5 beloved board-games that demand cinematic adaptations
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Heck, if Battleship is worthy of a cinematic facelift then these five are a must...
Two weeks ago I suggested we turn the television off, sit round the table and play a board game. From the looks that accompanied this suggestion, you'd have thought I'd thrown faeces at the television itself. Worse still, the expression currently congesting itself on my brother's (aged 11) face was one of sheer confusion.
In true Neanderthal style, I went about educating the youngling on the joys that were there to be had with board games. Anxious decisions; tense moments; tumour-inducing aggression (though I feel the last one may just be me)...they had it all.
But evolution hasn't been kind to the board-game. Just as they replaced the stick and hoop, ball-in-a-cup and rock paintball - which I saw being played in a cemetery, as I tried to chip in from 15 yards away (one for the golfers there) no more than 10 years ago - so to has the videogame replaced them. In a classic example of evolve or die, board-games began to shape their existence round their new formats.
Mr Monopoly whored himself out, slapping his face on every form of interactive platform going; Colonel Mustard and the rest of his murderous consort found refuge in the trivial quiz-niche, tormenting drunks up and down the country with their tantalizing jackpots; and as for chess, let's not even go there.
However, for the rare few, a brighter future loomed, one that contained red carpets, A-list celebrities and more silicon than the valleys. Clue (1985) set the tone; Mouse Hunt (1997) drew more than a few similarities from Mouse Trap; and now it would seem that Battleship wants in on the action, with a CGI, Liam Neeson-possessing adaptation.
So, one begins to wonder - which of Battleship's board-based brethren would benefit from the Hollywood veneer? Well, here's five fit for the making...
Monopoly: the recession edition
I struggled with Monopoly as a kid. As the figure-focused son of an accountant I was taught to save, invest and expense - the Inland Revenue was my cash-cow, and I just needed to know how to milk it. So, when presented with a game that required frivolous spending, risqué investments and no cash ISAs, I was stumped.
Furthermore, over the years I've developed a real hatred towards Mr. Monopoly's smug attitude; his jet-set lifestyle sickened me. The pint-sized esquire had no respect for the law; was more than happy to rig a beauty contest or two; and financially crippled anyone who crossed him or his phallic-compensating motor-vehicle. So, it is with much glee that I present to you Monopoly: the recession edition
Robert Jacobi Monopoly had it all. A timeless brand; an estimated fortune of $5 billion; and more 20-something consorts than he cared - or could - remember. What's more, Monopoly became the face of the "Geriatric Grinders" - a playboy establishment with members inclusive of Hugh Heffner, Silvio Berlusconi and Alan Sugar - and had become synonymous with controversy in recent years, an image that the media consistently played too.
Life was good and Monopoly was untouchable...a God amongst mere mortals. That is, until the stock market crashed...
As the economy crumbled, so too did his empire. Bad investments, an uprising of the third world states (95% of his stock was produced in sweat shops throughout Africa) and a Worldwide deficit of disposable income left Robert Jacobi Monopoly a broken man, one with just $500 dollars to his name. Monopoly: the recession edition is the endearing story of fame, fortune and loss; a comic drama that is sure to resonate loudly with it's audiences.
Generally, Guess Who? was incredibly tedious. I'd always pick the character with glasses, a big nose, a hat or, in the case of one unfortunate bastard, all three; before mentally accepting defeat, bar a miracle. I swear, it's as if the creators of this game were subliminally teaching children how to discriminate - black and white; red hair; male and female...each a standard measurement in this politically incorrect game.
However, given a certain amount of artistic freedom and Guess Who becomes a commercially viable concept. Confused? Allow me to set the scene - but think 24...
In 2009, Jason Catch was one of the NYPD's most promising graduates. Excelling at sports - and with a distinguishing I.Q - Catch was chosen to head the departments latest venture, the UND (Undercover Narcotics Division); and the Senate's office was eager to publicise their latest prodigy to the public.
Unfortunately, Catch's popularity and squeaky clean appeal wasn't to everyone's taste. Drug lords across the city transpired to topple the young detective, leaving Catch - and his family - at constant risk. However, as Catch was to find out, corruption runs deep; and after infiltrating his very own UND, Catch was framed, shamed and tamed...a victim of his own success.
