THE BOYS (AND GIRL) WHO NEVER LIVED

19 Nov

FIRST FEATURE
THE BOYS (AND GIRL) WHO NEVER LIVED
About a decade ago, a nice little boy with glasses set out on a series of magical adventures that would charm the world.
November 19, 2010
 
 

Harry Potter’s massive, rabid fan base hurled their pocketbooks at the little wizard with abandon, snapping up books, movie tickets, posters, toys and silly striped scarves.

The titular character earned zillions for all involved, spawning a legion of me-too copycats who would try to ride Harry’s enchanted coat-tails to that same big-money fantasy land in the lemon-drop sky.

But alas, each new children’s book-turned-movie wannabe ended up suffering the same grizzly fate.

One by one they were rounded up, hobbled, and forced to trudge single-file into Harry Potter’s relentless death factory.

Shift supervisor JASON JOHNSON wades into the knee-deep blood and gristle to pick over their barely-recognisable remains.

FRANCHISE DECEASED
Eragon
ERAGON (2006)

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

Based on a book by Christopher Paolini, it’s about an orphan (Ed Speleers) who discovers a dragon egg and learns he is the ‘chosen one’ to overthrow the evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich).

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?

Well, it was based on a book written by a 15-year-old boy – and thus had a fundamental lack of depth and originality.

To compound problems, the film was directed by first-timer Stefen Fangmeier, a special- effects technician who had zero feel for character, plot or pacing.

It takes a rare anti-talent to get a bad performance out of Malkovich, and also to make dragons boring.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED?

Lovable and well-defined characters such as Harry Potter and Hermionie Granger.

GONE
Will Stanton
THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING (2007)

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

As the last immortal warrior, a boy (Alexander Ludwig) is sent to find six hidden signs that will help him fight the forces of darkness.

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?

Much was changed and apparently lost in the story’s translation from print (the five-book series by Susan Cooper) to screen.

For a start, our hero is supposed to be English, not American.

Whatever the case, Ludwig was seriously lacking in both charisma and acting chops.

The supposed villain, played by skinny, snaggle-toothed Christopher Eccleston, is no Lord Voldemort.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED?

There should have been more respect for the source material, as with the Potter flicks.

DISCONTINUED
Lyra
THE GOLDEN COMPASS (2007)

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

An orphan girl (Dakota Blue Richards) heads north with an armoured polar bear to save her friends from the machinations of Magisterium, an authoritarian organisation.

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?

With fine performances from the likes of Nicole Kidman, and stunning special effects, the film was beautifully made but became the victim of its own depth and complexity.

Director Chris Weitz battled with movie studio New Line Cinema over certain controversial anti-Catholic themes (author Philip Pullman was an outspoken atheist), and the film ended up a muddle.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED?

Lighten the tone. Straightforward escapism – such as boy wizard vs evil wizard – trumps high-minded profundity every time.

REJECTED
Jared and Simon Grace
THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (2008)

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

Twin brothers (both played by Freddie Highmore) move to an old mansion where they discover a ‘field guide’ to the fairy world, plus a magic stone that allows them to see the supernatural creatures. Mayhem ensues.

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?

Considering its subject matter, the film came across as bland and pedestrian.

Highmore was too plain, the house was too dingy, the creatures were too flat.

Director Mark Waters, at his best in teen-oriented comedies such as Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls, lacked the necessary imagination for such an undertaking.

The film looks like a grandma made it.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED?

How about a sense of wonder, as we felt when we first visited Hogwarts with Harry?

ONE MORE CHANCE?
Percy Jackson
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF (2010)

WHAT’S THE IDEA?

A seemingly ordinary boy (Logan Lerman) discovers he is a demigod, and after being trained at Camp Half-Blood, embarks on a mission to find Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

The film was directed by Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two Harry Potter films, so you’d think it would be in good hands.

The trouble is, Columbus seemed to be just going through the motions and treated the material with a sort of cursory indifference.

Campy humour ended up turning the film into a joke rather than a sensation.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE HELPED?

Columbus should have shown the same passion for Percy that he did for Potter. Or they should have simply found a fresher director.

 

The NewPaper

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: