The Fountain

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Sort of from the graphic novel of the same name by Darren Aronofsky.

There are spoilers later, but this is such a suckfest you probably don’t care.

A conquistador, a modern-day doctor and a man traveling in space are all connected in time.

Okay. So, it seems that there are several different kinds of graphic-novel-to-movie adaptations.

Firstly, there are the ones where the movie is good and I don’t care if I ever read the book, like Blade. Men in Black falls into that category, although Men In Black II totally followed Otter’s Law of Sequels (most of them suck).

Then there are the ones where the book is good, and the movie is good in the same way, like Sin City.

There are some cases in which movies made from graphic novels are actually better than the book, the two coming to mind being A History of Violence and Road to Perdition.

There are the cases where a graphic novel was made exactly like the book, but bringing it to life on the screen added a lot to the visuals; not better, but different, as in 300. V for Vendetta would have been in that category too, if the ending hadn’t been COMPLETELY RUINED by the filmmakers.

And of course there’s the case of an incredible and wonderful graphic novel that is just massacred, destroyed and otherwise stomped on by the filmmakers. You know I’m talking about Constantine.

From Hell and Hellboy were bad enough that they didn’t make me want to read the books at all, truthfully.

So after that fairly exhaustive list of how movies made from graphic novels can suck/not suck, you wouldn’t think there’d be another category, would you? But Hollywood is funny that way…there’s always another way to do things.

Ladies and gentlemen, loyal fans, I give you…THE DOUBLE-HEADER OF SUCKINESS.

Here’s information about the book and movie from Wikipedia, which although not always reliable is an excellent source of behind-the-scenes gossip:

The graphic novel was a way to salvage something from the film project, whose first production was cancelled. As Aronofsky said, “I knew it was a hard film to make and I said at least if Hollywood fucks me over at least I’ll make a comic book out of it.”

Originally to be filmed in 2002 on a budget of $70 million with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead, The Fountain shut down production as a result of Pitt’s departure. Aronofsky was able to resurrect the project in 2005 with half the budget. The director incorporated visual effects into The Fountain by using minimal computer-generated imagery. He reduced the use of computers by using inexpensive footage provided by a macro-photographer. The Fountain was commercially released in the United States on November 22, 2006 to divided reviews.

Yup, they took a badly written, almost incomprehensibly plotted, wierd and only mildly interesting film script, made it into a graphic novel with pretty good although often vague and unidentifiable artwork…and turned it into a badly written, almost incomprehensibly plotted, wierd and only mildly interesting MOVIE with pretty good although often vague and unidentifiable camerawork.

Darren Aronofsky is better known for the excellent movie π, which is probably how he got a decent budget and Brad Pitt to begin with. Evidently he and a friend were batting around ideas for a movie, and said, hey, we could mix The Matrix with 2001: A Space Odyssey…and thus a sucky idea is born.

Sigh. Even starring almost-honey Hugh Jackman and Serious Honey Rachel Weisz (who, after starring in Constantine, should be giving SERIOUS consideration to not being in any more graphic novel adaptations) doesn’t help it. Even the beautiful settings (yes, even done on the cheap, they are extremely beautiful) don’t help. The story is muddy and unfocused. It’s full of pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo, and doesn’t really make sense.

Hugh Jackman, as a conquistador, actually drinks the sap from the Tree of Life. Then he starts sprouting plant life. Is he dead? alive? Immortal? an immortal plant? (and this happens in the last few minutes of the movie, although it’s hinted at over and over and over.) He’s in love with Queen Isabella

(and this is where the History Police come stomping in, since the only Queen Isabella that could have been the one in the movie died in 1504, and the Europeans got to Mexico a great deal later than that.)

and in the modern segment he is also in love with a woman named Isabella, both of them played by the same actors. Is he immortal? being reborn? does he remember his past? were there other times he and Isabella were together? none of these questions are answered.

The third segment sees him in outer space with the dying tree, trying to get it to a star in a galaxy that is supposedly where the Mayans thought their afterlife would be. In the book, there is yet a third incarnation of Isabella with him; in the movie he is alone. Of the two, I would (if a deadly weapon were aimed at me, or someone threatened to take away my iPod or something horrible like that) prefer the graphic novel, if only because it has more written explication, thus making a bit more sense, and also because it’s easier to flip back and forth when one’s brain goes, Huh? But truthfully, I will gladly do without seeing either again in my lifetime, and this is yet another time I thank God for my public library, who got me this book from somewhere else in the state for free, so I didn’t waste any of my scarce money on it.

You know, they could have gotten Amtrak up and running right again with less money than they wasted on this awful movie…that makes me sad.

I know all you Hugh Jackman fans and people who think pseudophilosophical doubletalk is interesting will have to see this…but I promise the rest of you, you won’t be missing anything if you never watch this dog. Trust the Otter.

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