The Best Video Game Adaptations In Film And Tv: Exploring Successes And Failures

The world of cinema and television has long been fascinated with the idea of adapting beloved video games into live-action or animated films and series. However, the journey to bring these pixelated adventures to the big screen has been fraught with challenges. Many of these adaptations have been met with mixed or negative reviews, with only a handful achieving critical and commercial success. This article delves into the best video game adaptations in film and TV, exploring the successes and failures of this intriguing intersection of two popular mediums.

Evolution of Video Game Adaptations

The history of video game adaptations dates back to 1993 with the release of the “Super Mario Bros.” movie. Despite being based on one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, the film was a critical and commercial disaster. It was panned for its convoluted plot, poor special effects, and the liberties it took with the source material.

However, the landscape of video game adaptations has evolved significantly since then. Recent adaptations like “Arcane: League of Legends” and “The Last of Us” have received widespread acclaim for their faithful representation of the source material, complex characters, and engaging storylines. The increasing number of movies and TV shows based on video games also suggests a growing interest in bringing these beloved characters and narratives to the screen.

Ranking the Top 10 Video Game Adaptations

Here, we rank the top 10 video game adaptations, considering factors such as critical reception, faithfulness to the source material, and character development.

Mortal Kombat (2021)

The reboot of the original film series, “Mortal Kombat” (2021), received better reviews than its predecessor but was criticized for its lack of character development and depth.

Tomb Raider (2018)

“Tomb Raider” (2018) was considered a faithful adaptation of the game. Despite its well-received action sequences, the film was criticized for its flat supporting characters and sometimes uninspiring plot.

Halo (2022)

The “Halo” TV series showed potential and was renewed for a second season, despite struggling to find its own footing and feeling too similar to other sci-fi films.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)

The sequel to “The Angry Birds Movie” improved upon the first film with better animation, humor, dialogue, and plot, although it was not entirely necessary.

Pokémon (1997-present)

The long-running animated TV series “Pokémon” has been successful in terms of longevity and reach, but its quality has varied over the years.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” improved upon the original film with the introduction of new characters and a slightly more interesting plot, appealing to families and children.

Detective Pikachu (2019)

“Detective Pikachu” took artistic liberties with the source material but paid off with a delightfully weird and intriguing story, charming performances, and stunning visuals.

Castlevania (2017-2021)

“Castlevania” stayed faithful to the source material, expanded on the game’s lore, and had top-notch voice performances and animation.

Arcane: League of Legends (2021)

“Arcane: League of Legends” offered complex characters, a dark and rich story, and extensive worldbuilding.

The Last of Us (2023)

“The Last of Us” received high praise for its faithful adaptation, compelling performances, and a nice balance of grit and emotion.

Exploring the Worst Video Game Adaptations

While there have been successful adaptations, there have also been numerous failures. Here are some of the worst video game adaptations:

Alone in the Dark

“Alone in the Dark” is considered one of the worst adaptations of a game ever, with a convoluted plot and poor performances.

House of the Dead

“House of the Dead” was entertaining to watch but lacked substance and depth.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

“In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” was unoriginal and shallow, often compared to a “Lord of the Rings” knock-off.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” was so poorly received that it took almost a quarter of a century for another film to be made.


“BloodRayne” was widely reviewed as one of the worst vampire movies of all time, with a subpar script, editing, and direction.

Hitman: Agent 47

“Hitman: Agent 47” had nonstop action but little entertaining story, making it more like watching a video game than a film.

Silent Hill: Revelation

“Silent Hill: Revelation” had poorly written characters, a muddled plot, and lacked the scare factor expected of a horror film.

Wing Commander

“Wing Commander” was poorly written, full of clichés, and had subpar visual effects.

Max Payne

“Max Payne” was poorly executed and hardly resembled anything more than a tasteless action flick.


“Doom” was a shallow, gory, chaotic mess with atrocious dialogue and a dim story.


In conclusion, the journey of video game adaptations in film and TV has been a roller coaster ride of successes and failures. While most adaptations have been met with criticism, a few have managed to capture the essence of their source material and deliver engaging narratives and characters. The best video game adaptations in film and TV, such as “Arcane: League of Legends” and “The Last of Us,” have shown that with the right approach, it is possible to successfully translate the interactive experience of video games to the passive medium of film and television. As the industry continues to evolve, we can only hope to see more successful adaptations in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ section about “The Best Video Game Adaptations in Film and TV”. Here are some common questions and their answers:

  1. Which video game films have received positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes?
  2. Detective Pikachu, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Sonic the Hedgehog, Werewolves Within, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 have all received a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  3. Which video game films have made over $400 million worldwide at the box office?

  4. Warcraft, Rampage, Detective Pikachu, Uncharted, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie have all surpassed the $400 million mark in global box office earnings.

  5. What is the highest-grossing video game film of all time?

  6. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the first video game film to surpass $1 billion at the box office and is among the top 50 highest-grossing films of all time.

  7. Are there any notable animated adaptations of video games?

  8. Yes, there are animated adaptations such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Ratchet & Clank, and The Angry Birds Movie.

  9. What are some notable recent video game adaptations in film and TV?

  10. Some notable recent adaptations include The Last of Us, Arcane, Detective Pikachu, and Castlevania. These adaptations can be animated, live-action, or a combination of both, and aim to bring beloved video game characters and storylines to the screen.

Please note that while there have been some successful video game adaptations, most have been considered failures.