[personal profile] wingedbeast
We're living in a world of dark re-imaginings of what was once lighthearted fare. This has been going on for longer than Riverdale, but Riverdale really brings us to a peak of what's done wrong in the effort. I don't want to reject the idea of dark re-imaginings. I think they have real value. They can add depth to a work or a franchise or an idea. But, you have to do it right. In order to get a sense of how to do it right, let's start with source material that's more ripe for the dark re-imagining.

For those who haven't seen it, Flight of the Navigator is about David, who's knocked out in the woods near his home, wakes up to find that it's eight years later, the world has aged that eight years but he hasn't. This turns out to be due to an abduction by an alien artificial intelligence. Said artificial intelligence lost, for reasons I can't recall if they ever existed, its navigational charts in the mind of David and needed them returned. Upon requiring them from David, the machine also takes in part of his personality.

So much of that is just ripe for horror and dark foreboding. We have a family that has to deal with the sudden disappearance of a child, including one member who was an even younger child. We have the displacement in time. We have the nigh-Lovecraftian element of an alien artificial intelligence with motivations we may or may not be able to guess at. Oh, and did I mention the parts that deal with government scientists?

Despite what I just said, this is a children's adventure-comedy. You can do something similar with just about any children's fare (perhaps with the exception of Watership Down, which wears its darkness out in the open). The point is that the darkness is there, whether authors intend it or not and certainly whether censors intend it or not.

These dark re-imaginings must not inject or add darkness (for instance: in the form of a murder). They should simply look at what's already there and find the darkness already present.

In the case of Flight of the Navigator that darkness has the aforementioned forms. And, in the dark re-imagining, I would advise not a single movie but a television series that follows the various lines of interweaving story.

One line is, of course, David himself. The child who goes out into the woods, one day, only to come back to a different world and, though unaged, different himself. He doesn't entirely remember what happened, easily thinking nothing happened.

The next line is David's family. Mother and father who had to go through the horror of losing a child and, over eight years prior, the repeated dashed hopes and having to come to grips with the possibility that their son died long ago, only to return now. The younger brother who was barely old enough to go to school when this happened and now has to be emotionally strong for the child who has experienced only the smallest fraction of the trauma he has.

On the other side, we have the scientists who have found the flying saucer and try to make sense of it. What is it? What does it do? Can it be said to want anything and, if so, what? Why would this construct be constructed? Can we afford to take the chance that whoever made it has good intentions?

The lines come together as it becomes more and more obvious that the child who just skipped the past eight years has been changed and has a connection to the machine... or the machine wants something from the child.

Things have to come together when David and the machine make physical contact and David gives the machine access to regain its navigational charts. But, what has been done to a human mind cannot be undone. David will never lose the programming that found its way into his mind. And the machine can now, never, be rid of the failings of humanity within its mind.

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wingedbeast

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