The 5 Best Video Game Movies Not Based On A Video Game (Ranked)
A ranking of our favourite video game movies not based on a specific video game franchise.
Video games and the movie industry are no strangers. In fact, some of the most successful game franchises have had amazing runs on the big screen (and yes, many have failed). We’ve got the likes of Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Sonic the Hedgehog and even Pokémon. But where do movies based in the broader video game universe rank? We’re talking about movies that feature tons of video game inspired elements like references, easter eggs and characters, but that aren’t specifically tied to an existing IP. Without further ado, here are our top-5 video game movies not based on a specific video game.
5 - Wreck-It Ralph
Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney produced animated-film that puts a fictional video game villain into a universe of iconic arcade characters. Frustrated by the never ending cycle of his game, and tired of his role as a “bad-guy”, Ralph rebels and aims to become a hero by sneaking into a new game to win its elusive medal. In doing so, Ralph accidentally unleashes a deadly virus into the gaming world which could mean the end of their universe. Wreck-It Ralph does a great job of proving that animated movies are not only for kids. The movie's comedic perspective keeps it entertaining, and the various real life gaming references hit you right in the nostalgia.
4 - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is arguably one of the more unique video game related movies because it somehow finds a way to mix an RPG progression system with beat-em-up action, and then ties it together with a comic book aesthetic and Guitar Hero music. The story line is very simple - Scott is a timid teen who falls in love with an unlikely girl. However, in order for them to date, Scott must battle and defeat all 7 of her evil exes. This movie has notoriously received a “love-it or hate-it” response from most critics but people have generally enjoyed watching it.
3 - Pixels
Pixels is a movie where classic arcade game characters meet the modern world. The movie is about an alien race that intercepts a time capsule containing classic arcade games and misinterprets them as a declaration of war. The aliens then invade earth through a series of games and the only way to save the planet is to beat them at said games. The world entrusts former arcade champions Sam (Adam Sandler) and Chewie (Kevin James) to lead them into battle. Aside from the movie's unique plot and comedic tone, Pixels features an impressive lineup of effects and animations that are quite impressive for a movie that seemed to come out of nowhere.
2 - Free Guy
Free Guy is the newest film on the list and it follows Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a generic non-playable character blissfully unaware that he’s living in the open-world video game. He accidentally stumbles upon a pair of glasses that allow him to interact with game elements he was otherwise unable to see, and then runs into a real player searching for a secret source code. Guy falls in love with this mysterious player and quickly becomes the hero of the story as he does everything he can to win her heart. Free Guy is one of those movies that takes a relatively basic concept and gives it life. Gamers tend to look at NPCs as just another element in a game, but in reality, they all have a story and play an important part, no matter the size.
1 - Ready Player One
Ready Player One is a sci-fi movie directed by Steven Speilberg based on the novel from Ernest Cline. The movie is set in 2045 where the entire world is playing a virtual reality simulation game called the OASIS. This OASIS is by far the most valuable thing in the world and right as James Halliday (the games creator) passes away, he promises ownership to one player who can successfully discover a series of clues that lead to a golden easter egg. Parzival, a gunter (aka, a treasure hunter) goes toe-to-toe with a huge corporation who is also seeking to control the OASIS for their corporate benefit. If you’re interested in watching the movie then we highly encourage you to also read the novel. Both feature the same plot and characters but everything in between is quite different. I undoubtedly consider Ready Player One a must-watch for any video game fan.
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