Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's All In The Mind...And It Should Have Stayed There


It's possible I heard about this a while ago and dismissed it as one of those ill-conceived ideas that Hollywood is always tossing out and which never seem to happen. It's also possible I repressed it.

Robert Zemeckis is doing a CGI mo-cap remake of Yellow Submarine. And it's apparently into the casting stage.

I'm not the kind of guy who turns up his nose at remakes; there are plenty of movies that could be improved, and sometimes a story is so strong that it genuinely deserves a modern take on it every few years (like the numerous Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies--the recent Nicole Kidman version is apparently lousy, but the other two remakes are both solid enough--the 70s version is brilliant, actually).

But I don't really need to explain why this plan sounds utterly stupid, do I? The original is nearly perfect, at least partly because it's a relic of its era, and while the Beatles themselves were only fleetingly involved in the original movie, it still FELT like part of their body of work. The Beatles were still a growing, dynamic creative force at the time, alive and vital, impacting the culture, their legacy still being written. 40 years on, that legacy is pretty much set in stone, and a new Beatles movie--no matter how much care is put into it--can only seem like a museum piece. No doubt it'll be packed with Beatles references to tickle our nostalgia bones, like that "Free As a Bird" music video--but by definition, it can't add anything to the Beatles legacy. And if it did add anything, it wouldn't be "The Beatles".

And that's assuming a hypothetical best-case scenario. Going further into the details of this actual production, we've got...Robert Zemeckis, once a tremendous filmmaker who has, bewilderingly, surrendered to that godawful mocap process which satisfies neither the desire for live action nor that for real animation. I sort of liked Beowulf, but having the characters be hyper-real, dead-eyed mannikins hurt the story, which would have been better served by a group of live actors or a traditional animated format. For some reason Zemeckis is married to this medium, even though it clearly isn't working yet, and may possibly NEVER work, no matter how great the technology gets. (Bringing animated characters to life is a matter of artistic skill, not coding. It requires time, care, and talent, not money and technology.)

At least Yellow Submarine's mo-cap characters wouldn't be bound by a pedantic need for realism, but still, what's the fucking point? It frankly smacks of a wrongheaded belief that CGI is somehow "better" than classical animation, and that this is bringing the original "up to date". That may not be what Zemeckis is telling himself, but that's how it comes off. You know how George Lucas only seems to exist to destroy everything that is good and wonderful about movies? At least he's mostly kept it to his own franchises. I can't say the same about Zemeckis anymore. Fuck that guy.

No comments:

Post a Comment