Next month sees the release of ‘And Another Thing’, part six of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy trilogy. The Hitchhiker’s series was written by the late, great Douglas Adams. It was a 1978 radio series, the trilogy of books began in 1979, then a 1981 TV show, and it was also given the Hollywood treatment in the 2005 movie (still undecided about that one). The books have been released, re-released, re-packaged and released, re-packaged, re-released with new covers or forewords so many times since their original release and this is purely because they are bloody good, and people love them. I mean really love, as in care for deeply as if they are a lifelong friend kind of love. I have 3 copies of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (don’t ask) and all of them have different covers. I’m not going to harp on about the genius of the books, or how they are among the most imaginative books that I have ever read. Far more loquacious folk than I have done and will do so – No, what I wanted to say (always a bonus when writing a blog) is that a certain author by the name of Eoin Colfer is no doubt going through all the turmoil suffered by the likes of Messrs Craig and Bale, yet bigger.
James Bond. Mr Darcy. Doctor Who – Taking on a role that is has been so unforgettably defined by another actor must be a daunting and double-edged task, and taking on a role that is iconic, and revered by an army of fans must only add to the pressure. Daniel Craig was famously slammed by certain sectors of the internet, and one individual even went so far as to create a website ladled of criticisms against Craig a long, long, long time before Casino Royale was released. The site’s originator was allegedly a hardcore James Bond fan that was unhappy with Craig’s casting, and the internet provided him with a voice-box. He was proved wrong, of course – spectacularly embarrassingly so, I might add. Casino Royale was a massive hit both with fans and critics alike but even more importantly, Daniel Craig was an exceptional 007, breathing new life into what was an admittedly stale franchise and even staler character – and the fans loved him. The real fans, that is. Not some lonely soul in his attic with a laptop venting his fury for the world to read.
But Bond had been coasting on his own fumes for years. What Pierce Brosnan did prior to Craig was great, and of the four films he did, every one of them is able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the 007 canon (even Die Another Day with all its dodgy CGI, dodgy Madonna, and dodgyAston Martin Vanquish has a spectacular opening sequence that has the most sustained volume than any other film I have seen). But Brosnan was re-treading old ground, going through the motions without breaking a sweat. An actor that had reinvigorated the Bond franchise after it had languished in limbo for years was suddenly not the man for the job anymore, and rumours abound whether Brosnan was pushed, or if he walked. His loss was an indicator that Hollywood’s movie moguls realised they were running out of ideas. And so what did they do? They started again at the beginning. Hollywood has got a thing for remakes these days (some good, some bad) and even more of a thing for a reboot – a term that could only have originated in a world run by Microsoft. A reboot solves everything –just wipe the slate clean, forget about whatever you had, get over it. A reboot is a gentle way of saying: “Our franchise is past its sell-by date.”
‘Batman Begins’ kick-started the whole thing off by taking Bruce Wayne/Batman back to his roots, yet at the same time reinventing him to be ‘current’ – and it did it well, not only breathing new life into the character, but single-handedly erasing all the celluloid misdemeanors of ‘Batman and Robin’ – which effectively killed the Batman movie franchise dead in its tracks. So when Craig was given the role of James Bond, he wasn’t just taking on an acting job – he held the future of the 007 franchise in his hands. Christian Bale was lucky – it probably never even occurred to him that Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney were hard acts to follow. With the exception of Keaton (who for my money was great, just never given enough to do Bat-wise), I think Bale would have been right to think that. But think about poor old Daniel Craig. He had the likes of Connery, Moore, Brosnan and Lazenby to contend with. Hard acts to follow all three of them. Now add to that the expectation of millions of 007 fans who know what they want, then no matter how focused Mr Craig is, he must have felt the trepidation of taking over the reins of something that is so well-loved, so well-established, so steeped in millions of fans’ consciousness.
Which brings me to my point nicely.
Eoin Colfer is the mega-selling author of the brilliant Artemis Fowl series. He’s a fantastically funny, creative genius (in my opinion) and I have enjoyed every single one of his books. Not just the creator of six Artemis Fowl series, Colfer also penned The Supernaturalist, The Wish List, Half Moon Investigations, Airman and many more fantastic books enjoyed by children and adults alike. He’s successful because he’s good at what he does. He gets it. He knows how to tell a story. And he’s funny. I saw him perform his one man show/ talk/ gig whatever you want to call it, a couple of years ago and it was quite apparent that the genial Irishman has ‘funny’ all through him. But funny does not make a Hitchhiker’s book, you say, and yes, that has to be said. The HHGTTG (or whatever the acronym is) books are more than just funny, they are inspirationally imaginative, pastiches, statements about humanity, sardonic, social commentaries and so much more besides. The good news is that Colfer is a self-confessed Adams fan, and has been since his teenage years. The books have influenced him on so many levels, and there have been Adams-esque moments of imaginative brilliance peppered throughout every one of his books. In short, if you are a Hitchhiker’s fan and don’t know Eoin (pronounced ‘Owen’ by the way) Colfer’s work, then firstly shame upon you, and secondly – Don’t Panic! I can’t think of anyone else in the galaxy that could pull off writing another Hitchhiker’s book other than him. Plus, Colfer has the stamp of approval from Jane Belson (Adams’s widow). He is quoted as saying that if Ms Belson had not liked the book, he would not have allowed it to see print. She did, and so it has.
And so with the release of ‘And Another Thing’ we don’t have a remake, or a reboot, or even a re-casting…we simply have a torch being passed from one great author to another, and I for one am certain that Arthur and co are in the best of hands. And what is more interesting is the crossover appeal from an author who already has a massive following in one genre, now embarking on a new venture into uncharted territory. Douglas Adams fans will be introduced to Eoin Colfer, and Eoin Colfer fans will be introduced to Douglas Adams and the world will unite in one big happy family, seeing an end to injustice and tyranny – or it might just put a lot of smiles on people’s face.
Anyways, a longer blog this time, so thanks for sticking with me.