Board Games in the Movies… From ‘Jumanji’ to ‘Clue’

‘Queen of Katwe’ is released in Irish cinemas this week. The story of Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), a young Ugandan chess prodigy who finds comfort and success in a game of strategy and skill, ‘Queen of Katwe’ focuses on the game of chess – both in terms of title and story – so have taken a look back to find five movies inspired by board games.

‘Jumanji’ Joe Johnston’s 1995 film starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst, focused on the mysterious and destructive game Jumanji, which sucked Alan (Williams) into the game, where he had to wait until someone rolled 5 or 8. Years later, Judy (Dunst) and her brother Peter (Bradley Pierce) find the game, and when they begin to play the jungle comes to them, including Alan, who has spent 26 years inside the game.
‘Jumanji’ is a good old fashioned 90s adventure flick, and shows the danger of playing games when you don’t know the rules Williams and Dunst are on fantastic form, and the stakes are high in this film, where winning is for keeps. As well as an animated series, released in 1996, a new version of ‘Jumanji’ is on the way in 2017, starring Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan.

Aliens land in the Pacific Ocean as the world naval exercises take place. The marines investigate these unknown objects in the water, but it soon becomes clear that if they are to save the world from this extra terrestrial threat, they will need all their wits and naval skills about them.
It is hard not to balk at the idea of ‘Battleship’; a movie that is based on a board game that doesn’t necessarily include a storyline. The story that has been super imposed over the top of this explosive epic is paper thin, but after years of action filled blockbusters, which tried to cram in too much of a story – ‘Transformers’, anyone? – this actually comes as a refreshing change. ‘Battleship’ spawned a video game, and also launched the acting career of singer Rihanna.

This fantasy role playing game has fascinated players for many years, as they get to embark on adventures in a fantasy setting. There have been three feature films released that are based on the game – only one of which was released in cinemas – and a 1980s cartoon based on the game.
The 2001 film ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ starred Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, in a story about the evil mage Profion (Irons) who wants to overthrow Empress Savina (Thora Birch), who wants to give rights to mages and non-mages alike.

‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is also released in Irish cinemas this week, and is a sequel to the 2014 film ‘Ouija’. Although many would not consider using a ouija board a game as such, the trademark of the name is held by famous games company Hasbro.
‘Ouija’ follows a group of friends who start using a ouija board for fun but soon find themselves having to face their biggest fears when one of their friends is possessed and forced to hang herself, setting off a chain of horrifying events.

This 1985 film is based on the board game Cludeo – or Clue, as it is known in the US – and focuses on a group of strangers who are invited to a mysterious house, and have to work with the staff to solve the mysterious murder of the aptly named Mr Boddy (Lee Ving).
The storyline of ‘Clue’ is directly taken from the board game, and is elevated by the wonderful cast of the film, which includes Tim Curry, Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn and Christopher Lloyd. There are three alternate endings for the film, which appear on the DVD and Blu-Ray, so audiences can make up their own minds as to who the murderer truly is. There have been rumours of a remake of this classic caper for many years, the latest reports suggest that 20th Century Fox are producing this new film.

Words: Brogen Hayes

‘Queen of Katwe’ is released in Irish cinemas on October 21st 2016. Watch the trailer below…