Latest Movie News Headlines

C'mon Hollywood: Adapt Samurai Jack already!

Jul. 3, 2012by: Paul Shirey

The animated series, Samurai Jack, aired on Cartoon Network and ran for four seasons (2000-2004). Created by Genndy Tartakovsky, who worked on shows like Dexter’s Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls, the animator’s intent was to create a show that was cinematic in scope, blending action, humor, and artistry. In other words, he wanted to make a bad ass show. Samurai Jack took home four Emmy wins during its run and was hailed by critics and fans alike as one of the best animated programs on TV. And then, it just stopped.

Tartakovsky has been pulled in many directions since the close of Samurai Jack. He used the same animation style to deliver the best incarnation of Star Wars in ANY medium with the first batch of animated STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS cartoons, then tackled the troublesome DARK CRYSTAL sequel, and is set to debut his 3D animated feature HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA in October.

What transpired after 2004 was a series of trips into development hell, with a number of studios and creators jockeying to take on the project and make it into a feature film. Early on, New Line Cinema acquired the film rights and hired Brett Ratner to adapt the pic, but it never came to fruition and the rights reverted to Cartoon Network. Then, in 2009, the independent animation studio Frederator (Adventure Time) along with co-producer J.J. Abrams forged a deal with Tartakovsky to develop a 2D animated feature, which has once again languished as all parties involved have gone on to other projects. Although still listed as in pre-production with Frederator animation, we haven’t heard or seen a peep from the project.

So, what’s the damn problem? Tartakovsky seems onboard to get Samurai Jack the audience it deserves, but it almost seems like a cursed project. “It’s still around. Every year, somebody new picks it up who tries to push it through. I feel like, with Jack, it’s a funny curse. People like it for A, B and C, but as soon as they want to make it, they say, “Well, we can’t do A, B and C.” But, those are the key ingredients that make it successful. Once somebody comes along and just says, “I want to make it for what it is,” then it will get made. But right now, every time we try to run it up the flagpole, it never sticks,” he said in a recent interview.

Every few years we seem to get the bait dangled out to some well-known creator and nothing happens. Here’s a property that is ripe for the taking with a terrific concept, engaging lead, a laundry list of kick-ass supporting characters, and a virtual playground of settings to toy with. Half the work is done!

I’m baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but can’t seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans. If the budget goes up because a big name creator, such as Abrams or Tarsem Singh (who has expressed interest) becomes attached, then so be it. As far as I’m concerned, my ticket is already paid for. It doesn’t matter which way it’s adapted; animation or live action. It just needs to happen. So, how to make it happen? First off, no matter what, Tartakovsky must write the script and be involved with the production from start to finish. The biggest aspect of the show’s success comes from him. It’s science.

This is a tentpole property that would thrive with adults and kids alike in 3D animated form (a la KUNG FU PANDA) even if it were a tad more violent and stylistic. If they went that route, then Tartakovsky should take the reins and do his work. No one knows the property better and the trailers for HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA alone show that he can handle the format.

A live-action film is a trickier, but absolutely doable. It would take a talented filmmaker who “gets” Tartakovsky’s style and simply wants to translate it. Changing it up is simply not needed. It works. Let the f*cker run with its original parts. There’s a good amount of filmmakers who could handle this, but my first choice is Ang Lee. Lee has proven his understanding of how to balance action, story, and humor (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) and can do so with a focused vision.

Now, that doesn’t mean someone else can’t adapt it. The aforementioned Tarsem, Alex Proyas, or even the aforementioned J.J. Abrams would be great. They just need some stylistic vision. It’s a mythological sci-fi action romp; not too complicated, not too simple. It’s one of the cleverest, inventive, and action-heavy shows I’ve ever seen and it would be a damn shame to see it continue to be lost in limbo, much like the titular character of the show. Stop raiding toy shelves and Broadway for shit to make, when you have gems like Samurai Jack waiting to come charging through the portal, sword in hand, tongue in cheek, ready to slay some box office.

Extra Tidbit: Would you prefer live action or animation? And who do you think would be best suited to direct?
Source: JoBlo.com

Related Articles

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

+0
5:03PM on 07/04/2012
Funny how most articles (and users) on Joblo rant how unoriginal Hollywood is, yet the last C'mon Hollywood columns (that also bashed the unimaginative studios many times as well) are now clamoring for old school and adaptations itself.
Funny how most articles (and users) on Joblo rant how unoriginal Hollywood is, yet the last C'mon Hollywood columns (that also bashed the unimaginative studios many times as well) are now clamoring for old school and adaptations itself.
Your Reply:



1:43PM on 07/03/2012
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get the style across.
Your Reply:



1:40PM on 07/03/2012
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get the style across.
Your Reply:



1:40PM on 07/03/2012
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get
"Iím baffled that Hollywood has no trouble scrounging up the bucks to adapt board games and shitty stage musicals, but canít seem to find the change it would take to put Samurai Jack in the good graces of his fans."
No shit!
Also, I'll probably get crucified on here for this but I think Zach Snyder but be a good choice for a live action version. It's all about stylized action right? Who better to do that? I love Alex Proyas and think he could do great with it too but I'm not sure he would get the style across.
Your Reply:



