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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Sam Worthington as Dracula? How else can the Universal Monster reboot go down in flames?

So, we have Benicio Del Toro about to land as the Wolfman, and now we get word that Sam Worthington may be playing Dracula in a Summer 2011 flick. What’s going on is this: Universal is trying to reboot its Universal Monsters brand.

Besides Dracula and the Wolfman, the Universal Monsters stable includes Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, the Mummy, Jekyll and Hyde, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The brand also encompasses a trilogy of films based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.
We haven’t seen Sam Worthington in much yet (Terminator Salvation and Avatar is pretty much it, unless you watch TV in Australia), but it’s hard to think of an actor more wrong for the part of a classic Dracula than him.

How else can the Universal Monster reboot go down in flames?

Zach Galifianakis as the Phantom of the Opera? Sandra Bullock as the Bride of Frankenstein?

Conversely, how could Universal get it right? Sam Worthington could be awesome as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…

(Oh, and might as well forget about the Mummy franchise of the past 10 years — they’re not much like the Universal Mummy movies of the 1930s and 1940s, and if Sony can reboot Spider-Man so soon, Universal can certainly do the same with the Mummy.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • Orangutan

    How about Will Ferrell as Frankenstein’s Monster? Or Megan Fox as the Bride? Seth Rogen as the Phantom?

  • Keith

    So I’m gathering you think Sam Worthington is going to suck as Dracula, but not in a good way :D

    Going green is such a popular meme these days, and recycling has always been a rather common practice in Hollywood.

    Saw an article yesterday that there is going to be a Conan reboot in 2011 staring Jason Momoa from Stargate: Atlantis.

    I thought Will Ferrell really was Frankenstein’s Monster :D

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I don’t really get it, to be honest – this sounds like it’s going to be more influenced by Francis Ford Coppola’s movie than Bram Stoker’s book. But then you read articles like this, saying the movie

    will go back to the vampire’s beginnings as a love-sick aristocrat.

    Which isn’t in the book at all! Aristocrat, yes, but this idea that Dracula has any sort of romantic side is at best subtextual, at worst completely grafted on by later interpreters.

    Aside from anything else, it would surely be a good time to make an adaptation of Dracula that portrays the Count as brutal, feral and dictatorial, and offer it as counterprogramming to Twilight. Maybe Worthington would be less miscast in that?

  • Brian

    I would ask the question, “could Universal possibly do anything worse to its monsters than Stephen Sommers did with Van Helsing?” . . .

    . . . Except that I have a terrible feeling that the answer is “yes.”

  • If Universal is bringing back the Creature from the Black Lagoon, their best hope for making it a success in the theaters is by getting Clint Eastwood to direct it.

    Heh.

  • Hank Graham

    First of all, I have to give a shoutout to Coppolla’s “Dracula.” The first act, where he actually followed the book, is pretty good. Where it went off the rails is when they decided to do it as a story about Mina having an forbidden attraction to Dracula.

    They obviously hoped they could make the story relevant to us modern folks by creating a torturous and embarrassing analogy to AIDS. Aside from seriously not working, it changed the story into something it was not.

    I’ve always thought someone could make a good film by keeping that first act, but turn it into a story of the ultimate stalker-suiter-who-will-not-take-no-for-an-answer story. Mina looks like Dracula’s long-lost love, but has zero interest in him and he just will not leave her alone.

    Whaddya think, MaryAnn? Would that work?

    I like Christoph Waltz as Dracula.

    As to “Frankenstein,” what they seriously need to do is film Frank Darabont’s wonderful script. The only reason “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” exists is because Darabont’s script got everyone fired up about the story, and they could see a way it could work again. Unfortunately, I gather Branagh threw out that script, the first of a number of poor choices he made turning it into a movie.

    And as a personal note, I’ve always felt they should make the movie look EXACTLY like Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations of the novel. You could do the Creature as CGI, and make it move like no living creature ever has. Make the Uncanny Valley work for the film.

    If you’re unaware of Wrightson’s work, check out the images:

    http://bit.ly/af9UnQ

    As to the “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” that’d be pretty easy to bring back. Start with a shot of the dead, dried out, dessicated creature, somewhere deep in the Amazon, lying half in the water and half out of it. And then the skin cracks open and he sheds the old skin and emerges, pink and wet and ready to go terrorize some explorers or oil prospectors. Get Cronenberg to make it.

    I’m not sure what to do about the Mummy. The slow-moving but unstoppable creature doesn’t seem to have much resonance for a modern audience. That’s why they tarted up the Brandan Fraser remakes with fast-moving beetles and things.

    And we don’t talk about “Van Helsing.” The thing to remember there is that all the old Universal films that tried to get some synergy going by having different monsters meet (“Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,” “House of Dracula,” “House of Frankenstein,” “Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein”) absolutely and totally SUCKED. I’m not sure about the wisdom of Universal’s decision to follow that tradition, but it sure sucked, didn’t it?

  • Bluejay

    And as a personal note, I’ve always felt they should make the movie look EXACTLY like Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations of the novel.

    I remember those illustrations! Yes, I second.

  • I can’t quite agree with Hank Graham about Coppola’s Dracula. I’ve watched that film three times (the second and third times being me giving the film ‘one more chance’) and it still didn’t impress. The opening scene is stunning (as is the soundtrack), then it goes downhill from there.

    Plus, Keanu Reeves. Stupid, stupid casting.

    If anyone wants to see more Worthington he’s in the crocodile film Rogue, BTW. I actually thought his performance was one of the only worthwhile things in Terminator: Salvation – especially after seeing the horror of Christian Bale dialling in a wooden performance (up until then he’d been so reliable).

  • CB

    I’m not sure about the wisdom of Universal’s decision to follow that tradition, but it sure sucked, didn’t it?

    “Wisdom”: Coming up with new and good ideas is hard, and when people can’t have quality, they’ll settle for the familiar. We can lazily crap out some re-makes of old monster movies that will probably turn a profit.

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