10 video game movies to rent while waiting for Wreck-It Ralph

If you had Pac-man bedsheets, Q*bert curtains, and you dreamed about saving the Lady in Donkey Kong, then Disney has a movie for you.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is new, animated comedy about a video game villain who is tired of being the bad guy. Determined to change his fate, he escapes from his video game Fix-It Felix Jr. and climbs into a variety of other games, including a violent first-person shooter and a racing game. Can a video game supervillain become a hero? Find out when Walt Disney Pictures inserts a coin and starts the game on Nov. 2.

Want to start the game early? Check out these streaming and online rental movies with video games and toys that come to life.

Tron (Disney)
Theater-goers in 1982 were stunned by the never-before-seen visuals in “Tron” — so stunned that they didn’t even understand what they were seeing. Colored lights, blinking cursors, fat little motorcycles zipping through scenery that appears unfinished… It was the artist’s interpretation of life inside a computer at a time when most people still didn’t have a computer in their homes.

The plot (and yes, there is one) revolves around a software designer (Jeff Bridges) who gets trapped inside a game when he attempts to stop a software pirate from stealing his designs. The movie deals with the subject of identity theft in a digital world and the evils of letting machines become too smart, all subjects that are even more relevant today than they were at the time the movie was written.

Unfortunately, “Tron” misses the mark on making a digital statement, but it still earns top honors for its special effects and creativity.

You can add “Tron” to your digital library for $14.99 through Disney Movies Online.

War Games (Amazon)
Young David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) hacks his way into a secret government computer to play what he thinks is a game called “Global Thermonuclear War.” What he doesn’t realize is that he’s actually activated a program designed to respond to the threat of nuclear war without any help from humans. Now it’s up to the teen and a disillusioned AI scientist to stop the computer from launching a missile strike against Russia, which will surely start World War III.

Shall we play a game? WarGames is available for 24-hour rental from Amazon for $2.99, or you can buy it for $14.99.

The Last Starfighter (Amazon)
If you’ve ever been accused of wasting your life trying to beat a video game, then you need to spend a couple of hours with “The Last Starfighter.”

Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) spends all of his free time racking up his high score on the Last Starfighter arcade game at the trailer park where he lives. One day, the game’s creator (Robert Preston) shows up and takes Alex for a ride in a spaceship to the planet Rylos, where people are living the galactic war depicted in the game. Turns out the game is really a test to find a hero who can save the planet from the evil overlords of Ko-Dan, but is Alex up to the task? Beating a video game is one thing, but what happens when the joystick is the control stick of a real alien fighter jet?

Find out when you watch The Last Starfighter. It’s available for 24-rental through Amazon for only $2.99, or download the movie to own for $9.99.

Cloak & Dagger (Amazon)
From space and war games, we go to the spy game and Atari’s “Cloak & Dagger.” Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas of “E.T.”) is a lonely little boy who dreams of becoming a spy. He learns his craft through a role-playing game with a hero named Jack Flack (Dabney Coleman), but he finds out there’s more to the spy game when he gets caught up in the murder of an FBI agent. With his dying breath, the agent asks Davey to deliver a game cartridge to the FBI. On the surface, it appears to be a copy of “Cloak and Dagger” for the Atari 5200, but it actually contains important military secrets.

Atari had hoped to make a killing of its own with the release of the game cartridge to go along with the movie, but due to financial problems, the game was never produced.

Still, you can watch Davey play the never-produced game when you download Cloak & Dagger from Amazon. Choose the 24-hour rental for $2.99, or you can own it for $9.49.

Spy Kids 3: Game Over (Amazon)
Staying with the spy theme, we have the newest movie to make our list, “Spy Kids 3: Game Over.”

When Juni Cortez’s sister is captured by the evil Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone), this pint-sized crime fighter must climb inside and beat a virtual reality game or they’ll both be stuck in cyberspace forever.

