Friday, September 16, 2011

Life Imitating Leisure

More Like Bored Games

Film studios seem to be adopting an awful lot of board games into movies these days.  Maybe the intellectual property rights to the Dark Tower series are too difficult to acquire.  Perhaps the supply of comic books has been finally exhausted.  The average theme park ride can only sustain fifteen feature films. And I suppose there's a finite number of Fast and Furious action movies you can crank out over a decade without affecting quality, because that's the only way I can imagine someone daring to pitch a film based on a board game.

I'll concede that basing a motion picture on a board game is not the worst idea in the history of cinema (hello, Triumph of the Will II: Electric Boogaloo).  Clue managed to gain a cult following.  It's probably more tolerable than the game it's based on.  And it's a little known fact that Citizen Kane was based on Monopoly.  But some of the previews I've seen lately have led me to question the sanity of the average green-lighter.


Yes.  Battleship.  The board game, Battleship.  The one where you place tiny plastic ships already riddled with holes on a grid to try to stick them with shells the size of Saturn V rockets.  Well, it's going to be a major motion picture in 2012.  Starring Liam Neeson.  The trailer leads me to believe that aliens invade earth during a naval exercise in an alternate future where the world's battleships have not been mothballed.  And it appears that there's no radar, so the aliens and Liam Neeson don't know where they are, and have to randomly fire shells and wait for the other side to announce if they've been hit.  I can't wait for the scene where humanity cannily hides its patrol boat next to its cruiser, so that the Aliens move on to shelling J12 and F8, never imaging that Admiral Liam Neeson had the balls to put a group of ships so close together.  This movie will be so full of action that it will have to come with a warning from the Surgeon General that your knuckles may explode from the tension of gripping your arm rest as you discover that the aliens looked at America's fleet deployment when America went to the bathroom.  I can't wait.

Two Machines Enter, One Machine Leaves

Let me be clear: it is hard to have a bad movie where robots fight other robots.  If Sex and the City III has a five minute clip in the middle where two robots start wailing on each other in a Roman gladiator arena, I will see that movie.  I would pay fifty bucks to watch  Honda's ASIMO suplex IBM's Deep Blue through a Ms. Pacman table.   Wait, no, I would pay several hundred dollars to see that. So it wasn't entirely distressing to see the trailer for Real Steel, a movie starring Hugh Jackman that looks to be based on Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots.  I guess in the future, robot boxing has left real boxers with few opportunities to suffer long term brain damage.  So one guy disguises himself as a robot, probably by building some kind of mech suit during a montage.  Or they build a scrappy robot that can take on the rich boys robot during a montage.  And, if they're true to the game, the protagonist and his mechanical opponent will have a dramatic title bout where they flail wildly for forty seconds until one of their heads pops back without having suffered any discernible blow.  Then both of them are sold at a garage sale years later where people try to remember why they thought they seemed fun.  I guess that could be ok.  I hope Michael Bay isn't attached though.  That man knows how to ruin robots fighting.

 Candy Regicide: Life On The Streets

Good heavens!  The kindly King Kandy (Sean Connery) has been kidnapped by the evil Lord Licorice (Gary Oldman).  It's up to a ragtag group of kids to traverse a treacherous path to free him and restore order to Candy Land.  As they travel along through the peppermint forest, they run into the overly stimulated Mr. Mint (Jim Carey), who teaches them to channel the power of the double red card.  They skip on ahead on the rainbow road to the peanut brittle hut of Gramma Nut (Betty White).  After suffering excruciating cut gums, they move on and reach the haunting beauty of the realm of Queen Frostine (Cate Blanchett).  She sees them to the edge of the molasses morass of Gloppy (Seth Rogen), a friendly monster who imparts several messages about the importance of family.  Finally, the children and their companions are able to see the gates of Candy Land.  As they steel themselves to cast down the bonbon usurper they, wait, what?  The Plumpy the Plumpa card!?!  God dammit.  All the way back to the beginning.  God dammit.  What the hell is a plumpa?  I hate this movie.

And here's my best guess at the future of board game based films:

-Settlers of Catan - Hardy frontiersmen seek to carve a sheep empire out of the rough, odly hexagonal island of Catan.  Kurt Russell stars as The Robber.

-Jenga - A documentary on the collapse of Dubai's Wooden Financial Enterprise Center.

-Hi Ho! Cherry O - Obviously, this will be a porno.

-Hungry Hungry Hippos - This project was cancelled in the planning phases when Marlon Brando died.  Advances in digital imaging will allow him to join Orson Welles, Chris Farley, and Eddie Murphy in a comedy about the world of competitive marble eating.

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