Back again for another highly opinionated — some might even say downright cranky — look at the week in fantasy. You’ve been warned!
COULD THE HOBBIT SUCK?
With the news (since shot down) that Tobey Maguire is once again the front-runner to play Bilbo in The Hobbit, I’m starting to get this sinking feeling that the movie, if it ever actually happens, will end up being a massive disappointment.
It’s not just a question of sky-high expectations — my expectations for The Two Towers and The Return of the King were just as high, and both those movies actually (far) exceeded them.
Then again, those weren’t your usual sequels. The Lord of the Rings may have been released over three years, but it was, of course, conceived and mostly filmed at one time. In many ways, it was “one” movie.
And let’s face it: with all the delays and lawsuits, and now these endless, pointless casting rumors, The Hobbit movies are starting to feel like the never-ending health care debate in the U.S.: no matter what happens now, everyone is going to end up disappointed and cranky.
But in retrospect, at least when it comes to health care, that disappointment was probably inevitable. There are simply too many hopes and dreams (and masters to serve and pipers to pay) for it to have not ended up this way.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think the same could be true for The Hobbit.
Yes, I understand that most of the key players involved in The Lord of the Rings will be involved with The Hobbit. On paper, you have to admit, “There’s no way these movies can suck! They just have to do exactly what they did before! How hard is that?”
But it’s when you start to think like that, of course, the universe really sticks it to you. On “paper,” there’s no way a Peter Jackson version of King Kong could disappoint either, but we all know how that turned out.
The same goes for George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford re-teaming to make a new Indiana Jones movie after all these years — and, again, we all know how Kingdom of the Crystal Skull turned out.
The older I get, the more I think that art expresses a feeling and, more importantly, a moment in time (for both the creator and the viewer).
It’s impossible to recreate a moment in time. It simply can’t be done. You might create a new, maybe better moment, but you simply can’t go back to that which is already past. The fact that each moment is totally unique and transitory is part of what makes “time” special.
I think smart artists recognize this and always try to move forward, never even trying to recreate an artistic triumph of the past. The few successful movie sequels (or prequels), like Aliens, completely rethink the premise of the franchise — but, of course, that’s hard for anyone to do successfully, much less the filmmaker who originated a franchise and had such success the first time around.
Can Peter Jackson do it again? Does it help that Guillermo Del Toro, not Peter Jackson, is directing? (Despite my initial disappointment, the further we get from that announcement, the more I think this was an excellent decision. I think this at least gives us a shot at greatness.)
Anyway, I want to believe The Hobbit movies will be great, I really do. But I confess, I’m losing faith.
HEY, HE’S A MODERN-DAY DA VINCI!
A friend sent me a link to the website of a fantasy-esque artist named John Pitre.
His art isn’t bad, but his website is so over-the-top that it kinda has to be read to be believed. It calls him a “visionary” at the top of every page and has a bio that brags that one of his inventions was featured in “one of TV’s most successful infomercial” and refers to him as a “modern-day DaVinci.”
For one thing, it’s spelled “da Vinci,” not “DaVinci,” which is a hint that he may not be replacing the original Renaissance man just yet.
Here are some of John’s works:
Now that I think about it, maybe if “DaVinci” were alive, he would be involved with infomercials! Hey, a guy’s gotta eat.
Not surprisingly, I get over-hyped press materials like this all the time. I guess a lot of publicists think journalists will read them and think, “Wow, if this press release says it, it must be true! I’ll just mindlessly repeat this in my article!” When, of course, the exact opposite is true, and we usually end up writing snarky posts like this.
THE ALICE IN WONDERLAND HYPE MACHINE KICKS INTO OVERDRIVE
Here’s a (very) short featurette about the character of The Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland. As always, it looks like it’ll be visually incredible:
THE IDIOT BOX
On Friday, most programming is being preempted by the Hope For Haiti telethon, but there are two premieres: the two-hour Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica (9 PM, SyFy). I thought it started strong, but then got way too bogged down in character introduction and world set-up. I’m told things get better in eps three and four (in the next few weeks), but I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to find out. (I’m generally sort of anti-prequel to begin with, a feeling that was forever confirmed by The Phantom Menace.)
Also premiering on Friday, of course, is Spartacus: Blood and Sand (10 PM, Starz). Here’s what we thought of the series, but for the record, I thought the pilot was (by far) the weakest of the four episodes I’ve seen. It makes it seem much more conventional than it actually is.
This weekend, there’s a new episode of Legend of the Seeker (syndicated, check local listings).
On Thursday, there’s a new The Vampire Diaries (8 PM, the CW), Fringe (9 PM, Fox), and Supernatural (9 PM, The CW). In the latter, Sam switches bodies with a teenage nerd, who enjoys his handsome new body while “Sam” is stuck dealing with intrusive parents. Sounds funny, but I confess: I’m surprised by how many “funny” episodes they’ve already done this season.
Oh, and if anyone is curious to hear what I sound like, I’m a guest this week on Alpha Waves Radio’s podcast, talking about how “gay” the would-be American remake of Torchwood is (or isn’t) likely to be.
THE BOX OFFICE
Two fantasy movies open this weekend: The Tooth Fairy and Legion. I was curious as to why I hadn’t been invited to a press screening for the latter, and it turns out they didn’t do press screenings. That is a sure sign that the movie almost certainly stinks. I was going to catch a midnight showing tonight for a early-morning review, but you know what? Since I’m certain it’ll suck, I’m thinking I’ll just skip it.
The Tooth Fairy was screened, but it’s getting terrible reviews, so I’m thinking I’ll skip that one too!
Well, this week’s flame has sputtered out, but join me again next week when I promise I won’t be nearly so cranky.
Oh, who am I kidding?!
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- Will Peter Jackson Direct THE HOBBIT?
- Peter Jackson Dispels Rumors Surrounding THE HOBBIT
- Everything Else That Can (and Probably WILL) Go Wrong with THE HOBBIT Movie
- From the Palantir! The Scoop on DR. PARNASSUS, Stephen King Clarifies, and Tobey and Cate in THE HOBBIT?
- The Tinder Box (This Fantastic Week, Dec. 11, 2009)