Posts Tagged ‘comic book

09
Mar
09

Movie Review: Watchmen

watchmen_rorschach

 

Who watches the “Watchmen?” I did…

 

Stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earl Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Matt Frewer. Directed by Zack Snyder. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

 

Loud, brash, abrasive, violent, brutal, gorey, slick, sexy, and a bit underwhelming.

 

“Watchmen” (based on the graphic novel I previously reviewed) is set in alternate 1985. The U.S. won the Vietnam War (with the help of Dr. Manhattan). Richard Nixon is on his fifth term of office. At any moment we could be swapping nukes with the Russians. And in New York City, a Comedian dies…

 

So goes “Watchmen,” the latest superhero/graphic novel adaptation from acclaimed graphic novel adapting filmmaker, Zack Snyder. For those who don’t know (or read the title cards in the trailers) Snyder is responsible for the film adaptation of “300,” a graphic novel by Frank Miller. Ever the technical director, Snyder ups the ante with his take on the acclaimed Moore/Gibbons series.

 

Before I go too much further, I finally figured out what a “fanboy” or “fangirl” is. These are the people who turn out to see these movies on the sheer fact that what they’re watching is based on the comic book/graphic novel. This is ultimately their movie.

 

And for them Snyder delivers. Snyder takes literal adaptation to the next level by making sure that the film looks EXACTLY like the graphic novel in every frame possible. If you just wanted to see this achieved, then here you go.

 

If you liked “300,” or Zack Snyder as a director, or love comic book movies no matter what (and I cannot stress that enough), then this is your movie. Have at it. Enjoy.

 

Still reading? Good.

 

“Watchmen” fails on the account that Snyder doesn’t understand nuance. Or breathing room. Or the fact that just because you wanna make a carbon copy of something the acclaim of the source material will shine down upon you, because it won’t (see: Gus Van Sant version of “Psycho”) Through this movie I have learned the reason why the “boring parts” in books and movies exist: because we, the audience, need a moment to process what just happened.

 

For those who have read the graphic novel, do this: take out all scenes centering around the man and his newsstand. Take out all of the “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Take out all the newsclippings, sections from “Hooded Justice,” and anything remotely literary. What you have left is the “Watchmen” movie.

 

And on that note Snyder is a success, although I think that removing allegory, nuance, paranoia and subtlety in favor of slick brutality and violence isn’t much of a success, but then again I don’t have his bank account. The one thing I will give him credit for is the opening; a montage of events surrounding superheroes caught in 3-D slow-mo. I also thought his ending worked better than the “giant psychic squid” of the graphic novel.

 

As for the rest, it was difficult for me to care. I loved Rorschach in the graphic novel; a post-40’s detective that nobody likes solving a murder no one cares about and finding the answers reveal something more sinister. While the same is achieved in the movie, Snyder does not allow for the same breathing room as the comics and forgoes the noir tone for action/adventure. Imagine a movie like, “Chinatown,” with most of the investigating removed.

 

“Watchmen” writer Alan Moore had his name taken off of this and refuses to acknowledge the movie, citing it as “unfilmable.” Maybe it’s because previous works, “From Hell,” and “V for Vendetta,” weren’t faithful to his vision. Having read the graphic novel, I entirely understand. But I hope he gets some of the royalties…

 

My grade :B (based on technical achievement)

 

 

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01
Jan
09

Movie Review: The Spirit

spirit

 

 

My movie screens and I am her reviewer.

 

Starring Gabriel Macht, Jaime King, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by Frank Miller. Based on the graphic novel by Will Eisner.

 

I expected it to be stylized, but didn’t expect it to get boring.

 

Story: It’s Central City. Think Basin City from “Sin City,” but with no anima. Denny Colt (Macht) is a cop who is shot in the chest and dies, only to be miraculously resurrected and take the form of masked crime-fighter “The Spirit.” His arch-nemesis is “The Octopus” (Jackson), a former coroner turned mad scientist/ criminal mastermind. When a cop is all but murdered “The Spirit” is on the case: a case of switched cases. He soon runs into old flame-turned-jewel heist queen Sand Seref who got the box containing a vase holding blood of Heracles (or Hercules, if you will) when she wanted the case with the “bling”: Jason’s Golden Fleece. Eventually this all gets sorted out. Eventually.

 

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, but even with lowered expectations this movie slips under the bar. For what it’s worth the movie isn’t so much bad as it is boring. We’re treated to an alternate-now detective story where the characters act as if they were plucked straight from a 1940’s film noir. Or maybe it IS the 1940’s and some dimensional portal gave them cellphones, copiers, assault rifles, and helicopters. Either way, “The Spirit” takes place in this world and apparently people are few and far between. Aside from cops and crooks, very few people seem to exist in the sprawling mecca of Central City.

