Sonic the Hedgehog, Pacific Rim, Anna and more movies for gamers
Films and popular games have much more in common than you’d think. Movies try to immerse you in another world, often presenting a central character, their mission and telling a story. The same can be said for board and video games, as CGI, VFX, digital characters and adaptations draw these illusive worlds even closer together.
It’s normal for a game loosely based on a film to arrive on platforms. Games are just as readily becoming a source of inspiration in Hollywood as more fandoms discover their favourite toy, board or video game has a film adaptation underway. If you love the film, chances are you’ll love the game they’re based on. Here are 7 films now streaming on Showmax that are based on, loosely inspired by or have their own game spin-offs.
On the surface, Pacific Rim is a thrilling sci-fi monsters vs robots movie directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. As monolithic alien creatures enter through an inter-dimensional portal, humanity responds by building giant robot defenders.
Pacific Rim is an homage to kaiju and mecha, two Japanese pop culture dynasties that include Godzilla and Gundam. While at its core you could say it’s a supersized version of Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em, the film actually splinters into many game concepts. Japan’s rich video game history means many kaiju and mecha games already exist. An overflow of Neon Evangelion, Pacific Rim brought these two giants together, inspiring many spin-off video games.
Sonic the Hedgehog is the film adaptation of Sega’s superstar video game featuring the voice talents of Ben Schwartz as Sonic and starring James Marden and Jim Carrey. It sticks closely to the simple video game narrative, as the lovable supersonic critter teams up with the town sheriff to find his precious rings and escape the clutches of Dr Robotnik.
With Sonic the game being Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario in the 90s, the film drew heavy criticism for its strange character design, but it has turned into one of the better video game adaptations. A fun and zippy sci-fi adventure, this film blends live-action and animation to create a light family-friendly escape, giving Jim Carrey a welcome opportunity to flex his nutty energy.
Clint Eastwood is a proud American and Hollywood icon who never misses an opportunity to wave the star-spangled banner. Following the runaway success of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, Eastwood turned his attention to biographical war drama thriller American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, about the Navy SEAL war hero Chris Kyle, whose tours of combat are contrasted with the battle scars of PTSD back home.
American Sniper brings the first-person shooter experience to screen from a sniper’s perspective. This is a popular gaming concept, from Medal of Honour and Call of Duty to Black and Sniper Ghost Warrior, and this film is the best and most vicarious example of this tension-soaked undertaking since 2007’s Shooter.
Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita took the old Hollywood femme fatale underground as a teen criminal became a professional assassin. Remade as Black Cat and Point of No Return, this influential formula fueled Red Sparrow and now Anna as Besson rekindles the spirit of NIkita. This time it’s the picture-perfect Sasha Luss who plays Anna, a Russian beauty who’s recruited by the KGB.
This espionage action thriller features a stellar supporting cast and some gritty action choreography as Luss recalls the versatility and presence of Milla Jovovich. As she dons disguises, keeps to the shadows and employs stealth tactics, it’s easy to see the tie-ins with the long-running and popular video game franchise Hitman.
Roland Emmerich doesn’t know how to make a small movie. From Independence Day to The Day After Tomorrow, it seems organic for the blockbuster director to turn to war in Midway. Based on the 1976 film of the same name, Midway centres on the battle between American and Japanese naval fleets, as told by its heroes. Leveraging a stellar cast and dizzying visual effects, Midway is a visceral and immersive audio-visual war experience.
From Sky Destroyer, Combat Flight Simulator and Warplanes to board games like Axis & Allies, dogfights and World War II merge quite effortlessly into Midway. Leaning on CGI in his spectacular epics, Emmerich drops the melodrama of Pearl Harbour to focus on action-packed naval battles and heroics.
John Rambo is Sly Stallone’s other iconic role besides Rocky Balboa (there are seven Rocky movies currently streaming on Showmax). First Blood set in motion a film franchise around the gutsy Vietnam war veteran’s combat and survival skills when he’s forced into hiding. Rambo: Last Blood completes the action hero’s journey as he uses his deadly skillset to exact revenge in a bloody action-western showdown.
While First Blood spawned its own video game spin-off in 1985, the take-no-prisoners shoot ‘em up spirit and machismo of the 80s quintessential action star spilled into arcade games like Contra in 1987. Rambo’s trademark muscular, guns-blazing, shirt-optional and red-headband look influenced Contra as two commandos take down aliens in the Amazon jungle.
Hunter Killer is an old-school action thriller by South Africa’s very own Donovan Marsh (Spud, iNumber Number) starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman. The mission centres on an American submarine captain whose vessel and crew teaming up with Navy SEALs in a bid to rescue the Russian president.
A visually compelling and thrilling sea-to-land war adventure, Hunter Killer recalls the world of GI Joe and action figures of the 80s. Naval and military pageantry, courage under fire, maverick posturing and tactical gambits are Hunter Killer’s cornerstones. Tipping the hat to other submarine thrillers and games like Battleships, there’s an A-Team wink-wink charm to this salute to actioners of the 80s.