If you talk about video games that make for ideal moviemaking material, you’re likely to think of Lara Croft. However, several other gaming characters have been made it to the big screen in recent years, such as Max Payne and Prince of Persia. (Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil: Retribution, his third take on the horror game series, and Michael J Bassett’s Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, based on the other horror games, are both expected later this year.) Even board games have inspired films: Peter Berg’s April 13 release Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson and Rihanna, is from the classic board game based on naval strategies. Why stop at Battleship? Here are 10 more ideas for Hollywood studios. We’ve suggested the names of the directors and actors. All somebody needs to do is shell out the money.
Dir: Martin Scorsese.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Joe Pesci, Gary Oldman.
Ben Kingsley, a professor of Medieval Latin in a nondescript American college, makes a startling discovery while re-reading the thirteenth-century texts of the Carmina Burana. He finds an unknown (and unproven) series of mathematical theorems meant specifically to calculate probability and win games of backgammon. The professor goes on to assemble a wiz team (Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone and Jesse Eisenberg) to take on the security codes and anti-cheating systems at a Las Vegas casino run by a degenerate and scheming Joe Pesci. Gary Oldman, as a devious scientist and mastermind of neural networks, lends the plot’s twist, as he’s out to steal the ancient ciphers on pseudorandom number generation, fuzzy logic and move-comparison techniques. The film sweeps the Oscars, and quickly gains a cult following, sparked in part by reports that it has garnered an academic interest among the mavens at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, even as the Pope promptly issues a statement condemning the idea of gamblers rifling through sacred texts.
Dir: Terence Malick.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Melissa McCarthy, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Milla Jovovich, Rooney Mara.
Melissa McCarthy plays an ageless, irreverent, fortunetelling oracle in this sweeping saga that dismisses every manner of scientific deduction about the origins and the evolution of human and animal life – from Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection to David Attenborough’s naturalist discoveries – as propagandist material that’s been grubstaked and promoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The narrative opens with a young couple (Christian Bale and Q’orianka Kilcher), seemingly playing the characters of Adam and Eve, foraging for food and initiating the first human household on planet Earth. The film’s slow-paced and cheerful opening half has the first couple bringing forth a caboodle of children (Abigail Breslin, Justin Bieber, Thomas Horn, Asa Butterfield and Rubina Ali). In its second half, however, things take a turn for the unpredictably violent, as the children, now grown-up (as Rooney Mara, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Colin Farrell and Milla Jovovich) take to aggressive means in attempts to lay down territorial ascendancy. To add to the disruption, Mara and Farrell, and Jovovich and Pitt assume an incestuous degree of intimacy, while Penn is left fancying the solitary life of a recluse. The moments of clarity, and counsel for the sake of lasting peace amidst the apoplectic mayhem, is presented by Benedict Cumberbatch, who appears as the almighty creator, in the form of an unnamed, sainted BBC newsreader. Christiane Amanpour, stripped of her ABC and CNN imperatives, makes fleeting appearances through the course of the film, as the providential weather girl in the service of the all-powerful Cumberbatch.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dir: Sophia Coppola.
Cast: Bill Murray, Hugh Jackman, Jason Schwartzman, Stephen Fry, Natalie Portman.
Hugh Jackman sheds his Wolverine claws to sprout mechanical bits and bobs and various electronic appendages as Adam Jensen, the lead character in the cyberpunk sci-fi take on the Square Enix video game. Jensen is at the centre of a biotech conspiracy, with Nicolas Cage and his extremist outfit named Purity First out to disrupt all forms of augmentation inflicted upon humans. Bill Murray makes a fleeting presence as the godfather figure of Hugh Darrow, who spearheaded augmentation technology but has long retired to become an activist against global warming. Natalie Portman, as Megan Reed, a pioneering figure in human engineering and Jensen’s reticent love interest, works for Jason Schwartzman’s David Sarif, the futurist owner of Sarif Industries, and Stephen Fry plays the leader of the Humanity Front, opposing Sarif’s plans to take human augmentation to developing parts of modern world. Uma Thurman plays the elite stealth assassin Yelena Fedorova, while Irrfan Khan has a cameo as the crime lord Tong Si Hung, who operates a black market for enhancement spares from an undisclosed Southeast Asian hideout.
Dungeons & Dragons
Dir: David Lynch.
Cast: Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Isabella Rossellini, Cate Blanchett, Scarlet Johansson, Aishwarya Rai.
