An H.P. Lovecraft expert has supposedly read a draft of Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins' At the Mountains of Madness script, and his review - if legitimate - suggests that the film is going to be an absolute orgy of giant monster action, maybe at the expense of genuine Lovecraftian flavor. Twitchfilm.net brings us word that TempleofGhoul's Dejan Ognjanovic had a chance to read a version of the story, and he describes it as a "Hellboy movie without Hellboy, with a light dose of Carpenter's The Thing." The report states that the story is stripped bare of its thick mythos, and instead unspools without much concern for the ominous atmosphere so critical to Lovecraft's writing. Apparently, the plot boils down to scientists trekking to the South Pole in 1930 and inadvertently re-awakening massive (and likely disgusting) creatures that pose a bit of a threat to human civilization the world over. Madness ensues. Madness of either mountainous origin or quantity - the title is a bit unclear.
The review's author - who's a bit of a Lovecraft enthusiast - is dismayed but unsurprised that the rich and complex origins of the beasts has been dropped in favor of contextually hollow action beats that better allow for the plethora of creatures that del Toro will inevitably bring to the screen. In fact, he writes that "There's relatively little stress on atmosphere" and that "Once the action starts around the 30-minute mark, it never stops," suggesting that this James Cameron-produced 3-D Mountains of Madness is going to be powered by adrenaline rather than nightmarish spectacle.
But it's important to remember that the script - particularly at this stage - is more of a blueprint than anything else. Scripts read at an unformed pace of their own, and the criminally undervalued Hellboy 2 should be proof enough that del Toro is eminently capable of drowning action sequences in atmosphere and character of whatever tone he chooses. Given the filmmaker's propensity towards intricate and well-considered design, I wouldn't be surprised if he was able to pack plenty of vile meaning into even (or especially) the film's most grotesque moments - the shape-shifting Shoggoths alone should give him ample room to dig into the storied history of the Old Ones without interrupting the carnage. And though I share Ognjanovic's concerns about the dry protagonist and that del Toro won't be able to stop himself from over-populating a Lovecraft adaptation with new monsters, both Hellboy 2 and Pan's Labyrinth illustrated that he's got a rare capacity to infuse character-motivated action / horror sequences with a genuine sense of consequence. Del Toro is going to be a kid in a violent candy store with this one, but he's becoming a better storyteller with every subsequent film, so consider me optimistic. Also, the film
What do you think about how At the Mountains of Madness is shaping up? Do you have faith in del Toro, or do you think that studio pressure to streamline the story will rob it of its dark, pulpy power?