Saturday, September 06, 2008

Asimov's Foundation Coming To The Big Screen?

Anyone's who has seen my list of favourite books knows I'm a fan of Isaac Asimov and his Foundation series. And now there's news that some old New Line people are going to produce a big screen version of the books.
The project marks the first undertaking for Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, who set up their own banner called Unique Features earlier this month after exiting New Line when the ailing studio was absorbed by its bigger corporate sibling Warner Bros. Unique aims to make two or three movies annually, with Warners handling marketing and distribution.
No word yet on cast, director or script writer.

I'm surprised it's taken this long to bring the books to the big screen. Sure, there will be big problems adapting the books. Some of the problems are touched upon in that Reuters story:

The politically inflected work, which features such characters as the prophetic Hari Seldon and a villain called the Mule, spans hundreds of years, essentially tracking the rise and fall of entire civilizations. Each book contains a new set of characters, which poses a multitude of challenges for a big-screen adaptation.

Additionally, Asimov's books tend to incorporate philosophical themes as much as action elements. Still, the very loose adaptation of his "I, Robot" collection of stories turned into a $340 million global hit for Fox in 2004. In 1999, Disney released the Chris Columbus film "Bicentennial Man," based on one of the author's short stories. That film grossed $94 million worldwide.

Now, I really really really hope they do a better job of sticking to Asimov's books than the makers of I, Robot. That was an entertaining little movie, but beyond some lip service to Asimov's "robot laws" there wasn't any Asimov in it. Too bad, since his robot stories would make excellent movies, even IF someone stuck to the actual written word...

One problem I can see with the Foundation movie/s is that people will think they rip off Lucas' Star Wars with all the Empire, emperor, galaxies, parsecs, rebellion etc stuff. When in fact Asimov was first out of the gate. Not that Lucas acknowledges that he owes that writer any debt. But whatever. I guess it could be said that they're all copying the Roman empire to some extent.

As for casting (always a fun thing to speculate on!), I've decided I want Bilbo, aka James McAvoy as the Mule. He's got the looks, the energy and the charisma imo. With some prostethics he'll be fantastic. And they need some kind of knock-off Harrison Ford for the role of Golan Trevize.

I'm happy the books have been picked up, but man, they better take the task seriously and make some damn good movies. I want spectacular FX and a better than great cast. No cheese please! Or at least nothing too smelly...

Lots more about Asimov and his books here.

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