Making a “great video game” movie has become an annual rite of failure for Hollywood. For whatever reason, even games that have great storytelling and visuals on home consoles can’t be adapted competently on to the big screen. Just this year Tomb Raider and Ready Player One whiffed in trying to translate. I think the best video game movie currently is actually a sequel to a movie based on a kids’ book: 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Welcome to the Jungle uses all the conventions of video games: limited lives, character skills, levels, bosses, NPCs, cut scenes, and more to push the plot along a fast-paced, comedic action roller coaster. If the plot is thin…..well so are most video games, and every one of the characters is more than aware that they’re trapped within one. It doesn’t waste time trying to be more than what it is, and mainly the entire jungle serves as a showcase for the movie’s true star: their four leads’ complete and utter dorkiness within their host bodies. My favorite exploration of the movie/game space is when the four character discover how to read their character’s stat sheets and discover the strengths and weaknesses (mostly weaknesses for Kevin Hart) of their flesh prisons.