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Given the game’s “see what happens” spirit, the film version would employ the help of the Choose Your Own Adventure books to spice things up and perhaps take the characters (actors picked from the rosters of various current CW and Family Channel dramas) to exotic locations or into seemingly disastrous situations – all per their specific choices. Kind of like the Final Destination movies, but not in the horror genre – this is real, American Beauty-like depression. That is to say, bleak. (But that really depends on your life choices and personal outlook, doesn’t it?)
In this straight-laced suspense/thriller starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he’s an expert, world-class bomb-defuser.
Traversing up the sides of cloud-poking skyscrapers, he’ll have to (dangerously) disengage bombs placed by a loony French billionaire hell-bent on destroying things for the sake of destroying things (he’s bored with his jet set lifestyle). He’ll have to do so carefully, however: after defusing each bomb, French Guy plants another one in a more challenging location!
Should The Rock fail, the whole skyscraper will explode, crumbling in upon itself in a heap.
*Spoiler Alert!* At the end of the film, after he fails at a skyscraper mission, triggering a 10-minute, Michael Bay-produced explosion scene that caps off the storyline, Johnson awakens from this lucid dream, slumped over at the kitchen table, a mess of Jenga pieces cluttered around him.
- Trivial Pursuit
In the spirit of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Running Man, a group of faceless twentysomethings become contestants on a “game show,” where they have to battle it out, trivia-style!
Questions are asked, about topics like 1960s television programs, quirky supermarket products, classic literature and so on, but before long the questions take a turn into oddly sinister territory: Each wrong answer starts being punished with a violent act – a whipping, being thrown into a pit of snakes, etc.
To their horror, the kids realize this ISN’T a harmless game, but a life-or-death situation that has forced them to reach back to the farthest reaches of their brains to come up with previously mundane facts that are now completely and totally crucial to their survival!
The bleakness of their situation is made evident when the contestants discover the crowd that’s been watching them the entire time, hungry for wrong answers. Eventually, a few of them get picked off in dramatic, unexpected kill-scenes, until only a handful of them are left. The movie caps off with an elaborate and breathtaking escape.
Oh, and this whole thing was cooked up by a bored millionaire, who has set up a betting ring with his fellow evil minions, purely for their enjoyment. Did we mention there will be explosions and one-liners?
- Barrel of Monkeys
In 1995, the Dustin Hoffman-led science-fiction/thriller Outbreak told us just how bad it would be if sickly monkeys brought deadly, super-fast-acting viruses (that may or may not but definitely-aren’t-officially ebola) to our country. In this sequel, Barrel of Monkeys, a plane carrying a crate of diseased monkeys being transported for medical studies crashes, spilling them into a suburban strip mall on Black Friday…with devastating results.
Naturally, Dustin Hoffman is in this movie, reprising his role from Outbreak as Colonel Sam Daniels, only this time he’s the President of the United States. Perhaps surprisingly, the movie takes a turn halfway through, becoming more of a dark comedy with an anti-consumerism message (remember, the monkey crate fell into the mall on the top shopping day of the year). And yes, the monkeys are safely disposed of (humanely!), without causing a global meltdown. What’s more fun that that.
- Saw 0.5: Chutes & Ladders – a Scared Straight Production
This direct-to-video (or streaming?) prequel incorporates the same morality that governs kids’ ladder-climbs or chute-falls, depending on choices they make.
Jigsaw appears at a juvenile detention facility one dark night. Somehow (as usual, it doesn’t matter how) five unruly teens wake up in a chamber of horrors designed to impel them to change themselves for the better – with the threat of imminent death their motivator.
Where this film differs from the rest of the Saw movies is that nobody dies. The kids start out as irritating, combative punks resistant to the demands being made of them, but they soon realize that this ain’t no game – they have to change, or else they die.
In the end, each kid in the group changes him or herself for the better and is released back into the public. The program is a success, but there’s a twist – it’s then revealed that this experience instilled in Jigsaw his insatiable urge to punish bad people for their sins – prompting the next seven movies (and a lifetime of killing).
A heroic sports film depicting One Young Child’s quest to halt the continued reign of an international table-hockey champion.
Crossfire sends a young, unassuming child from lower-middle-class Philadelphia to Italy, where he (or she) must battle the incumbent star, a masked mystery man (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) in a huge, outdoor arena surrounded by a fire pit.
The film is scored by both Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead – (Nine Inch Head) – combining to give every tender reflective scene and heart-stopping action sequence much more tension and ominous atmospherics than any game about table-hockey has business possessing.
In the end, the kid overthrows Cohen, blasting him off into the fire pit of oblivion. You’ll get caught up the Crossfire!
Ryan Gosling stars as a down-and-out compulsive Yahtzee player, completely and hopelessly in the throes of compulsive Yahtzee addiction.
His mind wanders frequently, visualizing dice combinations in everything – the clouds, cars on the freeway, on computer keyboards, in patterns on his clothing, everywhere. In a nod to Leaving Las Vegas, his obsession brings him to Sin City with the intention of killing himself (as he’s supremely tortured by his never-ending quest for rolling a Yahtzee).
Here, after engaging in some of the town’s seedy delights, he dabbles in craps, loses all his money, befriends a homely buffet cook out of desperation, moves in with her, picks up an online job correcting mathematics textbooks, writes a memoir about his lifelong battle with addiction, and slowly begins rehabilitating himself.
The movie makes you think it’s going to be a bleak, depressing tale of someone who got in too deep with rolling the dice, but, just as a game of Yahtzee can be altered by a lucky dice toss, Gosling bucks the odds and saves himself blah blah blah yadda yadda happy ending.
- Chess 3D
An alternate history of Olde Englande directed by David Fincher, this period piece depicts the efforts of a small-but-gritty group of underground radicals to overthrow the King.
A few of them secure positions as lowly servant boys in the Royal estate, and begin ascending the ranks in what becomes a bloody battle between high society and upstart revolutionaries. The King (Sir Ian McKellen) panics, fearful of his throne being overrun by lowly pawns, but by that point there isn’t much he can do. The invaders have already taken out many of his protectors, leaving him completely vulnerable.
What’s worse, he finds out much too late that one of his Bishops was double-dealing with the insurgents, providing them with his location and tactics to aid them in their quest –and before he can escape, he’s captured and beheaded (in a gory 3-D scene). McKellen also portrays The Queen.
- Mouse Trap (Rodents’ Revenge)
In Mouse Trap: Rodents’ Revenge, co-produced by P.E.T.A., the tables are turned in a major way.
Due to some scientific mistake-making, we’ve been overthrown by giant mice and rats (who are also somehow capable of understanding and communicating with us), angry over how we have kept them in boxes, run tests on them, and have fed them to snakes for years.
Hungry for revenge, they place humans in elaborately-constructed and frustratingly complex “traps”, as a method of giving them their just desserts. The frightened humanoids huddle together, confused, scared and resentful of how they’d treated mice for decades.
In the end, the big mice release the prisoners (wanting to take the high road) and return to their home planet (oh, they’re also aliens). Humans persevere, wiser from the events, and re-vamp their entire outlook on mice (and animals in general).