Dice Hate Me at the Movies
Everyone is familiar with the tired cliché that Hollywood is out of ideas. Many would argue that cliché is upheld magnificently when it comes to movies about licensed properties, particularly games, but every now and then someone gets it right. Video games are a matter wholly unto their own – for every miserable production like Doom and Super Mario Bros., we get a rare gem like Resident Evil. Board games are another matter entirely; with the exception of the comically-genius Clue, and the entertaining and mostly-harmless Jumanji and Zathura (both “fake” games, fabricated solely for the purpose of the movie), there have been very few projects to claim the name and theme of a classic board game. Until now, that is. Suddenly, we have board game movies coming out of our ears: Battleship is being tauted as the single greatest naval war epic ever, and there are talks of developing Monopoly, Candyland and a remake of Clue, which makes me wants to poke my eyes out with pointed sticks.
Hasbro may have Hollywood in a cash trance right now, but if the Powers That Be took a moment to look beyond the boring basics, they would find a whole realm of board game brilliance from which to draw inspiration. Here, I’ll show them how it’s done.
A sprawling, galaxy-wide epic game of amassing giant fleets of deadly starships, waging monstrous space battles, and utilizing diplomacy for often-nefarious purposes is a total no-brainer. Throw in geektastically awesome alien races, often represented by anthropomorphized lions and ancient turtles, nasty galactic gnomes and eery astro-Amazons, and the budget for Henson’s Creature Shop alone would be more than eight indy films combined. Find the right writer and director and this potential space opera could span at least a trilogy and be everything we ever wished from Episodes I-III of that other space opera.
Writer: William Monahan (Kingdom of Heaven, The Departed)
Director: Ridley Scott (nobody balances spectacular action-filled epics with taut emotion and humanity)
Cast: Everyone but the leaders of the Federation of Sol will be in prosthetics (hopefully not in CGI), so the cast just needs some clear acting chops, not necessarily recognizable faces. Let’s say the main draw is Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) as a grizzled Federation Space Marine with xenophobia. Throw in Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as the lion-faced Hacan diplomat that must reluctantly break down the barriers between his race and the humans in order to fight the growing threat of the current Axis of Evil – The despotic Barony of Letnev (lead by Jeremy Irons) and their sneaky puppets, the gnomish Yssaril Tribes. Hand me some popcorn, I would totally devour this movie.
Mark Ruffalo stars in this mindbender by the original master, David Cronenberg. Five time travellers, all from separate alternate realities, criss-cross the space-time continuum, sabotaging each other’s efforts to recreate their own reality and return home. The twist: all five travellers are Ruffalo and one has been driven mad, with aims to bring about WWIII. Hell yes.
Writer\Director: David Cronenberg (Scanners, Eastern Promises)
Cast: Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Zodiac) times 5.
In the sleepy New England town of Arkham, a mysterious madness is growing. The townspeople are seeing things. People are missing. And there are strange rumors of inhuman creatures down by the old marsh. In the hopes to contain the growing malevolence, six explorers – brought together by chance encounters with the occult – cautiously spread out to sweep the cobbled streets. The half-insane Luke Robinson must lead a team through his personal gateway to an otherworld known as the Dreamlands, while P.I. Joe Diamond and mysterious heiress Jenny Barnes must protect the only man who can stitch the maddening pieces together – Miskatonic University professor Harvey Walters. Discovering tomes filled with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, and stalked from the shadows by a growing horde of cultists, shambling things and horrors from beyond, the dwindling protectors must gather their shredded wits and steel their wills for the final battle with ultimate, mind-shattering evil.
Writer/Director: Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception)
Cast: Christian Bale (Public Enemies, pretty much everything) as Joe Diamond, Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning) as Jenny Barnes, John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) as Luke Robinson.
Ok, bear with me on this one. Cate Blanchett is but a humble 16th century peasant woman, married to an overbearing husband whose only real love is his crops and cattle, and sees the children they are raising as just two more hands in the fields. Her soul is confined; her only joy the clay oven in which she bakes her breads - and the forbidden affair with the passionate man who runs the rival farm in the village. Romance, tension, period costume – box-office bonanza and Best Picture for Oscar.
Writer/Director: Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley)
Cast: Let Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler fog up the screen for an hour and a half and everyone else could be played by cardboard cutouts.
Do you have an idea for a boardgame-inspired movie? Do you disagree with my writers, directors, or cast? Then, please share your thoughts in the comments!
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