In for some ‘versus’ reverses
It’s the great theoretical question of our time; if some dinosaurs had a big fight with some aliens, who would win? The good news is that we’re about to get a definitive answer: Barry Sonnenfeld has announced that he plans to start work on a film called Dominion: Dinosaurs v Aliens as soon as Men in Black III is completed.india Updated: May 25, 2011 22:11 IST
It’s the great theoretical question of our time; if some dinosaurs had a big fight with some aliens, who would win? The good news is that we’re about to get a definitive answer: Barry Sonnenfeld has announced that he plans to start work on a film called Dominion: Dinosaurs v Aliens as soon as Men in Black III is completed.
The less good news, however, is that nobody will watch it. This is because, by the time that Dinosaurs v Aliens rolls around, we’ll have been hit over the head with such an extraordinary number of similar movies that we won’t care whether the dinosaurs or the aliens win. Mark my words, soon we’ll all be suffering from versus fatigue.
Already in the pipeline are films such as Strippers v Werewolves, Gladiators v Werewolves, Aliens v Ninjas, Boy Scouts v Zombies, Humans v Zombies, Aliens v Avatars, Cockneys v Zombies (starring Richard Briers and Honor Blackman, of all people) and Michael Bay’s Zombies v Robots. Add this to the teetering stack of versus movies made by The Asylum (including Alien v Hunter, Mega Shark v Giant Octopus and Mega Shark v Crocosaurus) and you would be forgiven for despairing at the film industry’s staggering lack of imagination.
It isn’t hard to see why so many versus movie are being made. For one, it’s an example of the current hunger for genre mashups. Cowboys and Aliens — a versus movie in all but title — looks set to be one of this year’s biggest films, and it’ll soon be joined by titles such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And they’re an easy sell, too. Scriptwriters don’t need to craft detailed treatments about how their story is a rites of passage tale set against the backdrop of war-torn Chechnya. It’s right there on page one. It’s a versus movie. Everybody from the initial script reader to the audience will understand that it’ll be about two lots of slightly ridiculous things having a scrap.
The problem is that it’s lazy titling. All stories need to have conflict, which means that all films are essentially versus movies at heart. Star Wars is Luke v Darth. The Terminator is Woman v Robot. The Last Station is Wife v Fans. Rambo III is Rambo v All the Entire Soviet Union. Most literature falls into this category too — The Old Man and the Sea could just as easily have been called Bloke v Fish, Romeo and Juliet could be Montague v Capulet and The Miller’s Tale could be Red Hot Poker v Man’s Bumhole. But they’re not called that because they credit their audiences with a degree of intelligence. That said, I’d totally watch Red Hot Poker v Man’s Bumhole. Especially if it was in 3D.
It hasn’t always been like this. There was a time when the word ‘versus’ had at least some degree of ambiguity to it — Kramer v Kramer couldn’t be more different from, say, King Kong v Godzilla — but to have so many versus movies all squabbling over the same solitary joke, in such a short space of time, seems like ridiculous overkill. It’s time for this fad to end, please, or else it’ll be case of Everyone v The Will to Live.
The views expressed by the author are personal