Robert Zemeckis Bails On Here There Be Monsters
If you've perused the shelves of a bookstore lately, you've probably noticed one of the hottest literary trends going right now: mash-up novels. The first one to catch everyone's attention was Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, establishing the pattern of taking a well-known author's classic work and stirring it together with some outlandish element. More have followed, expanding the trend from classic fiction to famous historical figures as well: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe. The genre is rich with potential because it combines two things Hollywood does well: recreating historical periods and creating the fantastic. Except, well, first you have to actually get the movies made...
So far the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie seems to be most skilled at chasing away directors, and it looks like that same problem has hit another similar project. Written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland, Here There Be Monsters entwines the story of real-life American Revolutionary naval officer John Paul Jones and adds the one thing every sea-going tale needs: monsters. The movie originated as an idea by Legendary Pictures head Thomas Tull, and it had a head of steam with Robert Zemeckis headed for the director's chair. Unfortunately, exec producer Todd Lieberman told SFX that Zemeckis "is not officially involved anymore" and that they're on the hunt for a new director.
The SFX interview doesn't provide any clues as to who might be on the short-list for the director slot at this point, but it does mention one ideal bit of wishful casting. Lieberman, who was also a producer on The Fighter, says that he'd love to get Christian Bale in the lead role of John Paul Jones.
If Helgeland's script is solid and they can find the right director for the material, Here There Be Monsters could be good fun. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies have long since abandoned themselves to silliness and excess, so I'd love to see another project come along and out-Pirates the Pirates. Plus, the Pirates movies killed their Kraken offscreen for some damn reason, so let's see a proper man-vs.-monster fight to the death. If done right, it could give Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim some competition in the "giant monsters" category.
Top image from "Captain John Paul Jones" by N.C. Wyeth
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