We all know at least one movie that was made based on a video game. We also know that most of them aren’t highly regarded as great movies, but here at Geeks Under Grace we want to change that image. There are some good ones out there, and we want to highlight them and give them the recognition they deserve.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is an absolutely fantastic movie. While I will not stand on principle and declare that it’s the best movie based on a video game, it is certainly the best one I’ve seen. It’s full of action and drama, and can be enjoyed by Final Fantasy fans and non-Final Fantasy fans alike.
That being said, the one tiny drawback for non-Final Fantasy fans or Final Fantasy fans who–by some twist of fate–have not played Final Fantasy VII is that they may have a hard time understanding the plot. Now, I will not make this a drawn-out plot summary, as there is no shortage of articles detailing the story all over the internet already. However, I will highlight a few key points that I think makes it a great film.
The first and most noticeable feature is simply the graphics. Now, we’ve discussed how much graphics matter or don’t matter in video games, but this is a movie based on a game. Different rules apply to movies versus video games, and as such, a movie–particularly one done in CGI–needs to be visually impressive. Advent Children gives us a major interpretation of the Final Fantasy VII world, with vivid detail. So, no complaints there.
The second noteworthy feature is the fight scenes. They are all fast-paced and high-energy, and have a definite Dragonball Z feel to them, especially when Cloud and his agitators are fighting in mid-air for inordinate amounts of time.
Third, and finally, since I do not wish to drone on too long, there are many references to the game that fans will appreciate. These are the kinds of references younger fans excitedly point at the screen and yell, “Look! It’s…” The most poignant part for me was seeing Cloud’s Buster Sword thrust into the dirt on the same hill overlooking Midgar where Zack had died protecting him over two years prior.
I am quite sure I do not have to defend this movie any further. It stands as a paragon among video game-based movies. If you have not seen Advent Children, I strongly urge you to do so. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII, it would behoove you to play it, if for no other reason than to understand some of the finer nuances in the plot. Thank you for reading, and God bless.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
For me, the best film adaptation of a video game is … Mortal Kombat! I’m a lover of both martial arts films and fantasy stories. This movie combines the two genres spectacularly. It’s directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who also directed the Resident Evil movie franchise, as well as my favorite horror film, Event Horizon.
The plot of the film is almost exactly the same as Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. A shadowy mastermind is inviting people to a mysterious island where a martial arts tournament is being held, but in Mortal Kombat’s case, the island is on the border of a fantasy world and the combatants have supernatural powers. Some of them aren’t even human.
Christopher Lambert turns in a fun performance as Raiden, God of Thunder, our fantasy party’s Gandalf character. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa plays the villainous sorcerer Shang Tsung to perfection. His delivery of the line “Your soul is mine!” is practically iconic. Additionally, the film features some fun fantasy sets, including vast underground catacombs and the ruined Outworld where our heroes venture in the final act. The movie keeps a sense of lighthearted fun throughout.
My favorite scene in the movie is the fight between Johnny Cage and the undead ninja Scorpion, which starts out in a forest but soon moves to a fiery arena. Fans of the games probably know that Scorpion has a fascinating past, but the film leaves the character a mystery. It’s a great example of what the film does best: visually impressive fantasy action.
The video game series was famous for its over-the-top gore and violence, featuring fatalities where characters would get their heads ripped off or their hearts torn out. And those were the tame ones. The film tones down the violence to PG-13 levels, but features memorable fight scenes where the characters often have to get clever against their super-powered opponents to survive.
Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil is easily my favorite video game movie. The film does everything you could hope for in a virus- center film. It couples exceptional action with a good amount of mystery in its plot, and the “infected” are a serious threat to the protagonists. The film’s star, Milla Jovovich, is fantastic in her role as Alice. She is joined by a wealth of other rather unknown actors, who all did surprisingly well in their roles.
While the series did take a downward spiral in recent years, you can be sure that this first installment is a very solid film. This is definitely one you should check out!
Gyakuten Saiban (2012)
My nomination for “Best Videogame Movie” goes to…
Japan’s live-action adaptation of Gyakuten Saiban a.k.a.—Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney to all you fans in the localized area. Simply put, this film is what a videogame adaptation should be—loyal to the source material, packed with insider jokes for the fans, tweaked a bit to maintain the believability factor, and yet somehow oddly fresh and unique in its own right … er … Wright.
