Most of Roald Dahl’s literary oeuvre has already been plundered for an animated movie or a live-action adaption. We now have two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stories on the big screen, and this summer brought us Steven Spielberg’s visionary version of The BFG. Now, there is a live-action production of James and the Giant Peach coming to theaters near you in the near future and according to Deadline, Sam Mendes is expected to be behind the camera for to handle the adaptation.
The story, about a young orphan who escapes cruel aunts in a giant peach that grew large because of magical “crocodile tongues,” has of course already been adapted once before. The 1996 Tim Burton-produced project was nominated for an Academy Award and was well-received by critics and audiences alike, putting all the more pressure on this remake. Knowing that, a live-action version seems like it could be another hit or a complete miss.
Based on other recent live adaptations the trend seems to be that they either turn out hugely successful in spite of themselves or crash and burn. Pete’s Dragon, a tearjerker of a family film based on the 1977 cracked-out fever dream, received amazing reviews and could serve as a great blueprint for this endeavor. There’s so much to deal with here – not alienating fans of the source material, the original movie, or new prospective fans while still making a movie that is true to the filmmaker’s own voice and vision. That filmmaker being Sam Mendes adds another layer to this news, seeing as Mendes is most well known for his work on James Bond movies like Spectre and Skyfall, as well as deeper films like American Beauty and Revolutionary Road.
There is a lot of emotionally rough material in the originally movie and in the book, but there are also many emotionally redeeming moments and the chance to break out some gorgeous cinematography as the titular peach makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean from England to New York. If Mendes uses his proven directorial skills to the fullest extent than this has the potential to turn out very well indeed.