Sequels, Remakes & #OscarsSoWhite: What’s The Deal Hollywood?

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

Courtesy of artwalknews.com

Courtesy of artwalknews.com

So this past week we got a pretty big announcement from the land of the stars, and no I’m not talking about the Oscars (yet). It seems that Avatars’ 2, 3, and 4 are all being delayed. Yes these are the follow ups to the movie that raised ticked prices roughly $3.

I’ll give him props for being highly innovative technologically speaking but let’s face it, the movie began production around the time of all the movies it’s comparable to (e.g. Pocahontas, The Last of the Mohicans, An Inconvenient Truth, Fern Gully…) but took much longer to produce so the story ends up not having the same wow factor of the visuals.

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

But this is James Cameron, the guy behind Titanic, The Terminator, and Aliens among some of the other popular films of our time. I will admit, the man has style, but it seems like wasted talent for him to be rehashing sequels for not only Avatar but also The Terminator (according to IMDB). Instead I’d like to offer up a couple alternative ideas that would utilize Cameron’s creative juices…

Fans of the video game Halo have been waiting for a big screen adaptation of their favorite Spartan’s war against the Covenant for years now. Based on both Aliens and Avatar and his work on The Terminator series I think Cameron could be the director they’re looking for as under his supervision the design for Master Chief and the alien race, the Covenant would be perfect.

Courtesy of www.blackgate.com

Courtesy of www.blackgate.com

Ideally I’d love to see it as a collaboration with fellow director Guillermo del Toro as I feel the blending of their styles could really make the look of the Halo world come to live. Del Toro isn’t as great at writing English dialogue so Cameron would be able to strengthen the script while del Toro keeps the project in spirit with what the fans would really want.

Another video game adaptation I think Cameron would do well on (and be able to handle solo) is a little title reining from the days of Sega Genesis, Comix Zone. This 1995 game is possibly one of the hardest video games ever made where the player has one life and no save points, so you literally only live once.

Courtesy of www.ign.com

Courtesy of www.ign.com

The story follows Sketch Turner (the 90s really had a thing for puns) who is a rock musician and comic book artist in the midst of creating his latest panels of a dystopian New York City when a bolt of lightning zaps him into the world of his comic and frees its villain, Mortus. From that point onward Sketch has to battle his way through the levels to save the comic world from being destroyed by a nuke.

It’s fairly simple and straightforward but it’d be a good popcorn movie and I’m sure Cameron could work in a deeper subtext with the subtlety of ‘unobtanium,’ as he tends to do.

The game itself is relatively short making it very doable within the three hour time span Cameron usually works in. Based on the worlds crafted and the types of male characters Cameron creates, I really think this could have real potential if Hollywood would think a little broader instead of just rehashing sequels.

Courtesy of nerdnalist.blogspot.com

Courtesy of nerdnalist.blogspot.com

Now I’m not in favor of turning all video games into movies. Part of what I love about the Assassin’s Creed series is it really only works as a game because it hops between at least two different storylines. But if you were to separate these two games, I think they’d work fine as a couple of summer blockbusters.

And I guess it’s time to talk about that other big news from last week.

I don’t know if I’m in favor of hopping on the #OscarsSoWhite bandwagon. I haven’t seen all the candidates so I can’t tell you if one actor is better than another based on the performance they were nominated for. I do know the board in charge does itself need more diversity as films are enjoyed by all demographics so it only makes sense that there’d be more diversity in the review board. I know it’s not the People’s Choice Awards but I do think the voting system for the Oscars is in need of a make-over/update.

Courtesy of insidemovies.ew.com

Courtesy of insidemovies.ew.com

Shame on them for snubbing Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, he was excellent. And The Lego Movie was beyond cheated. It did for animation this year, what Boyhood did for film. It should be seen as a game changer, not just some kid’s movie category that can be written off. And when are we going to get voice actor and voiceover categories?  Sometimes a narrator can make or break a documentary or an actor can make a character come alive just using his/her voice so I think they deserve recognition. Just throwing it out there…

Going back to the race issue, it’s not just the academy that’s the problem it’s an overall societal issue. I mentioned this a couple weeks ago but I’ll say it again since this seems to be the hot button issue. When it was rumored Idris Elba was being considered to play Bond, the internet went bananas. Some people, me included, were all in favor of seeing the British actor sip back a martini and perform some high action sequences. On the other hand some people were outraged at the idea of a person of color playing the iconic character.