April 1st, 2012. Three years have passed but the betrayal still burns, corroding the very spirit that had led to Jason Catch's phenomenal rise. For the past 1095 days, the NYPD graduate has been forced to work night-shifts as an air-Marshall on Inter-state flights, a take-it-or-leave it offer from a department that turned its back in the blink of an eye.
Like any other night, Catch finds his seat, monitors those around him and alerts the cabin crew to his presence, should a problem arise. Just another night...until 10,000 feet.
An unknown caller, one who appears to know a lot more than he should on the young Detective, explains that, of the 56 passengers on board, one is wholly responsible for his downfall; the sole ingredient of Catch's betrayal. Furthermore, the same person is, at this moment, a sleeper agent, with 3lb's of RDX unknowingly laced within their personal belongings; and should the plane arrive and the individual still be alive, this will be detonated.
Given just five hours, Catch faces the biggest challenge of his career. Without causing alarm, he must piece together the broken - and somewhat dubious - clues given by his mysterious caller, in the hope of identifying his sleeper agent; whilst wrestling with the concept of murdering this individual. For all he knows, the individual may be innocent and the threat non-existent...but can he really take that risk? Guess Who is a exhilarating thriller that's sure to have you on the edge of your seat.
For years, Operation has served as a constant reminder as to the fun that can be had through an amateur lobotomy. Kids across the world removed bones, organs, coccyx's – all with blissful enthusiasm and safe in the knowledge that, should they fail, they could simply laugh it off and put it back in. The level of care shown would be relatable to that of an unlicensed, back-alley surgeon…who was drunk…and a baboon.
Like a blind gigolo you’d poke around aimlessly, working to the sounds of your patient and altering your work as instructed. You knew you were doing something, but neither you nor your patient knew what exactly…
And yet, to this day, the game remains one of the best-selling board-games of all time, consistently appearing in the yearly Xmas wish lists. With that in mind, isn’t it time we welcomed a cinematic reworking; a production that stuck to the principles of the game whilst still having the cojones to dabble in something a little darker?
With a groggy head, Private Marcus Jeffries awakes to an unfamiliar setting. His last memory is of a crash landing…his crash landing…deep in the Iranian border. A simple recon mission had gone wrong and his unit had been shot down.
As the questions began to flood his thoughts – who was responsible; who had betrayed them; and most importantly, who had survived – Private Jeffries began to contemplate the worst, going as far as to shed a tear for his lost comrades…that is, until his attention was drawn towards a soft, audible moan.
Edging closer, Marcus realised that the moans were now distant cries, ones of pain and fear. Worse still, they were familiar, as if produced by a voice of someone he knew. And yet, as the young Private rounded the corner, nothing could have prepared him for what he saw...
His Captain - a powerful and fearless leader - is sprawled naked on an operating table, held down by meat hooks and surrounded by surgical equipment. As a man who'd spent his whole life protecting a nation and evading fear, the whimpering sounds now escaping his mouth seemed out of character; and yet here he was, crying, scared, terrified. However, before Marcus could attend to his Captain, a voice boomed across a sound system...
From the writers of Saw and award-winning director Guillermo Del Toro comes Operation, a 'surgically-enhanced' horror of epic proportions...
As board games went, this was by far the most challenging. It required intelligence, forward planning, and crisis management – qualities that seemed to abandon me in my teenage years. Simply put, Chess was what separated the boys from the men; the bar-mitzvah of board-games, as it’s been called 1. After all, when was the last time a Monopoly player took on a super computer?
For anyone who’s ever played Chess, you’ll be aware of the rigid command structure in place. The pawns are numerous, sacrificed in the blink of an eye; the Knights are awkward but influential; and the King must be protected at all possible costs…despite his old age, limited movement and useless combat-worth.
But what would happen if the pieces could choose their own destiny; if, like Sonny in I, Robot, they worked on reason instead of command?
Marcus “Pawn” McTavish had been born into a pre-determined life. Just as the worker ant was expected to work, Marcus was expected to fight. For five generations, his family had formed part of the 1st wave of their Kingdom’s military conflicts, all necessary sacrifices for the greater good. As a McTavish, Marcus had been raised to take what he could, when he could, as life expectancy for the standard jar-head was just 24 years.
However, following a chance meeting with the opposition, Marcus stumbled across a thread…one that, if pulled enough, would unravel the true degeneracy of their situation. This foul race war, the white and black armies of the board, was all a big lie – one concocted by its leaders to prevent an uprising.
