In a post a few weeks back celebrating Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore's plans to kickstart a new sci-fi trilogy, I lamented the lack of original science-fiction at the movies -- that is to say, films that aren't adaptations, remakes or sequels. Now, in addition to Moore's project (which remains shrouded in mystery), we can look forward to Arena from Summit Entertainment and first-time screenwriters Toby Wagstaff and Darren Howell.

The movie is being overseen by the same guy who brought us last year's godawful War, but the concept sounds a lot cooler. Paraphrasing from the Variety squib announcing the project, it's about a group of modern-day soldiers who are suddenly transported to a terrain-shifting battlefield where they must face all the best armies and warriors from the past "in a gladiatorial fight to the death," or else be immediately killed by the omnipotent forces behind the "Arena." Having now spent ten minutes searching in vain for something to which I can compare this idea, I'm forced to conclude that it's legitimately original. (Am I missing something? The best I've been able to come up with is Cube meets Stargate, which is still way off.)

Which is not to say the resulting movie, if it materializes, won't suck. Indeed, it's precisely the kind of concept that can easily produce a C-grade film (think Stay Alive or Virtuosity). If the screenplay obsesses on the gory details of the "gladiatorial fight to the death" without giving any actual thought to the notion of a bunch of soldiers being mysteriously transported to an otherworldly Arena run by all-powerful beings, then we're in trouble. On the other hand, if the movie recognizes how weird and literally awesome an idea that is, we could be in for something very cool.