Crappy Screenwriters Roundup: ROBOTECH and XXX 3 Edition

Posted on 17 November 2008 by Rich Drees

Screenwriters are often overlooked in the production process. If a film is a hit the praise goes to the actors or directors, likewise the blame if the project bombs. But it is the writer who builds the framework for those successes and failures. While it is a shame that they rarely get the accolades for a box office triumph, they also avoid the stigma of a disaster, allowing them to work again.

For example, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the writing duo behind this past summer’s terrible The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor, the waste of Jackie Chan’s time and talent known as Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights and the long-running teen soap-opera disguised as a superhero show Smallville, have been hired to do a rewrite on Warner Brothers in development Robotech film. The pair will be rewriting a draft by the great Lawrence Kasdan.

Robotech is a popular animae franchise that tells the story of Earth beating back three successive alien invasions using technology discovered in a wrecked alien spacecraft. At the height of its popularity in the 1980s, the series spun off a multitude of toys, comic books, novels and role playing and video games.

Audaciously, the Hollywood Reporter attributes Gough and Millar’s hiring to a desire of the studio to “bring action and geek cred to the table.” Really? The studio thinks that bringing in the guys who wrote Herbie: Fully Loaded to rewrite a screenplay by the guy who wrote Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back is going to give the project some “geek cred”? This sounds like hiring a Burger King fry cook to tell Wolfgang Puck how to cook a haute cuisine dinner. While I guarantee that this will definitely bring attention from genre fans to the project, I don’t think that their reaction will quite be what the studio is hoping for.

Meanwhile, Variety is reporting that Columbia is in talks with Michael Ferris and John Brancato to take on the screenwriting duties for their planned XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage. Ferris and Brancato have previously written the screenplays for Terminator 3, The Net and Catwoman, while XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage will bring back director Rob Cohen and actor Vin Diesel for a third installment of a franchise that no one was really clamoring for.

In their defense, though, Ferris and Brancato might be the best candidates for this film. The second XXX film killed off Diesel’s Cage character, so perhaps the two guys who managed to write a Catwoman movie that never once references Batman or Gotham City will be able to weasel their way out of that particular plot difficulty.

With the exception of extreme stupidity, and I’m of course talking about the upcoming Day The Earth Stood Still remake, I am willing to give any film project a chance. However, these early steps do not inspire much confidence.

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