The premiere of the new ‘Tomb Raider’ is, as it says, just around the corner, but, more than on the quality of the feature film or on whether Alicia Vikander will look like an icon like Lara Croft, much of The expectations placed on the production are focused on a single question: Will Roar Uthaug’s film be capable of giving rise to the first decent adaptation of a videogame?
There are still a couple of days to get rid of doubts so, meanwhile, we will be heating up the engines for the return of the Core Design archaeologist to the big screen with this list in which we compile the 13 best films that confirm that the The relationship between cinema and videogames is not always synonymous with disaster. A compendium in which there is room for eighties classics, fascinating documentaries and the three “less bad” adaptations that the seventh art has given us.
1‘Indie Game: The Movie’ (2012)
Directed by: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
Cast: Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillen, Tommy Refenes
‘Indie Game: The Movie’ is probably the best documentary about the world of videogames that we can enjoy. Focused on the figures of independent developers Phil Fish -‘Fez’-, Jonathan Blow -‘Braid’- and the duo consisting of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes -‘Super Meat Boy’ the film explores calamities, doubts and the convulsed emotional state to which some artists are subjected, betting on creative freedom, they are risking everything in companies in which the most absolute success and failure are separated by a line too fine. Thrilling.
2‘The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters’ (2007)
Direction: Seth Gordon
Cast: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell
Ten years before bringing ‘The beach watchmen’ to the big screen with the film reboot starring Dwayne Johnson, and long before the emergence of e-sports, Seth Gordon debuted with this fascinating documentary in which it is narrated The hard struggle between a professor and an entrepreneur to win the title of best player in the world of ‘Donkey Kong’. A premise that portrays between screens, joysticks and quarter coins a sort of analogy in a geek of the American dream, articulated with an unusual dynamism in an essential and fleeting hour and a half.
3‘Atari: Game Over’ (2014)
Address: Zak Penn
Cast: Howard Scott Warshaw, Joe Lewandowski, Robert Rentschler
‘Atari: Game Over’ takes as its starting point one of the most popular myths of the videogame industry, according to which, in some New Mexico desert, all existing copies of ‘ET the Extra-Terrestrial’ are buried, considered by many as the worst game in history and the reason that led to the bankruptcy of the popular company that gives title to the documentary. Starting from this base and following the excavation that aims to unearth the hundreds of thousands of cartridges allegedly buried, Zak Penn’s film explores the figure of the creators of the infamous video game while recapitulating the failures that led Atari to bankruptcy.
4‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’, 2001
Address: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara
Cast: Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Ming-Na Wen, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland
Maybe the script of ‘The inner force’ did not do too much justice to the legacy of the eternal RPG’s of SquareSoft – now Square-Enix – but, even so, the film is placed between one of the best adaptations of a videogame to the big screen. Although it is only justified by its spectacular technical invoice, which gave us an animation that untangled jaws from both the locals and strangers in already distant 2001, this cinematic incursion of ‘Final Fantasy’ deserves to be included in this list.
5‘War games’ (‘War Games’, 1983)
Direction: John Badham
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, Barry Corbin
At the end of the 1970s, the Cold War entered a new dynamic, with the Soviet bloc equating the United States in the number of warheads for the first time, and surpassing thereafter. It is not surprising that with this political context and the beginning of computer democratization, John Badham gave birth to this hilarious eighties classic in the key of techno-thriller with a very young Matthew Broderick putting the world on the brink of holocaust at the touch of a keyboard, retro mouse and interfaces.
Direction: Steven Lisberger
Cast: Steven Lisberger Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor
Even though ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‘ is the first film in history to use computer-generated graphics, this Disney cult classic starring Jeff Bridges, produced the same year, seems like the essential piece to understand the genesis of the CGI and its rise in the industry. Ignored by the academy, which considered computer science as a “trap” at the time of performing special effects, and not very successful at the box office, the risky “TRON”, its powerful visual imagery and its approach to cyberpunk and video games make it worthy of the transcendence that has reached over the years.