Courtesy of kedamono-mizudori.deviantart.com

Courtesy of kedamono-mizudori.deviantart.com

On the flipside it’s now rumored that Scarlet Johansson will be playing Major Mokoto Kusanagi and there is a petition already going to fire her from the project.  This is along those same racial issues as with Elba except you have an iconic character from and iconic Japanese manga/anime series that is getting the Hollywood treatment.

I can see the anger but I also feel like you have to look at the other factors. If this is a Hollywood adaptation (presumably set in America) and the entire cast is played by American (and potentially British) actors, then doesn’t it make sense to cast an American woman who is known for playing strong female characters? I’ve stated on social media I’d even love to see Halle Barry in the role as the major, but then again, she’s not Asian.

Courtesy of trailers.apple.com

Courtesy of trailers.apple.com

Considering the M Night Shyamalan incident with The Last Airbender, I can understand the fear but as stated we have to take everything into account. That production was a mess start to finish whereas Johansson’s film seems to have people on board who care about the actual material.

I’d actually be more upset if the team pulled what they did with Memoirs of a Geisha on this project. For those of you who don’t know, Chinese actors and actresses were casted in the roles of the Japanese characters. This fell into a “they’re some kind of Asian so no one will notice,” issue and given the cultural history between the two counties it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

Courtesy of www.tgdaily.com

Courtesy of www.tgdaily.com

But perhaps the issue goes further than race. I can’t even call it a simple issue because the idea of race is as complex as the night sky… maybe the other problem here is the need to seek out untapped talent.

While I think Johansson could be a good fit for the major, maybe putting the effort in to find an unknown bi-lingual actress of Japanese descent would have been a nice consideration. This ties into my before comments about Cameron; Hollywood is in a cycle of rehashing not only sequels and remakes, but also pulling from the same pool of actors and actresses. If they’re going to adapt they should try to seek out material and talent that hasn’t been tapped into yet.

4 thoughts on “Sequels, Remakes & #OscarsSoWhite: What’s The Deal Hollywood?

  1. Marybeth Tawfik

    Agree with the idea of increasing the diversity. American movies are becoming like British ones – all the same faces in different roles, and you spend the first 10 minutes trying to figure out why they look so familiar …

    Reply
  2. Trey Nowell

    I still emphatically and staunchly believe that the Oscars don’t mean much in the long run. That doesn’t mean that nominations and wins don’t bring momentum, just that they are not the big signifier of artistic accomplishment.

    THAT SAID, I can still see the disappointment with Selma. And how it can be seen as a microcosm of whites getting better roles than non-whites (which I believe). Or a microcosm of whites getting better roles two years ago when most of these movies were cast. I am of the mind that who gets represented on the screen will sort itself out once the behind-the-camera talent and deal makers become more diverse. That Alfonso Cuaron, Steve McQueen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Ava DuVernay have made commercially and critically successful films in past two years is a good sign (at least on the director’s front, the other bts stuff I’m not versed in). That could be something that will take a few years to shake out…. if the next four movies from those four directors are made without significant compromise, then that ought to bode well.

    and if Selma, The Lego Movie, Grand Budapest Hotel, etc retains a longer shelf life than Undeserving Nominee X. Which has happened literally hundreds of times before. After all, it wasn’t Gigi that topped Sight and Sound’s critics poll.

    so I dunno. I’m still in camp Oscars Have Always Been Conservative and Dumb and Don’t Matter Much So Eh. If I were Ava DuVernay I’d still be pissed, but if I can get my next film made from Selma’s clout then that ought to be what matters. And not golden dildos.

    Reply
  3. Trey Nowell

    and if the GitS thing is bothersome, I’d just ignore it (the movie). We already have an anime. but same thing from earlier, getting better representation of Asian faces on screen will get easier once Hollywood employs more Asian directors, producers, studio executives, etc. (I’m assuming)

    Reply

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