groovy, groovy, jazzy, funky

Having talked about The Dark Knight at length, I will now talk about all the trailers I saw before The Dark Knight.

The Spirit: Holy hell, this looks like the worst movie ever. It takes a real piece of work like Frank Miller to look at the 40-year history of Will Eisner’s most celebrated character and say, “You know what this guy’s all about? He’s all about the fuckin’. That’s what he’s all about.” So we have some mediocre actors jumping in front of green screens, a guy I’ve never heard of murmuring the kind of dialogue that Frank Miller finds sexy, and Samuel L. Jackson screaming and waving machine guns, made up like Boy George in full kabuki regalia. Who would want to watch this garbage?

Body of Lies: How mediocre does a movie directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Leonardo diCaprio and Russell Crowe, have to look to turn me off? This mediocre. Ho hum, spy betrayed by his masters, starts pointing guns at people. Wake me up when we hit 2002, would you?

Bolt: Wow. I got really excited when I thought this movie was about a superpowered dog, and then promptly lost all interest when I realized it was a Homeward Bound knock-off. Who makes that choice? Who, when presented with two possible stories – one about a dog with a supersonic bark and unnatural strength and the kickass adventures it has; and one about a dog, a cat and a hamster traveling across the country – decides that the one that’s been told two thousand times will put more asses in seats? A Hollywood producer, of course.

The Day The Earth Stood Still: Looks far better than any remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves has a right to. The trailer suggests that the latter half of the movie should kick the audience’s ass; I make no promises to anything else. The original 50s movie dripped with ham-water preaching (well, sure, I feel like a jackass for shooting the compound that cured all diseases out of your hands, but you could have let us know what it was a few minutes earlier). I hope the remake retains the sentiment and heightens the tension while letting up on the moralizing.

Watchmen: I see that the “visionary” director of 300 has decided to use a graphic novel as a storyboard again, which sort of puts the lie to the adjective “visionary.” This made sense for 300, as crisp, glossy CGI trumps Frank Miller’s jagged chicken-scratch any day of the week. But considering that Watchmen was already one of the best illustrated graphic novels in the history of the medium, what will a movie add? Instead of reading a panel where Ozymandias hits an assassin with a bronze pillar, now we’ll see him actually pick it up and swing. We also get to see actors who don’t sound like the people we imagined when we first read the book deliver abbreviated versions of the dialogue we loved.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll probably see it anyway.

Terminator: Salvation: I have no feelings either way regarding this movie. I fell out of love with the Terminator franchise around T3 (I thought the director made a few daring choices and a lot of staid ones). Christian Bale, okay. Whatever. Does nothing for me.

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8 Responses

  1. We also get to see actors who don’t sound like the people we imagined when we first read the book deliver abbreviated versions of the dialogue we loved.

    By this logic, no one should ever make a movie out of a book, graphic or otherwise. Which… is arguably true, but good luck convincing Hollywood of that! I’m more concerned with whether or not it will suck, and “by the creator of 300” doesn’t inspire confidence. But don’t get me wrong; I’ll probably see it anyway.

  2. An adaptation of a book at least provides a different vision – in the literal sense: a different visual arrangement – of a given text. But a comic book is already a visual medium. We already know what the people look like.

  3. “Instead of reading a panel where Ozymandias hits an assassin with a bronze pillar, now we’ll see him actually pick it up and swing. We also get to see actors who don’t sound like the people we imagined when we first read the book deliver abbreviated versions of the dialogue we loved.”

    I am pretty sure that this is really the best possible scenario when adapting a graphic novel to the screen. What’s the alternative? To apply a completely different visual esthetic to a story only loosely inspired by the events of the story (with actors that still don’t sound like we imagined)? They already tried that with Alan Moore’s other books, and it still sucked.

    You can get away with that strategy when adapting a book (see Kubrick’s “Shining”), because the book is just text, and the director has the entire canvas of visual medium to play with and put his individual stamp on it. You can also get away with it with an ordinary, serialized superhero (see Batman or Superman or pretty much anyone, for that matter), because you have a truly vast amount of story material from which to pick and choose and put your spin on, and probably at least a dozen reinterpretations of the character have already been written anyway, so you’re in good company.

    But a self-contained graphic novel like the Watchmen just doesn’t leave much room for the director’s vision. It’s a specific story with a specific authorital voice that’s already been told in a visual medium. There’s not much a movie can add except sound and movement. I think you have to either accept that as what the movie will be, or take the stance that making a film out of a graphic novel is a waste of time from the get-go. (Which I think is a valid stance, even if I don’t agree with it.)

  4. * I felt (and still feel) like I really have no idea what “Body of Lies” is about. As far as I could tell it was “Body of Loosely Connected, Cliched Dramatic Moments.”

    * Yeah, “The Spirit” trailer was totally nauseating. It looks like a Crispin Glover film but with, y’know, more misogyny.

    * I’m also going to see “The Watchmen,” but I’m going to make sure I don’t have to do anything else that evening. While I seethe.

  5. Watchmen in IMAX might be worth it.

  6. “why adapt the graphic novel in the first place?”

    Well, as I said in the last bit of my first post, I think that’s a valid question. And I think “you shouldn’t” is a valid position to take, although personally I don’t. If the novelty of sound and motion isn’t enough to make the experience interesting, then no, the movie isn’t worth your time, and perhaps no movie based on a graphic novel will be worth your time, and okay, fine.

    For me, what I’m looking forward to in the Watchman movie is *precisely* that. I’ve read the novel a dozen times and I love every panel of it. But I’ve never seen them move. I’ve never seen a living, breathing Ozymandias catch a bullet; I’ve never heard the footsteps of Dr. Manhattan as he strides across the jungles of Vietnam. That’s what this movie promises, and that’s what I want to go see.

    (I’ve never had much invested in how the actors sound. When I read the book the voices all just sound like me anyway.)

    So in other words, in response to your original criticism, “Instead of reading a panel where Ozymandias hits an assassin with a bronze pillar, now we’ll see him actually pick it up and swing,” my response is “Fuck, yeah!” Maybe it is unnecessary, but how is it a negative?

  7. Maybe it is unnecessary, but how is it a negative?

    Cynic that I am, I don’t think that a director’s depiction can approach what our imaginations had been filling in until this moment – McCloud talks a lot about the importance of imagination in the space between panels. Especially this director. A Spielberg or a Kubrick or a Gilliam, maybe.

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