This was originally going to be my first post but I decided the Foley story would be my first real entry shortly after composing it. Then, as you know, the commencing entry was created. As a result the introductory paragraph was extend to make that entry so, what follows is edited to reflect that. Enjoy!
In the spirit of making wishes happen, in this case my wish to have my work read by people, I’m giving you my personal list of great things in fiction we never got. I’ll be touching on films, games and yes a well known book series while I’m at it. So here it is! My top list of things in fiction we never got.
Peter Jackson’s Halo
Don’t look at me like that. We’re starting with the weakest entry. To be fair though, looking back at it there was no way that this union would not have worked. The big problem with translating video games to other media is shortening the slow development of 40-50 hours of gameplay to 2-3 hours of movie.
Also the whole “Not making it suck!” thing.
We’re all thinking it.
But if there’s something Peter Jackson is known for its translating large ponderous stories and condensing them into glory. It’s really the only thing he’s known for. That and having him team up with Guillermo Del Toro to direct it would be the dream matchup for most people. Unless Joss Whedon was somehow involved.
So why didn’t it happen?
Aside from the 200 million plus price tag for a first film circa 2006 right when Hollywood was suffering a blockbuster film drought?
Personally I think the real backbreaker was the stipulations Microsoft laid down such as having full creative control of the product and according to Variety:
“include $10 million advance against 15 per cent of the movie’s gross takings, while other reports suggest that the company is also insisting on a $75 million below the line budget commitment – a sum which doesn’t include major expenses such as the amount that would be paid to the actors and director hired for the project.” – courtesy of eurogamer
Also I can recall something to the effect of the Bungie staff having effectively unlimited access to the project including flights to and from the set paid for. Either way the project never materialized considering it meant the director and producer couldn’t give the tale the good shakedown it needed to translate from one medium to the other. And if you think that Microsoft or Bungie could craft their story into another medium with creative control I invite you to read Halo: The Flood which is effectively a novelization of the first game. It’s bad. I promise.
The REAL Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe
Its name was Nottingham and everyone wanted it. Well not at first mind you.
So what happened was a couple of writers named Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reif the guys behind the Sleeper Cell film. They wanted to reinvent the Robin Hood mythos by doing a historically accurate story but wherein the Sherriff was the hero of the film using period accurate methods while Robin was the villain. Hey maybe we would have learned the Sherriff’s name somewhere in there too.
The film made its rounds before suddenly directors were taking second looks at the scripts until it ended up in Russell Crowe’s hands where he got attached to play the sheriff. After that a bidding war began ending at a 1.5 million price tag paid by Universal.
So why didn’t it happen?
Well Crowe wanted to work with Ridley Scott again and Ridley wanted to do Robin Hood just not this one. This is a long story even by Hollywood standards but to shorten it for you the script didn’t go through one rewrite, it went through four. This was also happening from 2007 to 2010 which means it happened during a writer’s strike on top of it. Oh, and the final version of the script was drafted and polished during filming just because things needed ironing out.
Now Ridley Scott has a lot of great stuff to his name so I won’t bash him here. But I will point out that this came about around the time when he was contemplating making a Monopoly movie. Scott’s next project is supposedly an Alien prequel named Prometheus but it looks to be a pg-13 film and possibly have 3-D and for those of you technically minded means the film must have higher contrasting light levels. That means that you’ll have an Alien movie without a lot of shadows and darkness.
I’ll let you mull over that as we move on to the next entry.
The REAL Wheel of Time
Oh yeah, you had to know I was going to take a swing at this one.
Among literature circles this particular story is famous and it gets paralleled to what Lucas did to Star Wars (No I’m not doing an entry on the prequels. We all know what’s wrong with them.) based on various rumors and such. But for most of you I’ll condense what I know to be irrefutably true.
The Wheel of Time Franchise will be, upon its completion next year a 14 book franchise. The story was penned by Robert Jordan (penname for James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) who intended originally for it to be a six book series. However, with each passing volume the number of volumes it would have taken to completion increased according to Jordan. When the 11th book was published Jordan announced the final installment would be the subsequent 12th novel regardless of the length required to successfully complete it.
He then, as many of you know, passed away before the previously mentioned 12th novel could be completed. The novel was then handed over to Brandon Sanderson, who upon seeing the written work for the final installment decided that it would be best to split this final tale into three books leaving the count at 14.
So why didn’t it happen?
You know what? I really don’t know. All we have are snippets and rumors on this one and what Sanderson has said and it all translates to one irrefutable fact: The whole epic is just too damn big to condense. Jordan crafted a Leviathan of a series from his original six book concept where every character, even a minor one, is important and has a voice that must be heard. Fans will outright debate where the series falls apart in terms of quality some say at book three, I personally tapped out at book five, others say that beyond book eight up until Sanderson took over, you can just read the wiki entries for them.
I have no clue what a six volume Wheel of Time series might have looked like (beyond being shorter) and after Sanderson stated that it was impossible to condense the 12th book into one installment I question if the series would have functioned in six installments.
I think we can all agree though; there are parts we would have cut.
The final Legacy of Kain game.
In the history of gaming there is a rule that the more cut scenes you have in a game, generally, the worse it is. The exception that proves this rule is the Legacy of Kain franchise which, by far has the best goddamn writing and story in videogame history.
No, don’t try to contest it, I’ve checked. It’s the best.
Which is a shame because it doesn’t always have the best gameplay.
