Video game adaptations don’t have the best reputation in Hollywood. Most are mediocre at best, with many being panned by critics and dismissed as substandard entertainment. However, things seem to be changing. The genre may not really be thriving, but it’s not the arid wasteland it was a few years ago.
The latest releases from mortal combat and sonic the hedgehog proving that video game adaptations get better, thanks in large part to the committed actors who play roles in such films. These performers defied expectations, delivering memorable and even nuanced work, even if the films as a whole weren’t exactly Oscar material.
ten Ali Larter – Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
For a series as criticized as resident Evil, the films included several great performances. Milla Jovovich may be the undeniable star, but she’s never been afraid to share the spotlight. The perfect example is Ali Larter’s stunning take on Claire Redfield in 2007 Resident, Evil, Extinction.
The third film in the series is more or less the same, but at least it allows its two leading ladies to be as tough as possible. In fact, it encourages them. Larter’s Redfield is battle-hardened and instinctive, a survivor who came this far never to see the end. With Larter and Jovovich, resident Evil proves that its greatest strength has always been the women at the center of the zombie-slaying action.
9 Hiroyuki Sanada – Mortal Kombat (2021)
Unlike the 1995 film, the 2021 one mortal combat living up to the gory nature of the franchise. Bloody and violent, the film delivered some of the best combat and action sequences of any video game adaptation, successfully capturing the MK essence. The movie did a whole lot more, including casting Hiroyuki Sanada as the iconic Scorpion.
Few gaming antiheroes are as enduring or compelling as Scorpion. Equally sympathetic and reprehensible, Scorpion is mortal combatis the biggest icon, and Sanada lives up to expectations. Skillfully blending the character’s tragedy with his undeniable brutality, Sanada delivers the ultimate version of Scorpion.
8 Kaya Scodelario – Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City might be the most fateful adaptation of a resident Evil game, finally proving that the franchise doesn’t work in live-action. Still, the film has several highlights, including Kaya Scodelario’s lead performance as Claire Redfield.
Claire is arguably the franchise’s most iconic character, and Scodelario does her justice. In tandem with the surprisingly pleasant Robbie Amell as his brother Chris, Scodelario’s Claire is the film’s beating heart. It captures the essence of the character and successfully brings it to life, honoring the source material in a way that the film’s script does not. Most of the movies resident Evil franchise are bad, saved only by the committed performances of their actors. Welcome to Raccoon City is no exception.
seven Alicia Vikander – Tomb Raider (2018)
Alicia Vikander spent her hidden post-Oscar in a big-budget reboot of the Lara Croft series. grave robber featured a more athletic, less bimbofied, and overall more grounded version of Lara Croft, showcasing Vikander’s athleticism and commitment to the role.
However, the efforts only half work, as Vikander is ultimately disappointed by the film’s reluctance to step out of the origin story’s comfort zone. grave robber is more disappointing than downright bad, but the frustration mounts, given that Vikander is such an inspired choice for a role in which she ultimately shines.
6 Ryan Reynolds – Detective Pikachu (2019)
Detective Pikachu has no right to be as good as he is. The premise of the film is ridiculous, even for a Pokemon movie, and the visual effects don’t quite do its iconic pocket monsters justice. However, Detective Pikachu has one thing going: Ryan Reynolds’ voice performance in the lead role.
Casting Reynolds as the voice of a talking Pikachu may seem like nothing more than a stunt casting, but the actor does magic with the role. He delivers his lines with airy confidence, keeping things on the PG-13 side but still hinting at the R-rated sensibilities lurking beneath. Her driving performance keeps the film afloat even as it threatens to descend into absurdity with its third act. Detective Pikachu is the best Pokemon movie by a considerable margin, and that’s mostly thanks to Reynolds’ charm.
5 Angelina Jolie – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Critics and viewers can’t sing enough praise for Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Lara Croft in both grave robber movies. Both the 2001 original and its 2003 sequel are objectively bad, but what little works about them is due to Jolie’s pitch-perfect performance in the lead role.
Jolie not only looks straight out of the video game, but she embodies Croft perfectly. The actress enjoys the film with a sense of elegance that everything else lacks while boasting an undeniably impressive physique that makes every silly setting around her that bit more believable.
4 Jim Carrey – Sonic the Hedgehog/Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2020/2022)
Jim Carrey is one of the last remaining examples of the classic Hollywood movie star. With the sonic the hedgehog movies, the man who redefined ’90s comedy is proving he still has the unique ability to charm and entertain audiences sorely lacking in blockbusters.
Dr. Robotnik has all the traits of a classic Jim Carrey role. He’s silly and restless, but has a creepy quality that makes him unsettling, almost menacing. The best part is that Carrey doesn’t need to overdo it. His 10% are the 110% of the other players. The Sonic movies are light, family entertainment, but Carrey doesn’t fake it. His Eggman is quite a Carrey performance, and the movies are all the better for it.
3 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa – Mortal Kombat (1995)
1995 mortal combat is a thing of ’90s beauty. “Extra” in the best and worst possible way, the film does justice to the series’ excess, if not its brand of gore. mortal combat has plenty of flaws, but there’s plenty to celebrate, especially Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s performance as Shang Tsung.
Already one of the most iconic villains in video game history, Shang Tsung needs no introduction. Tagawa shines in the role, looking menacing in what could easily be an overdone performance. Still, Tagawa is an instant icon as Shang Tsung, conducting himself with an elegance and maturity that stands out and suits the character perfectly.
2 Raúl Julia – Street Fighter (1994)
Legendary actor Raúl Juliá elevated every project he appeared in, no matter how big his role. Directing or supporting, Julia had a screen presence that few actors could match. He calibrated his performances with nuance and enhanced them with passion, playing over-the-top characters by being in on the joke rather than becoming its victim. Nowhere is this rare talent more evident than his role as M. Bison in the 1994s. street fighter.
Unlike Jean-Claude Van Damme, who drowns in the film’s aggressive histrionics, Juliá thrives on camp, delivering a happily unbalanced take on the classic video game villain. Juliá’s M. Bison is funny, and he knows it, delivering every line with confident theatrics.
1 Milla Jovovich – Resident Evil Series (2002-2016)
The resident Evil the movies are pretty bad. It’s true. However, it’s a real accomplishment that the series has spanned nearly fifteen years, spawning six commercially successful movies and cementing the franchise’s place in pop culture, and it’s all thanks to Milla Jovovich.
Alice is an original character created for the movies, making her now iconic place in the middle of the resident Evil more impressive lore. Even when the films degenerated into a mindless CGI mess, Jovovich remained firmly committed to them, delivering a stoic yet compelling performance that single-handedly carried the series. Despite all their flaws, RE the movies knew their strength lived and died with Jovovich, choosing to cast her as the star she was.
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