Friday, March 30, 2007

The Art Of Comic Book Adaptation Or How To Butcher Millions Of Peoples Favorite Characters Without Really Trying AKA Dartflix Edition #13

Nothing pisses me off more than reading a trade publication and seeing that yet another of my favorite comic books is being turned into a big budget live action movie. For the most part, buying the right to option a major Marvel or DC title costs mad money and the investors, producers and studio all want to see a (big) profit...this means that your favorite comic book is going to look like a bullshit Hollywood blockbuster 80% of the time (complete with Burger King/McDonalds collectable cups and movie themed toys) as opposed to the well written material with years of back story and multiple fully developed characters that you enjoy reading.

So far we’ve seen the X-Men (three times), Batman (three times), Daredevil, Electra, The Punisher (twice), Superman (lost count and don’t care to check), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (twice), The Hulk (I kinda sorta liked it, though), Spawn, Bulletproof Monk , Ghost Rider and the Fantastic Four among other famous comic book titles receive the the big budget Hollywood treatment and summarily suck due to the fact that the studio and writers (and I use that term loosely) completely abandoned the elements that made the book/title hook in the reader in the first place in favor of getting a high Q score with teenagers during the test screening process.

While most audiences respond well to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men movies, we X-Men fans know that ain’t Wolverine on that screen.I realize that these movies aren’t made for ME to like ‘em ...they are made to make money, bottom line. The special effects, CGI, makeup, and stunt coordination takes precedence and character development and writing takes a back seat (exceptions are Batman Begins, the Spiderman franchise, the Blade franchise, and a few others).

The best bet to make a good (I keep my expectations low, I’m a cynic) comic book movie is to pick a little known indie title, keep the budget low (below $50 million), focus on the writing and keep it character based. The best way to go is to involve the creator/writers of the book and get as much input as possible and pick a director and studio that have a real interest in making a “good” film that’s true to the source material. This worked in the case of “Hellboy”, “Constantine”, “Sin City” and “300” but these success stories are few and far in between.

On the horizon are “Sin City 2” and big screen adaptations of “Power Man And Iron Fist” (why do I fear seeing what Luke Cage will end up wearing?), “Captain America” and “Wanted” (the studio producing this movie is following the above success formula I just illustrated above so this should be “good”). The “Preacher” project has been in limbo for years now. Overseas last year in Hong Kong, Boston legend/martial arts action star Donnie Yen successfully adapted the “Dragon Tiger Gate” comic book into a live action film (also known in the States as Jademan Comic’s “Oriental Heroes” title). Difference being is that if anyone butchered Tony Wong’s characters of Dragon Wong or Tiger Wong they’d receive some serious grief in Asia...here they’d just chalk it up as a loss and just try to pitch another project. Expect to see Hollywood execs show up at comic book conventions for years to come...Lord knows you won’t see me there...unless, of course I’m screening a trailer for the comic book I’ve just adapted to a live action movie.


Dart’s Three Trailers Of The Week (3/26/07-4/2/07):

Fracture
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0488120/trailers

Across The Universe
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0445922/trailers

The Hip Hop Project
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800272/trailers

Movies you should consider seeing available to rent through Netflix:
Bobby
Hard Luck
The Devil’s Advocate
The Inside Man
Criminal
The Heist
Bottle Rocket
Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Battles
Snatch
The Way Of The Gun
The Croupier
The Hard Word
The Ice Harvest
Gangster No. 1
Intermission
Essex Boys
Serpico
Boondock Saints
Overnight
Dropped
Everyday People
Pretty Persuasion
November
Memento
Titus (Julie Taymor)
The Alamo
Cocaine Cowboys
Blow
Confidence
Runaway Jury
Time & Tide (Tsui Hark)
Old Boy
City Of Lost Souls (Takashi Miike)
Versus
Ballistic Kiss
Buffalo Soldier
Night Of The Living Dead (D. Original)
Dawn Of The Dead
Land Of The Dead
28 Days Later
Shawn Of The Dead
They Live
Evil Dead
Evil Dead 2
Army Of Darkness

Why Can’t I Find These Movies On DVD?
The Walking Dead- An underrated Vietnam War flick starring Joe Morton, Craig Allen Payne and Eddie Griffin. Criminally slept on.

La Haine- One of my all time favorite international films...I have it on VHS from 1998 but I can’t get my hands on a DVD version...damn shame.

Revolver- Guy Ritchie’s follow up to Snatch...it’s been on my Netflix list for damn near 18 months now...Where the hell is it?

Sucker Free City- This excellent movie was supposed to be a pilot for a series about life in different San Francisco neighborhoods through the eyes of their respective residents. Spike Lee was instrumental in the creation of this project and the subsequent series, for some unknown reason the series never materialized though it was rumored to be in production. Either way, it should’ve made it to DVD by now.

Kidulthood- I had to wait two years before I finally saw “Bullet Boy”...I hope I don’t have to wait that long to see Kidulthood. The UK is right across the water...so why does it take so long for us to get British films in the US?

Dart’s Picks:
Children Of Men- This was yet another excellent book adaptation about a dystopian future in which women have become infertile and a child hasn’t been born on Earth in over 18 years (it’s set in London in 2027) and the resulting chaos that society falls into. The camera work in this film is sheer genius, it’s done documentary style with long ass takes that make you think you’re watching something that’s happening in real time as opposed to a movie. This was a powerful film that I highly recommend.

Curse Of The Golden Flower- A big budget highly stylized Hong Kong epic worthy of all of the praise that’s been heaped on it...It’s been available for a while through Asian distribution but was just released on DVD formally in the US. In Hong Kong red trousers (stunt peoiple) are the cornerstone of the film industry...this movie displays why.

Dart’s WTF?/Watch This Bullshit At Your Own Risk Award:
Turistas- I already saw it the first time when it was called “Wrong Turn”...or was that “Cabin Fever?” Or “High Tension”? Nah, I’m sure it was “Wolf Creek”. Nope, it was “Hostel”...you get the idea.

One.

4 comments:

Meg said...

La Haine -> Criterion edition coming out April 17th! Been wondering what was up with Revolver myself.

Randy Watson as Bob Digitech said...

I wouldn't bother searching too hard for Revolver as Guy was trying too hard and it's a bit of a shit sandwich, in a Vanilla Sky/M Night Shyamalan/wtf is going on? kinda way

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