Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cimmerian sighting: King Arthur film to get 300 treatment

Ain’t It Cool News is reporting that comic book writer/novelist Warren Ellis is currently working on a script for a King Arthur movie that he plans to turn over to the producers of 300. For me at least (and I may be a chorus of one here), this news ain’t so cool.

I know 300 was a box-office hit, and by rights I should have enjoyed it more than I did. But while I wasn’t bored with the final product I don’t have the need to ever see it again. 300 was all spectacle and no heart, remarkably devoid of any of the pathos that should have accompanied a story about the noble sacrifice of a group of incredibly brave, well-trained, and loyal soldiers. It's a heartless, empty bronze cuirass with little to offer outside of its shouting, angry Spartan soldiers and CGI-happy, slow-motion, Matrix-style combat.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire did Thermopylae far, far better than Frank Miller or the one-note 300 ever did. Isn’t there more to fantasy films than the Helm’s Deep scene or knockoffs of Gladiator?

To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.


David J. West said...

I would sure love a good Arthur movie but I am leery as well.

I'm a comic book lover and have to say that while Ellis seems to have a lot of street cred, I have never personally cared for his stuff. Not his much praised takeover on popular characters-Wolverine-or his own stuff like-Girls or is it Boys?

I did think his take on World War 2action tales were good. I just remembered that as I was writing. He wrote a number of one-shot stand alone tales of WW2. Gritty yet realistic with some decent twists so I will admit its possible for him to come up with something good. But I also thought his "Not Dead Yet" story line for Wolverine was very sub-par. I guess a lot of other people liked it or at least Marvel said people did. Here is where my concern for Arthur comes in. I have no faith that Ellis (while an Englishman) is going to be true to the source material and yes that is a debatable subject in itself, I just don't want to see an Athur movie where everything we think we know gets turned up side down for the sake of the TWIST.= LAME and that includes special effects over story. Ten years from now nobody is going to give a crap over the hot special effects movies of today, its the great stories people will still be talking about.

That is why I hated Neil Gaiman's screenplay and movie of Beowulf. I love Beowulf, but the much respected Gaiman did not improve on the original tale, he weakened the heroic reasonance and then during a book tour complained that Grendels Mother (now a sexually irresitable demoness?) was being played be Angelina Jolie ???

Don't get me completely wrong, I am fine with new ways of telling classic old stories but the NEW TWIST doesn't make up for (nor overpower)what has already entertained people for millenia.

Pericles said...

Your thoughts on 300 are dead-on. I watched it with astonishment, and I don't mean that in a good way.

Adam said...

I'm fine with a new King Arthur film, of any style, as it will not replace or overwrite any other version.

The story has been constantly reinvented and re-written over the last thousand or so years. New interpretations of Arthurian myth are almost annual affairs lately. I'd be less sanguine if it were a less frequently told story.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for style-over-substance films, like 300, and this should at least fill that hole for a while.

(NB: Warren Ellis did not write Boys, that was the other comic writer, Garth Ennis. Warren is not as deliberately edgy and keen-to-undermine as Garth.)

Andy said...

Ellis is an overrated writer who seems especially poorly-suited for something like Arthurian fiction (I look forward to Merlin and all the knights speaking in the same snarky voice). Can't say I'm interested in this.

David J. West said...

My bad over mixing up Garth and Warren. But I have read Warren and remained unimpressed for what he could do for King Arthur-not making a blanket statement that he couldn't do a good job, I just have my doubts.

Brian Murphy said...

David: World War 2 comics? Never heard of them, though I'm interested, provided they were done right. I'm no fan of Gaiman's Beowulf, either (I wrote a post about this a while back if you're interested in looking for it).

Pericles: Agreed, and I'm still hoping that Gates of Fire gets put to film someday.

Adam: A new Arthurian film or an Excalibur remake certainly doesn't negate any past films, but my patience for CGI and bombast over good stories is growing thin. The problem with effects-dependent films like 300 is that they draw in hordes of people who want to see spectacle (not unlike a gladiatorial event), and are quickly forgotten and discarded once better movie-making technology comes along.

It would be nice to see something smart and pretty, for a change. I think the Lord of the Rings mostly got it right in this regard.

Eric D. Lehman said...

I have to agree, Brian. 300 for King Arthur? The appeal of the Arthur mythos is not a 'kick ass' trope, but is much more complex.

I tend to think that for the Arthur story to be done right it needs to be LONG, like a high-cost miniseries or maybe the 12+ hours that Lord of the Rings got at the very least.