With the recent release of The Lego Movie it is apparent that the idea of adapting beloved toys and best-selling board games into blockbuster films has come roaring back into frame over the past few years.
Three Transformers films, with another due this year, two G.I. Joe films and Battleship have all released in the recent past and most have done really well commercially, though not always critically. Even the notorious bomb Battleship made over $300m worldwide thanks to a solid foreign performance; though hopefully we won’t be seeing a sequel anytime soon, or ever.
It is important to stress that this phenomena is by no means a novelty, in the 1980s there was the well-liked Clue film in 1985, based on the Cluedo board game, as well as a My Little Pony film, starring Danny DeVito, and a Care Bear film, both which spawned various sequels over the years.
We seem to be living in the ‘golden age’ of toy and board game based films as the studios now have the necessary visual technologies, which allows for Optimus Prime et al. to be brought to life on the big screen, without using dodgy puppets or animation. The Transformers films get a lot of hate but everyone, some begrudgingly, will admit the robots look realistic – as much as huge, transforming robots can look real – which would not have been possible a generation ago. This phenomenon seems like the case in point where studios had to wait for the technology had to catch up with the ideas.
The films in question are usually not particularly good – Bratz, Battleship, Transformers 2, et cetera – but they are unique as the allow people’s childhoods to come alive, literally. The toys that occupied many a child’s days no longer need imagination to come alive, they’re now on the screen walking, talking and probably shooting. With Lego blocks you could build anything and this notion translates perfectly to the screen where in these times of Life of Pi and Avatar, nothing seems impossible. A living, breathing Lego metropolis is now ‘real’ on the silver screen and no longer requires a ton of cash, bricks and an avid imagination.
With Transformers 4, a Hot Wheels movie and a Monopoly movie all on the way, and with a Lego sequel now looking likely after its stellar opening, it is apparent that we are in the midst of our childhood being catapulted into Hollywood, lets just hope it doesn’t get too damaged along the way.