With James Gunn having just stunned the world by going from pitch-black indie comedies to box office blockbusters, it’s time to consider other extraordinary cases of filmmakers going down a road few could have predicted.
From romantic-comedies made by horror icons to action schlock from arthouse heroes, Mark Butler highlights eight well-known movies directed by the last person you’d expect.
Alien Resurrection was directed by the guy who made Amelie
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is the acclaimed French creator of such surreal, oddball masterpieces as City Of Lost Children and Delicatessen – not to mention whimsical, multi Oscar-nominated comedy Amelie. Oh, and he also directed the dumb and slightly naff fourth entry in the Alien series.
The bloody, bullet-spewing and thoroughly American action flick seems like a shocking departure. But the presence of Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon provide some continuity with the rest of his CV, while the little-seen director’s cut shows off some of the trademark eccentricity and visual comedy that made his name. Still bizarre though.
Thor was directed by the guy who made Hamlet
Previously known almost exclusively for highbrow literary and Shakespeare adaptations, including the Oscar-nominated Henry V and Hamlet, respected British thesp Kenneth Branagh knocked everyone for six when he agreed to direct Marvel’s most outlandish and preposterous origin story.
Branagh took the Norse gods, fish-out-of-water comedy and giant killer robots in his stride though, and seems to have developed a taste for silly blockbuster fare. He also directed this year’s Jack Ryan reboot too.
The Golden Compass was directed by the guy who made American Pie
When you shoot to fame for creating a classic gross-out comedy featuring pastry sex, laxative spiking, and semen drinking, surely it’s a natural leap to the world of family fantasy adventures?
Hell, they even gave Chris Weitz a Twilight instalment to take charge of a few years back. Perhaps not surprising when you consider that…
Twilight: Eclipse was directed by the guy who made Hard Candy
Having made his feature-length debut with a film about a psychopathic teen who captures and torments a predatory paedophile, David Slade promptly found himself helming the biggest young adult romantic-thriller going. Who would have thought that someone so adept at capturing a creepy, abusive relationship on screen would be so suited to Twilight? Oh…
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Slade’s previous experience with vampires on the infinitely gorier, nastier 30 Days Of Night pushed him to the top of the list. We can only speculate.
Starman was directed by the guy who made Halloween
B-Movie king John Carpenter is so synonymous with gory slasher flicks and tongue-in-cheek action schlock that all you have to do is yell ‘Snake Plissken!’ three times and he’ll appear.
So it’s fair to say this sentimental Oscar-nominated romance movie, in which a heartbroken widow falls for an alien who visits Earth, is something of an anomaly from the man who brought us Big Trouble In Little China and They Live.
Hairspray was directed by the guy who made Pink Flamingos
John Waters made his name with outrageous, X-rated cult fare that reveled in counter-culture extremes and shock tactics; not least the moment in Pink Flamingos where drag queen Divine eats dog poo for real.
How unlikely then that beloved musical Hairspray was originally written and directed by him for the big screen. It has serious themes at its core, sure, but it’s still an all-singing, all-dancing crowd-pleaser. To this day, it’s the only film of his to be PG-rated.
Rent was directed by the guy who made Home Alone
We’re still in musical territory now – only with something a little more sobering. Rent is the story of New York bohemians struggling with drugs, sexuality and money problems against the backdrop of AIDS.
So who better to take charge of the movie adaptation than Chris Columbus, director of Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter movies. It’s a marriage made in heaven!
Donnie Brasco was directed by the guy who made Four Weddings And A Funeral
Mike Newell is best-known for light-hearted comedies including Pushing Tin and the bumbling, quintessentially British Four Weddings. So it may surprise you to learn that he also directed hard-hitting crime thriller Donnie Brasco.
Following an undercover agent on his infiltration of the mob, and featuring a heartbreaking performance from Al Pacino, it’s a powerful, muscular movie that belies Newell’s more whimsical fare.