David Lynch abandons the innocent pre-teen premise of this classic role-playing game (but retains a large part of the magical joyride scenarios from the animated TV version of the mid-1980s) to re-imagine it in sizzling grownup territory with this part-CGI, part live action fantasy adventure thriller. Halle Berry revives her venomous Catwoman sass as the Dungeon Master and referee, who leads an unlikely squad of elves, fighters and wizards through a series of campaigns that span the fictional worlds of Mystara, Ravenloft, Dark Sun and Eberron. Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, Alec Baldwin and James Earl Jones voice the CGI-generated half-elves, half-lings, orcs and dragons, respectively. Naomi Watts plays a Chimera, Scarlet Johansson’s a Formian queen, Cate Blanchett’s a mind-flayer sorceress, Aishwarya Rai is a pure-blood xorn, and Isabella Rossellini’s a nine-headed hydra. Berry has a second role as an ephemeral spirit naga who ends up with a tomahawk in her head. Lynch ropes in old collaborator Peter Deming to work the cameras for the settings that range from Victorian London to industrial heaths of destroyed foundries and lumber mills.
Hey, That’s My Fish!
Dir: Judd Apatow.
Voice cast (and motion capture): Elijah Wood, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Seth Rogen, Zach Galifiniakis.
Co-stars Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen share the scripting credits with director Judd Apatow for this animated musical comedy based on the all-time favourite board game that’s about a colony of penguins trying to snap up shoals of fish in the icy Antarctic. The simple plot rides on a torrent of dance sequences put together by a star team of choreographers, with Savion Glover teaming up, in a commercial coup, with the American Dancing with the Stars TV show panel of Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, while the film (released as Pingvinas in parts of Europe) features a hit duet by Beyoncé and Cher performing a version of “Heartbreak Hotel”. Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifiniakis play the be-bopping, boogieing cronies of Elijah Wood, the film’s lead penguin, as he sets out to unravel the mystery of a distant and haunting lament (voiced by Adele) that is driving fish out of the region, away from the penguins’ hunting grounds.
Jak & Dexter (Parts 1, 2 & 3)
Dir: Peter Jackson.
Cast: Jaden Smith, Hayden Panettiere, Ian McKellen.
The intrepid Jak and his bungling yet helpful sidekick Daxter the ottsel (he’s part-otter, part-weasel), made popular as PlayStation characters by the video game makers Naughty Dog, are the daredevil duo at the heart of Peter Jackson’s newest project, in follow-up to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sagas. The first two releases in the trilogy take the titles of the old Jak & Dexter video games, The Precursor Legacy and The Lost Frontier, while the triquel concludes with The Fellowship of the Zing. Jaden Smith as Jak is joined by Daxter (voiced by Steve Carell) in the three-part epic, which was shot entirely in India – through the jungles and ravines of The Old World (Western Ghats), the desert sprawls of The Brink, also referred to as the edge of the world that’s infested by ecological pirates (Rajasthan) and finally, Kras City, which wholly comprises racing tracks (Greater Noida and parts of Gurgaon). Ian McKellen plays the mentor Samos the Sage, guiding the duo against hordes of eco pirates led by Hayden Panettiere, while Shiloh Jolie-Pitt shows up as Jak’s love interest Keira, in a non-speaking cameo (she has a tattoo of the words “Jaden Smith” scripted on the back of her hip in Hebrew).
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Dir: Ridley Scott.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, Jude Law, James Franco, Forest Whitaker, Viggo Mortensen.
In a much publicised cameo, Andre Agassi voices Tirnoch, the fierce dragon and god of the sect of Tuatha Deohn, led by King Gadflow (Adam Sandler in a flowing white beard) that’s out to wage a “Crystal War” against the mortal races of the world. The tale unfolds through the eyes of “The Fateless One” (Robert Downey Jr) who is fated to die, but aided by Alyn Shir (Gwyneth Paltrow) manages to escape a series of blackwash campaigns and murder attempts orchestrated by the double-crossing, betraying Templar Ligotti Octienne (Helen Mirren). Michael Caine essays the pivotal role of Fomorous Hugues, the wizened overseer of the Well of Souls who keeps the secret of continual rebirth, as Jude Law leads the armies of the Almain (the “civilised humans”), James Franco helms the forces of the Dokkalfar (light elves), the Ljosalfar (dark elves) heed to Forest Whitaker’s battle cries, and the Varani (nomadic humans) go by the word of Viggo Mortensen in this all-star epic of a magnitude and intensity greater than any of Ridley Scott’s previous blockbusters.
