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Friday, July 18, 2008

Watchmen And The Golden Age Of Comic Book Movies

First up, I'm not going to do an in-depth review of The Dark Knight, because there's nothing I can say about it that hasn't been said already. It's fantastic. Bale does get overshadowed by his villains though, but not as much as Keaton or Clooney were. You see the Joker, not Heath. Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent is beautifully done - his downfall is a true tragedy. I'm seeing it again on Saturday night and now knowing the fate that befalls him will make it all the more tragic. Chris Nolan is yet to not impress me, and I'm pissed that I have to wait another three years at least for a new one.

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2008 has produced some of the most acclaimed comic book movie adaptations in some years.

At the start of the millennium we had X-Men and Spiderman getting raves, breaking all kinds of records. Then Daredevil and especially Fantastic Four managed to dilute that quality. With the exception of Hulk, they were much more silly (definitely not Hulk) and disposable entertainment but not in the way X-Men and Spidey were (at least until their third outings).

This summer there is at least four major comic book adaptations hitting the screen.

Iron Man got raves and did MASSIVE business. The first movie of the year to break $300 million. Bob Downey Jr. is the man to thank for that.

The Incredible Hulk - did okay business, average reviews, but was agreed upon as a vast improvement over the last Hulk. Ed Norton is the man to thank for that.

The Dark Knight - rave reviews, will do massive business, will score Oscar nominations. Touted as not only the definitive Batman movie, but the definitive comic book movie.

Hellboy II - the first movie I didn't quite think was that crash hot, even though a lot of people loved it. The second movie is also being praised and doing decent numbers at the box office. Said to be even more imaginative than the first one, I'm keen to see what Guillermo's pulled out.

BUT THEN...

The much hyped trailer for Zack Snyder's adapation of Alan Moore's highly acclaimed Watchmen was screened prior to The Dark Knight in the States. We didn't get it here. Or at least I didn't. Instead of...

Terminator 4
Watchmen
Harry Potter
Body Of Lies

I got X-Files: I Want To Believe, Taken and Tropic Thunder. The first and last weren't bad but still disappointing when I was waiting for the others.

But the Watchmen trailer finally made its way onto the web... and I'm kinda disappointed even so. Granted, the graphic novel is very deep and heavy. Especially the incredibly downbeat ending which reportedly has not changed for the movie.





Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) looks cool, as does Rorshach (Jackie Earle Haley) and both of the Silk Spectres (Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino). But I look at Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and they look so metallic and cold. Then again, if they looked exactly like they did in the graphic novel, it would look incredibly silly...

So to me, this looks like it's going to be as heavy and woe is me as Ang Lee's Hulk. It works as a graphic novel, but when you put a synthesized Billy Corgan-sung song over those images, it really makes it depressing looking.

I very very much hope I'm proven wrong.



P.S. Check out this amazing review nay essay by Ain't It Cool's Moriarty on how Dark Knight and Hellboy II mark the highpoint of all time movie adaptations of comic books. It's very very well written and if there's one thing I love it's reading well written things by people who are passionate about the things they're writing about.

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