Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Why are movies based on video games always so bad?

Clockwise from left to right: Mortal Kombat (Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures); Super Mario Bros. (Screenshot: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution); Assassin’s Creed (Screenshot: 20th Century Fox)
Clockwise from left to right: Mortal Kombat (Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures); Super Mario Bros. (Screenshot: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution); Assassin’s Creed (Screenshot: 20th Century Fox)
Graphic: Baraka Kaseko

Last week, a new movie based on the popular fighting game series Mortal Kombat made its way to theaters and HBO Max. And though the action in the film is appropriately bloody (plenty get finished, in the parlance of Midway games past), almost everything else about this blockbuster fits the dispiriting profile of your typical video-game adaptation. Which got us wondering: Why are films made from games always so lousy? On this week’s brand-new episode of Film Club, hosts A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife welcome fellow A.V. Club staffer (and Games editor) William Hughes to discuss the history of console-to-multiplex entertainment—including a few picks for the rare video-game movies they do like. And if you enjoy this discussion, check our bonus episode picking apart the good, the bad, and ugly of Mortal Kombat itself.

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