Pop Rocks: Finally, Some Important Movie News

Now that the dust has cleared (and the blood has been spilled, thanks to a stabbing before the...Cowboys and Aliens panel) at Comic-Con, we can finally move forward, away from the overwrought announcements about the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds is better suited to play Guy Gardner, not Hal Jordan), and The Avengers (how the hell can Johnny Storm be Captain America? Is this some weird "Secret Wars" thing?). Finally, it's time for some casting news of real significance, about a project that the moviegoing community has been anticipating with the kind of slavering intensity usually reserved for Star Wars prequels and what Blake Lively will be wearing during her panel appearance.

I'm talking, of course, about the news that Rihanna has been cast in the upcoming Battleship movie.

Let's go straight to the breaking news:

Rihanna will make her feature film debut by starring in Universal's "Battleship" alongside Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch.

Deal was announced Monday evening with director Peter Berg expected to begin shooting shortly the live-action tentpole based on Hasbro's naval combat board game.

Uni's set a May 25, 2012, release date for "Battleship," which takes place across the seas, the skies and over land in a battle for planet survival against a superior force. Kitsch stars as a Naval officer who leads the fight and Skarsgard will play his brother in the film.

I'll pause while the phrase "live-action tentpole based on Hasbro's naval combat board game" sinks in. And how the hell can you translate "You sank my battleship" to a movie that takes place "over land?" What is this, Communist Russia?

It's appropriate that the news is coming after Comic-Con, since the decades long strip-mining of comic book and video game properties has directly led to this. Hollywood has already plowed through the big Marvel and DC titles like Superman, Batman, X-Men, and Spider-Man, and is now left with making movies about The Punisher and, well, Green Lantern.

Likewise, video game movies have started to run out of steam (will any film ever regain the lofty artistic heights of Super Mario Bros?). This year has already given us a movie based on Prince of Persia and will soon see the fourth installment of the Resident Evil series. Sure, RE is a guilty pleasure for some, but for better or worse it's still one of the most successful video game movie franchises of all time.

So now that movies have entered the brave new world of classic board games (or re-entered, we need to give Clue its due, after all), a Rihanna-led Battleship is only the beginning. There's a Monopoly movie in the works directed by Ridley Scott -- yes, that Ridley Scott -- who wants "a futuristic sheen along the lines of his iconic Blade Runner" (Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues are certainly prime candidates for the dystopic cityscape treatment). And we can also look forward to the big screen adaptation of Candy Land, written by Tropic Thunder scribe Etan Cohen. I can't wait to see how they work in Jack Black offering to blow someone for an ice cream float.

I'm also happy to report that a Clue remake is on the way, courtesy of PotC director Gore Verbinski. This time around, we'll be treated to "a global thriller and transmedia event that uses deductive reasoning as its storytelling engine." Hot damn. Frankly, that sounds better than the only other way they could update it ("Gov. Palin in the Media Room with the Desert Eagle"). Verbinski will be on the case as soon as he finishes his adaptation of the video game BioShock.

We've officially reached a point in entertainment history where reality has outstripped humorous speculation. You can no longer say things like, "What's next: a Risk movie?" because they're actually making a movie about Risk. I think this just proves what online movie communities have suspected for some time: the studios are paying attention to what they say on message boards and comment threads. Trouble is, they appear unable to interpret sarcasm.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is there are hundreds upon hundreds of board games just waiting to be turned into box office gold (you could easily make Forbidden Bridge the next Indiana Jones sequel). And we should all be very thankful, because once you run out of those, Hollywood's really going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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