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The 12 best video game movies of all time, ranked

These are the 12 best video game movies, from Resident Evil to Detective Pikachu in a list that's shockingly more than three entries.

Best video game movies: Mario, Sonic and Resident Evil characters in front of a player screen in Wreck-It Ralph

What are the best video game movies? If there’s a kind of movie with a poorer reputation than video game adaptations, we’ve yet to see it. And rightly, given how many of the worst movies come from games. But, amazingly, some films do manage to break the mold. A select few could even be considered great.

Some of the best movies, be they action, horror, or animated movies, come from games and gamers alike. We’ve seen virtual worlds thrive on the silver screen, famous characters and franchises grip the box office, and plenty of directors take a swing at this misunderstood genre. So, let’s crack out our controllers and dive into the leaderboard of the top video game movies that prove all those nay-sayers wrong.

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12. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

It is safe to say that when it was first announced, many fans had doubts about The Super Mario Bros Movie. And thankfully, all our expectations were exceeded once this charmingly fun film hit the big screen. Telling us the origin story of the plumber brothers Mario and Luigi, The Super Mario Bros Movie throws us into the Mushroom Kingdom.

In a storyline familiar to every Nintendo fan, we see Bowser intent on marrying Princess Peach, even if that means total destruction of her kingdom. It is up to Mario to save the day and also to find his new life purpose in the process of it all. With a great use of platforming mechanics used throughout, this animated movie is a treat for longtime fans.

Sure, it isn’t super deep or unexpected, but it’s a good time, and Jack Black’s performance as Bowser is a must-see. Read our Super Mario Bros review for more information!

best videogame movies: Wreck-It Ralph

11. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

OK, yes, we know that this isn’t a video game adaptation, but Wreck-It Ralph is hands down a video game movie. Not only does it completely understand how to use all those endorphin-inducing power-up sounds that every gamer loves, but it also fully captures the experience of playing in an arcade through its touching and incredibly creative story.

Wreck-It Ralph follows the big-handed Ralph, a villain in the game “Fix-it Felix, Jr” who is tired of being ‘the bad guy.’ Desperate to be a hero, Ralph leaves his game in search of a medal, hopping from arcade machines until he gets pulled into a conspiracy theory involving racers, glitches, and some killer bugs.

This is one of the best Disney movies of all time. The visual storytelling always keeps gamers in mind, and it is filled with easter eggs for retro players to enjoy. What more could you want?

Best video game movies: Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil

10. Resident Evil (2002)

The 2002 adaptation of Resident Evil takes plenty of liberties with the source horror games, but keeps enough intact to feel recognizable. More sci-fi than the creaky original game, Paul W.S. Anderson’s take features a huge Umbrella Corporation facility underneath the famous Spencer Mansion, where the T-Virus has only started to run rampant.

A STARS team is called in to investigate, but our protagonist is the newly-introduced Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, rather than Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield. She’s just as good for killing the undead and contributes to this being a zombie movie worthy of its moniker.

Best video game movies: the cast of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Going in, this seemed like such a shameless attempt at nostalgia. Though Robin Williams may be inimitable, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and their co-stars elevate Jumanji-but-it’s-video-games into one of the better legacy sequels we’ve had.

The lead actors knock great sport out of being avatars of their teenage selves, and the level of video game literacy in the script makes it an exuberant satire of the medium. Even for those who don’t get the lingo, it’s just plain fun, and serves as one of the best comedy movies of late. Honestly, we can’t wait for the Jumanji 4 release date!

Best video game movies: Sonic and Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

8. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

It seems like a small miracle the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie wound up kind of great. That the second manages to be an improvement in just about every way is almost inconceivable. Miles ‘Tails’ Prower in tow, Sonic battles Dr Robotnik and Knuckles for the Chaos Emeralds in a mish-mash of his classic platformers.

There are nods aplenty in Jeff Fowler’s confident follow-up, from Robotnik’s contraptions to Sonic zipping and bouncing through labyrinthine areas. Not even a perfunctory human subplot can break its stride, making it one of the Blue Blur’s better misadventures this century. Check out our Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review for more on this gem.

Best video game movies: cast of Werewolves Within

7. Werewolves Within (2022)

Unless you had the namesake VR release, you’d probably think Werewolves Within was based on the party game about finding the lycanthropic monster in the room. Josh Ruben‘s lively thriller is more akin to the latter, as a group of small-town residents become stuck in a local hotel during a monstrous killing spree.

