Nintendo reportedly cancelled its speculated Legend of Zelda live-action series at Netflix after news of the project leaked online. Comedian Adam Conover recalled the incident on The Serf Times podcast, revealing the true reason Nintendo pulled the plug on the show.
It was 2015, and Conover was working on a claymation Star Fox adaptation. Then, after news of the Legend of Zelda series was leaked by the Wall Street Journal, Conover got word that the Star Fox project had been canned. Soon after, Nintendo halted development on The Legend of Zelda as well.
“Then, a month later, suddenly there were reports Netflix wasn’t going to do its Legend of Zelda anymore,” Conover said. “I was like ‘What happened?’ And then I heard from my boss we weren’t doing our Star Fox anymore. I was like ‘What happened?’ He was like, ‘Someone at Netflix leaked the Legend of Zelda thing, they weren’t supposed to talk about it, Nintendo freaked out … and they pulled the plug on everything, the entire program to adapt these things.”
The WSJ article in question cites a “person familiar with the matter,” who told the newspaper that the upcoming video game adaptation was billed as “Game of Thrones for a family audience.” The source also revealed that the series would be centered on Link’s conquest to save Princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule. That leaked information was enough for Nintendo to scrap the project altogether.
While we wont get a Zelda series anytime soon, Nintendo is still working on its upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie, scheduled to be released in 2022.
Gallery — Every Video Game Movie Ranked From Worst to Best:
37. Alone in the Dark (2005)
Picking the worst video-game movie of all time is like picking the best slice of New York pizza: There is a lot of competition for the title, and everyone has their own preference. Personally, I give my vote to Alone in the Dark, the ultimate disasterpiece from the king of bad video-game movies, Uwe Boll. Tara Reid stars, typecast yet again as a brilliant archaeologist, opposite Christian Slater as a detective who investigates supernatural occurrences. I can’t tell you more than that because the film is actually incomprehensible, right down to the opening title crawl that’s so long and rambling it makes Alone in the Dark more confusing than it would have been without it. (The crawl is literally 90 seconds long.) The film’s initial writer, Blair Erickson, claims he wrote a more realistic detective story; Boll discarded it in order to add more action, special effects, and sex scenes. “The funny part is,” Erickson wrote in 2005, “after we walked off and he got his usual team of hacks to churn out a huge steaming pile of s±, he came back months later and asked us if he could get the rights to use scenes from our screenplay… for free. Oh, Uwe.”
36. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
According to Wikipedia, the budget for this Mortal Kombat sequel was close to double the one for the original film. So why does it look like it absolute garbage? These effects wouldn’t pass muster in a Sega CD cutscene. It just goes to show money can’t fix everything — or anything in this disastrous sequel. The first Kombat wasn’t Chaucer, but at least it was watchable. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is so bad you’d swear it was made intentionally awful as part of some sort of elaborate The Producers-esque scheme to fleece investors out of their money.
35. House of the Dead (2003)
Uwe Boll’s reign of terror — and not like the good kind of spooky horror movie terror, I’m talking the bad kind of unwatchable video-game movie terror — started with this movie based on the first-person shooter of the same name that some people credit with introducing the concept of fast zombies years before Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later…. That movie had already come out by the time Boll released his adaptation, meaning the novelty factor was already gone. In its place, you get some shoddy editing, a lot of violence, and some knockoff Matrix bullet time effects. Somehow, Boll parlayed this mess into an entire career making more schlock based on video games.
34. BloodRayne (2005)
Two years after House of the Dead, word still hadn’t gotten out about Boll and his factory of cinematic junk, because somehow (or $omehow) he convinced a ton of recognizable actors to appear in BloodRayne, a tacky vampire action flick. The cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Madsen, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf, and Sir Ben Kingsley. They all look incredibly depressed about the whole thing. Can you blame them?
33. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
15 years after the first Street Fighter the film got a sort-of reboot, which contains no legends and barely any street fighting. What it does have is Chris Klein, giving one of the all-time great bad performances as Charlie Nash, bearing no resemblance to the Street Fighter character of the same name, or really any human being who’s ever lived. Preening, mugging, squinting, snarling, it is truly a sight to behold.
