Monday, December 3, 2007

The annual LOTR cash-in continues...

Last year I wrote an article about movie studios' attempts to ride on the fantasy revival fad brought about by the Lord of the Rings movies. The Chronicles of Narnia was one successful endeavour, but last year's Eragon wasn't, though I was optimistic about it.

Of course, the company who started it all couldn't just sit still and let everyone else ride on its success. Planning to start another lucrative franchise (in case things don't work out with LOTR prequel The Hobbit), New Line is releasing fantasy epic The Golden Compass this week. Based on the first book of Philip Pullman's award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy, the story revolves around two kids who find adventures travelling between parallel universes. A break from the usual medieval Nordic settings in many fantasy movies, The Golden Compass offers steampunk-influenced technology, locales and fashion senses. Think Full Metal Alchemist, or... er... Wild Wild West. Some of the main characters apparently possess creatures which they could summon, something like a Pokemon, called "daemons". Pok-emon, da-emon, get the connection? Um, no, I haven't read this book either.

As much as Narnia was lauded by religious groups for its positive Christian references, Pullman's works were derided for its atheistic messages. Naturally, the movie adaptation is also getting a lot of unwarranted attention and comments, despite the fact that it's not even released yet. Who knows how much of the purported anti-Catholic stuff from the book got translated on to the big screen? But it's an easier target for overzealous people (who are even planning to boycott the premiere), because it hasn't made as much money or name as J. K. Rowling and her pro-witchcraft Harry Potter mega-franchise. It's likely that the controversy would only spark the public's curiosity to New Line's box-office advantage. But, like what I once felt about Eragon, I hope that there is a good movie somewhere amidst the PR frenzy, and that director Chris Weitz (he of American Pie fame) has more up his sleeves than just dick and fart jokes.

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