Top 10 Engrossing Movies Like 'Ready Player One'
What films are like Ready Player One?
Video games have a multi-billion-dollar industry to rival that of the movie industry’s.
Titles take years in development, just like with movies. They have characters as complex and with as much depth in their backstories as in movies, and they have hardcore fans of each genre. Just like with movies. So, whenever there’s a chance for these two behemoths to clash, both industries tend to jump at it because it invariably means lots of money for everyone.
Audiences love movies about games, and Ready Player One is no exception. The movie about a virtual gaming world captured the minds and hearts of gamers world over, which made me wonder what other movies about games existed.
Here are 10 movies Ready Player One that'll catch your fancy.
Films Similar to Ready Player One
- Tron (1982)
- Street Fighter (1993)
- Super Mario Bros (1994)
- Mortal Kombat (1995)
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
- Warcraft (2016)
- Resident Evil (2002)
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
- Hitman (2007)
1. Tron (1982)
Tron may have been the precursor to modern day movies about gaming, but the origins of this classic race game may surprise you. When director Steven Lisberger decided to tell the story of a computer programmer who gets transported into a computer and must interact with programs in order to escape, the game Tron did not exist.
Starring Jeff Bridges as the protagonist, the film follows a computer engineer named Kevin Flynn who after discovering that a senior executive has been stealing his work, tries to hack into the company’s system. The unexpected happens when he is transported into the digital world of the computer, where he discovers that the programs appear in human form and are being subjugated by a Master Control Program (which essentially does exactly what its name suggests) and a computerized version of the thieving executive called Sark.
Aided by Tron – a program designed to grant autonomy to the system and counter the chain of command wielded by the Master Control Program, Kevin realizes he must join the fight and side with the oppressed programs before he can have any chance of escape.
The film itself was hailed as a marvel of cinema in its time and has gone on to cement itself in cult history, even spawning a sequel in 2010. What many people may not know is, the arcade game was only created after the success of the movie.
The original idea for Tron was actually inspired by an arcade game called “Pong", which was essentially a table tennis game developed by Atari. It just goes to show that the most iconic things tend to have the most unexpected beginnings. Tron is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
2. Street Fighter (1994)
When it comes to gaming, no other titles are as widely popular as Street Fighter, so when Steven E. de Sousa expressed his desire to write and direct a movie for this hit video game, it was a no-brainer.
Starring the all-time action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme as the hard-hitting Colonel Guile, Street Fighter begins its story when a military dictator named General M. Bison (played by Raúl Juliá) kidnaps a bus full of relief workers and holds them hostage.
Realizing that Bison’s ambitions stretch far beyond kidnapping, an international military team, led by Colonel Guile look to infiltrate and crush the despot's plans by enlisting the help of unlikely heroes Ken and Ryu who are street fighters. The film was a box office hit, not surprising given the worldwide success of the eponymous Capcom game.
However, the reviews and reception from the fans were not so great, with the movie currently holding a stinker of a Rotten Tomatoes score of 18%. The release of a reboot in 2009 intended to assuage their fandom was met with both critical and commercial failure. That, however, did not stop the film from going on to become a staple in the world of game-turned-movies.
Street Fighter definitely delivers the over-the-top action you would expect from a movie about a fighting video game. Those looking for some movies like Ready Player One will love what this action flick brings to the table.
3. Super Mario Bros (1993)
If there ever was a ranking for the most popular game ever created, the little Italian plumber in his red hat and blue overalls created by Nintendo would probably be sitting pretty at the top of the list. You would be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t played much less heard about Mario and the classic Super Mario Bros.
What Nintendo would like you to forget, however, is the 1993 film by the same name written by Parker Bennet, starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Based loosely on the game (but not loose enough to lose the name), the Super Mario Bros fantasy adventure film follows the story of the beloved Mario and his universally marginalized sidekick brother, Luigi as they set out on their mission to rescue Princess Daisy from the evil President Koopa popularly known as Bowser.
Excitement for the project quickly turned into shame and dishonor when the film bombed, not only at the box office but with fans as well. Without mincing words, the movie has been called one of the worst films ever made and currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 14%.
History has, however, been kind to the movie as it later managed to gain a cult following. It makes sense that this would happen. It’s Mario. One of the biggest games ever created. You’re bound to love it even if you hate it. The growing support for the 1993 disappointment has been so great that in 2018 talks of another Mario film being in development were teased.
Here’s to hoping Super Mario Bros. finally gets the movie it deserves. Super Mario Bros is available for streaming on Netflix.
4. Mortal Kombat (1995)
In the competitive world of gaming titles, no other fighting video game has aged as beautifully as Mortal Kombat. In 1995, Hollywood brought the beloved game to the big screen.
Mortal Kombat follows the story of three earth warriors - a warrior monk named Liu Kang, a brash actor named Johnny Cage and a super soldier named Sonya Blade, who are trained by a thunder god named Raiden to fight in a tournament that will determine the fate of the Earth.
The film is most notable of its martial arts sequences and settings as it looked to replicate the immersive world of the video game. Mortal Kombat came out to a somewhat divisive reaction from audiences, but still managed to remain in the number one box office spot for three weeks. The success of the film spawned the release of a sequel in 1997, followed by two television series.
With fans of the franchise not seemingly about to dwindle anytime soon, the Mortal Kombat train keeps going with talks of a reboot in the works along with an animated film to be announced sometime this year. Mortal Kombat is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
If you're looking for a film like Ready Player One, Mortal Kombat should be right up your alley.
5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
When it comes to sexy badass heroines, there are few characters that can lay claim to starting that trend like Lara Croft from the Eidos Interactive game, Tomb Raider. So, when it was announced that international bombshell and badass in her own right, Angelina Jolie was slated to bring this video game character to life in the 2011 film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, anticipation was through the roof.
