Monday 18 January 2010
I'll fully admit to judging books by their covers. That's how I discovered Philip Pullman before everyone else. So it should come as no surprise that I sometimes judge movies based on their posters. I see a poster (or book cover) that I like, I read the synopsis, and if I like what I'm reading, I'll take that final step and fork over the cash.
Usually this works out pretty well for me. And then along came the poster for the 1984 Dennis Quaid vehicle, Dreamscape, with its promise of Temple of Doom-style, dream-based, torch-lit adventure. Well, I'm here to tell you the poster lies.
Were I to pen a movie based solely on the poster art, it would not be about a government-led program researching REM sleep. It might be about psychics who can enter a person's dreams and help guide the dreamer through, and there could be an evil psychic in the group who's going around killing people while they slumber. There would be no political commentary about nuclear arms races but I'd leave in the assassination plot.
My movie might star Max Von Sydow as the kindly head of the dream research programme, and Christopher Plummer as the scheming politico who's looking to train psychic assassins. I might have lost a bet and be forced to cast Kim Catrall as a doctor working on the dream project, and I would probably still have a kid in there because, let's face it, people like to see little kids tortured by their nightmares. Plus helping the kid makes Dennis Quaid even more of a hero.
But my movie would not just be a loose collection of dream sequences held together by the promise of plot development. No, my movie would better tell its story, weaving mystery and intrigue into the plot from start to finish. I would make Dennis Quaid more inquisitive, I would make Max Von Sydow more misguided and tragic, and I would make Kim Catrall more believable.
And my poster would look more like this: