Best movies and TV series based on video games

Fallout, The Last of Us, Super Mario Bros, and moreā€¦

Video games make for excellent source material for new movies and TV series, and that has a lot to do with the fact that the same people who played the games are now watching the content. Recent times have seen some excellent adaptations of video games, not only into movies but also into big-budget streaming series. Among the latest in this list is Fallout, which is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now, and is based on the role-playing games set in a post-apocalyptic world after nuclear war.

Fans of gaming will be happy to know that Fallout isn’t the only such adaptation, and there are a few other picks to take a look at if you’re in the mood for movies and shows based on the games you once loved playing. Here’s our list of the best movies and TV series based on video games.

Fallout (Prime Video)

Based on the later Fallout games by Bethesda Game Studios, the television series on Prime Video captures the retro-futuristic and atomic-punk look and feel of the games accurately and truthfully. The series follows a handful of characters, including a vault-dweller, a Brotherhood of Steel soldier, and bounty hunter ghoul who has managed to survive centuries in the wasteland.

Apart from getting the aesthetic right, Fallout is also gripping in its portrayal of the California wasteland, along with its towns and people. Fans of the games, especially Fallout 3 which really brought attention back to the franchise and established it once again, will enjoy this one.

The Last of Us (JioCinema)

Among the biggest hits of 2023, The Last of Us is fairly accurate to its source material - The Last of Us Part 1 - which despite its age remains a relevant and top-notch video game from a story-telling perspective. Even if you haven’t played the game, the HBO-produced series is an absolute winner, thanks to star performances from its leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

The popular series follows the events of the first game rather accurately, with Joel and Ellie getting through a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a fungal outbreak which has transformed humans into what can only be described as mushroom zombies. It’s a must-watch series whether you’re into video games or not.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (JioCinema)

Super Mario Bros is so old and iconic that this isn’t even the first movie based on the game. However, it’s perhaps the most entertaining one for our current era, thanks to excellent voice performances from the ensemble cast led by Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Jack Black. Cartoon-like animation and a fast-paced storyline keep things interesting as well. 

Although panned by many movie critics (for no logical reason), The Super Mario Bros. Movie went on to be the big hit of the summer of 2023, and holds the record for being the highest grossing film based on a video game. Watch it if you haven’t already, especially if you grew up on video games in the 90s.

Gran Turismo (Netflix)

Gran Turismo has always been a simulation game that prides itself on accuracy, be it in the performance of the cars replicating their real-world versions or in the way you drive across actual race tracks and circuits around the world. That might have been a strange subject matter for a movie, but the Gran Turismo film pulls it off brilliantly.

Based on the true story of Jan Mardenborough - a Gran Turismo sim player who went on to pursue a successful career in motorsport on the basis of his video game skills - the movie takes some creative liberties but captures the essence of the game. It’s a gripping story, and worth it for racing fans.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Prime Video)

Old video games with their simplified plots are perhaps a favoured source material for filmmakers, because there’s so much freedom in how to frame the film’s story. Sonic the Hedgehog is a beloved game among many, and the film relies on its excellent cast to put together a silly and greatly enjoyable story around the rapid blue hedgehog. 

Starring comedian Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic and Jim Carrey in a live-action role as Dr. Robotnik, Sonic the Hedgehog combines animation and live-action to excellent effect.

The Angry Birds Movie (Netflix)

There remains no reasonable explanation for why the Angry Birds franchise is as successful as it is. The mobile games are undeniably fun, but it’s a franchise that has since led to massive sales in merchandise and two big-budget animated films, among other things. The first film is surprisingly fun despite the inherent silliness of its plot, and benefits from good voice performances from its cast.

The film is oddly loyal to the characters and plot of the source material, including the core objective of flinging different types of birds at evil, green pigs.

The Witcher (Netflix)

Okay, so The Witcher isn’t technically based on original plot material created by a video game, considering that the successful video game series by CD Projekt Red is itself based on a Polish book series dating back to the 1990s. However, it’s safe to say the success of Netflix’s Witcher series starring Henry Cavill has a lot to do with the popularity of the video games, so that’s why we’re including it here.

Fans of fantasy fiction and the video game series alike will enjoy this one, although be prepared for the rather strange replacement of Henry Cavill with Liam Hemsworth in the lead role of Geralt of Rivia from the upcoming season 4.

Twisted Metal (SonyLiv)

The Twisted Metal video game series has been around for a while, even though it may have felt a bit too niche (or violent) for many gamers back in the day. It does make for good source material though, and was recently adapted into a television series starring Anthony Mackie in the lead role of John Doe, a delivery driver with amnesia. Expect everything from silly jokes to killer clowns in this post-apocalyptic setup based on vehicular combat.