HOLLYWOOD BUMMED MY EARLY TWENTIES!

It’s always funny to watch nerds getting their shouty vlog on when George Lucas decides to Photoshop more clumsy slapstick robots into the foreground of the original trilogy, or when Hollywood snatches the film rights to a Saturday morning cartoon they loved as a kid.

“Ooh, they’re making a Thundercats film, I bet they ruin it!”, as movie folks continue to mine old toy-line cartoons or comics, because the sight of an original idea makes them cower like a hissing vampire from a harmless little Gideon Bible. Well, I hate to be the bearer of tragic news, but those things are always shit when you revisit them with adult eyes, which is why it’s so hilarious. “How can they make a He-Man movie that captures the epic depth and subtle layers of those poorly animated, barely-veiled adverts for plastic toys?! I’m going to sue!” But it’s also the idea that Hollywood totally cares about what some nerd thinks, hunched over his keyboard, clouded with the faint odour of jizzes past, and convinced he knows better than people who actually make movies for a living.

Today, I will likewise be crushing some dreams, notably the dreams of those of you who considered me to be the coolest man in the world, because here I am, writing an actual blog and being angry on Twitter about a headline I saw on a movie news site.

Confirmed: D.J. Caruso To Direct PREACHER!

Adaptations of Preacher have been mooted for a long time, with Sam Mendes and Darren Aronofsky previously linked, and concept art of Samuel L. Jackson as the Saint of Killers, and Arseface make-up tests floating around, from a close-call nine years ago. And here we are again.

What makes Preacher the greatest thing ever is the fucked up relationships between the three characters at the heart of the story. It needs a deft hand, and a creative mind worthy of the material. In the wrong hands – and with a 100 minute time restriction – all the stylised violence and mucky language is going to float to the top. Hey look, someone got their dick shot off, and there’s a character called Arse-Face! Arse, like an arse! That’s to say nothing of the testy religious stuff (i.e. the core of the whole thing), which is always going to be the biggest obstacle in taking Preacher outside of the printed page. You’ve got one chance, Hollywood, one chance to adapt this material, and it’s probably going to be wasted on a loosely adapted*, MPPA-bound schlock-fest.

*there’s no natural ending to the first arc, with Jesse’s quest not being resolved until the final, 66th issue, so unless it’s the most unconventional, open-ended studio film ever, shit’s getting moved around.

It’s not just the choice of director; the mere thought of a Preacher movie is enough to make my tear-ducts start leaking tiny broken hearts. This thing needs to be HBO’s next True Blood; roughly one issue per episode, and the balls to present it as written – and not just from a sex-violence-blasphemy aspect, but the balls to let the more slow-burn material breathe. It almost happened, too. We were one untimely change of network head from seeing HBO’s Preacher, although the show-runner was the guy behind the Ghost Rider movie, so who knows how it would have turned out.

There’s this constant need to water stuff down in an effort to make it more populist, or to mix and match bits and pieces from a longer piece to make it work onscreen. You don’t need to “make it work,” it already works! And yeah, I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but Hollywood kinda has a track record. One example of many is the character of Herr Starr, who’d be one of the all-time iconic villains given the chance. He doesn’t show up until some ways in, meaning, outside of a mix-and-match shuffle, we’d never see him as intended, because a Preacher movie isn’t getting a sequel.

One thing I always say in the face of nerd-rage, or even “They’re going to ruin my favourite book!” literary angst is that your cherished, well-thumbed precious still exists. The original property will always be there, just as it always was. The Great Gatsby, by the minds behind Meet the Spartans and Fart Movie II: Whoops My Butt! Uwe Boll’s Animal Farm! Suck as they would, you don’t have to watch, and they’re not sneaking in in the night and editing every single copy of the books with Tippex and a biro, so feel free to re-read it in its original, wonderful form. But with Preacher, what hurts (lol) is that there’s such potential there for an amazing adaptation, and it’s indescribably frustrating to see it proudly announced as a vehicle that’ll likely be thoroughly half-arsed, shallow, and capture nothing of what made it so awesome in the first place. Some things just are what they are. Most books only work as books. Some film adaptations do justice, or even improve on the material, with either a pretty straight translation, or by changing stuff around, but just because Preacher exists and you could chop it down and make a movie out of it, that doesn’t mean you should. So, yeah, I’ll still have the graphic novels, but I could also have a DVD box set of the six season HBO series, and rather that than a two hour bastardisation by the chimp-handed director behind fucking Eagle Eye.

Anyway, what are your nerd-rage properties? Or has your one true geek-love already been adapted? If so, how did you cope with that? Share with me in the comments, so that I might feel less wretched.

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~ by Stuart on February 23, 2011.

