As both an enthusiastic gamer and a movie fan, movies that fuse the thrill of video games with the magic of cinema always spark my interest. We’re all familiar with the fact that video game-related movies can be a gamble, with standout successes mingling alongside colossal disappointments, like the notorious box office bomb, Doom (2005). Navigating this landscape can be a challenge, but fear not!
In this comprehensive list, we’ll dissect the hits and the misses, delving into the video game movies that, as we stand in the vibrant world of entertainment in 2023, are genuinely worth settling in with some popcorn to watch.
9 Best Video Game Movies of All Time
Ready Player One
Ready Player One, helmed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, is a standout example of the best video game movies. Set in a dystopian near future, this film plunges us into the Oasis, a VR game that overshadows a crumbling society. From casual players to die-hard gamers, the Oasis attracts all, much like the film, filled with video game and pop culture references.
Even on a second watch, you might discover new details, especially during the climactic battle. Balancing a thrilling adventure with warnings about humanity’s future and gaming’s role, Ready Player One boasts performances by Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn.
You can stream it on Max or get it on Amazon today.
Pixels is a whimsical trip down memory lane, making it one of the best video game movies for nostalgia seekers. Directed by Chris Columbus, it depicts a world attacked by aliens that take the form of retro video games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede, and even Donkey Kong.
Though not critically acclaimed, with a low 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s a fun watch that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you want a trip down the memory lane of gaming, then Pixels is worth the look. It is supported by a strong cast of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, and even Peter Dinklage.
You can stream it on Max or get it on Amazon today.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the most recent release on this list and may be one of the best video game adaptations. The movie is filled from start to finish with nods to everything across the Mario gaming universe. The film is supported by an elite voice cast of Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black, Keegan Michael-Key, and Seth Rogan.
With an impressive 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes as of August 2023, The Super Mario Bros. Movie will surely entertain fans of all ages. If you are a fan of any Mario-Universe video games, this movie will be a must-watch.
The movie can be streamed today on Peacock or purchased on Amazon.
Mortal Kombat (2021)
Mortal Kombat has had a series of film adaptations, some of which might be better left in the past, like Mortal Kombat (1995). Breaking away from forgettable predecessors, Mortal Kombat (2021) is one of the best video game movies, rebooting the franchise with flair. The Legendary Hiroyuki Sanada plays the fan-favorite Scorpion character and helps to drive this film forward.
Much like the other movies on this list, a fan of the Mortal Kombat games will enjoy the many nods to the games. With a solid 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was well-received by fans and should be watched by all Mortal Kombat enthusiasts. Mortal Kombat can be streamed today on Max or purchased on Amazon.
Stream it on Max or buy it on Amazon.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an excellent reboot of the classic fan favorite Jumanji (1995) with Robin Williams. In this adaptation of Jumanji, we find four kids transported into the video game version of the Jumanji board game. When in the game, the four kids are transformed into the main characters in the video game and must complete a series of dangerous levels. While not a direct game adaptation, Jumanji still ranks among the best video game movies. It is supported by a strong cast of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan and has a solid 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle can be purchased on Amazon today.
Among the most unique and best video game movies, Free Guy offers the perspective of an NPC, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds, who one day becomes aware that he is the character in a simulated universe. Once doing so, he begins to play the game like people in the real world and quickly climbs up the leaderboards. You will find many references to popular video games and pop culture through the movie.
While it is an action comedy, it also poses the moral dilemma of AI consciousness as video games eventually become more advanced in the future. Free Guy is a fun, action-filled ride from start to finish and worth the watch. It supports a solid 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Free Guy can be streamed on Disney+ today or purchased on Amazon.
Inspired by one of the most renowned video games, Rampage presents a blockbuster action experience that places it among the best video game movies. In Rampage, we find characters battling it out from the classic video game, much like on the original game screen. The plot has little depth, but fans of Rampage and action movies will find this an enjoyable watch. Dwayne Johnson leads the film and supports a reasonable audience score of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rampage can be streamed on Max today or purchased on Amazon.
Adapting one of PlayStation’s most popular exclusives, Uncharted blends thrilling adventure and nods to various games in the series, earning its place among the best video game movies. Unlike the video games, we see a young Nathan Drake, portrayed by Tom Holland, and a younger Victor Sullivan, portrayed by Mark Wahlberg.
Nathan and Victor set out on a classic treasure-hunting adventure to find the long-lost treasure of Ferdinand Magellan. Along the way, they battle the villain Santiago Moncada, portrayed by the famous Antonio Banderas. Fans of the Uncharted series should set aside time to watch this movie as it supports a 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Uncharted can be streamed today on Netflix or purchased on Amazon.
Wreck-It Ralph, a delightful animated journey, rounds out our list of the best video game movies. Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney animated movie that finds the classic arcade character traveling to different gaming universes. While it is a kid’s movie at heart, even adults will find this an enjoyable watch, especially if you are a classic arcade gaming universe fan.
No one does animation like Disney, and this lives up to other popular animated Disney titles, with a respectable 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. A strong voice cast of John Reilly and Sarah Silverman leads the way in this quality animated flick.
Wreck-It Ralph can be streamed today on Disney+ or purchased on Amazon.
In the ever-evolving world of entertainment, video game movies continue to captivate audiences, bringing the virtual thrill of gaming to the silver screen. Whether it’s a nostalgic trip back to the arcade era or a cutting-edge adaptation of today’s most popular titles, these films have something for every gamer and movie lover alike. The connection between video games and cinema is a fascinating landscape, filled with dazzling triumphs and notable missteps, reflecting the diversity and complexity of the gaming world itself.
The fusion of gaming and film is not just a passing trend but a growing art form that offers endless possibilities for creativity and entertainment. Whether you’re a casual movie-goer or a dedicated gamer, the selections on this list promise a thrilling experience, each with its unique take on the games we love.
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