The Legacy of Kain is a story about the titular character Kain, a human who was murdered and turned into a vampire so he could get vengeance. However, he finds himself a crucial piece of a massive game of chess between gods and demons where morality isn’t relative, it isn’t even a factor. Kain, over the course of the five games, attempts to rewrite the destiny set before him to finally have control over his own life.
What follows is an immense epic involving concepts of godhood, betrayal and manipulation on a Shakespearean level. It is also has time travel and elder gods in it so by definition it’s awesome. In fact, I don’t care if you never play the game. Just read through a Let’s Play of it to enjoy the story.
Anyway, the last installment in the franchise titled Defiance had Kain and his former lieutenant Raziel trying to fight the various forces set against them. As the game wraps Kain has finally learned whom he’s been battling his entire undead life in a secret war that’s spanned thousands of years across time and is armed with the one weapon that is capable of harming it. The stage is set for the final battle where Kain will at last take his true destiny on his own terms with nothing standing in the way except for a soon-to-be body count.
So why didn’t it happen?
Well, like I said, the games were carried on their story, not so much on gameplay. Especially in the final few installments.
You see the franchise was developed first by Silicon Knights with Blood Omen who created a top-down 2d adventure game with a vampire as the protagonist. The game was comparable to Legend of Zelda for its size and variety of arsenal, but the story and tone were considerably more amoral and violent.
The next installment, Soul Reaver moved the story into full 3d and had a sprawling post-apocalyptic vampire empire to explore with various new superpowers.
The subsequent installment Soul Reaver 2 however kept the story and improved the graphics to the point where the characters became beautifully emoted Seriously! Look at it! But the game effectively was stuck on one long rail that the player had to travel along back and forth until returning to the place where you began at the start of the game… five hundred years earlier. This hampered a lot of reviews.
In addition the black sheep of the franchise Blood Omen 2 was filled with bad, hack and slash gameplay, little story and wasn’t much more than a series of fights escalating in difficulty. It was so bad that the final installment Defiance, did only moderately well and Eidos, the holders of the IP at the time had to decide between it, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Hitman over which series to sustain and which to let die. Yeah, Deus Ex and Legacy of Kain got the axe.
Unfortunately, time hasn’t made the job of returning to this game easier. The series lost designer Richard Lemarchand and Writer/Director Amy Hennig to a little known franchise called Uncharted. Also with the passing of Tony Jay (who played Megabyte on Reboot among other great roles) , the voice of the major villain and Kyle Mannerberg who was given control of project after Hennig left.
Still, Square Enix bought out Eidos and revived Deus Ex into a critical hit so who knows? If we need to recast Tony Jay I vote for Christopher Lee for reasons that should be blatantly obvious. Also we need to drive to Amy Hennig and Richard Lemarchand’s homes with a truck full of money. MAKE IT HAPPEN SQUARE ENIX!
Crusade with Schwarzenegger
Let’s get back to movies for a bit and take on something a bit older. Way back in the early 90s there were talks to have Arnold team up with Paul Verhoeven of… you know what? If you don’t know then look him up. I’m not holding your hand for this one.
Anyway the duo teamed up once more after Total Recall (there, I threw you a bone) to make a movie that by all accounts would have been a one man version of 300 a decade early. It had Arnold as a medieval serf escorting the true cross of Jesus Christ, by himself, back to Rome.
I don’t think I need to say more about this.
So why didn’t it happen?
Well the studio decided to raise money by taking a shot on a cheaper production in the form of a Pirate movie called Cutthroat Island one of the greatest film bombs in history and closed out the studio. On top of that Verhoeven went on to direct Showgirls in the interim, another horrible movie despite nude scenes.
Arnold did what he could to revive the project afterwards but couldn’t and eventually became governor. However a part of me thinks that the film The Book of Eli might very well have been the recycling of Crusade given more than a few similarities in overall plot but who knows?
And last but not least…
The remaining four seasons of Carnivale
Oh where to begin with this sucker?
In its time Carnivale was something you imagined David Lynch, Tim Burton and Neil Gaimen cooked up on a bad acid bender. But it was good too! It was a show on HBO and it dealt with a shifting narrative. That should tell you all you need to know.
Okay you twisted my arm. I’ll keep going. Take the great depression, add visions for everyone (viewer included), Masonic lore, an evil priest and just for fun a circus and you have the show. Oh and throw in great writing and acting while you’re at it.
This series was by all reviewer accounts a magnificent behemoth that saw record numbers for HBO as it displayed the pivotal battle of good vs. evil while questioning the nature of both. The second season finale gave all appearances of shaping up for at least a third season close to the story if need be.
So why didn’t it happen?
Ah, dear reader as much as HBO may seem like a network made of money where good ideas go to be crafted into tasteful well developed series until their story wraps up in a superbly crafted finale at the right time, it is in fact not and HBO just didn’t have the money it would have taken to keep that ship going. As the story goes the show did not meet the ratings in the second season HBO hoped for it especially when they were doing Deadwood and Rome was on the horizon. I wish there was a better story behind that but sometimes that’s what it boils down to.
If you’re really screaming for vengeance you’ll be happy to know that HBO didn’t really bounce back from that call until True Blood and Game of Thrones. It also now occasionally feels the jab at its viewer base from Starz with Sparticus, Showtime with Dexter and The Borgias and AMC with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead. Okay so mostly from AMC.
Also in a nice bit of apropos twist Carnivale series creator Daniel Knauf ended up working on Sparticus the show many people consider to be a better, bloodier and more sex-filled version of Rome. So points to you sir!
And so too does this work exist.