in at a weighty 544 pages The Painted Man at times seems that it might be
more suitable material for a TV mini-series . . .
That is until one realizes that the book mostly consists
of back-story dealing with the various childhood backgrounds of the main
characters, the sort of stuff which can be easily excised or relegated to a few flashbacks
in a movie.
One can easily picture the novel being made into a two-and-half hour
movie, just enough running time to give it an epic feel without numbing
one’s butt unduly. After all, there is enough incident in the book to
warrant this sort of running time. Well, more than in the recent
Transformers 2, which clocks in at
147 minutes. The worst thing that can happen though is if they condense
into a ninety minutes actioner, throwing out much of the back story and
setup for a sequel in the process.
Which brings us to the second factor that ought to
appeal to Hollywood producers: The Painted Man eschews the recent
trend in “morally ambiguous” fantasy in works by authors such as George
R.R. Martin and China Mieville. It is a simple “good vs. bad guys” affair and
features some great villains in the guise of the various demons. At times
they reminded this author of the beasties found in the original early
1990s Doom game, but one can easily
imagine what a talented visual effects artist such as Aaron Sims can come
up with the material at hand. The demons are presented as your standard
animal intelligence-level movie monsters, so there are no metaphors about
the Orcs as being the oppressed racial underclass to muddy the waters.
There are also several one-dimensional human villains who torment our trio
of heroes at hand to boo and hiss.
"We still liked it better than the last Terry Brooks book we read!"
There is also a lot of talk about “destiny” and Arlen
being a messianic “deliverer” that will save humanity. Just the sort of
thing that has appealed to Hollywood ever since a certain farm boy living
on the desert planet of Tatooine and The
Matrix made this genre cliché – arguably invented by Frank Herbert in
his epic Dune tome (first published
in 1965) – de rigueur again.
With the huge box office success of fantasy flicks such
as the endless Harry Potter and
Lord of the Rings movies making The
Painted Man into a movie may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of
projects never get off the ground and it is still early days for the
Painted Man movie. It might never get made. Normally we’d say that “in
the meantime there is still the book” but the truth is that while The
Painted Man is slickly written, it too often relies on fantasy genre
conventions and comes across as unoriginal and simplistic at times.
The author bio states that Brett has been “raised on a
steady diet of fantasy novels, comic books, and
Dungeons & Dragons.” It shows. The
Painted Man is passable beach reading for fans of the genre, but if
you’re sceptical of modern fantasy then The Painted Man probably
won’t convince you otherwise of its value. (It is suggested that you check
out George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones
Still, we liked it better than the last Terry Brooks
(who supplies a plug for The Painted Man on the back flap) book we
read and believe that it will probably make for a more interesting movie
than the planned Sword of Shannara adaptations which will most
likely come across as tepid Lord of the
Rings clones . . .