For the past few years, one part of the US has been in the grip of a seemingly incurable disease. Advice has been dispensed and solutions have been suggested, but the ailment persists. No popular resistance movement or international summit can fix the problem. Hollywood simply cannot overcome “sequelitis” and its cousin, “remakitis”. Movies, especially bad movies, never go away but return to haunt us simply by adding a number to their titles. Older films we hoped we had outgrown come back in newer forms.
Predator returned in the plural; Happy Feet is going to dance back in view—in 3D—and there is simply no end to the mystifying bunch of films called Resident Evil (Part 5 will invade us, in 3D, in 2012). The Twilight series has spawned three films, and Breaking Dawn, the first of a two-part finale, will release on 18 November. No. 4 in the Mission: Impossible series will break over us in December.
Robert Downey Jr’s craggy, baggy face seems to suit the superhero antics of Iron Man just fine—wait for the third instalment next year. His Americanness is no barrier to his being cast as the very British detective Sherlock Holmes, a role he will reprise in December in the follow-up to Guy Ritchie’s movie adaptation. Talented and good-looking actors seem to grow in the English countryside along with potatoes and sugar beet, but Ritchie simply couldn’t find one suitable local face to play the brainy private investigator.
Animated: Tintin (played by Jamie Bell), Captain Haddock (played by Andy Serkis) and Snowy await rescue in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
This fortnight’s major Hollywood release, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, should, then, be a cause for celebration. Its roots lie not in a popular video game or an older Hollywood movie, but Hergé’s brilliant comics. The hype surrounding the animated picture, which relies on motion-capture technology, flows from the men behind the camera rather than the talent in front of it. Directed by Steven Spielberg and co-produced by Peter Jackson—that declaration seems to be enough to guarantee a quickening of breath.
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Hergé reportedly said Spielberg would be the best person to adapt Tintin for the screen, but it’s worth remembering that old Chinese proverb—be careful what you wish for. Two follow-ups are already being planned for The Secret of the Unicorn.
Spielberg may be a self-professed Tintin fan, but he has made sure that his investment in fanboy behaviour is protected. Hollywood blurred the line between film and fast-moving consumer goods many years ago, but it would have been nice if Tintin were spared that treatment.
The echo effect in Hollywood has severely influenced the kinds of American movies being released in India. The Indian offices of Hollywood studios realize that a franchise is less risky than a brand new drama. The No. 2s and 4s play to audiences familiar with the mythology built around the movies. Some of us will never tire of watching Johnny Depp sashay about in his ridiculous Jack Sparrow get-up, but even diehard Sparrowologists baulked at the idea of Depp sailing forth for the fourth time in On Stranger Tides. To see Depp as he really looks, without the kohl hiding his eyes and make-up masking his sharp features, catch the 4 November release The Rum Diary before it is blown out of cinemas by the first of a potential trilogy and the fourth in a two-part climax to another trilogy.
Nandini Ramnath is the film critic of Time Out Mumbai
Write to Nandini at email@example.com