Plots for Game-Based Movies

17 Jan

(Board Games, That Is)

Australia in the crosshairs

While perusing the Rotten Tomatoes list of 100 movies to see in 2013 (which includes several titles on my boldly prophetic lists of the best and worst movies of the year), I noticed a glaring omission: No films based on board games! Just last year, Universal Pictures and Hasbro spent $220 million to convince us that playing Battleship could be a viscerally entertaining experience, so why the cold shoulder suddenly?

Well, somebody ring up Michael Bay because here are Maximum Know-How’s no-fail, guaranteed-blockbuster plot concepts for game-based films.

Candy Land: In this cool-but-creepy adaptation from Tim Burton (no doubt featuring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the music of Danny Elfman), the Candy Land Kids must travel across endless, glossy CGI landscapes in search of the missing King Kandy (played by an inappropriately bawdy Robin Williams) while encountering an endless stream of distressingly bizarre characters. And that’s about all the plot we need for that one.

UNO: This sort of has a “Devil Went Down to Georgia” feel, wherein a fleet of intergalactic raiders assault the earth only to be battled to a standoff thanks to a rugged team of sweaty, steroid-fueled action stars. Then the aliens challenge our handsome lead tough-guy to an extraterrestrial card-game, in which every play releases some disastrous global phenomena that our heroes have to counteract (yes, it sounds like Pokemon—stay with me). As the cowardly U.S. president is on the verge of surrender, a perky Stanford grad student (who wears nerdy glasses and keeps her luxurious hair in a bun) announces that the indecipherable figures on the alien cards are ancient Mayan-esque runes that she’s been researching for her thesis! What drama! I wonder if the hunky lead and the grad student are going to get together in the end?!

RISK: Epic ensemble drama follows the world’s military powerhouses as they race to conquer the planet. (This might work better as a cable-channel miniseries.) Actual dialog: “Commander, I want you to mass a diversionary force in Yakutsk, capture the outpost in Madagascar, and send a spoiler raid due east to disrupt the enemy’s hold on Europe. I’m going for Oceana!”

Mousetrap: Relentlessly sophomoric slapstick comedy a la Home Alone about idiot exterminators getting their heads hammered, crotches crunched, and feet smashed by an intelligently superior mouse. I know what you’re thinking: They already did that! True, but there was no brand crossover. And since Hollywood has never fretted over redundancy, I say we try it again.

Chutes and Ladders: Psychological thriller about four multi-ethnic twenty-somethings trapped in some emotionally twisted vertical maze where every step could bring dramatic, unexpected forward progress or sudden, soul-crushing regression. Overwhelmed by the frustrating futility of it all, the characters will beg for any easy way out—even death. But no, in this world, the game never ends.

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