Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Super weekend!

It was a superhero-rific weekend at the Mouse house, that’s for sure. Not only did I very much enjoy the excellent and previously posted-upon Iron Man (and now can’t get that darn Black Sabbath song out of my head – grrrrrrr), but I also finished up the Watchmen graphic novel and caught Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on HBO.

Watchmen - Wow. I mean – wow. From what I can tell, Watchmen is the War and Peace of graphic novels: epic in scope and proportion, complex, sophisticated. It is, in fact, the only graphic novel on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best English language novels from 1923 to the present. Set (and written) in the mid-1980s, with the specter of the U.S.S.R.’s nuclear threat looming, the main story follows the investigation of a string of recent killings and disappearances – someone is taking out superheroes. That’s just the baseline. You also get (1) the back story on each of the central group of superheroes (or “costumed adventurers,” since most of them have no actual superpowers), (2) a comic book about pirates, within this graphic novel, which story offers subtle meta-commentary and (3) “excerpts” from characters’ diaries, newspaper articles and scholarly journals. I couldn’t believe that everything was going to tie together – but it did. This is a graphic novel that requires multiple readings: you can certainly get the gist from one go-round, but there’s so much involved that subsequent visits will only add to the experience.

Director Zack Snyder (300, the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake) is apparently making Watchmen into a live action movie and there is much consternation among the fanboys. I can’t imagine how this behemoth could be made into any sort of decent movie – there’s just too much going on; he’ll have to focus on the basic who’s-killing-the-heroes story. And that is only a slim slice of this amazing book – so much will have to be left out. Plus, from the cast listing, it looks as though Snyder has cast actors much younger than the middle-aged characters from the book - just one of many issues, I'm guessing. Anyhow, if you get the chance, read Watchmen (and re-read it). It’s an incredibly impressive book.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - This movie: not so impressive (Of course, it never really had a chance seeing how I saw it Sunday night, after having taken in the wonder of both Iron Man and Watchmen). The special effects are fine (except for Jessica Alba’s blonde wig), and the Surfer is so very cool (Doug Jones is awesome!), but otherwise I give it a resounding “meh.” The dialogue is clichéd and the acting is average at best. The villains are completely uninteresting: this movie version of Galactus has scarcely any presence, build up notwithstanding, and Von Doom is BORING. I understand that they needed a corporeal villain to beat up on-screen and that they didn’t really have time to introduce someone brand-new – but Von Doom? Whatever. If there’s ever a FF3 (and I don't really see any reason why there should be), I hope they find someone else to be the Big Bad.

So, two out of three ain’t bad, I guess.

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