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Television Movies Sci-Fi

Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut 252

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-back-on? dept.
Ars Technica reports that "J. Michael Straczynski will shortly begin work on a rebooted big-screen version of his 1990s sci-fi TV series [ Babylon 5]." From the article: According to JMS's latest announcement, the new script will be targeted at a 2016 theatrical release and will be a reboot of the series rather than a continuation. This is necessary for both dramatic and practical purposes—the series was in regular production from 1994-1998, and the cast has simply aged too far to credibly play themselves again during the series’ main timeline. Additionally, several of the foundational cast members — Michael O'Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Richard Biggs, and Jeff Conaway — have passed away. ... The movie rights to the Babylon 5 property remain in JMS's hands, but the creator is hopeful that this time around, Warner Bros. will choose to finance the film instead of passing on it. Nonetheless (at least according to TV Wise), JMS is prepared to fund the movie through his own production company if necessary — something that wasn't a possibility ten years ago — suggesting that B5 will in fact come to the big screen at last.
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

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  • What's a reboot? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @12:09PM (#47642131)

    I loved B5. I hate reboots, at least as I understand the word. I have no problem with replacing the actors. That happens frequently in movie franchises. James Bond has been played by a number of actors, and even the gender of a major supporting character was changed in that franchise without calling it a reboot. In my mind a reboot is when the producers and/or director want to take advantage of the name and existing fan base, but decide to do two other distasteful things: First, change key story concepts that have already been established, and second, they usually want to retell yet another origin story. Why is this being called a reboot, and is JMS calling it a reboot himself or are others just misusing the term? I'll gladly go see a new B5 movie (and I really don't go to many movies), but I'll avoid a B5 reboot like I would avoid an Ebola infected missionary. If JMS wants to tell a completely different Sci-fi story then I would welcome that too, but he should not reuse the B5 name, If he wants to pick back up story telling in the B5 universe then he shouldn't try to tear down what has already been done.

    On a side note, the list of lost actors from the B5 production should include Tim Choate who played my favorite character, Zathras.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @12:11PM (#47642141) Journal

    The story jumped the shark at the end. I'm sorry, as much as I loved Babylon 5, it simply doesn't stand the test of time when you watch it in your 30s rather than as a teenager. It was awesome at first, a character driven Sci-Fi show, and then Sheridan came back from the dead with a Messiah Complex. Delenn always had one of course, even the Vorlons were smart enough to know that (watching Jack the Ripper torture this character flaw out of her was priceless, too bad it didn't take for the long term) as they set her up as their Emissary or whatever the hell she was. What really irked me was the human characters betraying their oath to Earth and going native after they had kicked Clark out of office. The Whitestar fleet or at least one example thereof should have been turned over to Earthforce R&D after the war, but that would required Sheridan to surrender power, so of course it didn't happen.

    There's also the complete mess that was Season 5, though here I cut JMS some slack because he was kind of screwed when it looked like the show was getting the axe. The most important piece of back story was pretty damned stupid, the Minbari have thousands of years in space but start a war of annihilation (a pathetic one at that, only 250,000 deaths in two years of war, JMS needs to read about the Eastern Front....) over a botched first contact? Then they stop the war because of some religious nonsense?

    In fairness the show did have highlights, Garibaldi was the best human character I think (he was Babylon 5's Chief O'Brien) flawed in every way and very easy to relate to. Londo and G'Kar never jumped the shark, their respective stories stand the test of time. Even the stupid parts (the Earth-Minbari War) had highlights, the President's speech towards the end of "In The Beginning" still chokes me up when I watch it, and the way JMS wove all of the stories together was amazing.

  • by GNious (953874) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @12:32PM (#47642253)

    I heard they wanted to do a reboot of Star Trek, which I guess could be interesting ... I mean, it's been 12 years since a Star Trek movie was last released.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @01:00PM (#47642391) Homepage

    So JMS wants to take a story originally told in over 4700 minutes, and condense it down into a 120-minute feature film (or is he thinking a series of five of them)? What could possibly go wrong?

    Seriously, one of the things that makes B5 a classic of the genre was the way it gradually unfolded an epic tale over the course of five years. Sure, there were a lot of B sub plots and C plot-of-the-week elements that didn't contribute directly to that overall storyline, but they provided the texture that made the A plot matter. For example, the viewers cared about the fate of the Centauri because they'd come to know (and seen the transformation of) Londo and Vir; without that, they're just a bunch of space vampires. To be honest, I'm not really a big fan of the soap-opera approach to storytelling that's become fashionable in hour-long TV dramas and monthly superhero comics... but B5 was a rare example of how it works. Without that format, without that scope, it would become just the Reader's Digest edit of The Lord of the Rings in Space.

  • by lgw (121541) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @01:00PM (#47642397) Journal

    So, wait, you're upset that the characters were flawed? Aliens acted in ways that made little sense? That's what made the show good - no one was perfect, the "good guys" did stupid shit too, and not everyone seemed rational. I liked it.

    But yeah, season 5 had little to offer.

    For me the show's attraction was watching Andreas Katsulas, Peter Jurasik, and Stephen Furst playing against one another, and the arcs of their characters. Londo discovering morality too late to do anything but suffer for his sins, G'Kar discovering what it means to be a religious leader (some of JMSs best writing IMO), and Vir showing that even in the most corrupt society, a strong moral compass serves you well in the long run.

  • by lgw (121541) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @01:22PM (#47642481) Journal

    It was also very dependent on the cast. It takes a lot for the audience to relate to guys in alien costumes, even SF nerds like me. I'm doubtful the magic will happen again.

    Wow, a lot of the cast died so young - Jeff Conaway to drugs, Andreas Katsulas to smoking, Richard Biggs at 44 to a heart condition. Good to see Stephen Furst still going (aside from playing my favorite character on B5, he successfully changed his dangerous lifestyle during the B5 years, losing almost 100 pounds).

    But whatever else goes wrong, at least the fighters "in space" won't fly like jets. Did any other SF TV series or movie get that right? The space battles are still cool to watch, aging effects and all, just because it makes some physical sense.

  • by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Sunday August 10, 2014 @02:43PM (#47642915)

    As somebody who got INTO Babylon 5 in his 40's, I disagree; Babylon 5 was the best program on TV ever. (Barring, of course, the hot mess that resulted from the on-again/off-again cancellation of Season 5.) There were a few discontinuous episodes in Season 1, but seasons 2-4 were like old soap operas; you didn't dare miss an episode, or you wouldn't be able to catch up.

    Even though I generally despise "reboots" of old favorite stories, I'm glad that JMS is doing it, and I wish him the best of luck in it.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @07:41PM (#47644227) Journal

    Regarding the Sinclair -> Sheridan switch (which I didn't mind, I never particularly cared for Sinclair), there was a quite good reason for it [wikipedia.org].

    Wow, I didn't know. For O'Hare to be struggling with mental illness, and still be concerned about the rest of the cast, and for the show to continue, shows character like you seldom see anymore. And JMS trying to accomodate O'Hare where it was in his power to do so, even when it put the show at risk, shows integrity over and above what one would expect from the entertainment industry. Really puts today's spoiled, intolerant divas in a different light, doesn't it?

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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