August 9, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Riverworld (2010)

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Riverworld (2010)

Today's movie: Riverworld, 2010 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because I was fascinated in knowing why the Channel Formerly Known As Sci-Fi would do a high-profile, big-budget adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer's much-loved 1970s science-fiction series here in 2010, when they had already done a high-profile, big-budget adaptation of the exact same material in 2003 (which I've also reviewed), a huge flop which forced them to cancel the coming weekly series they had been planning to make out of it.

The reality: UGH! I understand of course that lazy Hollywood executives have literally run out of ideas by now, thus forcing them to do stupid sh-t like remake an entire movie that they had just made half a decade previous; but wouldn't you think it'd be obvious that the whole point of such a thing is to...you know, not make it suck even worse than the sucky original? But unfortunately, that's exactly the case with this dismal, almost unwatchable failure, which doesn't even pretend anymore to try to stay faithful to the classic Farmer novels, and that from literally its first five minutes starts offering up continuance and even mere logic conflicts more often expected in homemade comic books from 14-year-olds. For example, in this version of Farmer's story about the entirety of humanity mysteriously waking up on the banks of a planet-spanning river for unknown reasons, said humans are automatically provided period clothes and even weapons from the shadowy overlords who have put them there, which defeats the entire joy of the books themselves -- of watching the way that humans ingeniously reinvent things like the Iron Age and the Industrial Revolution out of the crude tools they've been given, going literally in a century from nakedness and dining utensils to building steamships and concocting gunpowder; or for another example, the way that humans are now supposed to somehow be magically able to automatically translate everyone else's speech in their heads to whatever language they already know, which already removes another of the major interesting things about the books, but then for some reason makes allowances for Spanish people having Spanish phrases occasionally still come across as Spanish to English ears, apparently for no other reason than that so slumming screenwriters Robert Wolfe and and Randall Badat can make these Conquistador villains vaguely sound like modern threatening Latino gangsters. ("I'll cut you up, esse, or my name isn't Ponce de Leon!") I could go on and on like this, but why bother? Just skip this turd altogether and read the books instead, and see why it is that the Former Sci-Fi Channel keeps trying to adapt this remarkable, thought-provoking series in the first place.

Worth your time? God no

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:33 AM, August 9, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |