September 22, 2014

Five films based on kids' TV shows (and five more that might be on the way)
by James
James

by James Forryan

hmv London; 22/09/2014

Bio

"Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Next week sees the return of an old childrens' favourite as Postman Pat: The Movie is released on September 29th on DVD & Blu-Ray. Essentially a CG animation from Dreamworks Classics based on the long-running BBC series, the film is directed by Mike Disa, a former Disney animator who was behind animated films like Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, and features an impressive cast providing voice duties for its animated characters.

The heroic post-delivering protagonist is voiced by Stephen Mangan, who stars alongside David Tennant, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Grint, while Ronan Keating provide's Postman Pat's singing voice, which he'll be needing for a plot that sees the postman auditioning for the X Factor.

When he unleashes his singing voice on an unsuspecting panel that includes one Simon Cowbell (we're sure any likeness is purely coincidental), he becomes a huge hit on the show. However, he must compete head-to-head with another singer named Josh (voiced by Grint), whose manager is intent on ensuring Pat doesn't win, by any means necessary.

Meanwhile, Pat is replaced on his postal rounds by a robotic version of himself, the Patbot 3000, with even Pat's cat Jess getting a robotic replacement. No, we're not sure why either.

The film is squarely aimed at a younger audience and it'll no doubt be a big hit with the kids – and probably a few bigger kids too. This isn't the first time a film has been based on a children's TV show though, and it won't be the last either, so we took a look at five of the best-known films that have been adapted for the big screen from kids' TV, and another five that may be on the way...

 

Postman Pat: The Movie - Official Trailer

 

Five films based on kids' TV shows...

Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe

(1987)

One of the earliest examples of a big screen adaptation from a childrens' cartoon, this 1987 live-action film by director Gary Goddard starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, alongside a cast that included Frank Langella in the role of He-Man's blue-skinned nemesis Skeletor and even featured a young Courtney Cox in the role of Julie, one of two teenage lovers that He-Man befriends when he arrives on Earth.

The film actually did pretty well at the box office, taking in an eventual $17m, although it never really received much praise from critics, who gave the film a bit of a kicking.

The film was expected to perform better though and, along with the ill-fated Superman IV, is credited as being one the films that helped close Cannon Films in the late 1980s.

What's the verdict?

An admirable attempt, but a little too cheesy for its own good.

Transformers

Transformers

(2007)

Beginning life as one of a series of syndicated cartoons with matching lines of children's toys, Transformers was one of the most popular cartoons of the 1980s and had already spawned a feature length animated film before Michael Bay got a hold of the rights and turned it into one of his live-action blockbusters.

Starring Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, the Transformers films have certainly been hits at the box office and although some find Bay's filmmaking style a little formulaic and over the top, the big budgets afforded to the Transformers movies does mean some pretty impressive looking robots. With three films in the bag already and a fourth starring Mark Wahlberg already in the can, this franchise shows now signs of slowing just yet.

What's the verdict?

It's a blockbusting hit.

Garfield

Garfield

(2004)

Bill Murray reportedly took on this film after mistaking the script writer, Joel Cohen, for one half of the Coen brothers. It wasn't long before Murray found himself re-writing much of the film's plot, but even his considerable comedic talents couldn't quite rescue a film that never really captured the lazy, slacker aesthetic of the cartoon series it was based on.

Garfield's mixture of of CGI and live action could have been brilliant, but Murray has cited various issues during the two films' production that meant they never really reached their potential. We'd love to see a Garfield film done right, but sadly Murray is unlikely to be prepared to go back for a third helping anytime soon.

What's the verdict?

So close, and yet so far...

Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget

(1999)

David Kellogg's 1999 live-action film starred Matthew Broderick as the hapless detective with the technological enhancements, alongside Michelle Trachtenberg as his much brighter niece Penny and Rupert Everett in the role of Sanford Scolex. The film even features cameos from Mr. T and the recently departed Richard Kiel.