The movie’s premise was just about the same as that of its gaming progenitor; a beautiful yet dauntless explorer and her adventures as she seeks out ancient artifacts. The movie as a commercial success. Critics hated it. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 20% and an IMDb rating of 5.8/10, it was back to the drawing board for Hollywood as they released a sequel in 2003, this time with the added star power of Gerard Butler and Djimon Hounsou.
This offering went down a lot better than its forebearer with continued praise for Angelina Jolie’s performances, but as the saying goes, a polished turd is still a turd and critics continued to lambast the hackneyed plot.
Thinking the third time would definitely be the charm, plans of a third installment were put underway. With Jolie turning down the offer to once again become Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander became the new face of the titular heroine. Another swing and a miss as the 2018 reboot, although commercially successful, was unable to satisfy the critics and fans.
It was clear that Tomb Raider was a title suffering under the weight of its own success, but either way, the franchise delivers on its promise to bring the now legendary explorer to life along with all the action she courts. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
6. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
This entry is a bit of a misdirect as there is no real existing game for it, but the truth is, you will probably never find any movie about a video game as good as Wreck-It Ralph.
Making its onscreen debut in 2012, Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of an arcade game villain who decides he no longer wants to be known as the bad guy and sets off to become a hero, causing hilarious and somewhat disastrous results. Voiced by the talents of John C. Riley, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch to name a few, this 3D animated comedy produced by Disney became an overnight success compared to most of its pedigreed compatriots on this list.
The film grossed over $470 million worldwide and received nominations from the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature. The response was so positive that in 2018, a sequel titled Ralph Breaks the Internet was released to yet more praise.
Wreck-It Ralph is definitely one of the best movies on this list with characters that will make your heart melt and a storyline that not only appeals to kids but to adults, too. Wreck-It Ralph and its sequel come highly recommended on this list.
7. Warcraft (2016)
The immersive world of Warcraft with its myriad of books and games was in for another treat with the announcement of the 2016 film of the same name. The Warcraft movie towed the line of the franchise as it sets its story on the fictional planet of Azeroth where an Orc horde looks to escape their dying world by invading the planet.
In order to stop the invasion, the planet’s king and its mightiest warrior must seek help from the most powerful wizard in the land. However, things are not as they seem.
With a star-studded cast of Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and the incomparable “King Ragnar” Travis Fimmel, the film was on course to become the crowning jewel of an already illustrious franchise, but if we have learned anything thus far from this list, it’s that gamer fans are a very fickle bunch.
The movie received negative reviews with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a rating of 28% and despite grossing $433 million worldwide to surpass Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all-time, it was still largely considered a financial let-down. Warcraft is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
8. Resident Evil (2002)
One of the more famous titles on this list mainly due to Mill Jovovich’s electrifying performances, Resident Evil is based on the video game from Capcom by the same name. Spawning five sequels over a fourteen-year period, Resident Evil tells the story of an evil conglomerate known as the Umbrella Corporation who through experimentation create what is called the T-virus – a virus that turns people into zombies.
The virus is unleashed in the underground lab where it was created causing the supercomputer that controls the facility to shut the whole lab down, but that doesn’t stop the virus from threatening to infect the planet. The franchise follows Alice who having lost her memory, joins a band of commandoes to prevent that from happening.
The mission takes an expected turn for the worst, with each sequel spawning even more difficult problems and questions for Alice. The film although generally regarded as a mainstay in modern movie folklore, received mixed reviews with critics mentioning that the franchise got incredibly worse as it progressed.
Whether this is accurate or reeks of the complaints of an audience spoilt for choice, Resident Evil delivers exactly what its video game promises, action and more of it with legendary director James Cameron even mentioning the franchise as his biggest guilty pleasure. Resident Evil is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
9. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
One of the old guards of gaming received a modern re-telling in the 2010 action fantasy, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by Mike Newell. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a young prince who with the help of a princess played by Gemma Arterton, must stop the evil villain in possession of a special dagger that threatens to destroy the world with its ability to reverse time.
This beloved game with its myriad of fans looked forward to the game’s cinematic debut but were left largely underwhelmed by the effort. The film slated to be iconic film producer, Jerry Bruckheimer’s new franchise to rival his already largely successful Pirates of the Caribbean debuted at number three on the box office, only managing an overall top spot as number two with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 36%.
Despite the less than stellar reception, however, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time closed out its run with a worldwide gross of over $330 million and at that time, finished as the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
10. Hitman (2007)
Director Xavier Gens sought to bring the cold, calculating precision and effectiveness of the professional hitman, Agent 47, made popular by the videogame of the same name to life in 2007’s Hitman.
Starring Timothy Olyphant, the story documents the creation of the super assassin and follows him as he goes about his missions with clinical efficiency. When, on a mission, he realizes he has been betrayed by The Organization (the secret group responsible for his creation and essentially his employers), he must evade not only Interpol and the Russian military but other super assassins as he searches for answers.
Hitman was not received favorably by its audience, with Time magazine once putting it on its list of top ten worst video game movies. That notwithstanding, Hitman’s success at the box office prompted a sequel, but it was canceled during production due to complications that included the death of one of the purported actors and Timothy Olyphant vocally refusing to take up the role again.
In 2015 however, a reboot titled Hitman: Agent 47 was premiered starring Rupert Fried in the lead role and believe it or not, this did worse for the critics than the first. Another reminder on this list of how difficult it is to please gamers, considering the movie offers all the elements promised in the video game. Hitman is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Did I miss out on any other good movies like Ready Player One? Let me know in the comments section.