Dir(s): Ang Lee, Danny Boyle, David Fincher, Fernando Meirelles, Gus Van Sant, M Night Shyamalan, Peter Weir, Spike Jonze, Woody Allen, Wes Craven.
Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Reynolds, Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Edward Norton, Tom Hiddleston, Anil Kapoor, Nicole Kidman, Richard Gere, Casey Affleck, Christopher Walken, Bérénice Bejo, Anne Hathaway, Haley Joel Osment, Zhang Ziyi.
Universal Pictures gives up on Ridley Scott’s much-delayed plans to spin a movie based on the theme of Monopoly, and instead, takes to a format akin to that of Paris Je T’aime and New York, I Love You with ten filmmakers presenting ten short takes, each based on different sites and locations that comprise the setup of the board game. Ed Norton and Casey Affleck portray a nameless schizoid character, seemingly stuck in a section of the game, in David Fincher’s brooding yet slick “The Angel, Islington”. Fernando Meirelles bases his short, “Atlantic City”, on Owen Wilson, the manager of a gambling den intent on ripping off tourists in New Jersey. Bérénice Bejo plays an icy, unemotional hooker in Gus Van Sant’s “Jersey Central”, and Nicole Kidman pulls of a single mother peddling recreational drugs in “Seashore Lines” by Peter Weir. Josh Brolin plays a locomotive driver who’s nursing a failed ambition of becoming a country music star in Spike Jonze’s “Reading Railroad”, while Christopher Walken essays a poltergeist that haunts streetcar routes in Wes Craven’s “Shore Fast Line”, and Ang Lee casts Anne Hathaway and Zhang Ziyi as a lesbian couple in “Geelong Football Club”. Richard Gere loses his lifetime pet, a beefy husky, in “Tokyo’s Ginza” by Woody Allen, Anil Kapoor gets his likeness cast in a life-sized doll in Danny Boyle’s “Mainland China”, and Haley Joel Osment is a help at a fast food stall in M Night Shyamalan’s “McDonald’s”, who goes demented with voices in his head making repeat orders for supersized meals and extra-large Cokes.
Dir(s): Joel & Ethan Coen.
Cast: Art Malik, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, James Belushi, Tinnu Anand.
Set in the old city of Haifa, sometime around 721 BC, Art Malik, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and Tinnu Anand play four Jewish landowners whose lives revolve around the cross and circle game. Even as hordes of Assyrians (led by James Belushi) descend to pillage, raid and ravage their ancient kingdoms, tribes and harems, the four players remain oblivious to the terror and epoch-making crusades around them, engrossed in matters of capturing pawns, setting up blockades and snaring safe spaces in their board game. In a hark back to their older collaborations, Barry Sonnenfield takes on the cinematography of the film (Roger Deakins, meanwhile, and the film’s producer Sam Raimi, appear in cameo roles as a duo of despicable moneylenders).
Dir: Barry Levinson.
Cast: Jason Statham, Kristen Stewart, Catherine Keener, Kelly Preston, Dustin Hoffman, Stanley Tucci.
Director Barry Levinson turns his attention to the general knowledge-based board game, as Gotti, his last big venture, about the mafia lord John Gotti and a telling of the Gambino family’s rise to become America’s most powerful crime syndicate, runs into unexpected trouble (a rift between the film’s co-stars Al Pacino and John Travolta is widely reported in the tabloids, at the same time that Lindsay Lohan heads back for the umpteenth time into rehab). Even before it hits the floors, Trivial Pursuit sparks off some controversy as well, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves – the original cast members – storming off the project, apparently dissatisfied with the script, when they realised that the film did not incorporate scenes of any sort of racing or speeding of motor vehicles. Jason Statham and Kristen Stewart, who quickly made for stand-ins, are said to have been signed on with the assurances that Statham would get to play an all-knowing, infinitely learned and smart as a whip quiz master, while Stewart got to work an in-game “Twilight” segment, along the lines of the Trivial Pursuit board game versions for Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Catherine Keener, Kelly Preston, Dustin Hoffman and Stanley Tucci play the contestants on the game show-styled setup in the film, which ultimately fares disastrously, and sinks as a dud at the box office. An irate Statham was taken in by the Los Angeles police forces a few weeks after the film’s release, for driving his Hum-Vee straight into the foyer of a prominent movie theatre that had been showing the film to empty halls. Statham is said to be suing Levinson for deliberately dumbing down the levels of trivia in the film, to focus more on celebrity gossip and pop culture than matters of general knowledge.
By Jaideep Sen on March 16 2012 6.32am