Wednesday, April 04, 2012

It Oughtta Be...

Yes, it's time to introduce another new recurring feature on Random Acts of Geekery! "It Oughtta Be..." will -- when it comes up -- offer up some kind of geek-related series (whatever the media it originated in) and suggest what other form of media it would work well in. For example, it could be a comic series that I think would make for a great TV series. I'll offer up my opinions on how it should work in the new format, and so forth!

For this first installment, I think that the Piers Anthony "Xanth" books should be adapted as movies. For those not in the know, this is a series of books (three dozen in total once the current book is released this year) that take place in the magical land of Xanth, where puns tend to occur often, every human being born has some kind of magical ability, and our world is referred to as "Mundania." In geography, Xanth vaguely resembles Florida, with major differences. The first book, "A Spell for Chameleon," introduces us to Bink, who appears to have no magic talent and is to be exiled to Mundania (because that's the law at the current time). He goes to the Good Magician Humfrey (a character who appears in just about every one of the books), who's known as the Magician of Information, to learn if he does have a talent at all, and what that could be, but Humfrey can't identify it.

The series has pretty much the full range of fantasy creatures, from centaurs to mermaids to ogres and more, including many creatures unimagined outside of the Xanth books. I've been a fan of the Xanth books for quite some time, but hadn't kept up on them since about 1991 or 1992, but I was reintroduced to them a few years back when I came upon the first dozen or so a a garage sale, so I snatched them up on the spot. Now, my wife and I have a ritual of sorts every evening, when we go to bed, in which I'll read to her before we fall asleep. In the past, we've read the Harry Potter series as well as the Ender books. Currently, we're reading Xanth (as I'm writing this, we're on book #18 in the series).

As I've been reading some of these books for the first time (and re-reading some for a multiple of times), it's occurred to me that this could be made into an entertaining movie series -- especially given that the Harry Potter series is long done, and hopefully there won't be any more Twilight movies soon -- and that maybe Hollywood could be looking at a new fantasy series that could last a while.

I see this movie series as best being accomplished in animated form, preferably CGI, using a style similar to "The Incredibles," perhaps. Why animated? Because each book tends to jump a number of years ahead of the previous one, so we see some characters introduced as infants who eventually grow up to adulthood. Plus, I think it's just more economical to go all CGI instead of some live-action and some CGI. Finding the right voices for characters could be a challenge, but thanks to the characters aging, if one voice doesn't really work out, they could be replaced.

There's really two main obstacles in bringing the Xanth books to the big screen... the first thing is the writing of the scripts. As I said, there's puns galore in Xanth, and some of the puns are kind of explained in the narrative instead of the dialogue, so that would need to be accommodated. In some cases, things may just need to be eliminated because it would take too much screen time to explain it.

The other aspect that would prove difficult is the somewhat casual nudity in the series. Centaurs in Xanth don't wear clothes at all -- not even the females. Now, there are two ways this could be dealt with: 1) All the female centaurs (as well as female mermaids and the like) have long enough hair that it just happens to cover up the nudity, or 2) Working within the series conceit of the Adult Conspiracy, you fuzz up the nudity as needed. One of the characters could comment on it ("Why is her chest all blurry?" "The Adult Conspiracy prevents children from seeing it clearly, and children are present," or some such thing). Some things would have to be dealt with by just having things referred to and not seen at all, being subtle in the approach.

But overall, I think it could be a very entertaining series, especially if they were able to release a new movie every year -- like I said, there will be by the end of this year 36 books in the series, so there's a considerable backlog to work with!

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