What I mean by that is the characters look like semi-realistic cosplayers—half believable, half ridiculous—and that’s part of what makes this movie so delightful. It doesn’t strive to be a realistic drama. Yes, there’s plenty of crime and suspense to go around, but the filmmakers avoid the temptation to do away with the witty, over-the-top charm that makes Ace Attorney so loveable. The result is a thrilling—oft-times baffling—romp through crime scene investigations and courtroom warfare. And with a futuristic make-over to boot.
In other words, the law has become a form of entertainment. Much like the game, crime is overrunning Japan’s courts and so a three-day trial system has been instated in order to curb wait times and bring justice more quickly. If guilt can be established in three days, into the slammer they go. If not, acquittal is in order.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the film counterpart is the fact that these courtroom battles have been upgraded to the 21st or 22nd century, where holographic evidence projections and interactive presentation screens are commonplace… and where observers buy tickets and place bets on the hypothetical winning side. Throwing an objection in the opposition’s face quite literally means throwing a holographic projection along with it. This makes for some truly mesmerizing moments throughout the film, and adds a certain, updated freshness to it.
That’s not to mention all the little insider references made by-fans-for-fans. We’ve got the Blue Badger, the Jammin’ Ninja … even Matt Engarde makes an appearance. Phoenix slams on his desk to produce evidence, Edgeworth points dramatically during objections, and Frank Sahwit literally throws his hair upon defeat. Accuracy is kept quite close to heart throughout the film—parrots are cross-examined, dead mentors return during moments of dire need, and every major scene throughout the game is reproduced with pain-staking care.
Yes, there are some rather severe altercations to the original, particularly in regards to the DL-6 Incident, which fans are likely to be at least a bit displeased about (No elevator? No earthquake? Really?). Maya seems utterly serious in this version—a huge step away from her cheerful canon character—and Red White looks less like an extravagant door-to-door salesman and more like a shady drug-dealer.
Despite its differences, though, Gyakuten Saiban somehow manages to feel utterly loyal to the spirit of the original work. Scenes and, in many cases, dialogue are replicated in a play-by-play script, and the characters keep most of their charm, regardless of altercations.
If you’ve played—and immensely enjoyed—the original Ace Attorney trilogy, this is a movie you don’t want to miss. And if you’re not a fan, simply because you’ve never played the games, you’re still likely to get something out of this flick if Japanese dramas are your thing. As a videogame adaptation, it stands alone as one of the greats.
This viewer offers no OBJECTIONS! to that fact, either.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
One of my favorite movies as a child was Super Mario Bros. I didn’t realize several things at the time when I watched it, and I watched it several times, but I still enjoyed it very much. I never saw the bad acting, cheesy action or effects because I so loved the fact that my favorite plumbers were in a live action movie.
Not only was one of the most popular video games coming alive, but it was set in New York City! I was born in Brooklyn, NYC so this had a special connection to me personally. I loved the accents and the attitudes they had, because they were New Yorkers, capish!
I liked the gritty and rough scenes throughout, how they were lost in this dark and crowded world that looked like NYC only with reptiles/goombas. Yoshi being in the movie was even cooler, because at that time Super Mario World had just come out so not many people knew who he was, so the cameo was nice.
I won’t go into too much of the plot because I would rather you watch it. It’s basically a whirlwind adventure that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Just picture Mario and Luigi getting sucked into a different dimension where they need to stop King Koopa from conquering our side of reality. It’s full of bob-ombs, weird hair styles, stereotypes, Toad, and much more!
The big issue I had was with King Koopa who was actually a real person instead of a dinosaur until the very end which was kind of odd. The Goombas were strange also, being so tall and wearing coats. The comedy wasn’t over the top, but I did laugh and enjoy it.
When it came to the ending though, that was the most irritating because a sequel has never been made! Why did Princess Daisy show up with a gun? What was it that was so important? Was it the Koopa kids that were running amok? Were the Goombas having a crazy party and Mario needed to be a part of it? I don’t know, and I don’t think we will ever find out.
If you haven’t seen this movie, you need to. I know that it’s corny, and the song Everybody Walk The Dinosaur isn’t the greatest pop hit, but you will definitely have a memorable experience after it’s all said and done.What was your favorite video game movie? Did yours make the list? Let us know in the comments! We write this to interact with you, our readers, so please share your thoughts in the comments. God bless!