Late film critic Roger Ebert once argued his belief that, unlike films, video games could never be considered art. Whether or not you agree with this sentiment is purely objective. However, I do believe we can flip the script a bit to make a statement we all agree with– video game movies can never be considered art. Okay, maybe “never” is a bit too definitive, but to date there has not been a single video game turned movie that has legitimized the adaptation as anything more than a blatant cash-in (no, Mortal Kombat doesn’t count.) By their very definition, video game adaptations are inferior films, ones who take an interactive story and remake it as a passive story (thus robbing a game narrative of what made it dynamic in the first place). No matter how you slice it, the video game adaptation is a nut Hollywood just can’t seem to cr-ack. For proof of Hollywood’s myriad of failures in relation to the subgenre, here are 15 movies that prove Tinseltown needs to stop trying to make video game movies work.
Super Mario Bros.
Super Marios Bros. is probably the first thing that comes to mind when audiences think of video games—the property first appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986 and was an instant phenomenon. The premise was simple, if surreal—a plumber named Mario and his brother, Luigi, must rescue a princess from a fire breathing dragon with the help of magical mushrooms (no, not those sorts of mushrooms). After three hit games, Hollywood Pictures and Buena Vista Films bought the rights to a Mario video game adaptation in 1993. The resulting film, which starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the title characters, took the fairy tale story of the games and cross-pollinated it with a futuristic dystopian world ala Blade Runner. The producers cast Dennis Hopper as the story’s dragon protagonist (who’s a half-dinosaur albino crime boss in the movie) and literalized the Mario universe within a sci-fi context. The resulting movie is one of the weirdest would-be blockbusters ever to tank, effectively ruining the careers of directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel after its release.