Novelist, comic book writer, and also comic book reviewer for www.BrokenFrontier.com, also website marketing coach for the Online Marketing Solutions company Push Traffic dot com. Incidentally, I am also the worst writer in the world.
Okay, so here's a connect-the-dots eureka that everyone is well aware of but likely this'll still come as an oh-my-god-that-still-took-me-by-surprise-and-makes-me-feel-really-really-bad kind of thing.
So Timur Bekmambetov, the director of WANTED, also directed the Russian smash box office hits (in Russia, mind you, still pretty decent successes in the States and abroad as well, though) NIGHTWATCH and DAYWATCH, the first and second offerings in the Nightwatch "Trilogy" of films:
Now, there are four novels all together insofar as the original Nightwatch series is concerned, of which the movies are then based on, but the first AND the second movie cover only - I shit you not - the first TWO-THIRDS of the FIRST NOVEL alone, no matter that the second movie shares the same title as the second novel, and so THAT is worrisome enough as it is. Nevertheless, the movies are fantastic, the first flick the most so, a perfect example to American producers and directors on how to craft a wild fantasy spectacle via creativity, ingenuity, and an indy-sized budget. On Daywatch, Bekmambetov had a much more sizable piggy bank to dip into and it shows: Matrix-style effects dominate a script that really could have stood a finer polish (or any polish at all).
THEN...to make matters as bad as they (theoretically) could possibly be (oh, how naive we can be! To think we've reached the bottom when it's only a giant land mass floating atop free-flowing high-speed lava!) an American producer contacted Bekmambetov and offered to finance the third and final Nightwatch entry...on the condition that it was shot with an entirely English cast and in English to boot. I mean, who the &*$k would watch a Russian language movie over an English one? Subtitles or dubbing be damned? Better to have the third be in English, even though first and second weren't, because things (including trilogies) get better exponentially on WHATEVER small part of it can be transformed into English, language of the past, present, and future.
So, okay, that's pretty shitty, right? To be taken over by Hollywood and to have the insanely uneducated demands begun before the film is even past its conception point. BUT...Bekmambetov didn't make any third Nightwatch film, did he? Well...uhm...no, wait wait he did make something, though. Ooooohhhh. Right. He made WANTED. Well, that's okay (depending on your open-minded definition of "okay"). Hollywood shuffled him over to another project to prove his worth before really pouring money into something as ludicrous as the thir entry in a non-English fantasy trilogy. That makes sense. I don't cheer the approach, but I can follow the general reasoning.
But this isn't what happened. Bekmambetov ultimately revealed: the third Nightwatch movie BECAME "Wanted". The English movie with an English cast directed by Bakmambetov through the producers that approached him shsuffled THE PROJECT ITSELF into a mindless comic book popcorn thing. And then Bekmambetov admitted that he didn't know if - and didn't think it likely that - the third Nightwatch would ever be made.
Thanks, Hollywood. Thanks, America. Oh, country that I love for its...uh...well dash it all for its something I'm sure. That's pretty troubling I can't think of anything off the top of my head that isn't shared by SOME other country(ies) as well, and nothing whatsoever that's more than a single something, and therefore definiteively shared by others but...hmm....
And then it gets really, REALLY BETTER.
To quote the press release:
"Bekmambetov to direct 'Moby Dick' Universal steers reimagining of Melville classic
Universal Pictures has made a splashy preemptive buy of "Moby Dick," a reimagining of the Herman Melville whale tale that Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") will direct.
Studio paid high six figures to Adam Cooper and Bill Collage to pen the screenplay. The writers revere Melville’s original text, but their graphic novel-style version will change the structure. Gone is the first-person narration by the young seaman Ishmael, who observes how Ahab’s obsession with killing the great white whale overwhelms his good judgment as captain. This change will allow them to depict the whale’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with Ahab’s Pequod, and Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive.
"Our vision isn’t your grandfather’s ‘Moby Dick,’ " Cooper said. "This is an opportunity to take a timeless classic and capitalize on the advances in visual effects to tell what at its core is an action-adventure revenge story."
Scott Stuber is producing with Jim Lemley and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Both Stuber and Bekmambetov have deals at Universal. Bekmambetov will look to apply the visual flourish he displayed on the U summer hit "Wanted."
"We wanted to take a graphic novel sensibility to a classic narrative," said Collage. They brought it to the Wibberlys, the "National Treasure" scribes who are branching into producing and will team with Stuber. The project then caught the fancy of Bekmambetov and Lemley, who teamed with the helmer on "Wanted."
I love how this is considered the quote-unquote GRAPHIC NOVEL-esque take on the tale. THIS, my comic book brethren, is what "the mainstream" thinks our art form is. How blockheaded, how blind, how bass-ackward they...oh...wait...
Yeah, picture's worth a thousand, eh? This will likely be closer to the reality of the film, though:
Has anyone here seen IDIOCRACY, the latest Mike Judge film which uber-corporate braindead Fox treated like crap because the film treated them like crap? Well, if you haven't seen it, see it. Idiocracy predicts shit like action-adventure Moby Dick. You watch that film and you see it everywhere. It's depressing, but also enlightening, in a way that makes you a better fucking human being. Or, as one of the posters on a message board pointedly pointed out:
"Isn't the book basically Melville's meditation on America and an examination of the human character?"
Point, set, and match. We are well and truly fucked, and apparently this is a natural evolution that cannot and will not be stopped. --Dave B.