 

“Spirit” himself comes off as Clint Eastwood when he narrates but when he’s doing his job is basically no more than what he was when he died: a rookie cop. Only now he can get shot, hit, hurt, etc. and heal from the wounds. How is this possible especially when every time he thinks back, every time he blacks out, death/ Lorelei (King) is waiting to claim him? Well, that’s all due to the Octopus.

 

And The Octopus is busy finding the key to immortality (the blood of Heracles). With the help of his assistant Silken Floss (Johansson) and always-replenishing clones Pathos, Logos, etc. (Louis Lombardi) he plans on achieving it. Problem is that his henchmen are morons that he keeps killing off only to create more. Oh yeah, and believability.

 

This is the type of movie that I wonder if the actors involved even bothered watching it. There’s one point in the film where The Spirit is tied-up and The Octopus and Silken Floss are marching around in Nazi uniforms. And The Octopus’ ensemble is complete with a monocle. Seriously. Jackson has done worse I suppose but I wonder if Johansson watched it and thought, “maybe ‘Eight-Legged Freaks’ wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

 

Note: The above scene also contains a line where the Spirit asks, “I can be bored, can’t I?” Well yes you can. But I paid $9 and it wasn’t expecting to be.

 

For the most part, Miller did a good job on the “look” of the film. Yes, it does feel a little like “Sin City.” Yes, you made the actors and CG look nearly seamless. Yes, Eva Mendes is hot while she is scantily clad when everyone else in the scene is dressed for below-zero temperatures.

 

My grade: C

14
Jul
08

Movie Review: Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

 

 

Fantastical.

 

Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Like Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Hurt. Directed by Guillermo del Toro

 

For the uninitiated, “Hellboy” is a red demon with one hand larger than the other who lives among us, smokes cigars, loves TV, eats candy and uses gigantic guns to destroy other demons set to harm civilization. And, he will eventually bring about the destruction of the world, but for now he’s one of the good guys.

 

The story begins with Hellboy’s dad (played by John Hurt) reading him a story during Christmastime. Ages ago King Balor, who reigned over creatures of fantasy, was in war with the mankind. When 70 times 70 indestructible metallic monsters are made for his command and released upon mankind, much blood is spilt. Balor decides to make a truce with mankind: Balor and fantasy creature-kind would stay in the forests while mankind would have the rest of the world. His son, Prince Nuada, felt they had a bum deal and went into self-imposed exile.

 

Fast-forward to now. Nuada (Goss) is pissed-off and plans to wage a war against mankind. To do it he needs a crown (in three separate pieces) that gives a person of royal blood control of the “70×70” metal monsters and the map to the location. When he crashes an art auction and takes off with 2 of the pieces, Hellboy and Company are called in to find out what happened.

 

And saving the world from creatures of fantasy is the least of Hellboy’s problems. His relationship with Liz (Blair) is having problems and he doesn’t know it, but she’s pregnant. Agent Tom Manning (Tambor) is on Hellboy’s case for not keeping a “low profile.” Abe Sapien falls in love with Prince Nuada’s twin sister, Nuala. And the BPRD is under new management: Johann Krauss (voice of Seth McFarlane) who is a gas. Literally. He inhibits a suit with a glass dome for the head to walk around in, but he’s basically a gaseous state.

 

For what it’s worth, I liked this movie. Guillermo del Toro creates a fantasy world that the characters BELIEVE in; no looking at the camera with that “you know this is a movie, right?” look. And speaking of the characters… this is a TRUE fantasy movie. Yes, del Toro is a big fan of eyes located on body parts other than the face, but aside from that there are more creatures in this film than in the cantina on Tatooine.

 

My favorite scene is one in which Abe is lamenting on Princess Nuala and Hellboy is on the outs with Liz. They share a six-pack of beer while singing along to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You.” Hilarious scene.

 

And, my favorite line: “Don’t worry Abe, I’m not going to kill him. I’m just gonna kick his ass.”

 

Again, this is solid filmmaking from beginning to end. The story has a lot going on, from Prince Nuada exacting revenge to Abe falling in love to the relationship dynamic of Liz and Hellboy, as well as being under the new management of Johann Krauss.

 

Did I like this over the first “Hellboy” movie? I missed catching the first one in theatres and saw it on DVD, and liked it. I like this one as well. They’re like two different types of apples in the same bunch; it’s whatever works for ya (feel free to pick a different fruit or vegetable). I recommend this within the same breath as “Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man.”

 

My grade: B+