MovieBob - Intermission
Cloudy With a Chance of Galactus

Bob Chipman | 18 Nov 2011 12:00
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When translating a property - be it a book, comic, game, TV show or even older movie - into a brand-spanking-new movie, one inevitably runs into some essential asset of said property that proves especially difficult to translate into present-day live action and may require a more radical overhaul than some other assets. Sometimes this approach will work, other times it won't.

Here are six infamous times it didn't.

Godzilla (1998)

The iconic look of Toho Studio's legendary "King of The Monsters" may have been influenced slightly more by the need to fit an actor into an unwieldy rubber suit than by aesthetic concerns, but nevertheless it wound up as one of the most instantly-recognizable creatures in cinema history. So, naturally, when it came time to bring him into the digital age with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's megabudget American remake, the first step was to change every single thing that made him iconic in the first place.

Exactly how/why creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos got from a lumbering, bottom-heavy, dark green fire-breathing behemoth to a speed-running, super skinny, gray-skinned lizard who does not breathe fire is a mystery to this day, though the filmmakers were initially so enamored of it they named the film's main character (played by Matthew Broderick) after him in tribute. Toho, on the other hand, was significantly less impressed and responded by adding American Godzilla to their own continuity as an impostor named "Zilla," who memorably met his end in "Godzilla: Final Wars."

Transformers (2007)

There are many, many, many more things wrong with Michael Bay's three Transformers movies than poorly redesigned robots, but attention must be paid. Granted, the central gimmick - the robots collapse in and out of being shaped like cars for the purpose of disguise - is particularly difficult to figure out in live action, but the films opt to take the easiest possible way out of the problem. The cars/trucks/etc. don't so much transform as shatter into a million tiny shards of reflective metal, then reconstitute as a set of oddly same-looking humanoid shapes. Which is good, because what Michael Bay's aesthetic sensibilities were missing was one more shiny, chaotic element with too many moving parts.

The Dark Knight (2008)

Coming as he does from the earliest days of superhero fiction, Batman's uniform is about as simple as they come. In fact, the only thing that sets his getup apart from the DC Universe Standard template (spandex jumpsuit in one color, cape/boots/gloves/briefs in a second color) are his pointy ears and the curved fringes of his cape - neither of which, it must be noted, look remotely like anything you will find on any part of an actual bat.

Yet, for some reason, while characters as preposterous looking as Thor, Hellboy and Ghost Rider (who has, lest we forget, a flaming skull for a head) have made it to screen relatively unscathed, Batman has the distinction of looking essentially terrible in every single live-action appearance ever. Whether it's the sloppy costume-shop quality of the 60s TV series, the immobile stiff-necked gargoyle of the Tim Burton films or the myriad horrors of Batman & Robin, it's a testament to the quality of the character that he remains enduringly popular despite always looking like a giant walking punchline.

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