There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a fad. The second they sniff a trend becoming popular we—the consumers—are having it shoved in front of us until our eyeballs are left weeping in a bloody fetal position. Kids like vampires? More vampire flicks! Found footage films in vogue? Break out the camcorders! Transformers made money? Buy the rights to every toy property and send a semi-trailer full of coke and Pilipino hookers to Michael Bay’s pad, and do it now, goddammit!

It is a questionable approach. If I’ve just finished eating three hamburgers full of dead animals am I really going to be in the mood for a Big Mac? Probably not. Nevertheless, it’s something Hollywood has been doing ever since Marilyn was scratching her grubby seven year itch, and it isn’t about to go away any time soon.

In the early 2000’s fantasy films came back in vogue, with The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series proving that there was plenty of moolah to be made out of orcs, wizards, and sexually confused elves. Hollywood tried to jump on this bandwagon but mostly missed the mark. For every semi-decent film like the Narnia series (a talking beaver!), we received plenty of piles of skeksi-poo like Eragon, The Golden Compass and Van Helsing. Put simply, Hollywood had its chance to cash in on fantasy and blew it.

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With the first Hobbit film soon to hit cinemas, though, and Game of Thrones still cutting a bloody, booby swathe through the TV ratings, are we about to see another golden period for fantasy on the screen? And more importantly, will Hollywood decide to make some good films and TV shows on the back of it this time? In order to help those in the know, here are some great fantasy properties that we would dearly enjoy seeing brought to life.

1. Elric

In a nutshell:

Elric of Melnibone is a character created by Michael Moorcock, and the antihero of a series of fantasy stories that take place on an alternate Earth. And he likes to stab things.

Why it would be great on screen:

The sword-wielding albino warrior is one of fantasy’s most loved and enduring characters, having appeared in a multitude of books, comics, and role-playing games over the years. He has fought against Conan, been an influence for prog rock groups such as Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult, and probably banged more buxom medieval wenches than Errol Flynn and the cast of 300 combined.

Honestly, what more does someone have to do to get a film made? Trim Steven Spielberg’s ball-hairs?

Chances of it happening:

An animated film was planned for the late 1980’s yet never came to fruition. Paul and Chris Weitz (American Pie, The Golden Compass, Twilight: New Moon) then picked up the rights in 2007, and a script was written, but the project is still stuck somewhere between a molested apple pie and the seventh circle of development hell.


2. The Dark Tower

In a nutshell:

Stephen King’s magnum opus, this series follows a gunslinger searching for the fabled dark tower. Although the books are primarily belong to fantasy, they also contain liberal helpings of sci-fi, western, horror, and Mr. King going completely full-retard.

Why it would be great on screen:

How many other books feature mechanical bears, were-spiders, sentient riddle-telling trains and a cameo from Stephen King himself? Probably not many. Epic in its size, scope and sheer bugnuts insanity, The Dark Tower series is quite unlike anything else ever written, and would certainly be something special on screen.

Adapting the series in its entirety may be something of impracticality (there are scenes in there that would need the GDP of third-world countries to fully realize), but even a truncated version of the books would still be more interesting than the vast bulk of the films coming out this year.

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Chances of it happening:

Many big names, from J. J. Abrams to Ron Howard, have been attached to bringing The Dark Tower to either film or television, but none have ever been able to get the project over the line. Funny, because Richie Cunningham always seemed a great fit for the material. Earlier this year Warner Brothers officially passed on an Akiva Goldsman penned script with Russell Crowe linked to the primary role of Roland, leaving the series doomed to wander in the unfilmed wastelands for at least a little longer.


3. Masters of the Universe

In a nutshell:

Buff dude with hottie twin sister fights a skeleton. Often whilst riding a green coloured tiger. Toys are sold.

Why it would be great on screen:

Last time Masters of the Universe came to the big screen (1987) it was done so via a mulleted Dolph Lundgren, Monica from Friends, and a budget that probably would not cover Peter Jackson’s lunch tab. Whilst the film had its moments (ie: any time Frank Langella was on screen as Skeletor), it is fair to say that Eternia’s finest deserves a little better.

A Masters of the Universe movie that expelled some of the series’ more dumbass elements (eg: Orko, Prince Adam, Orko, Cringer, Orko, Fisto, er… Orko) could certainly provide a fun piece of fantasy escapism from the masses, and help Hollywood realise that not every film based on an 80’s toy-line needs Megan Fox’s ass and farting robots to succeed.

Chances of it happening:

Attempts to re-boot Masters of the Universe have been floating around for some time. John Woo was attached to the series, and then later Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson was slated to direct. Currently, the project sits with Jon M Chu (G.I Joe 2, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never *sigh*), and Richard Wenk (The Ependables 2) is penning a new script. May the power of Grayskull be with them.


