Since the box office explosion of Tim Burton’s Batman feature adaptation in 1989, the major Hollywood movie studios have attempted to exploit the comic book / graphic novel in feature adaptations of hordes of previously dormant franchises. In the past twenty years, there have been many such films and sequels, not to mention many other films which have tried to copy the métier of these films with the hope of kickstarting a new franchise for studios who increasingly rely on the synergy of their various divisions, be they publishing, broadcasting, print, amusement parks, and emerging digital technologies. The issue is that only a very few of these properties have proved worthy of their legacy, and even fewer have created the buzz that the modern incarnation of studios swear by to generate material across the many media that they govern.
I’ve always liked Natalie Portman and thought she and Ewan McGregor were the best things in Episodes I – III. She’s been cast to play Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest in the upcoming Marvel Thor Movie. The official press release is after the break.
A few weeks ago the folks at Fox Home Video finally put out the complete X-Men Trilogy on the good old Blu-ray. I checked out the X2: X-Men United Blu-ray and came away feeling mixed. If you have Blu-ray and don’t own the DVDs then this is a must buy set as X-Men and X2: X-Men united are two of the best comic book films of all time. X2 is epic, while watching it this weekend I was forced me to think of last week’s X-Men: Wolverine and how much better it should have and could have been. Wolverine actually affected my enjoyment of X2 because I kept going, wait a second Wolverine totally screwed up a lot of stuff and didn’t even bother to try and remain consistent with the current trilogy. Technically Fox considers Wolverine a reboot of the franchise but if that’s the case then they shouldn’t have had Patrick Stuart do his cameo at the end which, um,,, Hello? Linked the Wolverine film to this trilogy! Anyway, X2 is an almost perfect movie. Watching it on Blu-ray, I didn’t notice much of an improvement in picture or audio quality over the already pristine DVD version. But it is a nice 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer.
With all of the negative hype surrounding the upcoming Xmen Origins: Wolverine movie I thought it was time for comic movie fans to put things into perspective. Remember no matter how bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine may be, or those of you that think Watchmen sucked, it can always get worse. Let’s go back….
The Punisher – Dolph Lundgren
Here’s the thing, while I acknowledge that the original Punisher movie with Dolph was horrible, I thought it was still fun to watch and at least they got the essence of the character right. The problem with this movie is it was hamstrung by a shoestring budget and at times it tried to be a little “artsy.” But Dolph as the Punisher was actually pretty inspired casting. He really did look just like the comic book character.
I don’t want to date myself but I saw this as a child and thought it was pretty cool. Matt Salinger Reb Brown looked hot and muscular, the colors were bright and cheerful it was fun. I remember watching this movie again as an adult and shaking my head saying “what was I thinking?” The casting of Matt was pretty good, he looked like and was built just like the comic book character. The problem with the movie is, it was fine for the time it was originally released but by today’s standards it doesn’t hold up well at all. I will say, I can’t see how they could do it much better today, the producers will still have to deal with the fact that Cap’s costume and Shield is a garish throwback to 40s era patriotism and 60s style spandex. I don’t see how you get around that. Although, Superman’s costume always seem to translate pretty well on camera.
Watchmen has always been a weird project/phenomenon to me. I remember the first time I read the book when the first trade graphic novel came out. Even though I was an avid comic collector back in those days I somehow missed the single issue. And a lot of the folks that I hung around with in college never really mentioned it, then all of a sudden the collected trade paper back comes out and it builds a life of it’s own. A friend of mine was up for an editorship position at my old college newspaper and my former editor asked my friend, “Who said, The Comedian is Dead?” My friend was up for the Arts Editor job, drew a complete blank, this despite the fact that his parents are huge in the Comic Book Industry. We all just looked at him like he was out of his mind, how could he not know the answer to this question? That’s how ingrained the Watchmen book became in the “comic book” culture, however “small” it was at the time. It was only mainstream in the sense that businessmen came in and thought every number 1 issue of a comic could become the next $200,000 Superman book. Don’t get me started on how main stream media and wall street speculators basically destroyed the industry for several years.
Comics became more about marketing hype and gimmicks, than story or its fans. Watchmen was one of the few “true” stories that embraced the medium at the time. Years later it was actually required reading in some college literature programs. Which is a first for any comic book. The Dark Knight Returns didn’t reach that status until years later. So I fully appreciate the masterpiece that, the mad genius, Alan Moore created. Many people started calling the book unfilmable, which is something I never understood. Sure Alan Moore is an arrogant ass (rightfully so), but I never felt like there was anything about the book that made it “unfilmable,” yeah the subject matter is tough and what to do about the book’s ending would be difficult, but unfilmable, no.
Despite all of this, the book has always left me a bit cold and I never really connected with it like I felt I should. To this day I’m always shocked when I find someone who hasn’t read it and always say, “You have to read this book.” It’s a novel that totally changes your perception of what comics can be. The Dark Knight Returns moves me and connects with me on an emotional level, while Watchmen is a mental, if not a bit hollow connection.