New ranger Finn, played by Sam Richardson, is stuck trying to figure things out, assisted by the slightly odd Cecily Moore, portrayed by Milana Vayntrub. Taking inspiration from Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, tension and laughter come in equal measure, as well as some stylish cuts and set-pieces to keep the mood high. A very worthwhile whodunnit.

Best video game movies: Monsters in Silent Hill

6. Silent Hill (2006)

Is it as good as the Silent Hill games? No, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a decent horror movie in and of itself. A woman named Rose takes her daughter Sharon to Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her visions of the strange, ominous town. They’re separated upon entry, forcing Rose to navigate the foggy locale, encountering all sorts of disturbing creatures in the process.

Director Christopher Gans personally petitioned Konami to direct the film adaptation, and you can sense a love for the source material among the grime and fog. Pyramid Head is a terrifying hulk, and the disjointed swarm of nurses are as creepy as they come. None of it’s as disturbing as it should be, but enjoyable all the same.

Best video game movies: Pikachu in Detective Pikachu

5. Detective Pikachu (2019)

Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu really could’ve gone either way. Sure, he’s charismatic and beloved, but turning one of the best anime characters into a wise-cracking investigator was risky. Mercifully, Reynolds isn’t in full one-liner mode, instead complementing Justice Smith, who’s trying to figure out where his father disappeared to.

It’s a good angle within the world of pocket monsters that allows us to see how humanity and Pokémon have become co-dependent without re-treading the games or series. Seeing the likes of Charizard and Gyarados at scale is astonishing, tickling a fantasy for those who were there when the Red and Blue Pokémon games arrived.

Best video game movies: John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros

4. Super Mario Bros: The Movie (1993)

A financial disaster that barely looks like any Super Mario game ever made; yes, sure, all true and valid. But look beyond the accepted wisdom that it sucks, and you’ll see John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins frolicking through the Mushroom Kingdom as overseen by Terry Gilliam.

Somehow, between the numerous directors, Super Mario Bros wound up an idiosyncratic blend of early ’90s American sci-fi and the base games. The goombas are legal mutations administered as punishment to criminals, and the streets are full of debauchery. One thing remains the same: Bowser’s king of the castle, here a slimeball politician played by Dennis Hopper. Hollywood hegemony is often so bland you beg for something completely odd. Super Mario Bros is that, if nothing else.

Best video game movies: Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy

3. Free Guy (2021)

You think you know this one from the trailer. Ryan Reynolds is an NPC in an open-world MMORPG game who gets god mode and challenges the human players and developers behind his environment. But the full story contains AI autonomy, a societal uprising, and an underlying comment on fostering a small, safe community versus constantly moving growth.

Free Guy is the kind of Reynolds movie he’s got a knack for, where his schtick is used as the hook for something that’s unexpectedly deep. Taika Waititi’s eccentric, ever-so-slightly clueless game development CEO hits close to home if you know much of anything about the industry’s systemic issues, and that’s just one way Free Guy might surprise you. Here’s our Free Guy review for more.

Best video game movies: Jude Law in eXistenZ

2. eXistenZ (1999)

Potentially the most stomach-churning film David Cronenberg has ever made. It isn’t just the visuals in this treatise about our dissipating sense of reality — it’s the sound. The clicking and crunching of bones and teeth as characters construct weapons out of animal remains is nauseating, an effective illumination of how we treat digital bodies.

Released in the same year as The Matrix, Cronenberg’s picture is more pathological, pushing through layers of the eponymous game. The players, Jude Law and Ian Holm among them slide deeper into the rabbit hole to the point an exit becomes impossible. But perhaps that was always the point.

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1. Dead Space: Downfall

John Carpenter has expressed interest in making a Dead Space film, and he’ll have a hard time outdoing the number of severed limbs in this animated prequel. Taking place in the lead-up to the original Dead Space survival game, the mining ship Ishimura takes on a mysterious object called the Marker that some crewmates become emphatic about.

The Marker’s effects on people don’t stop there, as some transform into horrific Necromorphs that start mutilating other passengers. Soon, all that remains are these bizarre alien creatures until another ship answers a distress signal. Almost 90-minutes of limbs and torsos.

If you want to see more great big-screen interpretations, check out our lists of the best superhero movies and the best action movies. We’ve also got an eye on the future and have written about all the new movies coming out. And, for more game adaptations, check out everything we know about The Last of Us season 2 release date.

We’ve also got a feature on what we think are the 5 videogame TV series that need to happen after The Last of Us.