Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Y God Why?

I knew this was coming but it hurts and it sucks.

As first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, who are currently camped out at Comic-Con, the production team of BenderSpink is following through on their Quixotic journey to adapt Brian K. Vaughn’s groundbreaking, long-form comic Y the Last Man into a self-contained feature film. And as if this idea weren’t awful enough to begin with, they’ve brought along some of the least talented people in Hollywood to help forever taint the memory of this incredible property.

I don’t know D.J. Caruso personally. He seemed agreeable enough while serving as a guest host on “On the Lot” but in the past five years this is the resume he’s compiled:

2002: The Salton Sea
2004: Taking Lives
2005: Two for the Money
2007: Disturbia

Distrubia may end up being the most profitable film in Dreamworks’ short history and what little memory I have of Two for the Money was mostly pleasant, but Salton and Taking Lives would make a short list of the worst films of the new millennium. He’s for all intents and purposes a voice-less hack who can probably bring a project in on time and on budget but will never be accused of crafting something lasting or memorable.

But it gets worse: from what I’ve been hearing, Vaughn’s (who had been working on a script for the project for over a year) drafts of the script appear to have been tossed aside in favor of a new one from Carl Ellsworth who’s worked previously with Caruso on Disturbia and BenderSpink on Red Eye. So basically, a guy whose only credits of note are cheap, claustrophobic thrillers has been handed the reigns to a story that takes place over seven contents over the course of five years.

Here’s the thing, it’s doubtful there’s a filmmaker alive who could even partially do this story justice in a feature film format. Unlike most comic books, Y the Last Man doesn’t have superheroes and villains or a simple plot to be resolved. With less than a hundred issues in total (the series is scheduled to conclude its run by the end of 2007), the series explored an uncertain future where nearly every male creature on Earth is wiped out instantaneously by a toxin, save for its reluctant hero, lovelorn street magician Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. With 49% of the world’s population gone (including the vast majority of the world’s politicians, police officers, doctors, soldiers and athletes) and Yorick’s survival seemingly intertwined with the virus, the comic deals with the sobering reality that the human race is likely doomed in four generations (the story taps into a lot of the anxiety cultivated by Children of Men but actually pre-dates the film by years) but still needs to make do in the meantime. It’s a story about evolution and acceptance and starting over. It was funny and topical. It was digressive yet propulsive. It allowed room for both a feminist slant on a typical male-driven genre will still making room for latent male fantasy (lots of girl-on-girl action).

And it can in now way be told in 2 hours.

Or in a couple 2-hour movies (not like we’d get sequels).

The comic so blatantly calls out for the television treatment that Vaughn even preemptively addresses this complaint on his Myspace page’s Frequently Asked Questions. The obvious model for this would be (aside from Stephen King’s The Stand) is the show “Lost” which, ironically enough, Vaughn currently serves as one of its staff writers. Yorick is barely the hero of his own story and streamlining a narrative that follows him exclusively not only would be detrimental to the story, it goes against the very spirit of it. If ever there were a global story, this would be the one, yet a feature-film’s limitations tells me any glance at the larger world outside of our protagonist would be cursory at best.

I get it now. I get every Potter fan who groaned when they hired Chris Columbus, or Fantastic Four fan who get films from the director of Barbershop and Taxi or for that matter my good friend Sean Burns who’s had Mark Steven Johnson destroy not only Daredevil and Ghost Rider for him but also the promise of fucking up the upcoming Preacher TV-Series (which, by the way, is also a BenderSpink production… guys HINT HINT HINT).

This entire concept is so horribly misconceived I can’t lay too much blame on Caruso and Ellsworth no matter how happy it would make me. The fault here lies at the feet of Vertigo the comic’s publisher (which like everything else under the sun is a division of Time Warner) as well as with Vaughn and co-author Pia Guerra for selling off the rights without protecting the integrity of the project. I’m sure they were all well compensated for their efforts but they ultimately bear the responsibility for the entire misbegotten enterprise.


bloomerang said...

I mostly enjoyed The Salton Sea. I know it is a little silly and not at all an original idea, but D'Onofrio stole the show and I love watching Val Kilmer do his thing. Plus my parents used to live near the Salton Sea and I am rather intregued by that area.

Two For The Money, I can say with almost complete honesty, is one of the top 5 worst movies I have ever seen, and that list includes some of my classmates' crap in film school. Not only is it completely improbable, but it features spectacularly stupid 'HOO HA!' overacting by Pacino, and a completely charmless Matthew McConaughey who seems to be the only one to realize how insane the movie is. I marvel at it every time I see it on television.

No real point about Caruso here (who is supposedly a nice guy), only a disagreement on his canon. I have yet to see Disturbia. I have no plans to do so.

Andrew Dignan said...

Your disagreement isn't that his cannon is shitty, it's simply over which ones in his cannon are the shittiest.

I feel so much better about all this.