5 - 1
It’s hard to believe that the formidable international threat of nuclear war - unintentional or blatant - has not been explored more openly in recent cinema. Ever since The Day After, it seems like a moratorium has been maintained over the concerning concept of mutually assured mass destruction. This specific ‘60s scare tactic, about a family out campy when the rest of society goes A-bomb, could be easily updated to fit a 2011 ideal. Even better, one could envision a take where that hoary old gimmick - the first person POV found footage approach - was used to revamp this eerie end of the world conceit.
Fans of the original source material were excited when it was announced that George Lucas was taking on the fowl from another planet, given the filmmaker’s still active Star Wars cred. After all, with a creative staff like the one at ILM, the title character promised to be something really special. It turned out to be a little person in a kid’s party outfit. Gone was the gaunt, cigar chomping anti-hero of dozens of cynical comics. In its place was an obvious costume that constantly reminded the viewer they were watching some guy in a suit. Computers and someone sworn to the comic could rescue this redolent misfire from the bargain bin where it has sat for so long.
Dragons in modern day London. How COOL is that? Indeed, when the idea for this action epic was first announced, fans imagined the still new tech of Jurassic Park melding with the most dangerous medieval monster of them all, turning the capital of Britain into one big fire and brimstone bash. Instead, the creatures were introduced and then - we jump several years to a sullen, dire post-apocalyptic wasteland full of whiners. Not even a clear voiced Christian Bale could salvage the silliness. Today, a true Reign would focus on the beastie uprising, like Rise of the Planet of the Apes except with fire breathing lizards as the ultimate threat to mankind.
A victim of its own misguided ambitions as it was a telling take on the Hollywood high concept gone to seed, this adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s social satire never really had a chance. From the hiring of a helpless Brian DePalma to the major misapplication of Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis, nothing worked. They even dumped the original ending for something more upbeat and universal. Ugh. Unlike other projects of this list, the novel is ripe for rediscovery, especially in light of our current obsession with all things tabloid and reality TV. A wise producer could put together a knockout cast while keeping everything that Wolfe’s words celebrated… and criticized.
It’s hard to hate on the version of Ray Bradbury’s seminal novel as filtered through the mind of formidable French New Wave auteur, François Truffaut. With all the creative differences both onset and behind the scenes, it’s amazing any movie got made at all. Still, the story of future “fireman,” mandated to burn books and the indigent peoples who keep them alive via memorization needs to be updated, especially with today’s Tea Party acting a lot like the clueless Establishment in the book. While rumors have circulated over versions with Mel Gibson as the star or something helmed by Frank Darabont. someone needs to step up and address this sci-fi classic ASAP.
// Short Ends and Leader
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