Video game adaptations for TV and film that don't totally suck

Gaming is full of crazy characters, astounding settings, and cinematic moments. But somehow, hardly anyone has managed to turn our favorite games into good movies or shows. These adaptations stand out, though!

Movie and TV adaptations of video games typically are not very good, but occasionally there are some gems. Here's a few that are actually worth watching.
Movie and TV adaptations of video games typically are not very good, but occasionally there are some gems. Here's a few that are actually worth watching.  © Collage: Sony Pictures & IFC Films & id Software

It's a mystery why film and TV directors just can't seem to get video game adaptations down. No matter how popular the series or how big the budget, there seems to be a pattern of big swings with even bigger misses.

Films like the Super Mario Bros. movie, Netflix's recent attempt at a Resident Evil series, and Uncharted all come to mind. While these adaptations have been entertainingly bad, such flops can be a bit sad for die-hard fans of the respective gaming series.

Super Mario is a worldwide cultural staple, Resident Evil is one of the greatest survival horror series of all time, and the Uncharted games are masterpieces. So ... why the repeated failures?

Elon Musk: Elon Musk's amnesty on banned Twitter accounts will "open the gates of hell"
Elon Musk Elon Musk's amnesty on banned Twitter accounts will "open the gates of hell"

The truth is that video games have become a billion-dollar industry, and Hollywood is anxious to milk that cash cow for all it's worth. And gamers will show up to support their favorite franchises – for better or for worse.

But from time to time, an adaptation comes out that's arguably good, or at the very least doesn't entirely suck. Here are a few that that might just restore your faith in TV and film adaptations.

League of Legends - Arcane

This show blew both fans of the game and newcomers alike out of the water!
This show blew both fans of the game and newcomers alike out of the water!  © Riot Games

Wow, way to break the mold, Riot Games! It took the battle arena game League of Legends and turned it into Arcane – one of the best shows of 2021!

Not only was it super successful in the charts, it's also easily the best video game adaptation out there with delicious art, fantastic storytelling, and deep characters.

The plot delivers an on-the-nose class struggle, On the one hand, crime is the only option for some, to be dealt with through police brutality and heart-wrenching twists in the undercity.

Adidas investigating misconduct allegations against Kanye West
Kanye West Adidas investigating misconduct allegations against Kanye West

Meanwhile, in the fancy halls of science and trade high above, political intrigue and moral conflict takes center stage.

The French animation studio Fortiche knocked the visuals out of the park, with some of the most jaw-dropping set design pieces out there.

After its release, fans of Arcane clamored for more. Because clearly, one season just wasn't enough to slake their thirst after what felt like forever wandering through a desert of crappy shows and movies.

Doom

Rip and tear until it's done – in the Doom games and in the movie!
Rip and tear until it's done – in the Doom games and in the movie!  © id Software

"The name's Guy... Doom Guy."

And Doom Guy's whole entire deal is ripping through hordes of demons to atone for an ancient betrayal of his own people.

As bare bones as that may sound, the movie adaptation's plot, which featured Karl Urban and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is even lighter on plot.

But an intricate plot was never the point of the game series, so it actually works perfectly for the movie version to have a light story and a silly, fun time.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Ryan Reynolds can never do wrong, which made him the perfect fit as the voice of Pikachu.
Ryan Reynolds can never do wrong, which made him the perfect fit as the voice of Pikachu.  © ANGELA WEISS / AFP

As much as the little kid in me wants to add Pokémon: The First Movie to the list, it's easily one of those movies that you revisit as an adult, and it definitely doesn't stand the test of time.

On the other hand, Detective Pikachu did for the franchise what other Pokémon films have failed to do time and time again: make it just as entertaining for adults as it is for kids.

The fact that the film was actually a loose adaptation of a Nintendo 3DS game of the same name released in Japan back in 2016 went completely over most fans' heads when it was initially released in theaters.

Clearly, director Rob Letterman knew what he was doing when he cast actor Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu because, let's face it – Reynolds can literally do no wrong.

The film at its core is cheesy as all hell, but still manages to be entertaining and fun.

The implementation of 3D animation that turned Pokémon into a live-action world also yielded some surprisingly good results.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

The Resident Evil games have never really had a "good" film or show adaptation, but Welcome to Raccoon City is a decent contender.
The Resident Evil games have never really had a "good" film or show adaptation, but Welcome to Raccoon City is a decent contender.  © Sony Pictures

There are a ton of Resident Evil films based on the popular game series. But let's face it: most of them suck.

As badass as Milla Jovovich may be, her badassery alone couldn't save a line of movies that suffered from cringy cheesiness and horrible writing.

A recent Netflix series based on the game experienced the same fate. It was so bad that the show was cancelled after only one season.

The 2021 film Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City easily takes the spot as the best film in the series, but that isn't saying a lot.

What stands out about this film, which fans of the games will appreciate, is that it's the only work that attempts to follow the source material closely.

Welcome to Raccoon City attempts to explore the story behind the first Resident Evil game that started it all, which is kind of cool.

But fans will have to continue waiting for a quality Resident Evil film or show that delivers the relentless horror and dark aesthetic the games are known for.

Werewolves Within

Werewolves Within is easily the best adaptation on the list, even for people that aren't familiar with the game.
Werewolves Within is easily the best adaptation on the list, even for people that aren't familiar with the game.  © IFC Films

There's absolutely nothing better than a good horror comedy. It can be the perfect mashup of two of the best film genres, or it can suffer from the "so bad, it's good" fate that so many in the past have.

The film Werewolves Within manages to perfectly balance the two, with just enough blood, guts, and hysterical laughter to keep you engaged the whole time.

It's an indie flick from 2021 that flew under the radar of far too many movie, video game, and horror fans.

Adapted from a 2016 multiplayer VR game of the same name, Werewolves Within takes the general gist behind the game and makes it into a campy horror movie, with more than enough social satire to offend the faint of heart.

Take the hilarious dialogue of Shawn of the Dead and mix it with the plots of Clue and An American Werewolf in London, and you have Werewolves Within – the perfect, late-night gore fest!

Sure, there's a lot of hot mess in the history of video game adaptations, but we hope you like these diamonds in the rough!

Cover photo: Collage: Sony Pictures & IFC Films & id Software

More on the topic Gaming: