across the streaming-verse

Best of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Streaming: Video-Game Movies

This weekend, as you search for a movie to watch, you can either go see Need for Speed or pick one of approximately 14 billion choices available to stream over a variety of services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, On Demand, or various rental options. Every Friday, Vulture tries to make life easier by narrowing it down to a handful of hearty recommendations. This week, we’ve loaded the best of video-game-inspired features, including a horror adaptation, a making-of documentary, and a sci-fi film that sheds light on the future of gaming.

Cloak & Dagger
Thirty years ago, kids movies put their preteen protagonists in danger. The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, SpaceCamp — fantastical adventures where death is still a risk. Cloak & Dagger remains the most fearless film of that run. Capitalizing on the growing popularity of video games, the kid-centric espionage thriller pits E.T.’s Henry Thomas against a squad of gun-toting spies. After receiving a video game cartridge outfitted with top secret military blueprints, Thomas’ Davey must work with his imaginary friend, Jack Flack (Dabney Coleman), star of his favorite Atari shoot-em-up Cloak & Dagger, to evade his pursuers. They’re legitimately deadly — at one point, a goon corners Davey and threatens to “blow his kneecaps off.” The retaliation is equally violent. Parent groups would have a meltdown before a movie like Cloak & Dagger made it to screens today. In the ‘80s, it was par for the course. (Stream on Netflix, Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Redbox Instant)

Resident Evil
Like their source material, the Resident Evil movies are all different genre exercises. Apocalypse is a superhero blockbuster; Extinction is a play on the road movie; Retribution is hyperactive, Gibsonian sci-fi; Afterlife is a two-hour Jars of Clay music video; and the original, in an attempt to be faithful to the source material, is a zombie thriller that’s as much about close quarters architecture as it is brain-eating gore. Abandoning narrative conventions, Resident Evil mashes up fan servicing mythology, wry camaraderie, and a devilish amount of gore. Paul W.S. Anderson channels the spirit of John Carpenter for his horror-action hybrid. The movie’s glossy, but rarely bombastic. Apologies to the genre buffs who keeled over after that Carpenter comparison. (Stream on Hulu, Crackle, Redbox Instant)

Indie Game: The Movie
Are video games art? It’s a question that will plague the internet for years to come (or until the opponents of artful games play anything other than Pong). On the pro-side of the argument, Indie Game: The Movie is Exhibit A. Following two game creators as they toil away at their homegrown side-scrollers (Super Meat Boy and Fez) along with one programming savant, Jonathan Blow, who survived the process (Braid), Indie Game presents game development as an artistic ambition worthy of Jean-Claude and Christo. Writing, design, stringing together code, financial wizardry, an awareness of social atmosphere and mass consumption — an indie game developer is an entire film crew rolled up into one. Indie Game: The Movie captures every drop of blood, sweat, and tear as grown men invest their entire lives into a walking meat person. You’ll feel for the Flappy Bird guy after this one.  (Stream on Netflix, Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Xbox)

Enter David Cronenberg’s Inception. Toying with similar ideas he first explored in Videodrome, Cronenberg returned to the “body horror” genre with a gaming-inspired mind game. In the director’s version of the future, gaming is as essential to life as food and shelter. Human bodies are modified with “bio-ports,” allowing participants to umbilically plug into game pods that drop them into a photorealistic version of The Sims. As the greatest gamemaker in the world, Alegra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is heralded as both a god and heretical force destroying the world. When her life is threatened, a security officer (Jude Law) takes her on the run, entering the game world for the first time. existenZ is a trip, full of wonderfully disgusting props — the game pods constantly squish while players use guns made of fish bones and teeth to kill each other off — and speculative concepts that near reality with each passing second. Google Glass isn’t that far off from a Playstation that plugs into your spinal cord. (Stream on Netflix, Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, XBox)

Doom (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play)
Gamer (Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox)
Gamers (Stream on Redbox)
Hitman (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, XBox)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Xbox, Redbox Instant)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life (Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, XBox)
The Last Starfighter (Rent from Vudu, Amazon, XBox)
Max Payne (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, XBox)
Nightmares (Stream on Netflix, Rent from Vudu, XBox)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Rent from iTunes, Amazon)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Netflix)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (Crackle)
Resident Evil : Degeneration (Crackle)
Silent Hill (Stream on Hulu)
Stay Alive (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, XBox)
Street Fighter (Stream on Hulu)
Tron (Rent from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, XBox)
Tron Legacy (Rent from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, XBox)
WarGames (Stream on Amazon Prime, Redbox Instant, Rent from iTunes, Amazon)
The Wizard (Rent from iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Redbox Instant)

Best of Netflix: Video-Game Movies