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Monday, October 10, 2005

C2F Roundup

I seem to be stuck in a relentless quest to watch comic to film (C2F) adaptations. This is no doubt fueled by my reluctance to read even the few words afforded to a comic book page. Or perhaps because I gave up on Robert Redford's attempt to film Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance years ago and instead only look forward to the big screen appearances of other influential characters from my adolescence. In any case, I have three more obscure entries on which to report (though none of these are based on comics that I've actually read!)


French comic artist Moebius gets the C2F treatment in Renegade, which sees his weird western tale "Blueberry" turned into a Hollywood disaster. I can't speak to the quality of the original books, but this is pretty bad. Juliette Lewis, Michael Madsen and Eddie Izzard are particularly disappointing, since all three are talented actors who totally fail to shine in this film. In fact, it's difficult to care about any of the characters in this film. My guess is that the director was focusing on something else. The real stars of the film are the cinematographer and the computer FX crew. There are many visual treats here, including two digitally-rendered hallucinagenic experiences (apparently triggered by a peyote-based tea.) The director seems more interested in the moral lesson (served up as a surprise twist) and the psychadelic journey as an exploration toward that lesson. Its too bad really, since one half of the movie is fascinating and well-crafted. If the acting/editing/dialogue had been significantly better, the whole film could have been fantastic. Final note: It's a strange distraction to see the Old West cobbled together from a European's perspective. You have Mexican Indians incorrectly portrayed like the Great Plains "horse culture" natives (riding around scalping people) and there's an odd assortment of principle characters: an Austrian treasure hunter partnered with an African mercenary, a family of wealthy Spanish ranchers, and a Cajun cowboy complete with a thick French accent.


The Japanese Robotech manga, Appleseed, has also been brought to the big screen. Using entirely CG effects, the post-apocalyptic world of Appleseed is amazing to look at. Humans and robots are intensely lifelike, or cyborg-like, or whatever. Even the rubble looks pretty cool. The action scenes are well choreographed, though there's nothing revolutionary here... Lots of big guns, big explosions, and convenient reasons to include some eye-candy kung-fu. In keeping with derivitive sci-fi standards, the script is based on a cool idea rather than a well-conceived one. Don't think too hard or you'll be overwhelmed with the inconsistancies and plot holes. While the ideas here aren't nearly as impressive as the recent anime masterpiece Ghost in the Shell II, it almost matches GitS2 visually.


Lastly, Immortal brings another French comic book to life. And again, this film features a strong emphasis on visual fx. This time casting a unique blend of CGI and live-action characters. Very outlandish and stylistic in it's realization, this is the most innovative of the three films. It certainly doesn't always succeed, but it takes more interesting risks than the other two. Sometimes this futuristic society looks like the human race was put into a blender with a bunch of 80's fashion designs, but that's still kinda cool. And while some of the ideas here seem meandering and pointless, the film is based on developing a relatively interesting premise: exploring the procreative process of immortals or gods. And the moral ambiguity of the central characters, while typical of French film perhaps, is refreshing for C2F adaptations. The narrative flow of the film, especially at the outset, can be difficult to follow, but comes into focus by the end. This helps Immortal to be the most interesting of the three films. Renegade has its unique charms and Appleseed raises the bar for computer film graphics but Immortal presents the most engaging story. _Cinema

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1 Comments:

At 10/11/2005 01:48:00 AM, Blogger wheylona said...

BummerMan, I have not seen that of which you speak nor will I see that of which you speak. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading your reports from the BummerField. Keep at it, BM!

 

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