Movies about toys! So far the offerings have included Transformers, a franchise single handily redefining the phrase diminishing returns (in quality if not box office), G.I. Joe and Battle Ship. Yep, pretty weak stuff right? Well now I’m offering a special Hollywood Pitch to those studio heads looking for a way to cash in on a ready built merchandising juggernaut.
The franchise in question?
If you are of a certain age you might have a fuzzy memory of the little plastic, wind up spidery model kits, gathering dust in the corner of the toy shop, being ignored in favour Lego and Meccano. So why would a studio pick up a fanchise like Zoids? Lets have a look…
In the 1980’s, Zoids shared a Marvel comic book run with the company mast head; Spider-Man. The story was pretty much an Aliens / Terminator rip off, but i wouldn’t have known that at the time because i was way too young to see those films. There in lay the genius of booting up a Zoids film.
Look at the hot tickets at box office in the past couple of years and you’ll see some encouraging trends. Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim are two pretty popular movies, not to mention Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What if I told you that a Zoids movie could blend the best elements of all those properties and more. Here is a synopsis from wikipedia:
“The Zoids were created by a blue-skinned humanoid race named the Zoidaryans, native to the planet Zoidstar. They used these mechanical behemoths to conquer and enslave other worlds in a Zoidaryan empire that stretched into the Earth sector of space. However, the Zoidaryans were a warlike species, and delighted in battle. With no other enemy left to fight, they used their battle machines to fight each other in epic duels to the death. This was considered their golden age, the era of "Heroic Combat”, but it began to lead to the extinction of their race. So it was decreed that androids should pilot the Zoids to battle each other, and the Zoidarians would sate their battle-hunger vicariously. On the outer rim of the Zoidaryan Empire, battle fleets still patrolled their subdued populations, periodically returning to the home system. One such battlefleet miscalculated its return due to a meteor shower, and crashed onto the Blue Moon of Zoidstar. There was a single Zoidaryan survivor, pulled from the wreckage by android technicians, and given a protective exoskeleton to restore his crippled body. On the icy moon, the marooned Zoids were incapacitated by the frigid temperatures, and the androids set about converting them to more resilient forms. It was the conversion of heating up the Zoids for survival that turned them from their original blue to red: the Red Zoid mutants were born. Eventually, the surviving Zoidaryan returns to Zoidstar to find that his people had apparently been wiped out by the meteor shower, and that the Zoidaryan automated factories are producing legions of Zoids that continue to battle on, even though their creators have disappeared. Realizing that he is the last of his kind, the Zoidaryan adopts the moniker “Namer”, and gives each of the warring machines an apt title to describe its capabilities; for example: “Small and fleet of foot, yet cunning and deadly in battle; thus I name you Spiderzoid.” With his naming, the Namer issues a stark prophecy, that when the remodeled Zoids from the Blue Moon return, there will be an ultimate battle.“ – Wikipedia
I remember being obsessed with these stories when i was younger, and no wonder, they are mainly, ahem, “tributes” to classic sic-fi like Alien, The Terminator and The Thing. If the comic could lift elements from these great movies then a movie to do something similar.
In the comic books a space ship crashes whilst transporting prisoners to a planet, believed to be devoid of life. Unbeknownst to those on board, the planet is over run by giant warring machines piloted by androids. Those who survive the crash have to fight to survive among the warring machines. There is revelation that one of the corporate stooges on board is an android (hello ash from Alien) and that he is sent to steal Zoid and take it back to Earth for research purposes (Alien again). There is a giant robot called Zoidzilla (I don’t need to point out the reference here) and he battles other giant robots like the flying Krark Prince Of Darkness and Red Horn (very Pacific Rim). At one point the captain of the ship, Drew Heller discovers he is part android when his synthetic arm is discovered (iRobot / Terminator) and his android nemesis, the aptly named Silverman literally loses his head which sprouts legs and skitters off (The Thing).
So far so derivative, but imagine what this could be in the hands of a power producer like Spielberg, with talented genre director like Guillermo Del Toro at the helm. Giant warring machines, humans stranded on an alien planet, androids disguised as humans, body shock horror. And did i mention giant warring robots?
Whats not to love?