If you’re like most alive today, you grew up with Paul R. Ehrlich’s Malthusian idea of a “population bomb.” It just seems like common sense that man will increase his numbers inexorably until, one day, we find ourselves living a real-life Soylent Green scenario, sans drama and Charlton Heston to sound that indelible alarm about the real source of a futuristic, overpopulated world’s food supply, “Soylent Green is people!”
Epic fantasy is the one genre of storytelling that Hollywood has never been able to master. Before Lord of the Rings, there was a scant handful — Willow, The Princess Bride, and Ladyhawke nearly exhaust the list for the last three decades — of live-action fantasy films that even attained cinematic mediocrity. Of these, only The Princess Bride, with its quirky one-liners and odd commingling of the modern and medieval, achieved something approaching cult appeal. Until very recently, fantasy was perceived to be box-office poison (“Never act with children or dragons” goes the adage), and filmmakers stayed away from tried-and-true literary classics like the works of Tolkien and Lewis.