It's a universal truth that movies based on video games suck. Need for Speed, starring a post-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul and hitting theaters this weekend, will likely continue the tradition, as it sits with a 24 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This isn't surprising news. But it makes us wonder: are video game films the most maligned movie sub-genre?
We're talking only the bleakest of genres: those with no "masterpieces" or all-stars for which you could even make an argument. These are the movies that everyone knows are going to be bad, but they see them anyway. But which genre is the worst? Let's check the reviews and find out.
For each category, we'll take five movies representative of the genre (based on our unimpeachable movie knowledge, of course), calculate the average of their Rotten Tomato ratings, and then see which movie genre is truly the most hated by critics.
Video Game Movies
Since Super Mario Bros. kicked things off in 1993, there have been 27 major films released based on video game titles. All of them were poorly reviewed. None received a score above 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and many were below 20 (Final Fantasy led the pack with 44 percent).
Our five representatives: Super Mario Bros. (16 percent), Laura Croft: Tomb Raider (19 percent), Final Fantasy: Spirits Within (44 percent), Prince of Persia (35 percent), and Need for Speed (24 percent).
The average: 27.6 percent
You know, the ones where the characters break out in random dance sequences. This sub-genre is perhaps most notable for giving Channing Tatum his start. Dance movies have come a long way in a few short years – they're even in 3D now! Unfortunately, they're still poorly reviewed in 3D.
Our five: Step Up (19 percent), Step Up 2 the Streets (27 percent), Step Up Revolution (42 percent), Stomp the Yard (26 percent), Battle of the Year (6 percent).
The average: 24 percent
It started with Scary Movie and now it's an epidemic. Not only have there been five (!) installments in the Scary Movie franchise, but we've also had Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Vampires Suck. And now they seem to have come full-circle, with last year's horror flick spoof, A Haunted House.
Our five: Scary Movie (54 percent), Scary Movie 2 (15 percent), Epic Movie (2 percent), Date Movie (7 percent), Vampires Suck (5 percent).
The average: 16.6 percent
Torture Porn Movies
Torture porn flicks broke it big with the Saw franchise, and have inspired copy-cats like Hostel and The Human Centipede. Even more notorious than the mere slasher-flick genre, the plot-starved, cliche-filled torture porn films exist solely to make the audience squirm. But they're bigger critical faves than our other maligned genres, by a decent margin.
Our five: Saw (48 percent), Saw 3D (9 percent), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2003 (38 percent), Hostel (61 percent), The Human Centipede (49 percent).
The average: 41 percent
So it turns out that video game movies aren't the most hated sub-genre – that would be spoof movies, and we don't disagree. Considering the films they're parodying tend to be low-quality to begin with, spoof movies have a hard time getting out of the review cellar.
That said, video game movies certainly aren't great, and they're not even the best at being bad. They're just bleh. But there's a reason studios keep making them. When hitched to a bona fide movie star (like Angelina Jolie, Jake Gyllenhaal, or the up-and-coming Aaron Paul), they stand to do well at the box office (Need for Speed is projected for $47 million), and who really goes to a movie based on a playstation game looking for a compelling narrative anyway?
The great thing about these sub-genres is that they're unabashed in their awfulness; poor reviews don't prevent more movies from getting made. They win more Razzies than Oscars and don't shed a tear. So really, who are we to judge?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.