Dangling Chad Movies


by Irma Arkus

There are films that are never going to be made. Or so we thought, and then Peter Jackson came into the mix and shifted everything around with Lord of the Rings.

But seriously. Some movies have been in planning stages since the Charlie Chaplin days. Some are based on our favorite novels, which means that on one hand, you have dedicated audience guaranteeing your ticket sales, while on the other, you have rabid fans that will rip your heart out if the film doesn’t turn out exactly as they imagined.

Why are the fans so rabid you ask? Why, you need look no closer than review some of novels that came to life on the silver screen: Phillip K. Dick’s “Next” and “Paycheck,” Asimov’s “I, Robot” or Douglas Adams’ “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Why bother turning insightful novels who already have millions of fans into shiny, lifeless turds starring Nichlas Cage or Ben Affleck? There truly is no reason for such act.

So, here are some of the dangling chad films. Some of which have been in production for decades and will never be made, and some of which probably shouldn’t be made, for the sake of children of course.

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*Ender’s Game* by Orson Scott Card

This gem of a novel that has over the years mushroomed into a successful literary franchise. Novel is about Ender, a gifted child recruited into a rigorous military training program. The training program is created as the last resort of humanity’s survival, due to pending anihilation of Earth by incoming insectoid aliens invaders.

Growing up in this institution is no piece of cake, as readers enter the protagonist’s thought processes that lead Ender to successful military stratagem.

This corner of the future, fueled with pre-apocalyptic hysteria, and pressure to survive and excel is populated by children. Smart, scary children in space, to be exact. Last time I checked, no matter how fond of the character I was, still did not digg the kids on the big screen. Plus, these are supposed to be very creepy and nefarious kids. How on earth is this to be translated into something that sells, while maintaining the heart of the novel? Impossible?

Not so says David Benioff, who has been working on script together with Orson Scott Card himself. Currently hanging in pre-production hell, I hope this one is never made.

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*Neuromancer* by William Gibson

This novel was groundbreaking at the time of its release, starting a new literary branch – cyber-punk. Gibson is above-all an incredible writer, with a complex literary language. The novel is set in future where neural links are established with networks. Case, our protagonist, makes his living by jacking corporate info. That is until he gets caught.

Most people have difficulty reading this novel, let alone understanding it. With basic code sprinkled on the pages, combined with metaphysical questions, the only thing I can see making the silver screen is the word “cowboy” as Case’s is described as a “computer cowboy,” rather than cracker. I sincerely doubt the abilities of screenwriters to bring this one to life. If they can’t make a fun script for Indiana Jones 4, or Mummy II, I suspect they will fail at translating Gibson’s novel to the larger audience as well.

“Pattern Recognition,” on the other hand, a more recent novel by Gibson, is also being treated for silver screen, and in my humble opinion has a much better chance of successful translation into a screenplay.

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*Rendezvous with Rama* by Arthur C. Clarke

This one has been “pending” since…forever. Arthur C. Clarke’s novel is incredibly simple. Earth detects an incoming space ship. An enormous, quiet, cylindrical ship with apparently no on-board inhabitants. Panic ensues, resulting in a major economic crisis. A group of scientists try to unravel the purpose of object and identify its makers.

The novel is an elegant, simple, and exciting adventure. Astronauts reaching their very first alien object. Humanity faced with idea of other beings in the universe. All exciting, beautiful, yet terribly drawn out. Morgan Freeman has been attempting to turn it into a movie for decades, providing a great deal of funding out of his own pocket. Despite his best attempts, the film has been a “dangling chad”.

Why? Because the topic is overwhelming. It is in fact, about being overwhelmed with something grander than the daily drama. When was the last time we made a successful film about something grander than all of us? 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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*Diamond Age* by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” and “Diamond Age” are two of my favorite novels. Diamond Age has been rumoured to be a major production with some George Clooney money involved. The jury still out on whether it will be a film or a miniseries. Should it be the latter, things might not turn out too badly. However, the film idea is bound to fall short of expectations. Why?

Diamond Age depicts a world inhabited by people in enclaves. Environment overridden by nano-technology. Society divided by class warfare, politics and goals of controlling information flow. And in it, a little girl, who accidentaly ends up with a sophisticated educational tool, a Young Lady’s Primer, which will change the course of her life and the world they inhabit.

This is a pretty large, complex world, and the little girl does grow up. Having a character grow from childhood to adulthood may seem like a great way of spending an afternoon, flipping page after page, but will make for a really fast flying film. Then you have the whole “I can’t really get into a movie about kids” and voila! – you have one of the worst ideas for a movie. OK. Maybe it is still a superior concept to that of…The Pacifier, but that doesn’t mean anything anyways.