Though no where near the caliber of “Tron,” “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over” will have more appeal for the kids in your house, making it the perfect movie for family night. Rent Spy Kids 3: Game Over from Amazon for only $1.99, or download and own the movie for $9.99.

The Wizard (iTunes)
Now we move from games that come to life to games that change lives.

Jimmy Woods is mentally challenged, but he has two things working in his favor, his brother Corey (Fred Savage) and his uncanny ability to beat any video game. When the family tries to have Jimmy institutionalized, Corey breaks him out and the two hit the road. Along the way, they meet a young girl who talks them into entering a video game tournament where they can win $50,000. Haley wants the money, but Corey sees winning as a way of proving to the world that his brother can function in the real world.

The plot has more holes than a round of Whack-a-Mole, but Universal Studios fans will enjoy a close-up look at several attractions as the kids run off during the studio tour.

“The Wizard” is available for download from iTunes for $9.99.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Amazon)
From a fictional arcade wizard, we go to the real-life adventures of the man who conquered Donkey Kong and the newbie who tried to beat him.

“The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” is a documentary that follows Steve Wiebe on his quest to topple Donkey Kong Championship record holder Billy Mitchell. Though the record was set in the ’80s, it’s 2005 when Wiebe makes his move on an old-school arcade machine. But proving his skills doesn’t come easy, and it leads to a controversial decision in the retro gaming world.

If you’ve ever dropped a week’s allowance into an arcade game, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this very human film about a man’s obsession with a machine. Rent “The King of Kong” from Amazon for $2.99 or pay $9.99 and add it to your collection. It’s also available for download for the same price through iTunes.

Jumanji (Netflix)
Before there were arcade games, there were board games, and this one is as deadly as they come.

Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and her brother discover the old game in the attic of their aunt’s house, but when they start to play, strange things begin to happen. Giant mosquitoes attack, monkeys destroy the kitchen, and they soon realize that whatever they encounter in the game appears in real life. The only way to restore order is to finish the game with the help of Alan (Robin Williams), who was sucked into the game as a child and now knows the secrets of Jumanji.

Funny and exciting, “Jumanji” is loaded with CGI special effects that were groundbreaking at the time. Watch it through the eyes of a child and you’ll enjoy this fantasy romp through a jungle-themed board game.

“Jumanji” is available for streaming through Netflix.

Small Soldiers (Netflix)
The toy industry is a cutthroat business, and it takes brains and ingenuity to come out on top. GloboTech Industries even goes so far as to use advanced military microchips to make its line of action figures talk. What company types don’t know is that the chips also allow the figures to walk, think, and go to war.

Alan and his friend Christy know the truth, and they’re going to do all they can to help the peace-loving Gorgonites take down The Commando Elite before the small soldiers destroy their neighborhood.

Though not as good as Joe Dante’s “Gremlins,” “Small Soldiers” has the same dark comedy feel that combines the innocence of childhood and toys with violent (but comical) imagery. Not for the little ones, but older kids and adults will appreciate the pop culture humor and action.

“Small Soldiers” is available for streaming through Netflix.

Toy Story (Disney)
Finally, we pay homage to the ultimate toys-come-to-life movie, “Toy Story”! This joyful classic proves something we’ve always known, that toys have a life of their own when no one is around to play with them.

In this case, it’s cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) and his best friend Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). But these two couldn’t always say “you have a friend in me.” When Buzz first appeared in Andy’s room, Woody was prepared to fight for his place as the most-loved toy, but soon they’re forced to work together if they want to survive the dangers of the real world outside the toy box.

As hard as it is to believe, “Toy Story” was made 17 years ago, but it’s still as fresh and delightful as it was when it was released. Even if you don’t have kids in the house, it’s okay to buy “Toy Story” from Disney Online. Download it today for $14.99.

Fun and games

From the high-tech world of “Tron” to the low-tech toys of “Toy Story,” these 10 fantasy films will remind you of what it’s like to be a kid again. That alone is worth the cost of a download. Take a break from the office, bills, and housework — it’s playtime for you and your family.

Originally published on Tecca.


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