Were these dreaded video game movies really as bad as we remember?
Video gamers like me have pretty low standards when it comes to movies based on the games we love. We don't need the movie to be very faithful to the source material, because the source material is usually not enough to fill 90 minutes of story.
I recently took a trip down memory lane and reviewed five of the lowest rated video game movies according to Rotten Tomatoes. I wanted to see if they were really all that bad. Keep in mind that I'm not comparing these movies to There Will Be Blood or 12 Years a Slave. I'm just commenting on whether they were any fun or if they were really that bad.
Double Dragon - The original story from the video game started with a woman getting gut-punched and taken away by the bad guys. You (and your brother if you're playing two-player) emerge from the nearby garage and kick butt until you reach the final bad guy. The twist ending had you and your brother fighting to the death for the woman's favor.
That's a tough story to pad out. The makers of the film chose to go the "mystical" route, featuring a medallion of sorts that unleashes the power of the Double Dragon. Moldy cheese from beginning to end, the movie is a complete mess featuring poor fighting scenes, the one thing I'd hoped they'd get right. They even did their best to make Alyssa Milano look ugly, but that's an impossibility. It scored 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, deservedly so. Was Double Dragon really that bad? Yes.
|"Is this LV-426?"|
Doom - Doom was the spiritual successor to Wolfenstein 3D, the first legitimate first person shooter ever released for computers way back in the early 1990s. You're a space marine sent in to kick demon butt, all the way to the end. Again, that's not a whole heck of a lot for movie makers to work with.
They took on the task admirably, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson featured as a profanity-spitting space marine. The movie attempts to be a mash-up of Predator and Aliens, and does a serviceable job of it. My main complaint about Doom is that they were so over the top with the swearing, making sure we know that this is an R-rated movie every two minutes. Johnson probably dropped more F-bombs in this movie than in all of the rest of his movies combined.
Toward the end of Doom, there's a five minute scene where we watch the action from a true FPS perspective. I was shocked to find myself enjoying it; I had heard that it was terrible, but the scene was a gift to gamers and fans of the Doom series, with lots of little nods to the franchise. Was Doom really that bad? No.
|"How did this happen? Das Boot|
then Uwe Boll?"
House of the Dead - Uwe Boll's first of many attempts at adapting a game to the big screen is a disaster. The video game is an on rails shooter where you simply wait for zombies to pop up, then shoot them in the head. Boll could have gone anywhere with this simplest of premises, but he chose to make what can't even qualify as a B movie.
Three minutes into the movie, every one of the late teens/early twenties actors have established that they don't know what they're doing and that you'll hate every one of their characters. Featuring every corny line and scene from the worst horror films you've ever seen, the first hour of the movie is an excuse to get us to one scene of guns and explosions that looks like it was made ten years earlier than the movies release.
The most baffling choice that mister Boll made was to transition from scene to scene with half-second clips from the video game. It was downright hilarious to watch one boring scene of meaningless dialogue cut to another similar scene, with a flash of pixelated zombies in between. Was House of the Dead really that bad? Yes.
Street Fighter - Based on what is arguably the best fighting game series ever, Street Fighter is a ridiculous romp featuring Raul Julia as the evil General M. Bison, trying to take over the world. Julia's performance is hammier than your typical Easter dinner, but it's actually endearing to the film.
Featuring many characters from the series, including Jean-Claude Van Damme as the American (!?) soldier Guile. Street Fighter hit all the right cheesy notes for me. It has a comprehensible (albeit silly) plot.
That's the main difference between this movie and Double Dragon; DD's story seemed tacked on at the end, after they had shot most of the action scenes. Street Fighter is a cooky, wacky, zany trip from beginning to end, but at least it makes sense. Was Street Fighter really that bad? No.
|"Sweet! I just blew a hole|
in Kevin Costner's fin!"
Super Mario Brothers - Ever since this baffling take on gaming's most beloved franchise was released over 20 years ago, rumors have swirled as to what went wrong. Some people even went so far as to say they whole cast and crew were on drugs during filming. While that's obviously not the case, one thing is certain: Super Mario Brothers is the worst video game to movie transition I've ever seen.
Game Informer magazine published a five page article in an issue a few years back debunking the myths and telling the even stranger truths about what made this movie such an incomprehensible mess. Long story short, nobody on the cast and crew really knew what was going on. The directors had no idea what they were doing. Key parts of the movie wound up on the cutting room floor.
There is one unconfirmed rumor that still exists about SMB. Many claim that the term "Epic Fail" was first used after the movie's release. I can neither confirm nor deny that claim. But when I'm asked "Was Super Mario Brothers really that bad?". I reply, "It was even worse."
- Tom McDaniel