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.