For most of us, the Christmas period means at least some time off (unless you’re one of those poor souls in retail), so the big question soon becomes what we should all do to occupy that time.
Playing video games should be a no-brainer, of course. Spending time with family and friends meanwhile, is a teeth-grindingly dull necessity. But what else should one do while waiting for Santa to creep into our homes and pass judgement on our moral choices?
Personally, I recommend watching a good film. Since we’re all gamers here, I’ve put together a list of great* video game movies to watch over Christmas.
*I say great – but we should remember that the video game-to-film concept has proven notoriously tricky in the past, so I’ve taken some artistic license.
Pokemon: The First Movie
Why does the excellent first Pokemon movie never get mentioned as a great video game movie? I guess technically, it’s because the film is based on the animated series rather than any one game, but it’s a video game movie in my book, dammit.
Anyway, Pokemon: The First Movie may have its problems (a needlessly clunky title among them), but it’s full of great moments – from the funky 90’s dancepop version of the theme tune at the start, to Brock’s worringly casual sexually aggressive behaviour and the fact that Prof Oak is most def banging Ash’s mum.
Oh, and then there’s that scene towards the end that can effortlessly reduce 90 percent of anyone between 18 and 25 to a blubbering mess. Merry fucking Christmas. Sob.
Lara Craft: Tomb Raider
Lara Craft’s first foray onto the big-screen was a relatively mixed bag, if I’m being generous. If I’m being mean, it was a nonsensical mess.
With that said, Lara Craft: Tomb Raider can actually be a rather fun experience if you approach it with an open mind – or if you settle down on the sofa with a belly full of turkey and chocolate coins.
I’d also point out that Angelina Jolie was the perfect raider of tombs, and she deserved a better film.
Ah well, there’s a lot to enjoy with this one. Plus, you can watch it and think of all the ways the new Alicia Vikander reboot can learn from the originals.
Wreck It Ralph
Okay, no, Wreck it Ralph is not strictly a video game movie so much as it’s a movie about video games, but A: it’s better than every other film on this list, and B: has more popular video game characters in it than every other game on this list.
This charming animated Disney adventure might occasionally veer into twee territory, but there are enough references and knowing humour to keep the older gamers happy while the nippers enjoy the gorgeous animation and relatively simple plot.
If nothing else, it has Bowser actually being Bowser, which is far more than can be said for the Super Mario Bros movie.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia is not nearly as bad a film as its detractors would have you believe. The ever-reliable Jake Gyllenhaal turns in a solid performance as the swashbuckling Prince (of Persia) as he sets out on a ridiculous – if forgettable – adventure.
This Disney produced effort was originally supposed to be something of ‘new Pirates of the Caribbean’, but an underwhelming box office performance and critical reception put paid to that.
Still, that hasn’t put Gyllenhaal entirely off working with Ubisoft again – he’s currently set to work on a big-screen version of The Division.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Here’s a great little gem for fans of Final Fantasy. Advent Children is a fantastic CG effort that takes place in the world of the wonderful Final Fantasy VII.
Featuring fan-favourite characters such as Cloud, Barret, and Sephiroth, Advent Children may well be borderline incomprehensible for anyone who doesn’t have a deep love of FF VII, but those who put all their time into that PlayStation classic will find a lot to love here.
My one warning to you is that you really shouldn’t watch Advent Children with a non Final Fantasy fan, as they will be bored, confused, and will likely slowly develop a burning hatred for you.
2002’s Resident Evil is not a very good movie, but my God, you’re gonna have a good laugh with it. I strongly recommend getting some friends over to play the following drinking game…
Simply drink whenever: A monster or gun appears on screen, Alice defies the laws of physics, someone assumed dead turns out to be alive, or something happens in slow motion. You’ll be absolutely fucked, but it’s Christmas so it’s fine.
Of course, you’re welcome to add your own rules as you go. Make the Resident Evil drinking game as good as it can possibly be – because the film is crap.
Ratchet & Clank
Possibly one of the most faithful big-screen adaptations, Ratchet & Clank isn’t all bad. The voice actors from the classic PlayStation franchise make their return, along with big names like Sylvester Stallone and Rosario Dawson, because why the hell not?
The film can feel a little too ‘kiddy’ at time – which is frankly odd given that the games could always walk the line and cater to all ages deftly – but Ratchet & Clank fans will definitely have a fun time with this one.
If nothing else, you can stick it on to keep your younger brother/sister/kids quiet while you catch up on that massive backlog of games you never finished in 2016.
Super Mario Bros
Here’s something I just can’t understand: There seems to be a growing number of people who actually quite enjoy the dreadful Mario Bros film – you know, the project that scared Nintendo out of ever dabbling in the movie biz again.
I really don’t get what people see in it. Maybe its the nostalgia of being a nipper and not knowing what a good film is, or maybe they’re just masochists.
Ah well, each to their own. Honestly, you’ll either quite like it or be so disgusted by it that you’ll be enthralled by how naff it is for the entire running time – and that’s an entirely different (but no less valid) kind of entertaining.
So there we have it – the best video game films you and your friends can watch this Christmas. Are they all gems? No. In fact, I’d go as far as to say some of them are really quite awful – but video game movies are notoriously naff and I’m not a miracle worker.
Still, in the right company even the worst film can be an excuse to get out some beers and have a good laugh – and that’s what Christmas is all about.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.