A “Paradise Lost” movie: what the hell?

Is nothing, er, sacred?

Bradley Cooper in talks for ‘Paradise Lost’
Legendary Pictures adaptation based on Milton’s 17th-century poem

After helping launch “The Hangover” franchise, Legendary Pictures wants back in business with Bradley Cooper, who’s in early talks to play Lucifer in an adaptation of John Milton’s epic 17th-century poem “Paradise Lost.”

An official offer has yet to be made, but Cooper is eager to take the part and negotiations are expected to begin shortly. Reps for Legendary declined to comment.

Thesp’s involvement breathes new life into Alex Proyas’ adaptation of “Paradise Lost,” long in the works at Legendary. It’s also the latest fanboy-targeted tentpole to move forward at the blossoming production company, which is lensing “Wrath of the Titans” and “Jack the Giant Killer,” backing “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Man of Steel” and developing “Pacific Rim” with Guillermo del Toro as well as a “Godzilla” reboot.

“Paradise Lost” tells the story of the epic war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer, including the latter’s role in Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. Pic will be crafted as an action vehicle that will include aerial warfare, possibly shot in 3D.

I didn’t realize that “Paradise Lost” was fanboy material. Cooper is certainly pretty enough to look the part of Heaven’s fairest angel, but can he rattle off Milton’s iambic pentameter? (Assuming they’ll even retain Milton’s magnificent blank verse for the dialogue; if they just keep Satan’s soliloquy from Book 4 I’ll be happy.)

With all the inevitable 3D spectacle, I doubt that the film will dwell very much on the theological underpinnings of the story, much less challenge or subvert them; Milton may secretly have been of the Devil’s party, but it remains to be seen whether the filmmakers are too. (Casting the sympathetic Cooper as Satan is certainly intriguing.)

I wish someone would give Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy — the anti-“Paradise Lost” — another look. The Golden Compass film from a few years ago was a sadly defanged affair, but Pullman’s epic, with its fierce defense of Enlightenment values and secular humanism, deserves another shot onscreen.

And if Hollywood is intent on bringing an action-comics sensibility to these classic works anyway, I hope someone (Tarantino?) makes a film version of this.

(Image via Wikimedia)

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