March 14, 2005

Trailer Trash

What better way to get back into the swing of things than damming out of hand movies I haven't even seen?

We took the older Llama-ettes to see Robots last Friday. Meh. I don't really have anything to say about it except that no one at Pixar is going to lose any sleep over its release.

What grabbed my attention instead was what my five year old calls the "pregews". First of all, I finally saw the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. Frankly, it was coo-el. But then again, so were the trailers for the last two episodes. I tell you truly that I believe the movie itself is going to be just as big a disappointment as they were. I don't know how the Lucas Ego is going to trash it. I just know that it will.

But what really got to me was this abomination:


This is completely, utterly, horribly wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Damn near everyone in the blogsphere has given me grief for defending the cheesy old Battlestar Galactica series against the predations of the updated BSG, but this is an entirely different case. You do not screw around with a classic:


How Tim Burton ever conceived of the notion that Johnny Depp would have a prayer of successfully filling Gene Wilder's shoes I cannot begin to imagine. And judging from the clips I saw, the rest of the movie built around this idea is equally repulsive. I'm nailing my flag to the mast on this one - there are some places one simply should not go and this is one of them. And there is no power in Heaven or on Earth that can convince me that I'm mistaken.

UPDATE: Aha! Steve at Secure Liberty jumps on a point that I almost addressed, that of faithfulness to the original Roald Dahl book, which Steve says Tim Burton is going for. Having never read the book, I couldn't say, nor would proof that this is the case cause me to change my mind about his movie. I still think it is going to be awful. Frankly, I've nothing against Johnny Depp. But I am deeply suspicious of the quality of most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days. And I think Tim Burton is vastly overrated by many people, including himself. My guess is that Wilder's Willy Wonka* is going to maintain its classic standing long after Depps' is relegated to the bargain bin at Blockbuster.

(*Of course, I know nothing about how faithful the Wilder version of the film is to the book either. But this doesn't matter much to me. Some day, if you're very good, I'll explain what I call Robbo's Wizard of Oz Principle, that is, the exception to my general damnation of screenplay treatments of literature which explains how in certain very specific circumstances a movie may be enjoyable in spite of - or even because of - the liberties it takes with the book on which it is based.)

UPDATE DEUX: Judging from all the Willy Wonka commentary, my work is done on that front. So, from the Someone-With-Waaaay-Too-Much-Time-On-His-Hands File, here's a link to a second-by-second breakdown of the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith trailer.

Yips! to Kevin over at Naked Villiany, who also poses an interesting question regarding what political bumper stickers might be found on the back of Darth Vader's T.I.E. fighter.

YIPS from Steve: At the risk of being contentious I'm going to have to go and say that the original Willy Wonka hasn't stood the test of time. It's dated, the music stinks in a bad wucka-wucka early seventies sort of way, the costumes are horrible, but most of all the acting stinks. I'm sorry, but that's my perspective. The problem is that it's told as Willy Wonka's story, when the story is really about Charlie. How they balderized the scene at the core of the story---how Charlie finds the money in the snowbank, the whole tension as he finds the golden ticket, in the story it's gut-wrenchingly beautiful. In the movie, hey look---dancing fireplugs! Whoa, bad acid trip, man!

Now granted, the Oompah-Loompahs rule, if anything just for our collective fantasy of seeing O-Dub getting rolled away like Veruca Salt. Still, Sheila's right: Tim Burton is on top of his game, and if anyone can bring Dahl to film it would be him.

But then again, I prefer the story to the movie in the Wizard of Oz, so I might be the statistical outlier here.

Posted by Robert at March 14, 2005 09:12 AM

Tim Burton ain't half the genius he's alleged to be.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 14, 2005 09:55 AM

Whoa there! Look, I love the original Willy Wonka, but fans of the book found it to be an abomination. The original story was much darker, and the new version looks to be much more faithful to it. Depp has shown himself to be a superb actor, and Burton may be the perfect fit for telling this story. I think there's room for both versions.

Wilder was brilliant, but Depp won't be filling his shoes, he'll be playing the character quite differently.

Posted by: SteveL at March 14, 2005 10:12 AM

You haven't read the book??? Oh man, you've got to!! And you have to read the sequel to. I love those books.

Gene Wilder's performance is one of my favorite performances ever - but I have to say, I saw the preview to the new version as well, and it looks thrilling to me.

I'm so there. And yet I still own the "orignal one" with Gene Wilder, and I always will.

Posted by: red at March 14, 2005 11:13 AM

Oh and one last thing: as far as I'm concerned:

Tim Burton has completely come into his own. I mean, "Ed Wood" is one of my all-time favorite movies, with Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi - genius - but it was when I saw Big Fish last year that I realized that Burton seems to have really grown as an artist, he has total command now, over the story, the characters, etc. Never has Burton been so whimsical, so creative, and also so deeply personal. I can't wait to see what he does with Roald Dahl's creation.

Posted by: red at March 14, 2005 11:16 AM

Rarely one to disagree with you, Robert, but Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is a classic, done little justice by the weird, hallucinogenic Gene Wilder movie with the PC orange Oompa-Loompas. (They're supposed to be chocolate-colored pygmies.) And where are the squirrels in the nut room? You're really missing out if you haven't read the book.

Posted by: Mark Sullivan at March 14, 2005 11:30 AM

The purist in me says that it is a good thing if the Burton version is more faithful to the book. But Rob, as I saw the preview, my heart sank. Burton's darkness and Depp appearing to be playing Wonka as a lunatic (I'm assuming all this from the trailer) is sure to ruin it.

Gene Wilder was never better or more charming.

Posted by: Gordon at March 14, 2005 11:53 AM

I don't know what the new version's like, but that photo of Depp reminds me of Michael Jackson and totally creeps me out.

Posted by: Fausta at March 14, 2005 12:11 PM

Remember the talk about how the new Planet of the Apes movie was going to be more faithful to the book? Turns out that was just code for, "This movie is a very expensive and overhyped load of crapola." I say that as a certified and card-carrying nerd who loves both the original movies (Ah, Nova!) and the original novel. My guess is that Burton's latest monstrosity will please neither fans of the book nor fans of the Wilder classic.

Posted by: House of Payne at March 14, 2005 12:20 PM

//I'll explain what I call Robbo's Wizard of Oz Principle, that is, the exception to my general damnation of screenplay treatments of literature which explains how in certain very specific circumstances a movie may be enjoyable in spite of - or even because of - the liberties it takes with the book on which it is based.)//

Rob, Rob, Rob - it pains me to see you flip flop on this issue, like Kerry trying to explain a vote.

Posted by: Dan at March 14, 2005 01:21 PM

It isn't flip-flopping. Rather, it's selective snobbery.

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 14, 2005 05:32 PM

I'LL give you "selective snobbery"!

Just read the dern book, please. :)

Posted by: red at March 14, 2005 06:12 PM

Yeah, read the book.

Posted by: Dan at March 15, 2005 10:09 AM

The big trouble with remaking a classic is they will ad the usial about of nasty adult stuff or make it to damn stupid like DISNEYS putrid remake of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS or dino delarintis remake of KING KONG why dontn they forbit the remake of a classic? its just plain rediclous and as for JOHHN DEPP he should play a villian instead

Posted by: lonesome loon at March 17, 2005 03:57 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?