The highly anticipated HBO/Sky adaptation of Sony PlayStation’s The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, has earned rave reviews ahead of its launch next week.
Adaptations of video games for the big screen and TV have a chequered history though. For every The Last Of Us, there are at least a dozen such as Doom, BloodRayne, or Alone In The Dark that failed to load with audiences or critics.
Read more: The Last Of Us is a masterpiece
So it’s a fine time to assess which video game adaptations have been best and worst to date.
The best video games adaptations
Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
The gaming series with the high speed, blue hedgehog has been a gaming favourite for decades but there was much trepidation about a film adaptation, especially with backlash over Sonic’s appearance in the first look trailer. The response was so fierce that Paramount delayed the film by three months in order to ‘fix’ Sonic’s design. It was worth it.
Read more: Sonic’s horrifying ‘human teeth’ steals the show in first trailer
The film, which starred Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, along with James Marsden, and Jim Carrey as nefarious Doctor Robotnik/Eggman was a success with critics and at the box office, grossing $320 million and was followed by an even more successful sequel in 2022.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)
Pokémon is one of the world’s most recognisable video game brands spawning a legion of titles and finding success in other mediums.
2019’s live action Detective Pikachu features some of the franchises most recognisable creatures including the titular yellow hero, here voiced by Ryan Reynolds, and saw Pikachu and Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman investigating a string of strange occurrences and a conspiracy in Rhyme City.
The film earned solid reviews, sitting at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and an impressive $433 at the global box office.
The Uncharted games, which have followed Nathan Drake’s globe-trotting adventures on multiple PlayStation platforms since 2007, earned legions of fans. Its long-gestating film adaptation finally appeared in February 2022 with Tom Holland in the role of Drake and Mark Wahlberg in the role of Sully.
Read more: Uncharted star responds to ‘video game curse’
While not as acclaimed as some adaptations, this is far from the worst-reviewed and has an audience Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%. It proved Holland had star — and box office — power away from Spider-Man, earning $401 and discussion of it becoming a franchise for Sony.
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
One of the largest mobile games of all time, Angry Birds earned its own film adaptation in 2016 and a financial smash, grossing $352 million off a $70 million budget. A sequel followed in 2019, but it failed to replicate the success of the original. The film’s success shows the lasting appeal of the games despite a simplistic premise.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Following two films with Angelina Jolie in the early noughties, the Tomb Raider films were rebooted with Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in the film loosely based on the 2013 video game reboot.
The film took in $274 million and has a 54% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, proving successful enough for a sequel with Vikander to be in development. This has recently back-burned after MGM relinquished the rights.
World of Warcraft has an ardent fanbase, so expectations were high for the 2016 film of the franchise — Warcraft — directed by Duncan Jones of Moon fame. The film was a modest success at the box office raking in $439 million, and was clearly a hit with fans boasting a 76% Rotten Tomatoes audience score.
Read more: Duncan Jones shares Warcraft sequel update
A planned trilogy will sadly never see the light of day.
Halo (2022 to present)
The Halo series has been a key title for Xbox and anticipation was high for the 2022 Paramount+ series. It earned strong reviews, with a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and second series in development meaning we will see more of Master Chief on our screens.
The Witcher (2019-present)
While mostly adapting the book series, it is worth mentioning the success The Witcher has found on Netflix.
With two series, another two on the way, an animated prequel, and a live action spin-off — The Witcher: Blood Origin — now streaming on Netflix, the series has proved to be one of Netflix’s most successful IP grabs to date.
The worst video game adaptations
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been a mammoth success for Ubisoft since 2007, with clear cinematic potential. A film adaptation with Michael Fassbender in the lead was released in 2016, but the elements that have made the games so adored weren’t entirely present, and it returning poor box office results of $240 million against a $120 million budget. Any sequel plans were promptly axed.
Read more: Michael Fassbender never wants to play James Bond
Netflix announced a live-action series, an animated series, and an anime series were in development for the platform in 2020, but none have seen the light of day so far.
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
One of the recent video game adaptations, you might be forgiven for forgetting that there was a film adaptation of the long running adventures of mechanic Ratchet and sidekick Clank.
The film grossed just $14 million off a $20 million budget and earned pretty torrid reviews. On the plus side the game of the film itself was a success.
Resident Evil (2022)
Where Netflix enjoyed success with The Witcher, it found unable to repeat the success with its Resident Evil series. Previously adapted as a long-running movie series starring Mila Jovovich, the series aimed to be a more faithful adaptation of Capcom’s long standing survival horror series.
Read more: Netflix’s Resident Evil is painfully pedestrian
The series earned middling reviews and Netflix ultimately cancelled the show after just one season.
The Last Of Us will air on Sky Atlantic and stream on NOW with an Entertainment Membership from 16 January. Watch a trailer below.
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