So, in movie news that barely meets the basic qualifications of “movies” and “news” — um, yes, so, um, Variety is reporting that Universal Studios has now hired a third screenwriter to work on its upcoming motion picture version of the Atari video game Asteroids and before I even continue this any further let’s just pause this run-on sentence right here and deal with the fact that an Asteroids movie is even happening.
Okay. So, an Asteroids movie is happening. In fact, it’s been in production for three years, which is such a long period of time that my first article about the stupidity of making a full-length Asteroids movie can now only be seen on Google Cache. And that’s… adorable — or actually, no, wait, it’s sad. (Sad on two levels; first, that writing of mine is stuck in Google Cache, and then it’s sad that I’ve spent the past three years not writing the Great American Novel, but writing about things like Asteroids: The Movie. But this is the life that I’ve chosen, so…)
So yes; Asteroids. The movie. That’s a movie. “Ha ha! What next?” you are now saying in your braying, grating tone of voice. “A movie based on Tetris, ha ha?” Shush. Shut up and don’t give them any more ideas. They’re already making movies based on Monopoly, Oujia, Candyland — and no, I’m not providing links for all of these, Google them yourself — Hungry Hungry Hippos, and the View-Master, — which, okay, two more things here… One, I forgot to write an article making fun of the Hungry Hungry Hippos movie and now I have to do that for next week. And, two: how can the View-Master be a movie?
I mean, I realize that we’re all starting from the basic assumption that none of these fucking movies make any sense, but even so, the View-Master isn’t even a game, goddamn it. Games at least have a vague semblance of a plot, whereas the View-Master is just a thing that you look through in order to stare at cracked photos of the Grand Canyon and old Tom and Jerry cartoons before deciding that even five-year-olds cannot be this bored. Sorry, but I felt the need to rant about that for a sentence; I hope you understand.
But — to return what was supposed to be this overly-long article’s thesis statement — Asteroids is now on its third screenwriter, probably because the head of Universal looked at the first two Asteroids screenplays, screamed, “You call this character development? These giant space rocks are just sitting here on the page!” and then threw a cup of scalding hot coffee at someone’s head. And the person they have picked to write this third Asteroids screenplay is acclaimed British playwright Jez Butterworth, who was once a student of the famed existential playwright Harold Pinter — which I guess means that Mr. Butterworth can use his knowledge of existentialism and the “theater of the absurd” and bring that to bear on the non-absurd prospect of an Asteroids movie.
It’s important to have an award-winning screenwriter here, because you try giving an emotional arc to a wire-frame triangle like that; seriously, it’s a hard thing to do. And probably Mr. Butterworth can justify the whole thing to himself, like so:
…I mean, look, it’s not such a terrible idea idea for a movie; so damn the uncaring critics with their monocles and their hanging modifiers and misplaced egos! Because… Asteroids… they are existential. And it’s like we are all just… floating in space. Dangling there… alone… isolated… striving against impossible odds in a blank, black, and uncaring universe. And then sometimes we shoot UFOs. Or hyperwarp and appear in the same space as a big rock and explode. It’s all just so random and meaningless, so trés plus plus banal. Okay. You can do this, Jez. You can do it.
…And, actually, that sounds like a great movie. Someone please make an Asteroids movie like that one: about the trials of Spaceman X, placed in a triangle by forces beyond his control and sent to blow up asteroids in a senseless, Sisyphean task, even though space is infinite and anyone could just fly around the asteroids if they wanted to. Spaceman X misses his wife. He feels sad. He feels purposeless, shooting rocks like that. I would go and see that movie. …Also, by the way, I’m reusing all these jokes from my previous essays, ha ha, because if Hollywood can endlessly recycle stuff, then I can too, goddammit.
…ANY-way, we all wish Jez Butterworth and his silly name the best of luck with the Asteroids screenplay, and now I’ve had too much coffee and have totally lost a grip on what this article was about; sorry. Below is a trailer for a Pac-Man movie that they should also totally make, and now — peace, I’m out of here. That’s all, everybody!