Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) – In general, you do not mess with the classics. Kubrick’s Spartacus, with Kirk Douglas as the movie’s namesake, is the quintessential film of ancient Rome. Kubrick is a great storyteller and Douglas is brooding, stoic, and somehow still emoting. Peter Jackson possesses the skill of writing, the artistic detailing, and the type of vision that would do the preceding film justice. He has choreographed beautiful fight scenes in previous movies like The Lord of the Rings and has a firm grasp medieval times which should translate well to Spartacus. He could modernize the action of the movie, give it the spectacular scenery of his other movies, and install a visual grit and darkness that matches the while not sacrificing the authenticity of the film.
Constantine (Francis Laurence, 2005) – Constantine was an entertaining movie lead by big stars. Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, and Djimon Hounsou all play significant roles in this screenplay adapted from a comic book. The movie is dark, but suffers from bad comic book dialogue. Guillermo Del Toro has adapted Hell Boy, another comic book, into a regaling, lucrative movie series. Del Toro excels with dark material and makes intriguing, genuine, visually stunning movies when given humble scripts. His dialogue always matches mood and he never kills mood with ill-timed jokes.
Blindness (Fernando Meirelles, 2008) – Blindness had the appropriate amount of darkness to deliver a chilling look into the psyche of people when all convention breaks down. It had a strong protagonist and an evil antagonist. The acting was stellar in the movie, however the movie never climaxed. Meirelles built tension extraordinarily well in the movie, but the crescendo never reached the heights that it could have because there were tiny holes in the logic of the people involved in the conflict. Darren Aronofsky would be the perfect director to take this movie to a fitting crescendo. His work in movies like Pi, The Wrestler, and even Requiem for a Dream show that he has the depth of content and story building to finish this movie in a way that belies the original premise.
I, Robot (Alex Proyas, 2004) – Steven Spielberg could take a movie that was overrun with awkward computer generated images and turn it into a breath-taking display of cinematic images. His eye for detail in action and landscapes would deliver a realism to an abstract, futuristic idea. And, Spielberg’s gift of vivid storytelling would provide clarity in the storyline and build tension throughout the plot. There was a great premise behind the movie I, Robot. The idea that being too dependent on the advancement of technology can ultimately ruin mankind is an applicable moral in day to day life, not just the movies. But, the original film fell short of driving home the point because the movie was not believable visually.
Robin Hood (Ridley Scott, 2010) – The plot was there. The actors were talented. But somehow, this movie had no teeth. This movie was advertised to be the second coming of Gladiator. It had the same lead and was set in a similar age where people used swords and bows and arrows as their main weapons. On paper, it should have been a blockbuster. Instead it was a disaster. The producers pushed for a PG-13 rating, which handicapped the director. Instead of well-choreographed, gory fights, there were underwhelming conflicts lacking the amount of grit to make the scenes credible throughout the film. Jean-Jacques Annaud, the director of The Name of the Rose, is adept at building a complex story without showing too much gore. His characters and costumes are consistent to the era in which the movie is set,, and he portrays the darkness and desperation of medieval times accurately to historical references. Annaud’s movies always have purposeful dialogue and thus well defined characters, which Robin Hood did not have.
Alexander (Oliver Stone, 2004) – Oliver Stone missed in a few places with his vision of Alexander. He picked a protagonist that could not carry the weight of the movie (Colin Farrell), his dialogue was awkward at times, the costumes did not look authentic, and there was a discontinuity between the cast. Stone’s vision of the general Alexander was a passionate man who happened to lead one of the greatest armies ever assembled. He attempted to show the other side of Alexander too, a lover, a son, and most importantly a king. What he put on the screen was a weakling that cried insistently at every juncture of the movie for any reason. Because his Alexander was so weak as a character, Alexander’s mother and father looked like caricatures rather than characters that connected with the audience. They seemed phony because of bad makeup and wardrobe, and over-acting to compensate for Alexander’s shortcomings. Brian DePalma makes compelling protagonists. From Carrie to Scarface, his leading person always causes a reaction in the audience. DePalma also has a gift for slowly revealing plot throughout the movie which fits such a long movie well. He is adept at both visual gore and implied violence which has a bigger impact on the viewer. DePalma could succeed where Oliver Stone failed with Alexander.
Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010) – Martin Scorsese always has great character development in his movies which is a sign that he uses dialogue well. However, he rushed the pace of the movie, and gave several obvious hints through dreams and character flaws that eventually spoiled the conclusion of the movie. In addition to this, instead of a deliberate unfurling of the plot, he just regurgitates it onto the screen in a monologue at the end of the film. Telling the audience what happened in a movie instead of revealing it, devalues the build-up of emotion that has progressed through the time in the theater. Alejandro Amenabar, the director of The Others, has an almost plodding delivery of plot. But, the reward of his methodical, calculated directing, is concise characterizations and overwhelming tension build up. He takes the necessary time to engage the viewer with his plot and lets them draw their own conclusions rather than shoving it at them at the close of the movie.
Red Dragon (Brett Ratner, 2002) – The two movies that preceded Red Dragon were excellent films. Though Clarice Starling changed from Jodie Foster to Julianne Moore, and the director changed from Johnathon Demme to Ridley Scott from the first movie to the second, the level of acting by the cast and the storytelling of directors remained high. The plot and conflict of Red Dragon, however, got lost in the flashbacks of Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s childhood. It was a muddled mess that tried to explain how Hannibal Lecter became the person that he was. Cameron Crowe specializes in expressing the interactions between characters in various situations, and he told an entire story as a dream in Vanilla Sky. He could hypothetically direct this movie to be as abstract as Vanilla Sky or easier to follow like Jerry Maguire with darker content.
The Golden Child (Micheal Ritchie, 1986) – Guillermo Del Toro is the only director to appear twice on this list. The Golden Child was just dark enough to be believable and just light enough to appeal to most people. However, most great movies do not appeal to the younger audiences, and Del Toro is capable of making this movie even darker and more fantastical. He excels with fairytale movies and has a credibility that has been unmatched since Star Wars. Where the original Golden Child is almost unwatchable near the end of the movie because of bad special effects, the revised version could be incomparable with the right effects. The only problem would be finding a star who was as captivating as Eddie Murphy in the starring role.
Troy (Wolfgang Petersen, 2004) – The premise of the movie Troy was dynamic. The movie had good actors, an enormous amount of action, and an intriguing, and familiar story. But, it also had a confused plot, too many storylines, and poorly choreographed fight scenes. The plot of Troy was unclear, because there were too many side stories. Ultimately, the biggest star and the most engaging one, Brad Pitt, ended up being an intentional and ill-conceived tangent from the real plot of the film. The movie showed Achilles (Pitt’s character) to be the protagonist, but the story was really about conflict between Menelaus and Paris over the beautiful Helen. Muddled into this mess is Agamemnon’s desire to rule Troy and the conflict between Hector and Achilles. Ang Lee, the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is perfect for this movie. His fight scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are some of the most aesthetically beautiful scenes in cinematic history. His movies are poignant, but still entertaining.
Hopefully, the studios can take these suggestions, cut through the necessary red-tape, and get some of these concepts into production. There or so many great ideas for movies that never come to fruition for a plethora of reasons. But, movies are form of expression and artistry that will never be matched in the entertainment field and any idea to better the industry should be considered.