In 2 days Battleship will be released. For those that don’t know, here is a summary of the movie as posted in MetaCritic: “Based on Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, Battleship is an epic action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force. (Universal Pictures)”
What’s the deal movie execs? How does this get made and so many worthier concepts get left to die in development hell. I can imagine the pitch of this movie starts off with “What makes a movie a prototypical Summer release? We need a big name (Liam Neeson), and a popular artist (Rhianna), and a decent director with a good reputation and an edgy style (Peter Berg). The story needs to be simple and action packed, so the viewers don’t have to think too much. It must be 130 minutes, because studies show that is the perfect length for a movie. We have the perfect vehicle to match these criteria…Battleship. We won’t have to pay the creative talent as much because Michael Bay has created the perfect template of success. We can use his special effects, sound effects, and the alien design he did for Transformers. Oh and to make it relevant to the game, the alien missiles will be shaped like the pegs from the game and there will be lots of combat at sea. And on top of it who hasn’t played Battleship as a kid? This movie will sell itself.”
I am sure I am grossly paraphrasing, but how else could this movie get made. I can’t imagine professionals who make that much money don’t have some kind of logical justification. Maybe they think they are at the front of a trend that will make 100s of millions of dollars? Did you know that Ouija, Monopoly, Candyland, Risk, Monsterpocalypse, Clue are also being made into movies? Maybe the dearth of ideas in Hollywood has led to a mad scramble to remake any property to keep the machine going. Movies like Judge Dredd, Highlander, The Crow, Excalibur, Mortal Kombat, The Lone Ranger, TMNT, Dune, The Evil Dead, Godzilla, Scarface, Robocop, Akira, Tomb Raider…and the list keeps going… are currently being redone.
I don’t object to any of these movies in principle. I object to the “bottom line” decision making that is used. There is an algorithm involved in making movies that doesn’t contain intangibles like quality of story material, acting, and design. In my opinion it’s the intangible that really resonates with viewers.
You know what I would like to see being made? more John Carter. The movie was actually good especially in comparison with most of what is being made today. Edgar Rice Burroughs stories (i.e. Tarzan, Barsoom (Mars) Series, Pellucidar (Hollow Earth)) could be mined for decades, and because the material is so rich, it wouldn’t even take much effort to make a decent film. How about some Robert E Howard? Conan has been done poorly in the past, but the stories are so good if somebody would give it the time it deserves to make a decent movie script out of it. He also wrote Solomon Kane, Kull, Bran Mak Morn. He even wrote Cthulhu Mythos stories, Westerns, and Historical Adventures. How about H.P. Lovecraft? Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and Greymouser)? There is material out there that is brilliant and hearkens back to a time where we still developing horror, mystery, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi. When this was all undiscovered country and we all got to share in it’s exploration. Please Mr. Movie Executives spend some time exploring the past in a meaningful way. Dig a little deeper than the past couple of decades and give us something less derivative and mindless.