In honour of Jake Gyllenhaal’s increasingly bemused, far from Persian, Prince Of Persia, here are the top ten biggest casting mistakes in videogame adaptations. Some are more obvious than others, some are almost inexplicably ridiculous, and all of them made bad films even worse. Without further ado, let the cavalcade of casting catastrophe begin.
10. Christian Slater in Alone In The Dark (2005)
Christian Slater is a cheeky, weasel faced trickster. There’s a mischievous glint in his beady little eyes, no doubt a remnant from his time in the brat pack. What he is not is a serious paranormal detective with a name like Carnby. Slater does brooding about as well as Uwe Boll does ‘good film’. Which is not very well at all. Slater looks like a man desperately trying to find a way out. He’s a wise cracking action hero. He needs something to punch, not a mystery to unravel and ghosts to run away from.
9. Ali Larter in Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Claire Redfield is one of the stalwarts of the Resident Evil/Biohazard series. Tough and resilient, she spends most of her time searching for her elder brother Chris. And she’s a brunette. Ali Larter very nearly ruined the first series of Heroes by being so damnably annoying, and seems unable of playing anyone but herself. And she’s blonde. So very blonde. Not only does Extinction turn the Resident Evil franchise into a Mad Max clone, it also drops Larter in as Redfield, and turns her into a character devoid of any human emotion. Claire deserves her own film, Larter deserves a swift slide down the Hollywood pecking order.
8. Scott Wolf in Double Dragon (1994)
Who better to star as a hard kicking street fighter with a natty line in sleeveless denim jackets (sleeveless denim jackets being the height of cool in the mid nineties) than Scott Wolf, twinkly eyed heart throb and expresser of angsty, difficult emotions. Less of a ragged street punk, more of a cuddly, misunderstood sort who you’d take home to see your mum. Hopelessly adrift in a plot riddled with holes and mystical mumbo jumbo, it’s a wonder that Wolf made it out of this flop alive.
7. Sean Bean in Silent Hill (2006)
The only actor on the list who’s not playing a character lifted directly from a game, Bean gets the nod over some other, perhaps more obvious candidates, due to what will probably go down in history as the most inconsistent accent ever. Is he from Ireland? Is he from America? Is he from Sheffield? Is he from a combination of all three with a Jamaican twist? Poor Boromir looks like a fish out of water in this ‘horror’ film, desperately trying to play it straight as the entire plot crumbles around him. Mercifully, for Mr Bean and for us, he’s not in it for very long.
6. Kristin Kreuk in Streetfighter: The Legend Of Chun Li (2009)
It’s almost impossible to imagine the kind of madness that must have taken over the mind of whoever was in charge of casting this bizarre, unnecessary film. The worst of a bad bunch has to be Kreuk as Chun Li. The whole point of optioning a license is familiarity; an already established IP brings an already established audience, which makes the decision to change Chun Li from a heavily thighed Chinese police officer into a spindly Western concert pianist, (yes, you read that right, a concert pianist) all the more ridiculous. Kreuk only has two expressions, surprised and sad, and spends the parts of the film where she’s not surprised or sad gurning like a constipated mental patient. To be out acted by Kris Klein really is an achievement, but Ms Kreuk manages it here admirably.
5. Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne (2008)
Marky Mark’s career had been floundering for a while before Max Payne came along. The Departed actor, desperately seeking a Bourne-style franchise to reinvigorate his star rating, grumbles his way through this high concept crime flick car crash, seemingly confused and angry in equal measures. In the games, Max Payne is a tortured soul, hell bent on revenge, maddened by the loss of his wife and daughter. All of these emotions seem ever so slightly beyond the ex funky bunch leader, who stares into the middle distance, looks sullen and hopes it’ll all be over soon. And don’t get me started on the metaphorical Angels.
4. Til Schweiger in Far Cry (2008)
Surprise, surprise, more than one Uwe Boll movie made the list. This time, Til Schweiger, a German character actor, gets to portray American mercenary/poor sailor Jack Carver. There’s only one man who can get away with playing an American hard man with a heavy European accent and he’s too busy governing at the moment to be involved with this sort of schlock. Schweiger does his best with a muddled script and Boll’s incessantly poor directing, but his tough guy grimace gets boring quick and his wisecracks fall on deaf ears.
3. Christopher Lambert in Mortal Kombat (1995)
Raiden is the immortal God of thunder, able to shoot lightning from his hands and teleport, and the only man in history to make a straw hat and pyjamas combo look cool. He’s so hard he doesn’t even punch people properly, instead using the palm of his hand, so as not to kill them instantly. Long story short, he’s a bad ass. Who better to cast in the role, then, than Christopher “I’m an American born Frenchmen who’s most famous for playing a Scot” Lambert. Accent aside, Lambert turns Raiden into a wet flannel, more of a chummy uncle than an ass kicking deity, shooting out helpful advice and directions rather than the lightning and beatdowns we all wanted to see.
2. Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros (1993)
Super Mario Brothers was the first Hollywood adaptation of a videogame, and it set the standards that we’ve all come to expect: rubbish special effects, nonsensical story and terribly miscast main characters. The worst in a truly bad bunch has to be Bob Hoskins as Mario, an actor renowned for his roles as a cockney hard man cast as a kiddie friendly Italian American plumber. Hoskins can’t help but struggle with the awful script he has to work with. You can almost see the will to live slowly slipping away as the films goes on. Unless the criteria for Mario simply read “short, can grow moustache”, then it’s a mystery what Bob’s doing involved in this sort of tripe.
1. The entire cast of Streetfighter (1994)
Oh where to begin? This whole list could quite easily be populated with Streetfighter‘s casting mistakes. A Belgian body builder cast as a traumatised American soldier, a pint sized Australian pop princess cast as a leggy English secret agent, Raul Julia cast as a muscle bound, Thailand based megalomaniac who wields psycho power to destroy his foes? Jean-Claude Van Damme flexes his way through the film like a confused lump of meat, Kylie flounders like a lost child and the rest of the cast stumble through scene after scene of gut wrenchingly awful dialogue and poorly filmed violence. Street Fighter: The Movie succeeds at precisely nothing, mixing a terrible story with acting matched in its wretchedness only by the ineptitudes of the casting director. The saddest part of the whole shambles is the fact that this festering puddle of sputum was Raul Julia’s final film. Hardly a fitting epitaph for a man of his talents.