Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bone Slated to Become a Movie (or Three?)


Last night, I was talking to Lucky the Goldfish and she was going on and on about true feelings or something (I wasn't really listening), when I decided to turn the conversation to something interesting, like comic books. I was just getting warmed up on an impromptu lecture on the subject when Lucky interrupted and asked, "How come you haven't blogged on the movie adaptation of Bone?"

I said, "What movie adaptation?"

Lucky rolled her little eyes, flopped onto the keyboard, and flailed around until she had hit the right buttons to bring up this news article at Rotten Tomatoes:

The comic book adventures of Jeff Smith's popular Bone brothers may have ended in 2004, but if all goes according to plan, they'll soon be making the transition to the big screen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has picked up the screen rights to Smith's creations; though the studio hasn't decided whether to go the live-action or animated route, a production crew -- including Dan Lin and Jon Silk -- has been assembled. [more...]

This is good news to me, of course, as I am an enormous fan of Bone. It was inevitable that someone would try to adapt it for screen eventually, but I admit I had hoped it would be Disney, which shows signs of rebuilding its 2D animation department.

Hollywood Reporter has the best article on the subject, but the information is scanty as yet. According to author/illustrator Jeff Smith's blog, Boneville.com, about all that has happened so far is a phone conversation between himself and Warner Bros. Smith is slated to be executive producer. This is the second attempt at a movie of Bone. The first deal was with Nickelodeon, but that fell through, according to Smith, mainly because Nickelodeon wanted to insert pop songs.

Fans are of course speculating about how the film will be made. Most, including me, will want it to be done with 2D animation, and Smith indicates that he would prefer a traditional cartoon himself. Live action and CGI have been mentioned as well. I have grown to dislike CGI over the last few years and feel it would take away much of what makes Bone special. As for a live action movie, I once thought it was a good idea, but the next morning, after I had sobered up, I realized it would be a huge mistake: watching a tender moment between a computer-generated Fone Bone and a live actress playing Thorn would be painful. It's even painful to think about. Besides that, none of the women in Hollywood who look the part of Thorn can act worth a darn.

I guarantee the film adaptation will be quite bad, no matter how skilled its cast and crew, unless it is extended over two or three movies. It would be impossible to stuff Smith's epic into one film: even if dispensable subplots like the Great Cow Race were deleted (a move that would anger the fans), the comic still has too much material to fit into two hours. A two-hour epic is inevitably rushed and under-developed.

Fans of the comic are already clamoring for a 2D film and expressing distaste for CGI, and I hope Warner Bros. listens. Given the increasing mainstreaming of anime fandom, the success of The Simpsons Movie, and the general displeasure with computer-generated animation, I suspect America may at last be ripe for the production of a well-made 2D cartoon marketed to adults. Bone is an ideal title for such a project. I'm inclined to think they should make it after the fashion Peter Jackson made the Lord of the Rings movies, remaining reasonably faithful to the source material while amping up the grittier and darker elements. In Bone, they could probably place emphasis on the violence, the angsty parts, and the Freudian symbolism without driving away the family crowd, though I confess I look forward to the hubbub some of my fellow Christians will make if the infamous "bathing scene" makes it to film; that will give me at least a week's worth of enjoyable posts to write.
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