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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Comic to Film Adaptations

It's been quite a torture for me to resist going to see The Fantastic Four. And I probably will see it someday because I once swore a blood oath to watch every film based on a comic (FBC). Even knowing in advance that this film will definitely suck won't stop me... it'll just stop me from paying $9 to see it at a first run theater. Tonight I'll be watching X-Men and X2 in marathon format just to revel in two films that actually did it right. In the past I've actually watched stink bombs like The Pushisher (the recent one, not the original Dolph Lundgren version) and Elektra just to honor my oath. I've actually tried to track down a rare Captain America film done in the 70's. I also once sat through a horrific Dr. Strange made for TV FBC from 1978. Today, I was ecstatic after finding out that French comic book artist Moebius has had his classic comic Blueberry turned into a film. It was released in America under the name Renegade... and it just got added to the top of my Netflix queue. I also found out that Gerard Depardieu has starred in a series of Asterix and Obelix FBCs, but they aren't available in the US. Perhaps Scarecrow will have them... And yesterday I saw a trailer for V for Vendetta (staring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving and adapted by those Matrix masterminds) originally written by the greatest comic writer ever Alan Moore.

All this is to say that I grew up loving comics... and for the most part I've been loving the FBC revolution in the last few years. But will oversaturation ruin this phenomenon for everyone? Does Marvel really need to follow up on the failure of marginal adaptations like The Punisher and Elektra with even less appealing ideas like Nick Cage as Ghost Rider (sorry Darcy, but this is going to suck bigtime) or Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Will more and more failures ruin the warm glow around franchise films like Spiderman, The X-Men, or the newly resuscitated Batman.

So I should probably figure out how to post one of those obnoxious polls over to the right side of the screen and ask everyone to vote on their favorite FBC, or perhaps what film they'd like to see made (e.g. could Pixar please make a 3D animated Betty Boop movie?!) For now I'll just post my own list of recent FBC's I really enjoyed: Hellboy, Constantine, X-Men & X-Men2, Spiderman 2 (#1, not so much), Batman Begins, Ghost World (obviously), Sin City (which overcame the totally lame Bruce Willis) but not Road to Perdition (which couldn't overcome the equally lame Tom Hanks.) Sorry to Ang Lee's Hulk and Ben Affleck's Daredevil... they didn't make the cut either. _Cinema



At 7/23/2005 03:46:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Perhaps there ought to be a sister to this post about fantasy juvenile fiction turned into movies (e.g. Harry Potter, Howl's Moving Castle, the upcoming Narnia films, etc.)

At 7/24/2005 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Ned said...

I can speak to this very little, as I only tended to read the comics my little brother bought, so never got very discrimating.

What I can say is that as far as I know, Gerard Depardieu has only done two ASterix movies, but I could be wrong. They're on amazon.co.uk.

At 7/25/2005 03:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that "Sin City" has opened the door for comic-style violence (previously called "insanely psychotic behavior"), I'm hopeful that heavy hitters like Lobo and Judge Dredd will get big-screen adaptations. Oh wait, Sylvester Stallone already did Judge Dredd... anyway... Lobo and Judge Dredd without any of the usual campy glam touches that blind movie watchdog groups to the fact that it's all ultra-violent and bad for you. :)

Perhaps a non-smiling, gritty, lacking-the-enzyme-that-breaks-happy-thoughts-down-into-laughter Judge Dredd. Played by Vin Diesel. Yeah. And not to take anything away from TMNT, which was pretty cool... how about a non-campy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? The original black-and-white series was pretty dark if I remember correctly, back before they became four radical surfer dudes on Saturday morning cartoons...

My favorite comic story of all time - the Longshot mini-series - could only be movie-fied if he were introduced in the next X-Men movie. And I don't think that's going to happen. So my #1 pick would be Gen13. And good luck finding actors who remotely resemble J. Scott Campbell's artwork, Mr. Bay. ;)


At 7/28/2005 02:51:00 PM, Blogger walaka said...

I'd rather see the Super-friends...

