13 Reasons It's Physically Impossible To Make A Good Video Game Movie

Movies based on video games are a tough sell. Over the years, they've earned a reputation as being hugely disappointing for a number of different reasons. It's not entirely a mystery why they always fail. There are a handful of problems every video game movie faces. From terrible acting to dreadful plots, video game movies are just bad news.

Usually, there are a few exceptions to any rule, but when it comes to video game movies, that really isn't the case. Not a single one has ever earned overwhelming praise from critics. Although a few have been monetarily successful, none have reached any level of critical success. Many gamers have been left scratching their heads, asking themselves, "Why are video game adaptations always bad?" 

Luckily, there's good news. It's been a long time since the first video game movie was made, and it looks like studios and directors might finally be headed in the right direction. Better games are being adapted and more care is being put into video game movies. Granted, it might take some time before we see any critical accolades, but for now, the box office success of Warcraft will do. 

There are plenty of reasons video game movies are bad. We can only hope that the industry learns from its past mistakes and starts making better movies soon. Here are some reasons why video game movies are doomed to fail.

  • The Audience Doesn't Take Video Game Movies Seriously

    Any video game movie announcement is usually met with trepidation at the very least. There have been so many shabby adaptations that a precedent has been set. People expect all of them to be bad from now until the end of time. Unfortunately, until one or two genuinely great films based on video games convince the audience otherwise, that stigma is going to stick around. That means they're facing an uphill battle right from the start.
  • The Wrong Games Are Adapted

    The Wrong Games Are Adapted
    Photo: 2K Games
    There are so many great games out there, ones with compelling stories and intricate characters. From Mass Effect to Elder Scrolls, there's no shortage of potentially great candidates for movie adaptations. Yet, for some reason, these properties with cinematic potential remain mere possibilities while Resident Evil films continue hitting theaters whether or not anyone asked for them. Need For Speed and Dead or Alive have both been adapted, yet BioShock sits on the shelf. That's just someone choosing to make the wrong movie.
  • They Don't Tell the Right Stories

    Games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter don't have much to offer when it comes to stories. With games like these, their simplicity could theoretically give filmmakers leeway to create their own narratives that capture the spirit of the games. Instead, the stories are often flimsy excuses for action that's inherently less rewarding because the viewer is simply viewing, not playing.
  • They Stay Too True to the Source Material

    Games and movies are superficially similar, but they're wildly different forms of storytelling. Things that work in games often don't work in movies. Frequently, filmmakers focus on replicating a game's successes, only to find that those strengths don't translate to another medium. In the Ratchet & Clank game, the roundabout action and adventure is great, but the movie is repetitive and dull for the same reasons the game is so popular.
  • The Acting Is Often Horrible

    For some reason, video game movies just seem to bring out the worst in actors. Take the Super Mario Bros. movie, for example. Despite having some respectable names in the credits, it's an overall horribly acted movie. Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo contributed two of the worst performances of their careers to the movie.
  • They Don't Stay True to the Games

    They Don't Stay True to the Games
    Photo: Lions Gate
    Making a video game movie is incredibly difficult. One of the toughest things to judge is the potential audience. On the one hand, gamers want to see a movie based on the games they love. On the other, most producers probably want an audience of more than just gamers. Not staying true to the game can alienate gamers, but staying true to the game can alienate the rest of the audience. Far Cry and Alone in the Dark both suffered from this problem.