As long as video games have been around, there have been attempts to capitalize on especially popular games, to make the jump to the big screen and squeeze some more money from every demographic, from the Jello eating hordes of 6-10 year olds to the nearly broke, camped out for a PS2, carpal tunnel syndrome having 14-25 year olds. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have been devastating failures that come in a dismal second compared to a nice evening at home with a good book and a root canal. Below are some of the more notable attempts:

Super Mario Brothers (1993) You would think that the film version of the first and greatest Nintendo dynasty would have to be magnificent. Unfortunately, the writers chose to take the names of the characters and vague concepts of the game and make a movie that was otherwise completely unlike the series. With Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the Mario Brothers (how can you have non-Italians play some of the most influential Italians since Michael Corleone), it should have had a fighting chance, but no such luck. The atmosphere of the film was dark and actually visually interesting, but seriously, I don”t remember those big pin headed guys in any of the Mario games, even the acid trip that is Super Mario Bros. 2. Give me “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show” any day.

Street Fighter: The Movie (1994) The screen adaptation of the arcade/Super Nintendo series stars everyone”s favorite Belgian train-wreck, Jean-Claude Van Damme. The one good part of this movie was Raul Julia”s portrayal of General M. Bison. Although it”s not the most impressive finale to a career (he died later that year), he was definitely entertaining. Do yourself a favor: Skip this one, go watch “Bloodsport” and “Commando” simultaneously and you”ve got the same effect.

Mortal Kombat (1995) Christopher Lambert, the Highlander himself, plays Rayden in this screen version of the fighting game that made the phrase “get over here!” famous. I hate to use the phrase “Better than it should have should have been,” but there”s no other way to describe it. It”s basically a supernatural rip-off of “Enter the Dragon,” except this has crappy sequels (“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997,” “Mortal Kombat 3: Domination” due in 2003).

Double Dragon (1993) What the hell were they thinking? Scott Wolf is about as tough as Van Damme is subtle. If you”re going to have someone play Billy Lee, he should be at least a little menacing. C”mon, the guy can be as dreamy as he wants on “Party of Five,” but he just can”t cut it as someone who has to, y”know, hit people.

Wing Commander (1999) Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard? What a line-up. The only reason that this steamer, based on the video game series of the same name, made any money whatsoever was that George Lucas was kind enough to give it the trailer for “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” and I guarantee that most of those people who paid for it didn”t even see it since they walked out after the two minute preview. Incidentally, this teaming up of Lillard and Prinze was apparently so successful that some studio exectutive whose brain was clogged with espressos and cocaine residue decided to bring them together again for the Scooby Doo movie. Fantastic.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) It was inevitable. Too many twelve year olds and comic book store owners had been drooling over Lara”s polygons for too long, and they had a guaranteed audience. This one actually has a plot very similar to a video game, with caricatures replacing characters and an extensive plot about the Illuminati. It wanted to be an Indiana Jones movie with all its might, and they forgot that the main character has to be cool, and that, oh, right, you need good comic relief and a script. Oops.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Although the plot and characters weren”t anything to write home about, we can give this computer animation film a pardon on the visual effects alone. With amazingly fluid graphics, breathtaking scenery and amazingly real looking special effects, it”s easy to forget at certain times that it”s not real. The characters were also vhhoiced by an all-star cast, including Donald Sutherland and Steve “I die in most movies” Buscemi. But it”s a shame that they forgot to make the script more complicated than the video sequences on a game.

Soon to come: Resident Evil (2002) Milla Jovovich is to star in this adaptation of the popular zombie shoot “em up series. Rumor has it that George Romero (creator of the masterpiece “Night of the Living Dead”) was slated to direct, but the powers that be decided that a better choice would be, you guessed it, Paul Anderson, director of the aforementioned “Mortal Kombat.” Great. Call me when they make the Legend of Zelda movie with Jason Biggs and Rachel Leigh Cook.

Honorable Mention: There are also those few films that aren”t based on video games per se but are so entrenched in the video game universe that they deserve discussion. Although there are myriad examples, there”s one particular gem that stands out. Everyone should remember the infomercial for Super Mario Brothers 3, “The Wizard,” starring a “Little Monsters” era Fred Savage and featuring countless plugs for Nintendo, culminating with the almighty the Power Glove. Seeing the opening scenes of Mario 3 on that big screen was our generation”s moon landing.

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