Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Once were Toys, soon to be Movies

You've heard all the crazy stories -toys and board games being turned into movies, and by serious directors- and understandably some if not most of them might feel like out-of-control rumors or really bad jokes. On the other hand, that's what everybody -including and especially me- said of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEANS. To help keep track and confirm what you might've simply been suspecting, here's a list of toys & games on their way to Hollywood.


I wondered what Peter Berg was still doing on the other side of the camera after the irresponsibly painful mess that was VERY BAD THINGS, but then he made FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and the unfairly mistreated HANCOCK, so I figured he might be able to pull some kind of RED OCTOBER out of his sleeves, which would sound absolutely cool. Not the case... Berg's film for Universal will inolve...dare I say it??? Oh what the heck! ALIENS!!!! What the F do aliens have to do with the board game? Why use the game's name at all??? Well... your guess is as good as mine.


One of the greatest collective WTF was heard rumbling throughout the movie appreciators community when Ridley Scott announced his intention of making a film out of the grandfather of all boardgames. Since, contrary to BATTLESHIP, this one exposes itself to being ridiculous. But Ridely??? But then he revealed plot details, and ya know, it actually sounds cool...

Set up (again) at Universal, the film will follow a (probably lovable) loser who tries to become famous by breaking the record for time spent playing Monopoly, his only real talent. The ordeal leaves him in a state where reality blurs itself with the game as he finds himself in Monopoly City, fighting against the evil Parker Brothers who have nefarious plans for the denizens. I still say Scott's name sounds weird in all of this - more like a project for, say Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton. No, Gilliam. Burton would make this so creepy I'd need months of therapy to regain my childhood memories...


This one actually makes sense. A little. Kinda. I mean it's a game aimed at toddlers who don't really get the intricacies of dealing with money (neither does my 39-year old brother however...) and it's filled with, you know, candy and stuff.

The film will be handled by Kevin Lima, which again makes sense. The guy gave Disney a family-oriented hit with ENCHANTED, which sent cute-as-a-button Amy Adams singing at the Oscars. Guess what studio is doing it??? I can understand Universal's position - they just made a ludicrous bundle with those TRANSFORMERS movies nobody liked. Imagine if they pull a good film out of a game?...


This one is a convergence of inevitability: a game adaptation AND a remake! How could Hollywood pass up that opportunity?!? Correction - how could Universal pass it up... I have to say the original 1985 comedy is a guilty pleasure of mine. The premise was quirky and fun, it had an absolutely superb cast including Howard Hessman, Tim Curry and Chris Lloyd, and it was written by John Landis when at the peak of his creativity.

To be fair with the remake, Gore Verbinsky will be directing. And I use fair in a loose way - I liked his MOUSE HUNT but any if not all credit for PIRATES' success goes to Johnny Depp's out of this world performance. Oh, and it won't be a comedy but an international thriller... yup. The Clue Identity.


I remember reading about an upcoming Stretch movie back when I was in high school - to give you an idea, that was about the time Marty McFly hit 88 miles an hour. Then in the mid 90s Disney tried to do it with Jackie Chan as stretch and Danny DeVito as his nemesis sibbling Evil X-Ray Wretch Armstrong. I'm not even making this up. Wonder why it got tossed with such a loud thud down the dumpster...

Hasbro, Universal's new BFF, bought the toy's rights from Kenner and wants to bring it back on the shelves, and movies being the best commercials money can buy, well here we go again. Mindbendingly, Ron Howard's usual partner in crime Brian Gazer is producing. Not so mindbendingly, Grazer chose Steve Odenkerk as a director. I like Steve's work in a cult-classic kinda way - KUNG POW is damn funny with a heavy brewsky- but the guy is anything but mainstream material; whenever he tries to be , he just ain't funny. Being an over-idiotic movie idea to begin with, I really can't see how or when this will ever get made.


Dearest Micheal Bay,
You're just a stoopid hack.
Although I have to say
I do love Megan's crack.

That film in a nutshell, which it probably will be - Michael Bay, board game, spirits being called upon, hot chicks, fast cars and loud 'splosions. Add a Brett Ratner cameo and you got a reason for the Nobel organization to create a movie prize as well - to make sure no one ever feels like looking up to those two.


The title for this should be something like "Friggin Obvious". Hollywood has been demoralizing tweens, teens and drama queens for decades with the image of the sparkly slim and tall blond with generous boobs and perfect looks. I can think of 2 or 3 dozen current young actresses who could fit that mold. It was just a matter of time before someone figured "hey! let's make a film about the original!"

There's also the fact that Mattel's been banking like crazy on those costless CG DTV Barbie films for a few years now, hence little doubt there's big bucks to make with her. Having producer Laurence Marks on board continues the guy's weird streak; he's had some strong stuff like AS GOOD AS IT GETS and FINDING FORRESTER mixed with stink bombs like ROMY AND MICHELLE or CUTTHROAT ISLAND. Strangely, I would've seen Mike Bay behind this one as well...


I remember watching the 1987 Dolph Lundgren wet firecracker and actually enjoying the cheesy quality of it. Frank Langella was da bomb as Skeletor! But I've never really considered this property in any way capable of reaching serious audiences. I mean come on - He-Man? Eternia? Skeletor?

Warner's been trying to do it for a while but those oh so pesky creative differences with Mattel put the kibosh on that one and forced procuder Joel Silver out. Columbia picked it right up (before Universal could get a chance to...) and kept KUNG FU PANDA director John Stevenson attached. Yup, sounds serious like hell...


Now THAT is the mother of all WTFs, right? A whole movie based on a toy where all you do is look at pictures of old cartoon shows through daylight. Here's the bigger kicker ('cause there's one...) - the film will be produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the same two who wrote the robotic scrotum into TRANFORMERS 2. And don't you dare drop STAR TREK on me - JJ Abrams deserves all the credit on that one!

Strangely, Universal is nowhere near this one; it's actually being made by Spielberg's house of Dreamworks. Stevie, you're getting senile with old age. Before, it was cute. Now it's just senile. You're nuking the fridge more and more, dude...


Something prime for a feature film if there ever was, especially with how advanced CG is nowadays - even independent filmmakers can make uber-cool stuff now (just look at Rob Rodriguez' graphic work on SIN CITY or those SPY KIDS films) and that's exactly where this one is headed. No studio interference, just  a writer who knows this material backwards (Dan Abnett whose written a dozen W40K inspired books) and a rookie director not bound by conventions.

The game is one of those tabletop  Risk-like things where you could assemble and paint the figurines. it then became an online RPG along with books to create a rich universe of stories, and now you can even spot costumed-fans of it at conventions. If done well, this could be the next MATRIX.


I've never owned any of the WWR collectibles, but I thought the concept of it was fascinating. Sentient machines and their human allies at war against other machines all over the planet and beyond. Started off as just a series of very cool-looking figurines all expanded form the initial concept of a robotic world war, and that too evolved into books and RPGs. And a rich concept it is - the background story created for them has the robots fighting all the way to Mars.

Jerry Bruckheimer is behind that one, so expect the very best in action sequences. Or at least the most entertaining. Could be quite to dud if done too quickly, so Jer, take your time to find the right writer and director. Make this one count!

Got anymore upcoming toy flicks I forgot about? Drop a line in the comments section and let us all enjoy!

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