Fifty Foot Childhoods

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It seems that each generation of late is doomed to see their childhood transformed on the big screen. In 20 years will my son be taking HIS son to a live action Pokemon movie?

Recently I went to see the Transformers film and we had a wonderful time. Admittedly, it was never a cartoon I watched much during it’s heydey as I was a bit old for it, but I loved watching him entranced by what he was watching. All in all, it was a great experience.

Will I be able to say the same about the next two TV cartoons flashing on the 50 foot screen?

First up is that quintessential 80s cartoon…G.I Joe. I never liked it much as I was also somewhat past it when it debuted, but it had it’s moments and some of the toys rocked.

The following information on G.I. Joe: The Movie was posted on the invaluable movie site, IGN.

Who needs A Real American Hero? Not Paramount or Hasbro it seems. The studio’s live-action feature film version of G.I. Joe will no longer revolve around a top-secret U.S. special forces team but rather an international operation.

In a follow-up to their confirmation that Stephen Sommers will direct G.I. Joe, Variety offers this new description of the team: “G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer. The property is closer in tone to X-Men and James Bond than a war film.”

Wow. A Real Globally Integrated Hero! Can we assume that this “double-crossing Scottish arms dealer” is Destro since he was one in the comics? And does that mean there will be no Cobra Commander in it?

So why the changes? Hasbro and Paramount execs recently spoke about the challenges of marketing a film about the U.S. military at a time when the current U.S. administration and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are at a low-point in global polls. When a studio makes a film as expensive as G.I. Joe will likely be, they want to know that as many people as possible around the world will want to see it. In other words, G.I. Joe — “A Real American Hero” — is a tough sell.

Although the new G.I. Joe team will be international in scope, don’t expect Joe’s British counterpart Action Man to be included after all. IESB.net reports, “Looks like he will be gone, this new script is set to be 100% GI Joe, it will revolve around the characters we all grew up with fighting Cobra, Destro, the Baroness and Storm Shadow. When do they expect to have this new script ready? Six to eight weeks. Pre-production is expected to start by October-November and production to start early ’08.”

“Our vision (for The Mummy) was clear the time the first trailer played during the Super Bowl, and by the time this one plays a Super Bowl, you’ll see the coolest characters and visuals you can imagine, and beyond-state-of-the-art equipment,” Sommers informed Variety. “I wouldn’t have jumped into this just because of the Hasbro-Transformers tie. Remember, Pirates of the Caribbean was a big hit, but Haunted Mansion not so much.”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura added, “My experience with beloved properties is that characters, attitude and tone are even more important than plot. … Paramount showed a great deal of confidence in Stephen’s take, and our ability as producers to get this up and running for a February start. His passion for the characters and the world convinced the studio this was something they couldn’t resist.”

SIGH…an international force….sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. At least I won’t be disappointed, as I am not expecting it to be watchable.

However, I have much higher hops (and much higher stakes) for the film version of Speed Racer being produced by the Brothers Warchowski (of Matrix fame), who seem to be getting it right. For one thing, just look at the frickin’ CAR. That IS the Mach 5.

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The following very exciting information comes from an interview with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones on a press junket for another film entirely and was first placed on the web at collider.com. Sarandon plays Speed’s Mom (Mom Racer) in the pic. I think my favorite part of this is how interested and excited Tommy Lee seems about it. There was a time the G rating would have irritated me…but now I am just thrilled I will be able to share it comfortably with my son, who already loves the original series (I have the complete DVD sets, dontcha know).

Question: Susan, could you talk about working with the Wachowski Brothers and filming in Berlin and also the new camera that they’re using?

Susan: I love the Wachowski Brothers. Basically all I do is make pancakes in the movie and stand around and serving breakfast to everybody.

Tommy Lee Jones: What camera are they using?

Susan: They’re using some high def thing that comes with guards and it’s beyond anything I’ve ever…. I saw 10 minutes before I left, they did a special thing for me cause they’re just wrapping and having a party tonight, they were still working after I left. They’re doing something where they’re layering film so that the front and the back are in focus like a cartoon and they’re also doing two dimensional and three dimensional stuff and mixing and everything is very, very saturated with some new kind of film, so they actually have to treat the actors in some way so we can hold our own with the background. So it’s every color that wasn’t in The Matrix is seriously in this film.

Tommy Lee Jones: The camera comes with guards?

Susan: Yeah, yeah. When I talked with them on the phone – I’d never met them – when they asked me to do it, I had two conversations with them because it’s a very small part and it was a very long commitment because of the way they were shooting this. At a certain point I just said I don’t have the faintest idea of what you are talking about, I’m in. I just thought when am I ever going top get a chance to be up to my neck in something I understand so little about and they definitely fulfilled my expectation. But they have these two big, huge, widescreen things…at the end of the day you can see how everything is going to be before it’s treated and they have a room of 200 or 300 guys that are doing all the background, it’s insane. And we were shooting on 4 stages and it was really interesting and a lovely experience and all the actors were great and I was working with a monkey…I’m sorry a chimpanzee – he doesn’t like to be called a monkey. It was wild… and they’re very, very sweet. They have complete control which is every director’s dream.

Tommy Lee Jones: What is the movie about?

Susan: It’s a cartoon called Speed Racer which they’re now making into a movie. What the stories about is John Goodman and I are mom and pops and he makes racing cars and it’s about the corruption of sports by corporations and of course while we were doing it all these horrible things were happening in the sports world – including the racing world. It’s all about cheating and betting and how things are fixed and everything else, but it’s also about family values and pancakes are love.

Q: There is a lot of talk that it might be rated G? Are they still going for that?

Susan: Yeah.

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2 Comments

  1. Time was, I had the hots for both Flint and Lady Jay, and fantasies of seducing Destro and the Baroness to the side of the goodguys, or at least into working for me personally.
    Alas, now, GI Joe a real international hero? It would have been SO much more fun if they’d kept the team American and told the tale ironically, a la Starship Troopers, complete with shameless propaganda and Ayn Rand-ish citizen sacrifices. I’m sure they’ll spin it six ways from Sunday (another American trait?), but really, what a cop-out.
    Let me at the script for the sequel: I’ll throw GI Joe into bed with the CIA and get him back to swillin beer, fightin terrorists, and demandin that every citizen see the world in terms of black and white.

  2. Oh, dear. I’m very nearly afraid to share this information with my lady (in RL), because she actually has action figures, G.I. Joe comics, and a resin bust of the Baroness…

    Her hopes will be dashed, indeed.


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