By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.