Disney’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ brings on the writer of ‘Orphan’

10.30.14 3 years ago

Walt Disney Pictures

Ray Bradbury's “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is not just one of his finest works, it's one of the best books I've ever read, and at this point in my life, that includes thousands of titles. What makes “Wicked” so great isn't just the story, although it's got a great plot, and it's not just the language, although Bradbury ladles it on like a master. It is the way “Wicked” captures not only the feeling in the air as Halloween approaches, but the way he observes and dissects human behavior so carefully and completely.

Here's a paragraph from the book that just makes me swoon.

“Why love the boy in a March field with his kite braving the sky? Because our fingers burn with the hot string singeing our hands. Why love some girl viewed from a train bent to a country well? The tongue remembers iron water cool on some long lost noon. Why weep at strangers dead by the road? They resemble friends unseen in forty years. Why laugh when clowns are hot by pies? We taste custard we taste life. Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience. Billions of prickling textures. Cut one sense away, cut part of life away. Cut two senses; life halves itself on the instant. We love what we know, we love what we are. Common cause, common cause, common cause of mouth, eye, ear, tongue, hand, nose, flesh, heart, and soul.”

Gorgeous. That's Bradbury in a nutshell.

Now comes word that David Leslie Johnson has been hired to write the script for the film that Seth Grahame-Smith will be directing for Disney. It seems like coincidence that I'd be writing about this right after writing about “Terminator: Genisys,” since one of the screenwriters on that film, Laeta Kalogridis, was involved with another version of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” that was supposed to be directed by Robert Zemeckis. I don't know if the plan was for live-action or for one of his performance-capture animated films, but I would love to have seen that version just out of curiosity.

If you're unfamiliar with the book, it's about two young boys who are best friends and what happen when a mysterious carnival blows into town. While the adults are all busy getting their various wishes fulfilled, the boys begin to investigate Mr. Dark, the ringmaster, and the rest of the carnival, convinced something evil is afoot.

Right now, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is shooting, based on Grahame-Smith's novel, so it seems only fitting that he would work right now on adapting someone else's book. I like Johnson as a writer, but I'm not sure he's been well-served by some of the filmmakers he's worked with in the past. I'll be curious to see how they approach this, and how faithful an adaptation it's going to be.

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