices the hyperactive blue title character, with Jim Carrey as Sonic’s longtime nemesis Dr. Robotnik. It’s a family-friendly movie that doesn’t break new ground but still finds a way to effectively place Sonic in the framework of a crowd-pleasing blockbuster.
Sonic the Hedgehog is streaming on Paramount+ ($4.99+ per month) and is available for digital purchase ($12.99+) and rental ($2.99+) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
After the Angelina Jolie-led Tomb Raider movies fizzled out with two entries, adventurer Lara Croft was rebooted with this grittier take starring Alicia Vikander. Vikander’s Lara is still a globe-trotting treasure-hunter, but she’s more of a scrappy fighter than a glamorous socialite. Here, Lara goes on a quest to find her missing father, which takes her into ancient ruins on an island off the coast of Japan. There, she faces mythical dangers as well as the more common (but also dangerous) threat posed by human greed.
Tomb Raider is available for digital purchase ($7.99+) and rental ($3.99) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
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Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg star as a pair of treasure hunters in this adaptation of the long-running Uncharted franchise. The throwback style recalls the Indiana Jones series and other classic action-adventure movies, with a fun, fast-paced story about a search for the hidden riches of legendary explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Holland and Wahlberg trade quips while the characters gallivant around the globe, and Antonio Banderas is enjoyably hammy as the ruthless, ultra-rich villain.
Uncharted is streaming on Netflix ($6.99+ per month) and is available for digital purchase ($14.99) and rental ($3.99) at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
Although it’s a lesser-known video game, Werewolves Within proved to be perfect source material for a goofy horror comedy from director Josh Ruben. Sam Richardson stars as a forest ranger dispatched to a remote small town, which is soon cut off from the outside world after a snowstorm.
When a dead body turns up, everyone in the town seems suspicious, including the ranger’s potential love interest, a perky mail carrier played by Milana Vayntrub. Ruben mixes silly jokes with surprisingly solid suspense, for a cute, upbeat movie about gruesome murders.
Werewolves Within is available for digital purchase ($9.99+) and rental ($4.99) from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and other digital outlets.
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