4. Sandman

In a nutshell:

Neil Gaiman’s milestone graphic-novel series chronicling the life and adventures of Dream, the lord of, well, dreams. Nothing to do with the douche villain who kept crying in Spider-Man 3.

Why it would be great on screen:

The unique qualities of its title character allows The Sandman series to drift across all reaches of time, space and imagination, creating a fantastical universe where anything is possible. In one issue Dream will be going through the gates of hell, in the next we see Shakespeare at work, then later on the reader gets a first-hand look into the twisted dreams of cats (note: not all cheezburgers and terrible spelling). Throw in appearances by everyone from Marco Polo to Superman and you have some seriously amazing, brain-bending stuff to chew over.

Gaiman is no stranger to film—he was a writer on Beowulf, and recently had his book Coraline adapted into an animated film—so it is also clear that a jump in medium would not be beyond him.

Chances of it happening:

Sandman has seen Hollywood interest for decades without any real progress being made. Warner Brothers tried to adapt the series for most of the ’90s, with Pulp Fiction writer Roger Avary attached. The scripts written were less than satisfactory, though, with Neil Gaiman pronouncing the final script that Warner Brothers gave him "not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read. And I just spent a summer on Skywalker Ranch!" (citation needed on this last part). Sandman was later pitched to HBO as a TV series but the project never got green-lit, presumably because it didn’t feature Sean Bean dying another terrible, terrible death.


5. The Black Company

In a nutshell:

This series of dark fantasy novels follows an elite mercenary unit, The Black Company, last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, through roughly forty years of its history. Asses are kicked.

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Why it would be great on screen:

Author Glen Cook mixes fantasy with military fiction in gritty, realistic portrayals of the Company and its many bloody struggles across ten books. With character names such as Stormbringer, One-Eye, and Bonegnasher it is safe to say that there aren’t too many sun-soaked shires or Tom Cruises riding upon unicorns to be found here.

Given the success of Game of Throne’s grounded and rugged approach to fantasy, and the recent popularity of steroid-bulgingly bro-tastic adventure films like The Expendables, there never really has been a better time to get the cameras rolling on this one.

Chances of it happening:

Hollywood has never bothered to buy the film-rights from Glen Cook, instead preferring to spend its precious time putting out high-quality movies based on board-games and bastardizing classic 80’s Paul Verhoeven films.


6. The Legend of Zelda

In a nutshell:

Pointy-eared dude ventures forth to save the princess and play antiquated wind instruments. May or may not get lucky afterwards.

Why it would be great on screen:

Since its initial release in 1986 The Legend of Zelda has stood proud as the premier fantasy series in video games. Whilst much of this has to do with its consistently quality game-play, the classic hero’s tales of good versus evil that the games present have also been a great source of entertainment for many fans, and created characters that are wildly loved across the world. Except for Tingle. Tingle can go and get fucked.

If the correct approach was taken to the land of Hyrule then there could certainly be some good films in the offering. The series has a colourful cast, an interesting world, a menacing villain and a great collection of unique fantasy creatures. Even better; it would allow you to enjoy Link’s exploits for once without Navi doing her best to piss you off approximately every 15 seconds.

Chances of it happening:

Remember that film starring the great actors Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper? No? That’s because a) Hoskins played a plumber with super powers whilst Hopper played a giant lizard, and b) because the Super Mario Bros. Movie was so astonishingly bad that Nintendo decided they would rather have sex with a gigantic blue hedgehog than let another one of their properties be adapted to film again. Game over.


7. The Silmarillion

In a nutshell:

A collection of J. R R. Tolkien’s works, which give an insight into the history of Middle-Earth, minus all the dwarf-tossing that we were sure was going on behind the scenes.

Why it would be great on screen:

The Silmarillion reads like an encyclopedia that has been gangbanged by a cupboard full of Icelandic phonebooks. Once you manage to master the 18-syllable character names, though, there is actually some very interesting stuff going on. There is the story of the elves’ rebellion against the will of the gods, and Feanor’s flight to reclaim the great jewels. We see the overthrow of Morgoth (ie: the dude who makes Sauron his own assistant/slave/sexual cabana-boy). There are whole armies of balrogs battling against elves and gods as the great northern lands are plunged into the sea—and that’s just before anything in the second age of Middle-Earth even begins.

By Christmas 2014 we will have had six Tolkien films—what’s the harm in a couple more?

Chances of it happening:

As it currently stands the film rights to The Silmarillion belong to the Tolkien estate, meaning that no-one will be able to obtain the rights unless they come armed with their own personal army of nazguls.

So I guess that makes Disney the only ones in the running.

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