Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Whatever happened to cinematic Space Opera?

Taking in the usual rash of summer blockbusters, there is a distinct lack of spaceships. Granted, this is the era of the superhero movie, which I’m most definitely in favour of, but there isn’t really anything around right now to satiate the hunger for great big spaceships. Nothing original anyway. On TV there’s Battlestar Galactica. A remake. In the cinemas we have The Clone Wars. A spin-off. Now, between the million remakes and sequels, there really should be a new Space Opera to tantalise us with tales of galaxies far far away that never had the merest whiff of a Gungan about them.

It has been over thirty years since Star Wars destroyed everything in its path, and thus isn’t it time we had something new to be in awe of? There is more than enough source material out there for the lazy exec who doesn’t want to risk having something original written and made. There are literally thousand of books and series of books that would make incredible film franchises. With the shrinking cost of Cg effects and their rise in quality over the past few years, it is more feasible than ever to make something on a grand scale.  You can have digital sets and digital extras. Hell, film the whole thing in front of a green screen and give the cast toy guns. It is now possible to create the most magical worlds that the imagination can dream up, so why aren’t more Space Operas being made? The audience is certainly out there.

Execs: Think of the lucrative merchandising rights involved, if you’re not sold on the idea of a rollicking adventure with a great script. Filmmakers: Think of the adoration and appreciation you would garner by creating the next Star Wars. Think of the generations you could inspire to do the same, and to do better. Believability be damned- give us something that kids will be playing in the streets for years to come. Give us heroes and villains, dastardly plots and immeasurable odds. Give us royalty and hotshots and dreamers and rogues, and give them the universe as their playground. Give us energy weapons and lightspeed drives and political intrigue in the corridors of galactic power. Give us new dreams to dream, and we will lap them up.

Turn to your slush piles. Turn to the submissions of excited creators’ CG examples and scripts and designs. Turn to the new generation to help provide the next one with a new legend to enjoy. Just please, give us some great big spaceships to dive into and take us away from the unholy mess the world is in right now. Escapism please. We know what life is like down here. How about giving us a taste of what it is like across the stars?

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