At 8/03/2005 09:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn’t rocket science “true believers,” not that, not nearly even close to it by any stretch of the imagination. The reason “they” can't seem to get it right on the big screen or on any other screen is because the elements that make a comic book work can't be translated into a movie. In my humble opinion, none of the comic book to movie adaptations work, but that's because making a blockbuster movie doesn't have anything to do with kicking back with a good mag and engaging in a little escapism. Personally, when I looked at comic books I realized the me that I let slip under the way I think things are supposed to be. Comic books tap into the raw energy of my imagination, all the way down to what I dreamed on many a rainy day when I couldn’t go out and play. That’s what they do to so many readers. Maybe the key to unlocking everything is to cherish what makes us happy. Ah, that sounds good but as everyone knows the priorities of the reader sharply differ from the priorities of the blockbuster filmmaker. The blockbuster filmmaker is usually concerned with the bottom line of movie studio executives, box office receipts, and Satan. With all of the comic books that have been sold you'd think that someone with a brain cell would try to appease the readers of said comics. I hate to sound fatalistic but if the end of the world doesn't happen soon I'm going to start praying for it 24 - 7.

(Oh yeah, I forgot to say, all movies are manipulative. They try to get us to feel this way or that, and not because we’ll be enriched as people but because the people that make the flicks will be handsomely reimbursed for producing fake orgasms in us.)

At 8/04/2005 06:35:00 PM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Thanks for sharing anonymous Clay.

I disagree in that I think some c2f adaptations do work... and best of them have relied on actors willing to play their comicbook hero roles to the hilt. Huge Ackman did a very nice job as Wolverine, Ron Perlman's Hellboy was pretty damn good. Constantine was delivered by the great acting of those who portrayed Gabriel and Satan. They all played it totally over the top and without a single sly wink to the camera. They didn't fear that they were looking stupid... and that let me stop seeing them as stupid and let me believe them as the character.
I do agree that films have struggled to achieve the "suspension of disbelief" that they require to work. And I agree that they are working too hard on manipulating the audience instead of feeding us wonderment.

At 8/05/2005 12:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to disagree with your disagreement and agree with your agreement but here it goes. You say "the best of them" rely on actors willing to play their roles to the hilt? I get it, but in the real world “good movies” are such because there’s more than one element that works. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an example I would use. It’s not just filled with memorable performances but they pretty much stay true to the stories as Tolkien wrote them. (All hail Peter Jackson!) I guess I’m just one of those kind of people (in addition to being “a reckless emotional time bomb”) that hopes that when the filmmaker sits down and decides what kind of movie they want to make, they'll pause for a while, and give a little respect to the characters and stories that have developed meaning in the hearts of some. Now to some rather unpleasant information:

You said Huge Jackman “did a very nice job” playing Wolverine? Well, after a brief moment of soul searching I have three words and a statement. Firstly HE'S TOO TALL and if anyone has ever read his comics they’d realize that Wolverine is short and fierce, hence the name Wolverine, also, and to be quite frank he’s a pansy compared to the comic book version. The character as he played him in both films made me think that he’s actually a closet ballerina, or at least that’s what his physical movements and tone of voice seemed to imply.

Ron Perlman as Hell Boy, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I have to get back to you on that but that’s after I pick him out from all of the special effects. I like the movie but its eye candy dude, pure and simple.

Kudos to Constantine and my one knock is that I would’ve liked more background on the other characters as well.

Yeah, I guess the bottom line for me is that I’m more of a purist, in that I like attention to detail because it shows me that the filmmaker has some give a shit about how the finished product will play to the fans of the mag. Lastly, I gave your “suspension of belief" thing a good sussing out and maybe the problem isn't trying to achieve suspension of disbelief at all; maybe the problem is a lack of imagination.

Quod me nutrit me destruit

At 8/15/2005 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Ned said...

Maus, anyone? Yes, not a comic book, but interesting if they weren't mouses? Or even if they were! Could get the mice from Babe.

At 8/16/2005 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Pixar could do Maus! I can just see how cuddly those Nazi cats will look in CGI.

At 8/16/2005 08:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As all comic book fans know, Maus is a comic book adaptation (interpretation?) by Art Spiegelman about his father's experience in a concentration camp during WWII. I find the idea of adapting an adaptation somewhat disturbing because then the idea isn't about what the actual event was but rather how it’s rendered from the ink to CGI. Certainly it is true that making his father's story into a darkly inked comic book made an amazingly powerful story accessible to readers who honestly wouldn’t give a shit otherwise, but to then take that and turn it into a movie, to me makes me think that its become way watered down and refocused. There are actually some decent movies available about the holocaust worth checking out instead of wasting money and precious resources on eye candy--just a thought.


Devils advocate food cake

At 8/18/2005 08:45:00 AM, Blogger walaka said...

Geez, how did I ever miss this fan-boy orgy?

At 8/24/2005 10:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you were just blessed.


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