Murphy’s Law – Let’s sink their Battleship

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

So we are really going through with this, huh?

Up until I saw a full-length trailer this week attached to the front of another movie, I kept hoping this forthcoming Battleship film was some sort of elaborate hoax. With Peter Berg and a handful of the cast involved, I was hoping this was some sort of viral marketing campaign for a relaunch of Friday Night Lights.

But no, Hollywood is really going to give us a movie based on a board game that I only ever played at school when all of the other, better boardgames were already taken. And they think the key to spicing up a game based on calling out random grid coordinates in hopes of getting a red plastic pin stuck in the gray plastic boats of your opponent is by adding aliens to the mix.

The worst part is that people will go see it.

I’m hoping it won’t be a lot of people. I’m hoping the box office numbers will be bad enough to convince Hollywood to stop making idiotic movies based on board games (and other inanimate objects) with no storyline built in. (Because dear God, Candyland is reportedly already in the works.) I’m hoping the numbers will be so bad that every single higher up in the company that greenlit this idiotic farce will be fired and put out on the street, where they can’t even afford to see a movie in the theater anymore, let alone actually influence the creation of one.

But even if the movie is a colossal failure – one that makes Taylor Kitsch’s last film John Carter look like a blockbuster by comparison – the sad fact is that some people will actually pay money to see Battleship in the theater. And, worst of all, those same people will actually cheer when Kitsch mugs for the camera as the aliens lay waste to one of his fleet and inevitably utters the requisite line: “You sunk my battleship.”

I honestly can’t comprehend how we got to this point. I can’t understand when Hollywood got so lazy and so greedy that making a movie based on one of the simplest and most mundane board games actually seemed like a good idea. I can’t believe that we live in a world where an executive would actually have the balls to suggest such a film, let alone have the ability to get one made.

Even when it somehow got greenlit, how did no one realize this was a bad idea when it came time to write the script? In order to actually make the concept interesting, they had to add in aliens and, from what I can tell from the preview, some sort of contrived plot in which this fleet of ships is trapped inside some kind of force field. That’s all so the writers could find a way to take a game where a group of ships are spread out in a random arrangement and unable to move as red pegs rain down on them from above.

If it takes that much work to “adapt” a game into a movie, maybe you shouldn’t be making that movie. You certainly did your screenwriters or director no favors in forcing them to turn Battleship into something worth watching. If you want to make a movie about the Navy taking on a group of sea-dwelling aliens, then go for it. But why tie it into the board game at all?

What is the benefit? Certainly there can’t be people out there who love the board game Battleship so much that they’ve been clamoring for a movie version. And I seriously doubt this will help sell more copies of the game. Once the kids out there realize that there’s no aliens or explosions in the game and that all there is to do is shove pegs into a plastic grid, they are going to drop the Battleship board and go back to shooting things on their Xbox 360s.

So why make us all go through this charade? Are you really that afraid of trying something even the slightest bit different? Movie studios are always bitching and complaining about how home theater systems and Internet piracy are killing movies. But this is the problem right here. People don’t want to pay $12 to watch you phone in some half-ass story based on a board game. And they definitely don’t want to pay $20 to watch you do it in 3D.

So for the love of God, I hope this movie fails. I’m even looking forward to the inevitable “Battleship sinks” pun headlines that will run in the papers the Monday after this film is released. Then, maybe for once you’ll actually have to come up with a good idea for a film.

Or maybe you can just overpay for the right to Shoots and Ladders instead.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

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