Monday, April 11, 2005

Another Apolocalyptic Sci-Fi OR Stephen Sommers, you're well on your way to giving Michael Bay a run for his money

Just read off Aint it Cool News that Stephen Sommers has been set to direct a remake of the film When Worlds Collide. The original When Worlds Collide was released in 1951, and is a classic sci-fi piece of the period, based on the 1932 literary publication of the same title, by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer.

The story of When Worlds Collide is an apocalyptic tale about an astronomer who discovers that there a rogue planet headed for a collision course with earth. This planet will cause mayhem on earth in the form of earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and will result in the ultimate destruction of the planet The scientists who are aware of this impending doom race against time to build a rocket ship. This small group of individuals intend to escape the devastation that will befall earth and colonize a new planet so that they may perpetuate the human race.

This movie is a solid piece of 50’s science fiction, and the fact that Sommers is involved in the remake makes me cringe. I actually thought that the first Mummy was an entertaining good summer popcorn movie, but I am not a fan of the second Mummy and Van Helsing. Sommers is generally involved in writing the films that he directs, – he wrote the Mummy, the Mummy Returns, and Van Helsing – so though it has not been formally announced something tells me, he’s going to “pen” the script for Worlds Collide. This is what worries me the most.

The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing have unspeakably bad scripts. It isn’t just that the dialogue is clunky, and the characterizations are wooden and underdeveloped – they are, but that’s not what really makes them especially bad. It’s the ludicrous after-thought plot devices, extensive back stories, and “explanations” for unwieldy twists , all of which make as much sense as a screen door in a submarine, that kill me.

I wish that I could recall individual, specific examples of the justifications and reasonings that Sommers has used in his films, but this is difficult for me to do. I remember sitting in the movie theatre pained by the exposition that I was forced to listen too, and attempting to tune out as hard as I could because the boredom and tedium was too much for me to bear. Van Helsing, a movie which I think gives Batman and Robin a run for its money in terms of studio trash, included some plot devices that were devoid of any shred of rational thought. I think through my self-imposed haze I remember something about Frankenstein and a werewolf being used as conduits to some contraption that Dracula had made to manufacture a huge amount of offspring. There was also something about a summer country house that Dracula kept in Budapest….

Van Helsing crossed that line, from the blockbuster that you can laugh at because its cheesy and overwrought, to a film that is bloated with action sequences and special FX, yet somehow manages to be unbelievably boring. There is no story to follow or characters to invest in, it might as well be white noise. Now I realize its not all Sommers’ fault. Hey the man has made three huge international money makers in a row – he’s certainly doing better than I am. I’m sure the Universal execs put their two cents in, and there are certain moments when you can almost here them say in the background, “do you think you could make that a little more high concept?” What sorts of results can you expect when the film makers has to fulfill requests that have little to no real meaning?

I think the thing that really gets my goat about Stephen Sommers is that I do believe there is potential there. The man is well on his way to becoming the next Michael Bay, yet at one point he could have been headed for the Spielber/ Zemeckis type. Not nearly as unique as those two, but he has shown the same knack for good pop fun, which he has recently squandered away on behemoth ill fated projects. There’s a part of me which thinks he sorts of coasts along doing whatever Universal execs want to chuck his way. I would like to think that he would take the opportunity with the When Worlds Collide remake to do something original, suspenseful and smart, instead of cranking out a film that represents the hybrid of Deep Impact and Armageddon. I’d like to think that,…but I won’t hold my breath.

Nice hat Stephen….sheesh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steven Sommers is a talentless hack.

8:40 AM  

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