I hate the fact that there is a lot of snobbery about the fantasy genre.
I have been a fairly big fan of fantasy books ever since I read Ursula LeGuin’s fantastic Earthsea series in primary school.
I’m also a big fan of other genres but I never get as much shit about reading anything else as I do about fantasy. And because I studied English at uni and am well into my Forster and Fitzgerald etc people seem to be surprised at my David Gemmell collection. Not just surprised but… kinda judgemental.
Which annoys me sometimes but, you know, if they base that judgment on what they see of fantasy movies… well, who can blame them?
While watching 300 last night, however, I did start to wish the genre had a bit more respect. Because then, I reason, they could produce some better goddamn movies.
Not that 300 was bad. Despite being completely ridiculous, wildly historically inaccurate, peppered with the most blatant displays of unnecessary nudity I’ve ever seen, more eight packs than you can poke a stick at, coming off as vaguely racist and chock full of corny dialogue it was sort of stupidly engaging.
Okay maybe the eight packs had something to do with it but still.
Anyway, the movie was enjoyable and all but not great and, thinking about it, I don’t think there has been more than a handful of fantasy movies that I thought were really well done. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Willow, Ladyhawke and The Princess Bride are about all I can come up with off the top of my head, and I’m not entirely sure the latter strictly qualifies.
On the other hand I could list a string of stinkers without trying too hard. (I would do so here but if I have to recall the utter tripe I watched recently that was supposedly based on the Earthsea books I might start weeping).
There are crap movies in any genre, for sure, but at least there’s a bit more diversity out there - different sized budgets playing around with different ideas in one genre, which is the way it should be. I’d like to see a few small budget fantasty movies have a crack, or just something that doesn’t have dialogue that reads like it was written by two fifteen year olds playing Dungeon Siege 2 while they do it. Or something that didn't give me a mental picture of the writers shrugging and saying to each other "well, that'll do: it's only men aged 15 to 45 who are going to see it anyway".
So long as fantasy movies remain bogged down in the middle of the road the genre as a whole will continue to be lambasted by people who’ve never read some of the great fantasy books there are around. Seriously, dudes, give it a chance. Together we can banish lines like "tonight... we dine in hell!" from the world forever.