Do you remember when Lord of the Rings was on screen? There were three years where I had something extra to look forward to during the holiday season. Peter Jackson and his wonderful army of elves (or rather, talented professionals), brought us a tribute to arguably the best fantasy writer of the 20th century.
When they were wonderfully successful I started thinking; "Is this going to be the first of several quality fantasy franchises? Will I be able to see a good fantasy film every summer or holiday season along with the other block busters?"
The answer was no.
I could mention quality television like the Tudors, but that's a historical period drama, not fantasy. I could mention Legend of the Seeker but they did such a thorough job of mutilating and watering down Terry Goodkind's series of books that it's barely a pathetic shadow of the Sword of Truth novels. Am I being too harsh? Thousands of fans would say I've yet to tear off the kid gloves.
Fantasy films like the Narnia series don't count; they're made for children and young teens. They don't count.
Reign of Fire, The Scorpion King, Van Helsing, Beowulf and Grendel, Eragon, and other sad attempts at fantasy entertainment make for a list of moderate to big budget failures that make the Fantasy Genre look like the realm of geeks, nerds and children when frankly, most geeks (like me), won't have any part of them. They're not worth the price of admission and no, the creators don't deserve credit for trying because they obviously didn't set the bar high enough.
There are a few films that were enjoyable, dont' get me wrong. I enjoyed the most recent Underworld prequel, all the Pirates of the Caribean films, 300, Pan's Labyrinth and maybe one or two others, but that's not much considering that's just film, there's been nothing on the television.
These producers who think remaking Dune for the fourth time or think Terry Goodkind didn't tell his story right when he was writing the Sword of Truth books have to face a serious reality check. They have set their bars too low. They have to think J.R.R Tolkien, Peter Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker (ever see Nightbreed?), and look at the amazing, imaginitive fiction they've made for us. Then they have to realize that they need some of those people and others like them (they're rare), and then they have to trust their creative instincts, their imagination and let them entertain us properly. Just look what happened when Guillermo del Toro was given the freedom to work with Hellboy, or when he went back home and made Pan's Labyrinth with full creative freedom? With just a little more freedom and oppotunity he just might be another Peter Jackson, or even better.
I know there's more fantasy coming. George R.R. Martin's fantasy series is being made into a high budget television series right now and as a fan of his work I'm really hoping that they don't botch it like the Sword of Truth Series.
Good luck showrunners, my expectations aren't receding and my voice is getting louder.