Tuesday 10 April 2012

Thanks for the memo D-bag, but we're all already on the same page!

I've never understood the seemingly constant need to reestablish elements of a story that already has currency. This is something that seems to cycle back around to the forefront of my mind whenever anyone makes a film out of a well known IP or any movie with a number at the end (or replacing letters or words in the title). Such a time looms now as over the next year we will be getting a a couple of reboots, some prequel stuff, remakes and who knows what else that might be relevant to what I'm talking about. A lot of the time the public knows the score enough for the film to just get on with the story.

Take a knee kids. If you are making a movie about Superman we all have a fairly straight forward idea of what a Superman is and how they get down, and unless you are doing something really different with your Superman you don't need to fill us in on the flying and heat vision. We're all there on that. We know the drill. Aliens who look like humans for the convenience of the plot jettison their son into space as their world dies. Ma and Pa Kent find the aforementioned alien baby in a field and raise it as their own. Eventually the baby turns out to get extraordinary powers from Earth's yellow sun, even though it's really white. There is at least thirty minutes of your movie right there. How much of this do we actually need for the last sixty to ninety minutes? How much of it do we already know? His origin story was covered in the film, three TV series and at least three comic series. This is important because the Superman reboot, Man of Steel, is on the horizon. How much of the film will be spent covering old ground?

A title that has less uncertainty about it is The Amazing Spider-Man. I've seen the previews and they make it very clear that it is another origin story, or at the very least about the early events in what could be considered the interesting part of Peter Parker's life, including getting nibbled by a radioactive spider. Where this film might differ, and I am speculating, is that this story is about the young Spider-Man. It is a story about a time when he is not only new at the whole super-hero thing but also still quite naïve on the whole. There are Spider-Man stories that really hammer into Peter's sense of self, and drive home some incredibly vicious lessons on responsibility and foresight, and from the presence of certain characters in the upcoming film it seems as though these are the stories they are planning to tell.

Generally speaking I don't like origin stories. Well, actually I do, but I like going off and discovering them, and I hate them for the sake of themselves. Hannibal Rising is a perfect example of this kind of behaviour, and not only was it one of the worst films I think I can remember seeing, but it wasn't consistent with things established in the other films. Good work on that one. Thanks for playing.

When it comes to prequels and origin stories, and in fact any film, telling some kind of story should come first. This is especially effective if you tell a story that can only be told with that character, or at the very least can't be told with every second character. If you feel the need to rattle through the dot points of the character's back story starting with the loss of their parents or guardians and culminating sometime after they started running around in tights and a mask the very least you could do is put some effort into accommodating an actual story into all of it.

This is where I actually really like the idea of rebooting a franchise every couple of films, or just ignoring the accumulating pile of discontinuity collecting in the wake like they did with James Bond for forty years.

You've got the IP. We know the score. Tell us a story.

No comments :