-2
1:08PM on 07/03/2012
Normally I'd agree with the C'mon column but not so much this time. A live version of SJ? Hm.. I honestly would prefer other stories such as Ninja Scroll or Samurai X (the last one is actually happening!). But SJ? Maybe a CGI animation with the team that made The Incredibles behind. That, I can see happening.
Normally I'd agree with the C'mon column but not so much this time. A live version of SJ? Hm.. I honestly would prefer other stories such as Ninja Scroll or Samurai X (the last one is actually happening!). But SJ? Maybe a CGI animation with the team that made The Incredibles behind. That, I can see happening.
Your Reply:



12:27PM on 07/03/2012
Two options here: First, give the original team a chance to make a movie out of Samurai Jack. Two: (and I think this is just me) I can picture Keanu Reeves as Samurai Jack. Then he can direct (fingers crossed) and use his new camera technique that Joblo team presented to us readers about a week or so ago.
Two options here: First, give the original team a chance to make a movie out of Samurai Jack. Two: (and I think this is just me) I can picture Keanu Reeves as Samurai Jack. Then he can direct (fingers crossed) and use his new camera technique that Joblo team presented to us readers about a week or so ago.
Your Reply:



+0
10:25AM on 07/03/2012
As an animated film, I can imagine both hand-drawn and CGI (if they keep the character designs, just ad some 3D shading).
As a live action film, I can imagine The Watchowski siblings as directors. You know, who made The Matrix. Not the ones who made Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions. They know what it takes to make a futuristic world. Or their ex-assistant director, James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assasin) would also be an interesting choice. Or Zack Snyder? The show even had an episode
As an animated film, I can imagine both hand-drawn and CGI (if they keep the character designs, just ad some 3D shading).
As a live action film, I can imagine The Watchowski siblings as directors. You know, who made The Matrix. Not the ones who made Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions. They know what it takes to make a futuristic world. Or their ex-assistant director, James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assasin) would also be an interesting choice. Or Zack Snyder? The show even had an episode about the 300. Hm...
But like Paul said, the key is the style. Samurai Jack mixed Star Wars, Conan (the original film), Blade Runner, and eastern action films into one amazing world. And has the perfect warrior as the lead, who's - contrary to nowadays' trends - not an antihero, but a real one. So many potential! So many ideas!
I want this to happen!
Your Reply:



10:30AM on 07/03/2012
Yes, Zack Snyder. With 300 he showed he can make a movie as an homage to its source material and also, as dumb as Sucker Punch was, the first Dream (or Imagined) sequence had a very samuraijackish style. Big robots vs. the sword-handling lead.
Yes, Zack Snyder. With 300 he showed he can make a movie as an homage to its source material and also, as dumb as Sucker Punch was, the first Dream (or Imagined) sequence had a very samuraijackish style. Big robots vs. the sword-handling lead.
1:43PM on 07/03/2012
I agree with Zach Snyder. Posted that myself before reading oyur comment. I was also thinking wachowski whtever the hell htey are now.
I agree with Zach Snyder. Posted that myself before reading oyur comment. I was also thinking wachowski whtever the hell htey are now.
5:21AM on 07/03/2012
I would kill for some more Samurai Jack, but only animated. No way would this work as live action!

Oh and while they're at it, bring back Mega XLR! After all, chicks dig giant robots!
I would kill for some more Samurai Jack, but only animated. No way would this work as live action!

Oh and while they're at it, bring back Mega XLR! After all, chicks dig giant robots!
Your Reply:



4:18AM on 07/03/2012

Great article Paul, but I much rather have SJ on TV....

to start where it left off, Futurama style (you know, the way it is back in full force after 6 years!), than a down graded Hollywood continuation to please everybody, or ever worse (God forbid) a reboot. Sure if they can tie up all the loose ends on big screen by the creator himself like Firefly did with SERENITY, I'm all for it, but seriously, wouldn't you want SAMURAI JACK on weekly basis year after year with all its glory than a one off?? Yeah, if I have to choose between a one off movie &
to start where it left off, Futurama style (you know, the way it is back in full force after 6 years!), than a down graded Hollywood continuation to please everybody, or ever worse (God forbid) a reboot. Sure if they can tie up all the loose ends on big screen by the creator himself like Firefly did with SERENITY, I'm all for it, but seriously, wouldn't you want SAMURAI JACK on weekly basis year after year with all its glory than a one off?? Yeah, if I have to choose between a one off movie & no Jack at all, I'll choose movie offcourse.... But the way I know Hollywood, they ALWAYS Fuck up great things by trying to reach for the mass, and as this is an animated project YOU KNOW thats going to happen. I'd much rather have its integrity intact than a butchered legacy. If and only if, the original creator is in control 100% without any kind of studio meddling, then I'm onboard. Then again, why can't Genndy Tartakovsky just continue the series?

As for a live action adaptation, NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Somethings just don't translate from animation to liveaction. Let me ask you, would any one want a live action Simpsons??
Your Reply: