Screw The Giver, give me a live-action version of the classic short story written by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game!
Yes, I am very aware that there is an existing film based on this classic short story that was made in 1932 by the same title, along with other “loosely” versions like Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Hard Target and 1994’s Surviving the Game. However, this story carries such strong first impressions, and is told throughout thousands of high schools, that I believe our generation deserves a new telling of this “survival of the timid” classic.
The story is about a man named Sanger Rainsford, a professional hunter who finds himself on a ship-trap island near Rio after falling overboard on his own ship. It is at this island where he finds a palatial mansion, owned by General Zaroff, and his large deaf-mute servant, Ivan. After inviting Rainsford to dinner, the General tells Rainsford of his own hunting expenditures, claiming that the “challenge” is lost. The General proceeds to tell Rainsford that he will be given a three-hour head start, equipped with food and a knife, to run from the General before being hunted. If Rainsford can survive for three days, then he will be let go. If not, than this Island will become Rainsford’s new grave, losing to a game of cat vs. mouse.
And now for my favorite part…the casting!
Ladies and Gentlemen, your Sanger Rainsford!
Yes yes, a bit of a cheese; however, one cannot deny the year Matthew McConaughey has had. We can look at his two major motion picture hits last year which include both Mud and Dallas Buyers Club, or we can look at the success of the HBO hit miniseries in which he anchored, True Detective. If we choose to be premature, then we can even look ahead to November, where he will be portraying a scientist in Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated space odyssey Interstellar.
McConaughey is simply high in demand, and can be noted as one of the top ten recruited talents working in Hollywood today.
But why does he work as Sanger Rainsford? I believe it to be because of two reasons.
The first being vulnerability. McConaughey has proven with his previous works that he is extremely capable of getting the audience behind him. I mean, think about it for a second; there is at least 30-40 minutes of this picture that will only feature Rainsford by himself in the jungle. That means that there would be very little talking, if any. So, because his acting is at such a high platform, we can assume that he will find a way as an actor to give a sense of reality to anchor emotions behind the character (similar to what Tom Hanks did in 2001’s Cast Away).
The second reason, funny enough, is swagger. If you listened to the way he delivered his lines in True Detective, you would understand that McConaughey has an extreme power in developing a character, then immediately switching it’s motives. There are times in this story where we, as an audience, would have to believe that both Rainford and Zaroff are hitting it off…followed by an immediate switch of gears. That’s all I am going to say about that.
Now…Who is our General Zaroff?
That’s a bingo! This is what we call in the casting industry as a “no brainer”. Who else working today has delivered lines better in the last five years? I am having a difficult time debating that one…
Actor Christoph Waltz has perhaps the best “silver-tongue” I have seen in my life. The man delivers lines like Michael Jordan delivers championships. His attributes can vary from the captain of charisma, to the king of horror. (Thank you Quentin Tarantino for sharing this jewel with us!)
(For those of you who have yet to see 2011’s Water for Elephants, I strongly advise you to watch his portrayal as perhaps one of the biggest scumbags ever put on screen.)
I believe that Waltz would be able to give the character of Zaroff the humility he deserves. I mean, you would expect the General to have that approach of, “It not personal, but merely a game” feeling about him. For Zaroff, it’s all in good fun! I am sure he would be the first to congratulate Rainsford if he were to make it the full three days.
Waltz would make this performance so much fun, which is why he is my General Zaroff.
As far as the character of Ivan goes, just cast anybody besides the cliche Dwayne Johnson or Jesse Eisenberg…yuck!
Thanks for reading you guys! Hope you enjoyed this little article.
-Jimmy Kenneth Presley