Given their close-knit relationship as global entertainment industries, gaming and the movies have long had a symbiotic connection. Movie tie-in games, for instance, have been a popular feature in gaming for decades, with numerous short-form releases over the years attempting to distil linear, cinematic storylines into interactive ones — albeit with varying success. 

A Brief History of Gaming and the Movies

Of course, it’s not been uncommon over the years for studios to churn out poor quality movie-tie in titles that barely represent the characters and narratives we’ve fallen for on the big screen. However, there have been some outright successes and unexpected releases in alternative gaming genres.

In addition to being video game franchises, movies have even inspired online casino games and plenty of other activities throughout the iGaming sector. IP such as King Kong, Jurassic Park and even The Lord of The Rings have all been transformed into popular high RTP slots games, for instance, and are a staple at online casino gaming platforms throughout the world. Plus, there’s one movie-themed video game from the 1990s that we’re still talking about to this very day in the form of the 1997 hit GoldenEye 007.

More recently, there’s been an increased focus on producing movies (and television shows, for that matter), that are based on gaming IP. It’s no surprise, given how immersive and cinematic gaming experiences themselves have become, but this too has generated a mixed bag of results. While adapting the big screen to the small poses its own challenges, turning a video game that delivers 30 to 60 hours of narrative and interactive content into a 90 to 120 minute single feature is an almost impossible task. 

Saying that, there have been some standout video gaming movies that carry the torch for what a successful adaptation should be. 

Alicia Vikander Tomb Raider

Exemplary Game to Movie Adaptations 

For your consideration, here are three iconic video game to movie adaptations:

Tomb Raider (2018)

Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider wasn’t the first attempt to bring archaeologist and lady of the manor Lara Craft to the big screen. The 2000s movies, starring Angelina Jolie, certainly took a campy approach to adaptation, but they haven’t exactly gone down in cinema history. The 2018 take on the popular video game character, however, is an entirely different beast

The film follows a younger Croft as she embarks on a quest to uncover the brutal truth behind her father’s disappearance. Starring Alicia Vikander in the leading role, the film stays true to the spirit of the video game franchise, delivering thrilling action sequences, epic set pieces and a strong, independent protagonist. Vikander’s portrayal of Lara Croft, in particular, received critical acclaim for its depth and authenticity. 

Doom (2005)

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak and starring none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, alongside The Boys’ lead Karl Urban, this sci-fi action film delivered a top notch take on the classic first person shooter game. While the plot of the movie adaptation differs from the narrative and tone of the source IP in some aspects, nevertheless, it remains true to the core elements of the game. 

doom movie

Firstly, its dark, atmospheric setting perfectly builds on the essence of the Doom universe. Then, there’s the ingenious use of first-person perspective during key action sequences, which pay perfect homage to the game’s pioneering gameplay and mechanics. In terms of performances, both The Rock and Urban deliver everything we need from an adrenaline-fueled sci-fi action extravaganza.

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Mortal Kombat is brilliant in its campy take on the gaming franchise. It may not be high art, but it’s the most iconic movie adaptation of a video game to date. Even Gen Z knows the theme tune by heart, and it delivers everything we want from an adaptation of such a high-octane, almost ludicrous video game. 

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the film faithfully adapts the characters, settings and plotline of the original arcade fighting game. Sure, its special effects appear dated by contemporary standards, but it really did manage to do a great job in capturing the eerily familiar yet dystopian atmosphere of Earthrealm that we know so well from the game. 

Unlike the Street Fighter adaptation that preceded MK, this version delivered some truly gripping martial arts action and memorable fight scenes. Coupled with the committed performance of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung and the gravitas of Christopher Lambert as Raiden and we have the ultimate game to movie adaptation.