14 Responses to “HOLLYWOOD BUMMED MY EARLY TWENTIES!”

  1. I’m not sure I have a nerd-rage property, mostly because I’ve typically been pretty good at disassociating my expectations with the reality of movies gettin’ made. I think the closest thing I could think of would be Dune, but a movie version existed of that forever (and, expectedly, it sucks, as do all the TV miniseries things).

    I have a bunch of properties that I care about but nothing that really stands out as THE THING I’M INTO. So it just becomes a matter of seeing what they do, enjoying the good and ignoring the bad.

    • I wish I could be as carefree as you. If this thing ever gets made (for the record, I don’t think it will), I genuinely think my head will burst like that bit in Scanners every time I see it mentioned.

      • Well, in a statement that’s sure to make you pop early, I always thought Preacher sounded pretty 90s-dumb lets-be-edgy juvenile. So … I don’t care one way or another about that.

        But yeah, I let it ride. Opinions, right? And sometimes even the bad adaptations can get people to check out the originals. So good can come from bad.

  2. Preacher could be so, so awesome. An HBO series is the only way it could work, somewhere between True Blood and Deadwood.

    I have two book series crying out for better treatment: anything by James Clavell is the first. There’s been versions of Shogun, King Rat, Tai-Pan etc. but none of them fit the bill. It’s always been a dream of mine to buy the rights and get the Asian series done properly.

    The others surely must be in pre-production somewhere: Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. Absolutely superb characters and knob gags aplenty. Utterly ripe for filming.

    • YES! Preacher would be almost perfectly pitched as a True Blood/Deadwood/Carnivale hybrid.

      Shamefully, I’ve heard of none of those books, which is surprising given my love for knob gags. We share the rights-buying dream though.

  3. @Matt The 90s edginess is one of my worries regarding a Preacher adap. It’d gingerly straddle the line between meaningful, moving piece of art and a wacky bunch of scenes where people get their genitals shot off or eaten by dogs, depending on the tone.

    I do agree with your plus point about adaptations leading people to check out the originals though.

  4. Anything from the vaults of 2000AD. We’ve already had to endure Sylvester ‘Ayyyemmmduuuluuuuh’ Stallone as Judge Dredd. I’m hoping that Karl Urban will redeem it… prob not 😦 There’s so much cool stuff that’s aching to be filmed. Zenith and Halo Jones would be amazing. Zenith is British superheroes against Super Nazis possessed by Lovecraftian ‘many angled ones’. Halo Jones is brilliant scifi with a heroine who is not all about guns and cleavage.

    Speaking of Halo Jones, all the Alan Moore adaptations have been pretty rotten. Less said about League of Extaordinary Gentleman and From Hell, the better. V for Vendetta was very dissapointing, as was Watchmen. Watchmen substituted story for tits and fighting. I’m usually all for tits and fighting but it added nothing. I would have loved to have seen the Paul Greengrass version or the Terry Gilliam one (Watchmen was also suggested for a tv series…)

    You left out who you would have as Jesse?

    • I was never into 2000AD, but being aware of the adaptations, I imagine it’s a sore point with fans. The Urban-starring movie looks like it might be alright though, from someone unfamiliar with the character.

      And yeah, Moore’s stuff is a classic example of “You could make a movie out of it, but should you?” I loved V, but LoXG was so terrible and random in the way it’s basically nothing to do with the books at all, that they might as well have gone that extra yard and just come up with something completely new.

      Watchmen is odd for me, because I struggle to see how you’d have made a better or closer adaptation (I think the squid changes were needed), but as someone who loves the book and got super excited over the pre-release stills, while watching it I had to actively ask myself if I was even enjoying it. It looked right, felt right, but I was just…bored. I think what I learned from that is that some things just are what they are. Watchmen is a comic. It works as a comic. Even translating that frame-by-frame to a movie won’t work, because movies are just a different beast. A really admirable try, but nowhere near the classic the book is.

      And there’s no casting suggestion for Jesse as I’ve never really had anyone in mind. In my many, many hours spent fantasy casting that, I never came up with a Jesse I was happy with.

      • Definitely try and check out Zenith and Halo Jones at some point… before I bring them to the big screen, innit.

      • “It works as a comic”

        Slight understatement? Spot on review though, you couldn’t have a closer adaptation. Yet it’s frighteningly dull.

        Jesse casting: Jean Christophe Novelli.

  5. @Gary With Heston as Odin Quincannon? Both visually, and in the making a woman out of raw meat thing.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stuart Millard, Stuart Millard. Stuart Millard said: Just wrote a quick thing about how we feel when our beloved favourites get adapted by Hollywood: http://bit.ly/fPcWRj Check it out, yo. […]

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