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View-Master film isn't about View-Master

ViewMaster.jpgRoberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have been talking about a number of their scripts today, and while they really didn't discuss anything exciting about Star Trek (Filmstalker review) or Transformers, the thing that caught my eye was about their new View-Master film, one of the Hasbro toy company's film projects and how they are convinced that the film will work.

How can they be so certain? Well it seems that the View-Master has little to do with the story.

You'll remember that View-Master is that plastic toy that you stick a disc in and look into the eyepieces and you'll see magical images come to life at the flick of a plastic paddle.

It seems very hard to believe that a film could be made out of that concept, except it is, and it does seem nigh on impossible to believe that they could pull something off like that.

Except they reveal that they had already written an entire story before the View-Master idea came along, and that's the film. Speaking through Coming Soon they said:

Kurtzman: Brad Kane, who is a writer for us on "Fringe" came to us with an amazing idea that had absolutely nothing to do with "View-Master," we loved it, thought it was fantastic, and then along comes...

Orci: We said "It's missing one thing, I don't' know what that thing is…"

Kurtzman: Then along comes "View-Master," right? It felt like a perfect marriage of ideas. It's because we started with a story that felt like it could be told all on it's own before that came along. So in some ways its like "Bring it on, if you want to be cynical about 'View Master' then great." We're so confident in where it's going to end up going that we feel like in some ways there is nowhere to go but up. Brad is finishing a script and then he's going to start writing.

Ah, so I've got you. You had an entire film already written and you're just putting the View-Master into that existing story to sell the toy...I mean because it's a great story device.

A story device so great that they can compare it to E.T., as Roberto Orci says:

”Actually, Spielberg told us once that his first draft story of "E.T." didn't have an alien in it, but it was a family drama about a kid missing his father. So that's always stuck in our mind as 'Wow, you have to be able to take out the thing.'”

I think it's a bit of a stretch to compare View-Master to the power of E.T., and without E.T. the film would have been hugely different in terms of scripting, it's not as easy as just taking out the alien.

Alex Kurtzman goes on to prove the point very badly:

”Take out the giant robots and what's the story you have left over?”

Easy, nothing at all. A useless, uninteresting story, but then some would argue that's what Transformers is already, just filled with giant robots and action sequences you can't follow in order to convince you there's something good there.

This seems to go against the idea at the start. They're saying that they have a story all written and they can slide in View-Master to complete it. E.T. with no alien and Transformers with no robots are nothing, probably a ten minute short, if that.

What they are saying is that they have a full length feature film which they can add View-Master to, and that's a hell of a difference if you ask me.

No, this hasn't changed my mind yet, and until I see the trailer, read an extended blurb, or perhaps read the script, I can't believe that they've got a killer idea for View-Master becoming a film.



You are missing the point. We were asked how we approach these movies and the answer is that we find the emotional core first before relying on the gimmick. Transformers, when you take the robots out, is about Sam growing up. Get it?

Hey Bob, delighted to see your comment, even if it's not really you.

I do understand that, but the article gives a different approach, it does seem like you had a story already there and when View-Master came along it fitted into that existing story, indeed it says as much. Perhaps that's over simplifying it and I'd be happy to he corrected.

For me though, without the giant robots Transformers is nothing, and I'm not sure that audiences really are pulled in by the story of Sam growing up over the robots.

E.T. is a better example though and I do get that. There's much more of that feeling to the film.

Your comment here is far more positive than the ones I quoted in the article, and I'm not just saying that because you commented (if it is you!).

I also think it's in part what I was trying to say, and I think this is a positive thing, that the film is not going to be about the gimmick of the View-Master but have a story that has the View-Master as a side.

Personally I'm still struggling to see how the film can work, and I'm sure you can understand it considering the amount of game based films at the moment.

We really do understand the cynicism. And, as Alex said, some things SHOULD NOT BE TURNED INTO MOVIES. Although we might have an idea for PET ROCK!



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