As film critics, we often tear down without creating. We usually complain about how certain genres like horror and fantasy have gotten weaker. We complain and complain, but we never offer up solutions. So I’ve decided to run a column this week to cull suggestions of what you as a moderately rational filmgoing base are craving in your genre films. What would you like to see done on the big screen?
First up is fantasy, a genre that’s been building steadily thanks to the success of The Lord of the Rings. The upcoming “Game of Thrones” series fills me with hope, as everything indicates they just got that totally fucking nailed. But more often than not, the translation of the swords and sorcery roll poorly upon making it to the silver screen. Fantasy covers a vast realm of possibility, and there are many individual flavors of fantasy, so deciding on one single tact is difficult. But it typically boils down to a question of two or more variations: magic or non-magic and monster or non-monsters.
Let’s look at non-magic, non-monster. Do you think they typically pull this off adequately? Usually, this involves mass amounts of men with swords and spears charging through a digitally animated wave of arrows before crashing into a castle. They all wear variations on the cover of AD&D 3rd Edition, and give great big bellows.
There’ve been a few magic with no monsters, but they are extremely rare. The same can be said for non-magic with monsters. But when I talk monsters, I refer to other races. Whether or not the opponents are orc and kobold or if they are merely another armada of knights and barbarians. This also involves the whole elf and dwarf races, but it could get into to some of the more esoteric stuff. Lord of the Rings did a pretty damn fine job of representing the races, but do you think there is ground to be plumbed here? Or has Lord of the Rings sort of claimed a full stake in the D&D type races?
Furthest from the pull is the full-on magic and monster realm. Where wizards are firing off bolts of lightning and fireballs and dragons are swooping in to eat villagers. Usually, it’s only dragons, but would you rather see something beyond that? Personally, I feel like this type of movie has gotten the shittiest end of the stick, in particular dragons. There have been very few quality dragon films. Reign of Fire, Dragonheart? Bullshit. They haven’t done it the justice it deserves. Do you think they can pull off decent fantasy creatures, or is it a case of Syfy: You’ll Take What We Give You?
On the same note, do you feel like fantasy can only be marketed if it comes from a pre-existing literature, or do you think there’s room to create something fresh? Usually, if that’s the case, it becomes a matter of derivative: either “Airbender” style element based powers or D&D/Tolkien based works.
I want to see a re-emergence of some hard-R fantasy. Not necessarily eladrins in threeways with dwarves and tavernwenches, or a dwarf running around calling everyone “cockknobs” and “fuckchunnels,” but assuredly in the violence. Those siege weapons were big and pointy and nasty. If horror can get away with having demons disemboweling folks, why can’t we get that in more fantasy? Blood should run in thick fucking gobbets. And I’d like to see better magic beyond just lightning and fire.
What say you, knave? And roll a check for Bluff before you do.