So we've discussed (ad nauseum) here at Screen Rant all of the terrific (read: bad) ideas for films based on toys. Video games aside (I'm talking to you, Asteroids), the two most ridiculous ideas for toy-based movies would be Magic Eight Ball and View-Master. Since someone could technically argue that Magic Eight Ball is a "game", that leaves the poor View-Master all by itself in the ridiculous category. How does someone write a story for a toy that a kid only plays with for a few minutes and then ignores for something more interesting like say, watching paint dry?
While Orci and Kurtzman have a great reputation for bringing about decent, interesting and even enjoyable stories, I just don't see where they are going to take this one. Here's the kicker: the idea of including the View-Master toy was solely theirs, so if they can't deliver then the disappointment or "I told you so's" will fall squarely on their shoulders. Could they have an interesting concept or unique twist to bring to the table for the movie? Let's find out:
Alex: We've read a lot of the wildly cynical response to that. What I'll say is that some toys should be movies and some toys should not be movies, and I'd like to believe we know the difference between those things. The movies that work, work when there's a story there that you could take the toy out of, but then, when you put the toy in, it becomes an even more amazing experience, for whatever reason. Brad Kane, who was a writer for us on Fringe, came to us with an amazing idea, that had absolutely nothing to do with View-Master. We loved it and thought it was fantastic.
Bob: But, we said, "It's missing one thing. I don't know what that thing could be."
Alex: And, along came View-Master, and it sounded like the perfect marriage of ideas. But, it's because we started with a story that felt like it could be told, all on its own, before that came along. So, it's like, "Bring it on!" If you want to be cynical about View-Master, great 'cause we're so confidence in where it's going to end up going that we feel like there's nowhere to go, but up.
Ah ha! So the original concept was Brad Kane's and then Orci and Kurtzman ADDED the View-Master. Why would they do that you ask?
Bob: Spielberg actually told us once that his first draft story of E.T. didn't have an alien in it. It was a family drama about a kid missing his father, and E.T. was born from that. And, that's always stuck in our minds. You've got to be able to take out the thing.
OK, so I can understand a little better where they are coming from now; story first, object second. If you can remove the object and still have a good story then adding the object shouldn't affect the story at all. It is an interesting concept for storytelling. They at least seem to be focused on delivering a solid story and incorporating the View-Master toy into it and not the other way around. When asked if the View-Master will be used as a device in the movie Kurtzman responded with, "Perhaps." In Hollywood translation that usually meand, "Yes of course".
The only thing I can see coming from this is a family or children's film involving the View-Master as a sort of transportation device that takes you to a fantastic world whenever you look through the eye holes and press the button. If they're going that route with it then it very well could make a decent enough family film but I'm still very, very skeptical. We'll see what happens in the next couple of months when Kane turns in his script.
I will add, however, that since Kurtzman and Orci dropped out of Transformers 3 because they didn't feel they could further the story in a good way, that actually speaks volumes to their scripting integrity. Transformers 3 is a sure-fire payday and if they were just in it for the money, then why not hang on and deal with the heavy-handed criticism that is almost sure to follow?
Maybe they just don't want the hassle of dealing with another Michael Bay "modified" script and having to defend themselves for elements of the story they did not originally include. I think they are sincere in their statement about trying to bring something new and interesting to the table.
So there you have it. From the mouths of the Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman to your brains, everything you wanted to know about the status of Cowboys & Aliens and View-Master.
What do you think about both projects and the direction they plan on going with them?
Cowboys & Aliens is slated for a 2011 release, while View-Master is tentatively penciled in for 2012.