Many films have left their mark in the pop culture landscape, but very few have done so well to have a TV show continue their stories.
The first example, is a blockbuster of a film called Stargate (1994), directed by Roland Emmerich, most well known for directing Independence Day (1996) and the infamous American adaptation of Godzilla, Godzilla (1998).
The film is about a scientist named Daniel Jackson (played by James Spader) and a group of soldiers led by Colonel Jonathan “Jack” O’Neil (Kurt Russell) going through a mysterious artifact found in Egypt. After walking through they find themselves on a planet on the other side of the galaxy.
The planet is mostly desert, with the only inhabitants being a small civilization filled with people who speak an unknown language and still worship the ancient Egyptian gods.
The film has many problems, flat characters, hokey acting, dated CGI, and an uninteresting villain.
However, the film is clearly not trying to have a story brimming with narrative depth or talk about what it means to be human. The flick is clearly just trying to be a fun, popcorn adventure where you turn your brain off and get dazzled by the spectacle, and at that it succeeds.
The action is definitely not what one what one would call realistic, but it’s still a large enough spectacle to be impressive. With a combination of practical miniatures and CGI, it gets the job done.
The main cast, while definitely not brimming with complexity, are still fun enough to keep a person entertained. Kurt Russell does a fine job with what he’s given, even if what he’s given is the stereotypical gruff military colonel who secretly has a nice side.
I can see why people thought making a TV show based off this movie was a good idea. The world that the film depicts is interesting but also leaves room to be expanded upon, which a series can do in greater detail.
The next film is M.A.S.H (1970), directed by Robert Altman, and based on the Richard Hooker novel by the same name.
The movie is about an army surgeon named Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and his misadventures while stationed at 4077th M.A.S.H (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) during the Korean War.
Along with Hawkeye are his two bunkmates, “Trapper” John McIntrye (Elliot Gould) and Augustus Bedford “Duke” Forrest (Tom Skerrit). The three of them get into a large amount of trouble throughout the film due to all of them having a love of causing antics.
The original film, while a landmark in cinema when it first came out, hasn’t aged as well as the show it spawned.
The movie got a lot of praise when it came out for showing how taxing the surgeries were, and how sometimes they’d go for 12 to 18 hours at a time. And the scenes where they’re doing surgery still hold up and do still get across the idea they’re trying to convey.
Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like they show the open chest in full detail, but all the blood the surgeons are always covered in during surgery help get across the idea.
It’s very commendable that during surgery scenes there’s very little in the way of jokes because it’s such a serious and unfunny subject.
The film does well juxtaposing the serious moments with the comedic.
But the comedy itself ranges from belly laugh to groan worthy.
There’s a subplot where the camp barber thinks he’s gay and plans on killing himself, and they play it for comedy. The film was made in 1970 so I’ll cut it some slack, but it’s still awkward to watch today. And how the subplot ends is handled even worse (no spoilers).
The last 15-20 minutes almost makes it all worth it however, with great joke after great joke, it saves the movie.
The third and final film is Fargo (1996) directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Jerry Lundegaard (William Macy) has his wife kidnapped by two criminals (played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare), has his father in law (Harve Presnell) pay the ransom, then takes half the money in order to pay off his debts. But after the kidnapping goes horribly wrong, a pregnant shariff named Marge Gunderson (Francis McDormand) starts sniffing around.
The film is similar to an episode of Columbo, the audience is shown the crime, who the culprit is and how they did it. The entertainment comes from seeing the guilty party trying to keep their cool and start to lose it whenever things don’t go off as planned.
The film is dark comedy as what is happening is horrible, but everyone (except for Marge) involved is either not the brightest or so completely out of it, that it moves the film into comedy territory.
A great example is a random bartender who’s literally told by Steve Buscemi’s character who he is and what he did, and the bartender thinks nothing of it.
Another great source of comedy is just how out of hand the kidnapping gets. From the kidnapping itself to the pay out by father-in-law, anything that could go wrong, does go wrong.
Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare do a great job in their roles, Buscemi does well as a fast talking and comedic out of the two. While Stormare is excellent as the more dangerous and psychopathic out of the two, making the audience worry about what he’ll do next.
Frances McDormand is great as the well-meaning and kind sheriff. Her mannerisms always manage to get a smile out of the audience.
All three movies were great ideas to expand into a tv show, while each film was its own complete story. There was still something there that could have been expanded on.