Bored of Board Game Movies

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 16th August 2011.

As Hollywood continues to cannibalise itself with remake after remake, it has turned to other areas of popular culture in the hope of finding inspiration and more importantly, a profitable franchise.

We’ve had a glut of comic book films lately. Marvel has churned out the rather enjoyable Thor and Captain America flicks this year, both chapters of a storyline leading up to the highly anticipated Avengers movie to be released next year. DC unleashed the rather ho-hum Green Lantern on cinemas this week, and they’ll soon be serving up the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy plus another reboot of the Superman franchise.

Video games have been the basis of many terrible and a few decent movies of late. From the absolute low point of Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead to the fun Resident Evil series, these films always fail to deliver an experience that comes close to playing the game but that doesn’t seem to stop Hollywood from trying. There is talk that video game classic Space Invaders has been licensed for a cinematic revision. In this particular case, I would be happy if they don’t try to capture the gaming experience. I’m pretty sure that a Space Invaders film has already been made. It was called Independence Day.

And then there were the toy films. The Transformers franchise has certainly been the high point in terms of box office clout. Unfortunately, the power of Grayskull couldn’t save Masters of the Universe from being unwatchable, and G.I. Joe was a great film to ignore when you’re reading a book. This year, Hugh Jackman will star with boxing robots in Real Steel, based on the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots toy line.

Just when you thought that there were no other aspects of pop culture to rape and pillage for a quick movie buck, the trailer for Battleship was released recently. That’s right, a movie based on the Milton Bradley board game.

Starring Liam Neeson and R & B superstar Rihanna, the plot focuses on an international naval fleet preparing for training exercises when they come into contact with an alien force. The trailer features a scene revealing that the aliens have knocked out the battleships’ radar, thus forcing them to fire blindly at the enemy (of course).

I’m absolutely positive that this terrible idea for a movie will feature a captain standing on a naval vessel bridge watching the skirmish unfold on a screen and then shouting out, “You’ve sunk my battleship!”

There’s also talk of Bladerunner director Ridley Scott developing a film based on the Monopoly board game. This sounds like a contender for Worst Film of the Decade not starring Katherine Heigl™.  OK, it may make a decent theme for a scratchie or McDonalds promotion but it sounds like the death of narrative cinema to me. In the same way that I have never ever finished a game of Monopoly (has anyone?)  I doubt I will make it through this clunker if it ever gets made.

In Hollywood, it seems as though there is nothing new under the sun. To me, board games represent family holidays where we’ve been stuck in the caravan on a wet day. Unless it’s Hungry, Hungry Hippos in 3D, I have no interest in movies based on board games. Do not collect $200 and do not pass go.