The movie made me feel the same way. Like, I can recognize the brilliance of it, or actually brilliance is a really strong hyperbole, 300 Director Zack Snyder movie isn’t brilliant, it’s just really good, he nailed it. The problem is, it’s almost a word for word, shot for shot translation of the book, or a Cliff’s note version. He got rid of a lot of the book’s tangents like Hollis’ Behind the Mask book excerpts and the newsstand guy and the kid reading the story about the pirate (which I’ve never understood the point of). Unfortunately, he spends too much time on showing us Nixon giving speeches and preparing for war, I understand that those scenes added context to the global threat but it just felt a bit forced. Continue reading MOVIE REVIEWS: Holy Blueballs, Watchmen is brilliant but cold. Michelle’s Review
You know it’s the 4th of July when you are sitting in a theater watching a Will Smith movie. Last week, I complained that Hollywood is trying desperately to turn James McAvoy into a leading man and I said he doesn’t have the “it” factor. Well one week later we see a full on display of a leading man who has that quality. And it’s surprisingly enough – Jason Bateman. He is what makes this mess of a film somewhat watchable. Now I’m not denigrating Smith because whatever you say about him, he also has that “it” factor where you would watch him read a phone book.
But Bateman is a real find. I loved him in Juno, but here I think he finally goes from being a cult favorite from Arrested Development (which I don’t get why people love it) to summer blockbuster status. I don’t think he’s ready to take on a leading role, but he’s great. Maybe it’s due to the fact that he’s the only likable person – the do-gooding, tree hugging, save the world PR guy Ray Embrey, who, after being saved by the foul mouth, alcoholic anti-Superman John Hancock decides he can turn Hancock into a real Hero.
The problem with the film, besides the fact that I was sitting next to these two girls who wouldn’t shut the f up, is it’s a ½ hour movie stretched to 90 minutes. Usually summer blockbusters have great 1st and 2nd acts, but lousy finishes. Hancock is the opposite. The first hour of this film is painfully slow, devoid of any heart, plot or reason for existing. The trailers and clips of Hancock walking around and flying drunk gets tired in the commercials, now imagine an hour of that. We see Hancock drink bottle after bottle of whisky. We see him tearing up streets just taking off and landing, we see him picking his nose. It’s a one note movie for the first hour; which is why Bateman’s manic performance comes as a breath of fresh air. Rumor has it Director Peter Berg wanted the movie to be edgier than this final cut. If edgier means another 20 minutes of a drunken Will Smith I would pass.
Hancock lacks a driving plot, villains and people we actually can get behind. The movie picks up in the 3rd act when Hancock finally becomes the Superhero he’s meant to be and we finally get to uncover some of his back story, his history with Ray’s wife Mary (Charlize Theron). There’s an interesting, tragic love story that gets thrown in and here we start to see the beginnings of some interesting ideas that slowly started to suck me back into the film. It would have been fantastic if the studio had the guts to actually kill off Hancock at the end.
If Hancock didn’t try so hard to be “edgy” and “different” it could have been a winner. Instead with the only villain in the movie being a Whiskey bottle it barely registers as a blip on the radar. Though, I still loved Jason Bateman in this. Whatever you say about Will Smith he brings it with every role he takes on and you can tell that even here he’s really intense.
Final Grade D
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 7.2.2008
The folks over at Marvel.com have posted some nice new poster shots and a trailer from the upcoming Punisher: War Zone movie. The trailer looks really cool, if not a little B "Listy." I’m still not sold on Ray Stevenson as the lead. While watching the clip, I kept thinking, that should be Thomas Jane or even Dolph. "Punisher: War Zone" comes to a theater near you on December 5! Check out the trailer and the other photos Here.
The summer of the Comic-book movie continues this weekend with the launch of Wanted an adaptation of Mark Miller’s over the top graphic novel about a wimp who gets turned into an amoral, masochistic Super Villain. I had never heard of this book until the movie was announced last year. So I saw the film cold. I walked out of the theater being mixed, on the one hand Russia action director Timur Bekmambetov channels his inner Woo to bring us some amazing action sequences on the other the acting is all over the place. No matter how much Hollywood wants it to be true, James McAvoy doesn’t have the “It” factor. He’s ok in small doses but he just lacks charisma. Last year Timur floored me with the amazing, over the top Day Watch – if you are an action fan, you must see this. But all the elements that made Day watch so amazing, don’t work in Wanted.
MTV is running a pretty cool contest where you can live like Tony Stark or a weekend. Personally, I wouldn’t want to win, it’d be a cruel joke to give you a taste of something I would never be able to get again. But I love the concept and like to see good marketing. From MTV of all people. Here’s a link to the official contest. www.ironman.mtv.com