32. Postal (2007)
By 2007, Uwe Boll’s career was such a joke that even he was making fun of it. In Postal he has a small role as himself, a terrible movie director and theme-park owner who gets shot in the crotch and then yells “I hate video games!” Hilarious! While more technically competent than Boll’s earlier films, Postal is even more repulsive, as it gleefully imagines a world where bad behavior justifies worse retaliation, as its hero (Zack Ward) avenges even the slightest injustice against him with outrageously violent vengeance. The clerk at the unemployment office was rude to him, so it’s okay for Dude to run her over with a truck. Again, hilarious!
31. Far Cry (2008)
In the right hands, this premise — a former Special Forces soldier (Til Schweiger) and a journalist (Emmanuelle Vaugier) get trapped on an island with a bunch of goons who work for an evil scientist — could make a totally solid B movie. Unfortunately, Far Cry was in the hands of one Uwe Boll. In addition to his usual blend of nonsensical editing and atrocious do-these-people-know-the-camera-is-on acting, this one contains a sex scene that’s shameless even by Boll standards, with star Schweiger’s Jack sliming his way into Vaugier’s Valerie’s pants by claiming hypothermia and suggesting they spoon to conserve body heat. If the sequence wasn’t brutal enough, the post-coitus scene the following morning begins with the immortal line “So how was I?”
30. Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)
The second Silent Hill picks up the story of the kid from the original movie, now a teenager played by Adelaide Clemens. Her mom got trapped in an alternate dimension in the last movie, so now she hangs out with her dad (Sean Bean) — at least until he gets kidnapped. Then she hangs out with a classmate played by Kit Harrington because Game of Thrones was really hot when Revelation was made. Convoluted even by the standards of video-game movies, with monsters and multiple dimensions and crazy cults and seals of metatron, plus weaker effects than the previous effort. Do yourself a favor and stick to the first Silent Hill.
29. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is one of four films Uwe Boll made in 2007. (He may not be good, but the dude is fast.) This one’s got fantasy-adjacent shenanigans starring Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, and — of all people! — Burt Reynolds. In the Name of the King is slightly less incompetent than the average Boll trash fire, which means it’s bad and boring as opposed to so mind-warningly dreadful that it possesses a kind of trainwreck watchability. After five Boll jams, I’m officially running out of synonyms for “awful” to describe all these [checks thesaurus] repellent movies, so let’s just move on.
28. Double Dragon (1994)
For some reason, the movie version of this classic arcade beat ’em up complicated the simple premise — two brothers fight to rescue a girl from a bunch of gangsters — with all kinds of sci-fi trappings. Now Billy (Scott Wolf) and Jimmy (Mark Dacascos) fight an evil businessman (Robert Patrick, dressed and styled like Vanilla Ice’s evil stepdad) for control of a magical necklace in a ruined future Los Angeles threatened with acid rain and other natural disasters. The dystopian trappings are bizarre and totally out-of-place, but they do contribute some genuinely impressive visuals, including some of the most beautiful matte paintings you’ll find in a movie of this era. Also, the Double Dragon video game exists in this world, and is featured onscreen, so enjoy trying to make sense of that.
27. Tekken (2010)
Passable fight scenes aside, this adaptation of the long-running series plays like a porn parody version of The Hunger Games minus the sex scenes, right down to the female fighter (Christie, played by Kelly Overton) who wears what I can only describe as butt cleavage pants in almost every scene. (My Tekken knowledge is a little rusty; is the idea that Christie was a plumber before she became one of the world’s most elite capoeira masters?)
26. Doom (2005)
Although he eventually became the biggest movie star in the world, the early years of Dwayne Johnson’s transition from wrestling to Hollywood were bumpy. His low point came in this dreadful horror thriller based on the iconic ’90s series of first-person shooters. The one long shot that apes the point-of-view of the games is interesting from a formal perspective; the rest leaves a lot to be desired including the Rock’s performance which goes a long way towards explaining why he’s so rarely played villains since this movie.
25. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Jan de Bont is a slight upgrade over Simon West in the director’s chair, and the opening of the one Jolie Tomb Raider sequel — with Jolie’s Lara Croft raiding an aquatic tomb belonging to Alexander the Great then escaping a watery grave by punching a shark in the face and riding it back to the surface — is a hoot. It’s all downhill after that, and the end is a colossal disaster, although Ciaran Hinds gives good baddie as a scientist looking for the ultimate biological weapon.
24. DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
Hong Kong action legend Corey Yuen was clearly overqualified to direct this exploitative flick about a fighting tournament that appears to have no rules beyond the unspoken one dictating that the buxom women in the cast must never wear pants. Yuen’s energetic fights deliver a few memorable moments (along with the hilarious sight of Eric Roberts as the world’s greatest martial artist), but the crass and constant objectification of the female stars — including Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki, and Holly Valance — is so over the top it’s kind of embarrassing. Weird but true: DOA: Dead on Arrival was co-written by Pretty Woman screenwriter J.F. Lawton I guess because someone thought if he could write a movie with one pretty woman in it, he could also write a movie with several pretty women and Julia Roberts’ brother in it.
23. Super Mario Bros. (1993)
The very first video-game movie set the tone for what was to come: Nobody could quite decide what sort of movie to make and the result was a baffling mess. Directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel had previously created Max Headroom, and they brought a funky vibe to the movie — until they were then “shut out of both reshoots and the editing room” as the production went so far off the rails that the only way stars Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo could get through the days was by drinking whisky between takes, “leading to an on-set accident in which Leguizamo drunkenly crashed a truck and Hoskins broke his hand.” With all of that said, Super Mario Bros. at least has a welcome WTF quality going for it, as it swaps out the brightly colored aesthetic of the original games for a bleak dystopian world populated by creepy dinosaur men and Dennis Hopper. It’s not necessarily good, but it is at least memorable.
22. Warcraft (2016)
Making a video-game movie is so hard it even got the better of Duncan Jones, the talented filmmaker behind Moon and Source Code. In interviews, Jones blamed his disappointing version of the fantasy MMORPG on “a death by a thousand cuts,” an idea that meshes nicely with the film’s story of two fathers forced to make moral compromises to ensure their children’s futures. (Jones had his first child during the film’s production.) There’s a kernel of something very interesting there, but it basically gets tossed aside after the 30 minute mark for a movie about a lot of big green guys bludgeoning little pink guys.
21. Wing Commander (1999)
Wing Commander, based on the popular series of PC games, will always maintain an important place in movie history as a result of being one of the movies attached to the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode I. Crazed fans would buy a ticket to Wing Commander, watch The Phantom Menace trailer, and leave (or maybe repeat that cycle over and over). Even with Star Wars fanboys propping up sales, this bland sci-fi thriller grossed just $11.5 million worldwide. Without the Phantom Menace connection, I’m not sure anyone alive — including star Freddie Prinze Jr. — would have any memory that this film existed.
20. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
The Resident Evil franchise can be broken into two chunks: The ones Paul W.S. Anderson directed (1, 4-6) and the ones he didn’t (2 and 3). None of them are classics, but the Anderson ones are better if only because of his eye for tense action setpieces, often set in claustrophobic hallways. Despite the fact that this one is called Resident Evil: Apocalypse, this is actually just the second film out of the six that have been made, with Milla Jovovich’s Alice (the hero of the entire franchise despite the fact that her character never appeared in the Resident Evil games) dealing with the first stages of a full-blown zombie virus outbreak.
19. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
What comes after the apocalypse? Why extinction, of course. The third Resident Evil (directed by Highlander’s Russell Mulcahy) has some memorable, bombed-out Las Vegas production design, and not a whole lot else. As always, Milla Jovovich is the one dependable constant as the crusading Alice.
18. Max Payne (2008)
The Max Payne game series was known for Matrix-esque slo-mo gunplay. So of course the movie version is a turgid mystery with almost no action until the final 20 minutes. It’s also got two talented stars, Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, both miscast as sullen no-nonsense badasses, and a visual style stolen from the Sin City movies. Mostly boring, until the hilariously bats— finale when Wahlberg, strung out on some experimental drug that looks like Listerine, starts screaming with bugged-out eyes, gritted teeth, and flared nostrils. Strange movie trivia: Max Payne is the second of two films made in the span of two years in which actress Olga Kurylenko plays a woman who can’t keep her clothes on and repeatedly throws herself at a revenge-focused, personality-less killing machine with zero interest in her sexually. (Hitman is the other.)
17. Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
Speaking of Hitman: Rupert Friend replaces Timothy Olyphant in the title role of this reboot that’s basically The Terminator if the plot was a baffling mess, none of the human characters were even remotely interesting, the heroes and villains switched allegiances constantly for no reason, and the entire script sounded like it was cut and pasted from a list of the most clichéd lines of dialogue in Hollywood history. In the case of Agent 47 (that’s what the Hitman’s friends call him), the very things that make him a great video came character — his detached demeanor, his singular focus, his total lack of goals or motivation because he was specifically designed not to have goals or motivations — also make him a terrible movie character. Rooting for him in this film is like watching a baseball game and rooting for the pitching machine.
16. Hitman (2007)
Timothy Olyphant makes a marginally better Agent 47 than Rupert Friend did in the sequel, but the truth is it doesn’t matter who plays this character, because he’s not a character; he’s a sentient weapon with a red tie. In this particular installment, 47 is framed and then swears revenge against the people who set him up. At some points there are whole rooms full of identical bald dudes fighting each other with nothing discernible at stake. I guess that does sort of make it like a video game. Not a good one though.
15. Tomb Raider (2018)
This adaptation of the video game reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise is another instantly forgettable and thoroughly mediocre Indiana Jones knockoff. While action sequences are decent enough, they’re also surprisingly light on actual tomb raiding, and there’s way too much backstory about Lara (played here by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander). Did we really need an origin scene for her two pistols?
14. Street Fighter (1994)
I saw Street Fighter at the Movie City 5 in East Brunswick, New Jersey for my 14th birthday, and it became one of those eye-opening moments when I realized that even when a movie was based on something I loved, and starred actors I liked, it could still be terrible. At least this has Raul Julia as the evil warlord M. Bison, screaming and flying and in one amusing scene, slipping out of his battle attire into something more comfortable — including changing his military cap for a military cap of a slightly different color.
13. Need For Speed (2014)
A serious question: Why is a movie called Need For Speed — about cars and the men who race them — 130 minutes long? It feels like a movie with that title and subject should proceed quickly, and not feel like an interminable slog. Obviously the folks who made Need For Speed believed differently.
12. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Despite the fact that the Tomb Raider franchise was heavily influenced by films like the Raiders of the Lost Ark, no one’s been able to reverse engineer the successful games back into a creatively satisfying movie. Despite gamers’ complaints about Angelina Jolie’s casting — they literally argued one of the most attractive women on the planet wasn’t busty enough to play the character — she’s a feisty Lara. She just needed a stronger story than Lara versus the Illuminati.
11. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Noted Middle Eastern actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton star in this drab blockbuster loosely based on the adventure game series, but arguably more influenced by the swashbuckling action of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that was printing money for Disney and Bruckheimer all through the 2000s. Gyllenhaal can be a fun and even deeply weird actor in the Johnny Depp mold, but he instead plays the heroic Dastan as the blandest leading man imaginable. Not even a time-rewinding gimmick can make this stale rehash feel new again.
10. Resident Evil (2002)
The first Resident Evil introduces Jovovich’s Alice, along with a host of Umbrella Corporation zombies. While it’s relatively unburdened by the incomprehensible continuity that would weigh down later installments, it also doesn’t have the same gonzo madness of some of the last couple sequels, where Paul W.S. Anderson really unleashed the darkest parts of his fervid imagination.
9. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Case in point! Anderson returned to the Resident Evil director’s chair for the fourth film, and the addition of 3D photography gave the whole franchise a slight jolt of energy. It won’t have the same in-your-face aesthetic on home video, but Resident Evil was one of the few Hollywood series to take full advantage of the potential of stereoscopic action in the wake of James Cameron’s Avatar.
8. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)
With The Final Chapter, Paul W.S. Anderson’s love of claustrophobic hallways reaches its ultimate form: A hallway that actually smooshes people. With true video game logic, the last Resident Evil returns its protagonist to its first level, now set at a much higher difficulty. Milla Jovovich’s Alice must travel back to the setting of the original Resident Evil to release an anti-virus that will kill all of the Umbrella Corporation’s zombies and save the world. The stakes are laughable — we’re told that a few thousand humans are all that are left alive after the zombie apocalypse and we’re told in 48 hours the last human outposts will be destroyed, which really makes you wonder whether any of this is worth all the trouble. (We never see a single one of these human outposts, so it doesn’t matter anyway.) In other words, like all the Resident Evils this one’s a mixed bag of nightmarish imagery and confusion.
7. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
After all the hullabaloo about the design of the title character, the finished version of Sonic looks absolutely fine, and when Jim Carrey is onscreen as the wacky Dr. Robotnik, this movie’s actually pretty funny. Sadly, he’s not onscreen very much, and the rest of Sonic is mostly “zany” pop culture jokes, Sonic sitting in a truck, and Olive Garden references. Still: Could have been worse!
6. Detective Pikachu (2019)
Most video-game movies fail to live up to the imaginative imagery of their source material. Detective Pikachu’s one of the few that takes those visuals — in this case, the world of Pokemon games and toys — and expands upon them, with gorgeously moody cinematography from John Mathieson, a frequent Ridley Scott collaborator who made the film look like a mashup of Monsters Inc. and Blade Runner. Its “Ryme City” is populated with all sorts of weird creatures and critters, and poking around the edges of the plot about a young man (Justice Smith) investigating his estranged father’s death are all sorts of amusing digressions and supporting characters. It never quite becomes the Millennial version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit it so desperately wants to be, but it comes close.
5. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
While it’s still as convoluted and silly as pretty much every other Resident Evil movie, Retribution also possesses several of the best sequences in the entire franchise, including a wild shootout that takes place entirely in reverse, and a lengthy fight in another one of Paul W.S. Anderson’s beloved deadly hallways, where Milla Jovovich’s Alice takes down an entire pack of zombies armed with just a pistol and a chain. Again, it’s not as good at home as it was in 3D in the theater, but if you’re going to watch just one Resident Evil, it should be this one.
4. Mortal Kombat (1995)
It’s not quite a flawless victory, but the first Mortal Kombat still has plenty of charm. The early CGI effects are laughable but the practical ones are pretty good, and the production design is actually kind of lovely in a crazy baroque way. And there’s some solid humor amongst the unintentional cheese; Christopher Lambert is charmingly odd as the lightning god Raiden and Linden Ashby is perfect as cocky movie star Johnny Cage. The first half is Enter the Dragon; the second half abandons any pretense of having a story for a nonstop barrage of fights, some of which are surprisingly decent.
3. Rampage (2018)
2. Silent Hill (2006)
Radha Mitchell stars as the only person in history who’s yelled “Sharon!” more than Ozzy Osborne. That’s her daughter’s name, who goes missing in the abandoned town of Silent Hill. What follows basically amounts to Mitchell wandering around a giant haunted house for two hours — but it’s a solidly spooky haunted house, with some truly ghoulish imagery. You have to really want to watch weird pale, pasty creatures writhing around in the dark; if that’s up your alley, it gets the job done. On this list, its basic competence is like a breath of fresh air.
1. Assassin’s Creed (2016)
The best video-game movie to date isn’t particularly great. But it is strange and takes some big swings; it doesn’t feel like a vapid cash-in job designed to fleece indiscriminate fans out of a few more bucks. Instead, director Justin Kurtzel seemed to use what could have been a vapid cash-in job — maybe was even designed to be a vapid cash-in job — as a chance to experiment with surreal visuals and strange conspiratorial plots. Michael Fassbender stars as a convicted murder who winds up in a prison run by a scientist (Marion Cotillard) who’s created a technology that lets people relive their ancestors’ lives. Cotillard thinks she can essentially solve all of life’s big questions with her “Animus,” but Kurtzel prefers to leave his audiences in the dark, presenting both past and present as a puzzle that can’t be solved. While Assassin’s Creed has several hefty flaws, it also does something very few of the movies on this list do: Try to use video games as a jumping-off point for something as weird and hypnotically beautiful as the artform that inspired it.