Board Game Adaptations

You know what Dune, Starship Troopers, and Harry Potter have in common? They were all books that became games before they were movies. It happens more often than we realize, and it happens almost exclusively to sci-fi and fantasy. That’s why Neil Strauss’ undercover pick-up artist memoir “The Game” just might be the first of it’s kind. Not long ago, fearless board game designer Adam Kornblum presented the best-selling author with a prototype for a party game based off of his book, the end result being “Who’s Got Game.” As something originally designed as a tool to meet other people, the game tied perfectly into the book’s original themes. And while it’s not unusual for a self-help book to transfer over into the board game genre, what’s odd is that since this book is also soon to become a film starring James Franco – it just might be the first self-help book to become a game before a film.

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Boiling Point

With what is being called a massive failure at the box office, pulling in just $25 million domestic dollars (or 12% of its budget), Peter Berg‘s Battleship is sinking, but not before firing a warning shot across the bow of stupid ideas. And by a “warning shot across the bow” I mean a giant, moronic cruise missile. Battleship wasn’t destined for failure – after all, almost any idea can be made good. If you ignored the title, the idea of a few naval vessels fighting off aliens sounds pretty cool and not altogether stupid. However, you slap the Hasbro logo in-front of the credits and include a sequence where a missile destroyer blindly fires into the ocean while a captain shouts out “J-11″ and the stupidity quotient rises exponentially.

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The first glimpse we got of Peter Berg’s upcoming board game adaptation (it hurts me somewhere deep to have to type those words) played a little coy with us, and at first made it look like the film would be sticking to the Battleship board game’s naval battle roots. Once a spaceship popped up and the whole thing turned into an alien invasion movie, it was kind of a surprise. This second look at Battleship, however, doesn’t bother to take any time tying this movie to the board game at all. It’s all alien invasion from beginning to end. And with a color palette very reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, a bunch of elaborately techno ships and weapons that look like they’re right out of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, sound effects that seem to be ripped from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, and a big ol’ headline that says this movie is from the company that brought you Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, I think it’s safe to say that Universal is aiming this thing less at fans of grid based strategy games and more at fans of Michael Bay’s big, dumb Transformers movies. It leaves me with a question: if this movie isn’t going to have anything to do with naval battles at all, why even attach it to the Battleship name? Why not just admit what you’re doing and call it Gobots? Check out the new trailer below.

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Universal and Gore Verbinski seem to be having a competition to see who can be crazier. Universal fired a big first shot back in 2008 when they signed a seven picture deal with Hasbro to make a whole series of board game movies. They seem to have wised up a bit as to what a ridiculous idea that is, as they’ve already ditched Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering movies, and they’ve now decided to cut ties with an adaptation of the murder mystery game Clue; but a strong case can still be made for their insanity. Mostly because Battleship will be coming out soon and will be the first of their seven picture deal that actually gets released. What would you rather see a movie about, a murder mystery or people blindly guessing as to which points on a grid are “hits”? Yeah, Universal seems to have completely lost their minds.

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Despite the optimism that comes with any new film being announced (who wants to be bored for two hours?), it was already difficult to work up some happy thoughts about a movie based on the Ouija board. If they made it like a long, more polished episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, maybe it could be interesting. Plus, a super natural thriller of any quality would be enough to stomach the ridiculously blatant product placement. Now, it’s almost impossible to get excited because a music video director that should have stuck to music videos is now reported to be in final negotiations to direct the project. According to Deadline Gaithersburg, McG will be bringing his unique talents to the long-form commercial, putting a strain on positive outlooks everywhere.

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On the one hand, Tim Burton directing an adaptation of a board game that is an adaptation of monster movies in general might be seen with incredible cynicism. Without looking into a crystal ball, you might already see the Gothic tones, the text reading “Starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter” plastering the poster, and you might already hear the same score from Danny Elfman. On the other hand, a few small details might make you optimistic.

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