The sword is double edged – when you become inspired by something. You see more things around you that relate to the topic. You find proof and evidence where ever you look that supports your new found fascination. When your interests run to games, and fiction, and story telling, this can be a positive pain in the dot.
Take, for instance, the appalling mood of enthusiasm that comes over me whenever I watch a movie these days. I instantly start to think about how to make model terrain that would suit, where I could get the toy soldiers to play the period, what kind of stories I could tell.
This included, recently, Zorro. Not the insipid modern version which is a thinly veiled vehicle for Catherine Zeta Jones to get her kit off (don’t get me wrong – that’s fine. I just wanted to see some boyish fun with swords, not the same endless puerile soft porn that must be in absolutely every movie these days). Not even the Disney version with John Robinson – oops, I mean Guy Willians before he joined NASA. Nor even my favourite version with Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power. No, I mean even before these: the Republic pictures series. Specifically Zorro’s Fighting Legion, and the series Don del Oro. I picked up these DVDs at a ridiculous price. Ridiculous that they no one knows or wants them so they are valueless. Ridiculous because they are free to view on the web anyway: http://www.wasabitv.com.au/?s=zorrosfightingle
So much fun to be had in that world. Flashing swordplay, daring escapes. Great for games. Great for story inspiration.
Then I watched Mutant Chronicles, and I even caught myself wanting to play games in that world. But as the movie progressed it became painfully obvious to me that the difference between the Zorro of the 1930’s and Mutant Chronicles of the 2000’s was not special effects, it was maturity. Mutant Chronicles shows in a stark light exactly how juvenile our fantasy has become. It fails to hold even the most basic of internal logic – and arguments of it being ‘fantasy’ simply cannot excuse the childish oversights. In the year 2750, for example, we have lost the ability to make a gun that fires more than 20 feet and our best form of propulsion is steam. Steam, albiet, that is somehow powerful enough to levitate machines the size of buildings. This is art, surely? Well, yes, if it was animated. We would forgive this if it were a Myazaki animated movie. But live action and total drivel just don’t go together.
The answer to these technological stupidities is that it came from a game, of course. Role playing and miniatures, and in a game you have to limit ranges and effects so the action stays local – centred around the ‘role’ of the characters. That it had to be live action shows the conceit of the designers. If it were real people playing the parts and not animated characters it would some how enoble it…
Has this ever worked in reality? Remember the apalling Dungeons and Dragons movie?
Both of these movies demonstrate the result of falling prey to the terrible ego-centric desire to expose your childish ideas to cinematic treatment. You can forgive kid-stuff technology and the bizarre fantasy of a future church more powerful than Rome ever was when you are plastered and eating chips with your mates around a table. But thrown up in flickering moving images with actors who should have known better than to get involved with this stinker such as John Malkovitch and Ron Pearlman? I shudder.
What have we come to? A pretty poor state when it comes to movies, I guess. Still, think of the games…