Monday, February 16, 2004

small victories:

1) I located the movie: Comic Book: The Movie which has had comic fandom quietly abuzz for a week or so.

2) I located the Justice League Hawkgirl action figure. I had assumed for so long that I would NEVER find Hawkgirl, that I had actually given up. Demand for the figure is high, and the few internet sites which had her were charging upwards of $30. I got her off the peg for $6.50.

3) The new Batman toys will include a "Batcave" which appears to be insanely large

4) The Justice League line of toys will soon include a version of the Satellite base. It's waaayyyy under scale, but I don't have an extra story on my house to store the full-scale model.

5) Superman comics are getting back on track. Kind of. Wait until April. The current storyline is shaping up well, as was the last one, but I'm waiting until April.

6) Superman comics actually went back to press for once, which means there is an upswing in interest.

7) I am not sick. I got enough sleep and feel okay today. I must have dodged that particular bullet.

I watched all of "Comic Book: The Movie" this weekend. And I am surprised to find out what a huge dork Mark Hamill is in real life. Wow. What a colossal nerd. But that's okay. He must actually LOVE being Luke Skywalker, because I cannot believe how dedicated to nerd-life he actually is. Comic Book: the Movie (herefeter referred to as CBTM) is about a guy hitting middle-age who loves comics and has been brought on board the pre-production team for a film adapatation of his favorite character, Captain Courage. Captain Courage has been changed to Codename: C.O.U.R.A.G.E., and is set to begin production as an ultra-violent revenge fantasy, intended to appeal to a modern audience.

Anyway, Mark Hamill's character decides he doesn't like the updated version of the character, and while at the San Diego ComicCon, goes about trying to persuade the producers that they should stay true to the original (if dated) premise. It attempts to follow the semi-improvised "documentaries" of the Christopher Guest genre, but only occasionally does it seem to work.

What follows is less than hilarious, and probably best to be avoided by anyone who doesn't have at least one long box in their closet. The movie is so full of inside jokes, I was stunned the release was wide enough I was able to find the DVD at Target. Even casual readers of comics would probably miss a lot of the jokes and references.

The production values are TERRIBLE. Audio is often messy, for some reason, we constantly see the cameraman, and the whole thing is shot on DV cameras (no, there's no film transfer here at all). I do give them credit for beign able to tape at all in the infamously chaotic lanes of the San Diego Comiccon. But one feels that an actual documentary would have far better served the intended purpose of the film.

What was really strange was how many celebrities do appear in CBTM, including Hugh Hefner, Sid Ceasar, Bruce Campbell, Stan Lee, and a host of comic creators (who are all uniformly chubby). It was cool to see some creators I am familiar with, and it was interesting to see them improvising their own personal recollections of Captain Courage (a mish mash of Shazam!, Superman and Captain America).

For some reason they also decided to add in a character of "the camerman", who is pretty much some guy playing "Otto" from The Simpsons. I don't know who this guy is, but he wasn't funny. And when your movie is improvised, that ain't good. There's a particularly irritating scene in which we are reminded that these are all LA folks in which Otto the cameraman tells a girl in a cowboy hat that "Austin, Texas was named after Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man". Wow. THat's hilarous. These are the jokes which didn't end up on the cutting room floor.

In the end, CBTM may serve one terrific purpose, and that's to send a forewarning to producers everywhere. Producers can learn that as they option the rights to comic characters, they don't own the characters. Hell, the comic companies which do own them barely have any control. These characters belong to the fans. Changing the characters, altering them and adding a "hip factor" is not going to add anything to the character, it's just going to water down what made the character popular for 50+ years. There's a correlation between the success of comic based movies and how close they stay to the source material.

Unfortunately, i don't think CBTM is going to hold any producer's attention long enough that it's going to sway their opinions too much. And one wonders if the movie itself, with it's low budget look and feel, and it's wacky, wish-fulfillment ending, wouldn't end up doing more harm than good.

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