Now, Marcus McTavish had both the power and the knowledge to blow the roof right off, exposing all and freeing his people in the process. And yet, here was a community built on pride; on commitment to the greater good…was Marcus ready to sacrifice this all?
1Appointed the bar-mitzvah of board-games by I, Luke Connolly, on the 4th April 2012.
“Jackal, Jackal! It’s a Jackal! It looks like a jackal. Jackal! Jackal? It looks like a Jackal. Jackal!”
"It wasn't right the first time you said it; why the hell would it be right the next ten times?!?"
This sketch - originally seen in Family Guy and viewable below - personifies my personal Pictionary experience. When used as part of a balanced student diet - ie with alcohol - contestants would feel the need to repeat their previous answers time after time, possibly expecting the end result to be different. Persistence might usually be key, but in Pictionary it's just a huge pain in the ass:
Furthermore, I couldn't draw. Now, for a student exempt of any artistic ability to continually participate in drinking Pictionary was, in hindsight, damn foolish...heck, it was probably to blame for my first stint in rehab.
And yet, despite this sour relationship, I'd still love to see a cinematic adaptation (watch out, another crime thriller synopsis coming your way):
Jamie Cullen had lived a sheltered life.
Born mute, he'd struggled to construct lasting, personal relationships, blocked by a physical anomaly he could do nothing about. For 15 years, he'd been unable to communicate his thoughts, his emotions or - most worryingly - the frightening images that revealed themselves at night. Instead, he'd taken to communicating through art, depicting all that could not be said through pictures and eye-catching masterpieces. And yet he still felt alone...isolated...unimportant.
His life was tormented by gut-wrenching visions of lunacy, horrific images that bared little to no meaning in the real world...or so he thought.
One after another, Jamie's nightmares became a reality. Violent conflicts; mythical interventions; supernatural slaughter-fests...until it finally dawned on him. These weren't night terrors...they were graphic visions!
Now, Jamie has just 48 hours to warn the authorities of the terrible end they know nothing of. But when you can't speak, how do you get people to listen?
On reflection, this list could easily have been a top five, top ten or even top 20...but that would have been a bit of a push. However, I left it as a top five for two reasons:
1. I gave you a suggestion AND a possible synopsis. Do you know how tiring that is? Seriously, I've been having nightmares about vengeful hippos and depressed midget billionaires...I need my unicorn-infused dreams back.
2. These five would most appeal to me. I considered Cluedo, Risk and Connect Four, but they've either been done, are too general or are just plain ridiculous.
Hungry, Hungry Hippos: An appetite for justice
Few animals have managed a successful transition into the board-game genre. Following the slithery appeal of Snakes and Ladders - a game that dates back to 19th Century India - manufacturers realised the potential of our two and four-legged friends and set about conquering the industry with their influence.
In the years following Snakes and Ladders global release - 1943, known as Chutes and Ladders in the US - we welcomed mischievous mice (Mouse Trap; 1963), primitive prime-apes (Barrel of Monkeys;1965) and excitable mules (Buckaroo; 1970) - you name it, we got it. However, it was the 'Hippopotamus amphibius', or Hippo for short, that won my childhood affection...aka Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
The simplistic nature of the game appealed to my 'who-needs-instructions' attitude, and I soon became a pro (anyone pondering how you go pro at a game operated by a simple trigger...you're obviously a Hungry Hippo noob).
So, it got me thinking, what if the Hippos grew tired of plastic balls? What if they began to fancy themselves as vigilantes, TMNT-style?
For years, people ignored their safety warnings, forced them to eat and mocked their existence - after all, what were a bunch of overweight mammals going to do? However, following a peculiar electrical storm the Hippos found themselves animated - a gift they were keen not too waste - and sort out the teachings of one Hamato Yoshi...aka Master Splinter.
In an origins story, the four learn to handle their emotions, develop a hunger for justice and, in a shocking twist, must face off against their original creators Hasbro, an organisation that now controls 52.8% of the World's defence systems and looks set to bring about the prophesied Apocalypse.
James Torgen of the New York Times calls it the "must-see thriller of the decade", and Jonathan Ross proclaims that "Any hippo-critical praise this movie receives is undeserved...it's a 5 star experience"
The boys are back, and this time...they're famished.
Robot Chicken were pretty much on the ball with my concept:
Anyhow, any other suggestions, feel free to let us know below!
* All plots and/or synopsis' are property of Luke Connolly and Shadowlocked...so no thieving, Hollywood!*
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