Monday, March 30, 2009

Motion Comics: More Crap That I Like

This weekend I went to the store (Target, if you're that nosey) and looked at the DVD section. I like browsing the DVDs because in these hard economic times there are usually some pretty sweet deals, like when I bought the first two seasons of The Outer Limits for a cool $14. Anyhow, I saw something which really threw me. Some of you may remember my review of the Watchmen film. If you don't, look for it on my site (a bit of warning, finding it might be hard, since it's buried in the archives). In that review I lavished some pretty heavy praise on it, and until I watch it again and become disillusioned, I stand by what I said. Anyhow, there was a huge amount of promotion for this film, and one of the tie-ins was a cartoon of the comic-within-a-comic "Tales of the Black Freighter," available on DVD. I didn't really understand how this story tied in with everything else, but I do intend on watching it once Netflix sends it. I also saw another, much more intriguing thing right next to that DVD. It was a DVD called "Watchmen, The Complete Motion Comic." I read the back and became immediately interested. Apparently, every single panel of the original comic book was enlarged, given slight animation, a panning camera, music, sound effects, and narration. Now, I like to do what I call "double teaming,' which is reading a book and listening to the audiobook at the same time. While some may consider this cheating, I find that it helps me understand the text a lot more, especially with authors such as Joseph Conrad, whos writing is always straddling the line between boring and brilliance. Anyhow, I watched an episode of this Watchmen animated comic, and I was blown away. This is the most faithful adaptation anyone will ever see of this comic book, since it's basically the entire damn comic except for the pure-print sections at the end of each volume. The technique used is very effective, and drew me into the story so much that I wanted to watch all five hours of it, even though I've already read the comic and seen the movie. I've read other reviews of it, and the main problem people have is that all of the voice work is done by one man. It is a bit jarring at first to see a woman and hear a man's feminized voice doing the dialog, but as someone accustomed to this in audiobooks, I got over it. I fully realize that this was done purely to make money out of fans of the comic, but it's still a great concept and I hope that it catches on. There's already a motion comic of some Batman comics being done, and Marvel's also having a go at it. I'd love to see some of the stuff that I read when I was younger (such as Spawn) given this treatment. It's apparently fairly cheap to do, and there definitely is a market for it.

And maybe, further down the road, some pervert will take some Tijuana Bibles and give them the motion comic treatment. Not that I'd watch them, of course.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Watch, Man!

I saw Watchmen this weekend, and it was a fucking masterpiece. I've also been reading reviews/comments about the film, and I am shocked at how bitchy people are being about it. Some are saying that it followed the book too closely, and that it didn't really "breath" as a film on its own. I say that's a load of horseshit. I've read the damn comic and I thought that the film holds it's own, regardless of how brilliant the comic is. My girlfriend never read the comic and also thought it was great, so it does have appeal outside the comic community. Other people are saying that the sex scene was ridiculous, that Dr. Manhattan's gigantic schlong was too distracting, that it was too this, that it was too that, blah blah blah. I knew that the film wouldn't please everyone, but I can safely say that this film can sit snuggly next to The Dark Knight and Spiderman 2 as one of the best superhero films ever made.

Above is the title sequence (not anymore...the website that hosted it no longer has it up. They were douchebags anyhow), which is probably the best one I have ever seen in a film. It captures the environment that the movie is set in, has a great old-time feel to it, and gives you something of a backstory for the characters involved. As a work of art, I honestly think that the titles succeed more than the film itself. That's not to take away anything from the film, though.

One thing that is interesting about it all, for me at least, is the fact that adaptations are tricky as fuck, and always leave some people pissed off. It's damn hard to get an adaptation right, and some fans refuse to understand that what works in a comic or a book might not translate well into a full-length film. I remember years ago people complaining that in the Spiderman films he can shoot the webs out of his wrists as opposed to creating webshooters with a limited amount of fluid. Is it really that much of an issue? I mean, it's a fucking guy that was bit by a spider and now can walk on walls, but you're gonna bitch about webshooters? If a film is done well, it should be seen as a separate thing, a compliment to the original source. I thought that the first couple of Harry Potter films were atrocious pieces of shit simply because they tried way too fucking hard to remain close to the books. It was only later when they got better directors that the films were able to breath and become good films in their own right.

My favorite book is Ulysses, and I have seen the movie Bloom. I hated it, but not because I thought that they tarnished my precious book. It mainly had to do with poor casting, shitty acting, bad direction, and the fact that the whole damn thing looked like it was filmed on a camcorder. When I was heavy into Stephen King, I knew that Carrie was a much better film than book. I haven't read The Shining, but if the made for TV version is more faithful to the book than Kubrick's "bastardization," then I'd have to say that Kubrick was right to change the story around for his film. I'm sorry, walking plants aren't as scary as a claustrophobic maze with a killer chasing you with an ax.

The best directors have a vision which matches that of the author of the original source. While the creators of Watchmen has pretty much disregarded the film, I think that it's a masterpiece that anyone who is a fan of this kind of thing would like. It's the smartest superhero film ever made, and the director did a great job of adding all kinds of small elements that only fans of the book would get, while not neglecting the vast majority of moviegoers who have never read it. Stop being a douchebag and go see it.

But cover your ears once the final credits roll. That cover of Desolation Row is one of the worst fucking Dylan covers I've heard, and there are A LOT to choose from. Thankfully the schmucks who covered it didn't do all the verses.