Thursday, July 24, 2008

300! (and related...)

Post 300! This is Sparta!

Please don't bother to go back over all the posts and count (as if I could even dream of such a devoted and scary readership). I'm also counting some draft pages that I never published or deleted. If you counted the live posts it would probably be about 287 or so.

So anyway, I do have something to talk about that does have to do with 300 (and I was also asked to talk about this). The guy who directed 300 is also the guy who is directing the upcoming Watchmen movie set for March of next year. Just in case you were late getting into The Dark Knight last weekend, here's the trailer:

Of the people I know who have seen the trailer, there are two very distinct camps. The first camp says it looks awesome and the other camp says it looks weird and silly. I've noticed the distinctive factor between the two opinions is whether or not the person has read the Watchmen graphic novel. Those unfamiliar with the source material are pretty much unanimous in thinking that this whole thing looks pretty silly. The rest of us are seriously drooling.

This isn't just another superhero movie. Remember how Woodrow Wilson said that World War I would be the "war to end all wars?" Well, he was wrong in that instance, but Watchmen will be the superhero movie to end all superhero movies. I'm not saying because it's so good or so big or whatever. It's just that the concept of the whole thing pulls the rug out from the entire superhero concept. Those protesters in the trailer? They're rioting against their own superheroes. Watchmen was published in (I think) 1986 and since then we've seen influence of some of its concepts. The 1989 Batman was the first superhero movie that dared suggest that the hero was just as psychotic as the villain. I haven't seen Hancock yet, but there's a good example of an imperfect superhero. Even when The Incredibles came out I said that it was a perfect combination of Watchmen and The Fantastic Four (even more so than the FF movie.

Anyway the point is, the cheesy throwback costumes in the trailer are supposed to look goofy. The "superheroes" in question are dorky, imperfect and quite mentally imbalanced.

Anyway, we've drawn Zack Snyder for the direction. He's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog. Well, replace "kinda" with the word "repeatedly" and the word "dog" with "son." He did an adequate job filming the video to an above average Morrissey song ("Tomorrow"). He also made a pretty scary remake of Dawn of the Dead (although he took the whole consumerism parody out for some dumb reason (but he made up for it with some out-of-this world creepy end credits)). Still, this Watchmen thing could potentially be pretty bad since I didn't like 300 -- his other foray into filmed graphic novels -- all that much. I don't think I can blame Snyder, now that I think about it. The 300 graphic novel wasn't really all that great and Snyder made it exactly like the book.

Snyder is a lot like the graphic novel filming version of Chris Columbus -- the guy who directed the first couple of Harry Potter movies. Columbus is often criticized for applying the book template to the movie and not making enough creative decisions for the translation to film (ironically while incurring the wrath of potterphiles who felt the translation wasn't exact enough). I've said several times before that I don't feel book-to-movie translations should be word-for-word (or picture-for-picture in terms of graphic novels). Watchmen, however, would just about be the only exact translation that would make me giddy with delight.

On the other hand, there is a reason why Terry Gilliam of Monty Python and Time Bandits fame decided to never film it back in the '80s. He claimed the concept is unfilmable. Technology has improved and we can get the landmark images from the source material to the screen, but the finished verbatim work would easily hit six hours. As zealous as Snyder is in keeping the adaptation faithful, lots of plot would get the axe. Watchmen is a graphic novel in the purest sense. It begins, it introduces the characters, it takes them on a journey and it ENDS. It's a story in itself. It's not an episodic set of superhero events and it certainly has no sequel, but the journey is a dense one.

I'm confident in Snyder -- even if Alan Moore, the anarchist bearded freako who actually wrote the Watchmen graphic novel, isn't. Moore also wrote V For Vendetta, but you wouldn't know even if you are a credit-watcher like I am. Moore, quite the literary elitist, has disowned the movie versions of his stories and characters. If I wrote like he did, I'd probably do the same.

Now, sadly, Snyder and Moore have become enemies of sorts. Moore seems absolutely sick of the Hollywoodization of his work, so he's not instantly dissatisfied. I read somewhere this past week (I just looked a minute ago and can't find the source, but it swears anyway, so maybe I shouldn't) that Snyder said something to the effect of "The worst that can happen is that Alan Moore pops the DVD in a few years from now and mutters something to the effect of 'this isn't that bad.'" Apparently Moore got word of that statement and said something like, "There is now &*^$ing way that movie is getting anywhere near my DVD player."

That was extreme of him to say, but the statement he made that scares me the most is what he said in Entertainment Weekly when asked about the upcoming movie:
There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can't.
Drat. I am a believer in comic books. I probably shouldn't expect anything other than derivative work.


Blogger Maria said...

A lot of people are going to hate on the Watchmen, and it is going to be unfair....sounds like you are already preparing yourself. I just hope it isn't "Raw", so I can see it.

July 24, 2008 8:21 AM  
Blogger Rhett said...

The "dog/son" comment is from the Simpsons last night. But I swear I watched it by myself...

July 24, 2008 8:50 AM  
Blogger joN. said...

i totally didn't even see simpsons last night. must've been in the community collective consciousness. weird.

July 24, 2008 10:30 AM  
Blogger boneck family said...

well i saw the watchmen trailer and hancock this weekend. i havent read the watchmen but ive heard about it from you. im htinking that the watchmen is going to be how hancock started out. but things seem to change in the latter half of hancock. he kinda pulled out of his "old ways" so im not sure if id put them on the same plane but i havent seen watchmen yet of course so i really dont know what im talkin' bout willis!
i am excited for watchmen though!

July 28, 2008 9:55 AM  
Blogger Maker said...


July 28, 2008 6:23 PM  

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