Monday, July 21, 2008

A Few Items

Item! Jason has posted both photos from my grandmother's funeral, as well as a description of our trip (also expect Jason's thoughts on The Dark Knight).

Item! The trailer for Watchmen premiered with Dark Knight. Here. It seems like just yesterday that I was in middle school and reading "Comics Scene" magazine, where they were describing trying to get Arnie on board to play Dr. Manhattan. Blue, nude, Arnie.

I am still very skeptical. For all the sturm und drang of Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's "300", it ended up feeling like a really long, pretty Korn video. The movie was probably a technical achievement, but you're talking about the difference between adapting a picture book versus a dense and complex story with genuine characters. And, unlike Hulk or Batman, you can't really relaunch Watchmen if Snyder drops the ball.

Item! Speaking of Miller, his directorial debut in adapting Eisner's "The Spirit" looks... kinda not like The Spirit.

I see Sin City with The Spirit's mask glued on for good measure. For those keeping up, Miller's world view is pretty specific, and it may not serve the world of Eisner's gum shoe terribly well.

And certainly anyone who would pick up Spirit reprints to find out what this Spirit guy is about isn't going to find Miller working through his issues with women (even if Eisner's comic did feature a number of femme fatales).

What's weird is that Miller clearly thinks Eisner is the bee's knees. Check out Eisner/ Miller some time. So I'm wondering what Miller is up to.

That said, Eisner employed a lot of crazy imagery in his strip, so some of what I've seen in the trailer fits...

We'll see. I just always found "The Spirit" a lot... jollier... than what I'm seeing.

Item! Steven has thrown down the gauntlet for Nicole. She is to learn Rush's "Tom Sawyer".

I fully support this challenge.

Item! This week is Comic-Con International. That's the big Comic-Con that routinely sends the press into a conniption fit because they can't believe this many people enjoy pop entertainment that isn't covered by "Us Weekly".

Usually some failry interesting comic related news comes out during this period, or else we get a sneak peek of movies, TV shows, what have you.

I'm not expecting a whole lot this year as far as surprises go. The internet news cycle has gotten to be such that entertainment companies are trying to get out ahead of the SDCC rather than making the announcements there.

Some day I'd like to go to SDCC, but part of me is pretty sure it would just wind up being a disappointment. I don't get a particular thrill out of standing in lines, so I don't know if I'd manage to get any sketches, signatures, whatever. Plus, the temptation to spend too much money on comics once I was there would be too great.

I hear a lot about the after parties, but getting sloppy drunk and kissing the ass of some writers and artists sounds... weird (ie: lame). But, still, I think you kind of need to see this thing as part of comic culture. So... maybe one day.


J.S. said...

Yeah, the trailer for The Watchmen kind of left me with mixed feelings. From what I remember of the book (and, admittedly, it's been awhile), an important theme of The Watchmen was the stark difference between the flashy, glossy, slick, public image of these "super heroes" versus the real life weaknesses, character flaws, and struggles of the very realistic people who filled those roles. I'm not sure how much the content of the movie is reflected in the trailer, but the trailer seemed just all about that exact kind of glossy, superficial image of superheroes that the book sort of undermines (the movie characters look like they are going to be cast younger and hipper than the comic characters, and the movie trailer felt more like a polished music video than the preview of a well-scripted movie). Anyway, trailers aren't much to go on, and I probably ought to reread the book before I see the movie, but I'm already concerned about the movie losing or ignoring some of the themes of the book. That would be a shame, because The Watchmen is definitely meant to be something more than just the tale of another team of superheroes.

The League said...

It's kind of sad, because it seems like such a near miss. It's like the producers just couldn't tolerate not having sexy superheroes in their movie, no matter what the book was actually supposed to be about. It's like they said "oh, its a murder mystery! Well, why are these superheroes so old? We can fix that."

I dunno. I think I made a mistake rushing out to see V for Vendetta instead of waiting to read reviews, etc... and preparing myself for the differences between the comic and the movie. I don't know what makes Alan Moore so hard to translate to the screen, but, man...

J.S. said...

Alan Moore is difficult to translate because a lot of his writing is about subtext, metaphor, and symbolism. His work usually has themes that exist below the literal meaning of his wrok, but directors who find his stories and characters cool don't seem to click to these themes, and they go around changing his plot points in a willy nilly fashion (usually to make things look more stylish on screen) without any thought to how they're affecting the underlying literary themes of the work. Its the old style over substance problem, and in an era when music videos, Youtube clips, and even commercials are often more popular than films or TV shows, style seems to be constantly gaining more ground.

The League said...

You didn't say this, but I'm going to follow this anyway: I see no reason film can't deliver those same subtextual messages or metaphorical cues. I think the filmmakers spend far, far too little time with the material.

V, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen... all seemed to just grab the core plot and leave the rest on the floor. Kind of sad.

J.S. said...

Yeah. No- good filmmaking does that (incorporates subtext). I just think that most people who get hired to make "comic book movies" come at the material from a superficial standpoint for at least two reasons: 1) they don't give comic writers enough credit and aren't looking for any deeper layer of meaning, and 2) since comics are such a visual medium, I think some directors are tempted to just convert them into storyboards, and then it's off to the races (maybe some of them even think that they're doing their job as directors when they stylize the movies to make them different than the comic panels, even when in doing so they inadvertantly are robbing the source material of its subtext).

Anonymous said...

About the "sexy" superheroes ... I imagine it would be hard to convince a studio to greenlight a $100+ summer blockbuster with middle-aged, "non-sexy" actors. If the Watchmen were going to be a Coen Brothers movie, then that's another thing, but I doubt a Coen Brothers movie could be a summer tentpole.

Even The Dark Knight, with all its grittiness has two leading men that many women would consider "sexy". And if you count Aaron Eckhart, that makes three.

I'm sure the last thing teenage boys will want to see in a Watchment movie is Frances McDonald as the Silk Spectre II and Josh Brolin as Nite Owl II.

The League said...

Hey, after they gave Demi Moore as Hester Prynne a happy ending in the mid-90's Scarlet Letter adaptation, there's very little I can't see studios changing to please some test market in SheepDip, Utah.

I'd also argue that it's insanely short sited thinking to assume sexy = young (see: Diane Lane, Rene Russo, etc...). I don't think anyone thought Silk Spectre had to show up in Mom Jeans and a sweater with kitties on it. The comic certainly doesn't think so. But years = experience, and that's what the movie c/should have been about. And, I'd argue, it never HAD to be a $100+ million dollar movie.

When you see these kinds of decisions piled together, it doesn't make me respect the movie or movie makers for spending a ton of movie to draw in teenagers. It makes me think they fundamentally don't understand their own material, nor do they have a passion for the comic. Those are reasons they're making a mistake, but in no way does it excuse their decision making.

And, in many ways, they still don't get it when it comes to understanding the core comic geek audience that more or less makes or breaks these movies on opening weekend.

That said, I am sure that after waiting 20 years, most geeks will show up, anyway.

J.S. said...

And, Randy, a Coen Brothers style superhero movie starring Francis McDormand might not make for a summer blockbuster style movie... but then again it might. My main gripe is that if they want to make fluff, there are plenty of other stories out there, but don't go after The Watchmen, for heaven's sake (I don't think most of the general public even knows about The Watchmen, so it's not like there's necessarily a built in, non-fanboy audience clamoring for this movie to be made. Which begs the question- why make The Watchmen if you aren't going to follow the themes of the book?) It's a story that's actually lends itself to provocative thought, and if someone were to give it serious treatment, they might actually stumble onto something that's real art rather than just entertainment. I understand your point about getting studios to greenlight high budget films, but Watchmen should truly be a rated R movie that's meant for grownups- not a summer blockbuster popcorn action flick.