7‘TRON: Legacy’ (2010)
Direction: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, James Frain
Twenty-eight years after the premiere of ‘TRON’, Disney recovered the mythology of Steven Lisberger’s original film and put Joseph Kosinski in charge of a second part that opted to limit its plot innovation to recreate the cyber world with the ambition and spectacularity that the means did not allow to obtain in 1982. The result shines by itself; raising the imagination of the franchise to a new level, providing an invaluable visual stimulus and, above all, delighting the ears of the respectable with a soundtrack composed of Daft Punk that repeat in a loop over and over again. Pity that its protagonist had the same charisma as a wooden stool.
8‘Warcraft: The Origin’ 2016
Direction: Duncan Jones
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper
Despite having enjoyed the occasional game of ‘Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos’, I have never been particularly fond of Blizzard’s transmedia universe , so it’s impossible for me to evaluate Duncan Jones’ third feature as an adaptation. However, ignoring some of its visible deficiencies, I can praise the work of the British director as an epic fantasy entertainment as chaotic and empty as efficient in its eagerness to build a first-rate digital show. Yes, existing the wonderful cinematic sequences of video games, this film was completely unnecessary.
9‘Resident Evil 3: Extinction’ 2007
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Mike Epps
Possibly we are facing the best adaptation of a videogame to the big screen of history. With the original film directed by Paul WS Anderson in the year 2002 close on his heels, this third part of the franchise raised the stakes – and fun – with an excessive twist that turned the routine undead story in which he derived with ‘Apocalypse’ in a sort of post-apocalyptic madness in the ‘Mad Max’ style. It still does not honor the Capcom games, but it is a real pleasure to see the Jovovich scatter tow to hordes of zombies covered in dust.
10‘The video game champion’ (‘The Wizard’, 1989)
Director: Todd Holland
Cast: Luke Edwards, Vince Trankina, Wendy Phillips, Dea McAllister, Sam McMurray
Leaving the sometimes inevitable nostalgia aside, we must recognize that ‘The champion of the video game’ does not shine especially for its cinematic value. And is that, over the hackneyed history of children escaped by a Fred Savage popularity boom thanks to the success of ‘Those wonderful years’, this Universal production manages to stand out thanks to the blatant product placement in which, in addition to for several classics of the game like ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’ or ‘Double Dragon’, there is room for one of the most disastrous inventions of Nintendo: the infamous Power Glove.
11‘Break Ralph’ (‘Wreck It Wralph’, 2012)
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk
I must confess that, although I end up enjoying them fully, I find it very difficult to overcome the laziness that invades me when I consider facing an animated film. My love for the videogame world turned ‘Rompe Ralph’ into one of those few exceptions that confirm the rule, leaving my trailer completely amazed by so much reference to the most diverse eras and franchises of the medium. As a feature film, it goes without saying that it more than meets the expectations generated by a Disney production; as an ode to the universe “videojueguíl”, it is an authentic delight.
12‘Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle’ 2017
Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan
This late sequel to the 1995 classic directed by Joe Johnston was not only a pleasant surprise for all skeptics with the quality of the product, providing a self-conscious adventure film, with a delicious rhythm and a great sense of humor and show; In addition, he knew how to embrace the canonical codes of the video game and adapt them to the cinematographic medium like no other feature film to date, taking the narrative of the original to a new level.
13‘Scott Pilgrim against the world’ (‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’, 2010)
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Michael Wax, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill
Practically at the height of the second part of ‘Jumanji’ in terms of the translation of the medium of the narrative mechanisms and the video game is the fantastic fourth feature film by Edgar Wright. In addition to the scheme of “levels” that Scott must overcome to conquer Ramona – in the form of fights with her former partners – through which the script is structured, her infinite references -both direct and visual- to the universe of interactive leisure make her in one of the best movies with video games as a backdrop produced to date.
As always, this selection is based solely on my personal criteria, so I invite you to tell us what you think are the best films about video games that have been made to date.