It wasn't a huge hit or a favourite with critics, but its wacky brand of comedy does at least match the sprit of the original, making for a great kids' film and watchable brain candy for adults, plus it does have the added bonus of having a great theme tune.

What's the verdict?

One for the kids.

The Flintstones

The Flintstones

(1994)

An animated show that was a huge hit for Hanna Barbera over many years, this live action film starring John Goodman and Rick Moranis as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble had the cast to make it a hit, but somehow it didn't quite deliver.

The humour is a little too juvenile even for a kids' comedy and though the film is well cast, its plot does let the film down and the whole thing just feels like its trying too hard to be likeable, which sort of has the opposite effect.

What's the verdict?

Yabba dabba don't.

 

...and five more that might be on the way

 

Bananaman

One of the more unusual superheroes to grace our screens, the cartoon series Bananaman was nevertheless one of the best-loved of its era. Featuring a boy named Eric Wimp who turned into a crime-fighting superhero every time he ate a banana, its a concept that has all the ingredients to make it ripe for a big screen adaptation, and we're not the only ones that think so.

Earlier this year, a cryptic website featuring only the logos of Elstree Studio and DC Thomson – the publisher behind the Beano and Dandy comics – along with the hashtag #PeelThePower and the date 2015, seeming to suggest that a film is on the way next year. The film is currently listed on imdb as being 'in development'. It's not known what type of film we're looking at yet, but rumours seem to suggest it will be a live action movie.

Will it happen?

Although details are still scarce, with the website and an official film poster already in existence, it looks like this one's happening.


Popeye

The spinach-eating sailor has already been the subject of a 1980 live action film starring the late Robin Williams, but it looks as though a CG animated version also looks set to be heading to the big screen in the near future.

Just this week, director Genndy Trtakovsky released a test animation showing what the new film will look like, although he was at pains to point out that the clip is just a test and does not feature any sequences that will appear in the finished film. No cast have been announced as yet, but with the film slated for a 2016 release we hope to hear more news on that one in the near future.

Will it happen?

It certainly looks that way, with development already well underway.


Thundercats

Based around the idea of some alien humanoid cats and and evil, quasi-Egyptian mummy, it's one of the weirder concepts for a childrens' TV show, but that didn't stop it from being one of the most popular.

Early last year, Warner Bros. were rumoured to be working on a CG animation film based on the concept, even getting as far as creating some test footage, but sadly the project seems to have been shelved as the studio appeared to realise that a much bigger budget would be needed to make the film work properly, which probably made the concept a bit too risky.

Whether the concept will be revived as a live-action film remains to be seen, although James McAvoy did recently express an interest in playing Lion-O if it ever did.

Will it happen?

This one looks to be dead in the water, at least for now

 

Mr. Benn

As far back as 2001 there were plans for a live-action film based on the exploits of Mr. Benn, whose animated show featured him donning a series of fancy dress outfits and embarking on a range of weird and wonderful adventures via a magic door in the changing room mirror.

John Hannah was rumoured to be in the frame to star as the film's titular protagonist, but even though an announcement was made in 2012 that Disney would be making the film, it's been all quiet of the Mr. Benn front since then.

Will it happen?

With no new updates for a couple of years, we're beginning to think this one might not reach the big screen after all.

 

Danger Mouse

A cartoon that regularly tops polls asking their partcipants to name the best ever childrens' TV show, it seems incredible that Danger Mouse has never been turned into a film. Running for over a decade and featuring the voices of David Jason and Terry Scott, this was a firm favourite for kids growing up in the 80s. Sadly though, a film looks like wishful thinking on our part, with no firm plans in the pipeline for a big screen adaptation.

However, there is good news for fans of the franchise as news emerged that a new series of the animated show is to air on CBBC next year. Alexander Armstrong will be replacing David Jason as the voice of the heroic mouse, while Kevin Eldon is set to voice his faithful sidekick, Penfold.

Will it happen?

A film looks unlikely, but the new series is very much on.