Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Reaching Your Limit: Spider-Man 3

So I was contemplating not writing this. I am a firm believer, especially with movies, in letting a person form an opinion without too much of my views interfering. I mean, I can tell you guys out there in Internetland that I didn’t enjoy my movie going experience without laying on why. But the Spider-Man 3 really riled me up so I’m going to have to. I’m going to start this whole thing with a simple fact. Daredevil was better. Whoa, right? I know.

People tend to judge their movies by genre. You can get away with things in a mystery that you can’t and vice versa. That’s why we have genres to help us in our expectations. However, on all levels the movie does not work. First let’s look at how the movie is just as a movie.

The acting is terrible. I hear the bill for this catastrophe was somewhere around five-hundred million dollars, bet you three-fourths of that went to eye drops. Truly, there was more crying in this movie than in Identity Crisis, Superman/Batman and Civil War combined. I bet Raimi said, “And now you’re crying” so many times that it was like his mantra for the film. He also chose to represent Parker’s descent with a hairstyle. In fact, they wasted precious film time just to show Peter pushing his hair down in front of his eyes. I half expected him to start singing “Screaming Infidelities.”

Clocking in at over two hours the movie was in serious need of some editing, say seventy-five percent of that movie could have been taken out. There was another walking sequence, there was an omelet making sequence, which led into one of the two dance sequences. Two dance sequences! When did Peter Parker learn to play the piano and swing like he was Jim Carey in The Mask? The fight sequences were something else, all the computerized jumps and swings and punches but I couldn’t focus on anything. Yes, I know that is how it would be in real life, confusing and hard to follow. This is a movie though; so slow it down so we can see how cool the moves are. If not you just get a headache causing blur.

Now, you are probably saying, “But Ben, this is a comic movie so we can deal with some bad movie making.” I’ll agree to that. Fantastic Four was a poorly acted, poorly written flick but I thought it true to the characters from the book. See, that’s what you need from a comic movie: a true representation of the character. You can change Dr. Doom’s origin, you can give Batman nipples, and you can even have Billy Zane shooting the swords out of pirate’s hands as long as you hold true to the core of the hero. Peter Parker is anything but a hero in this film. Before he puts on the symbiote he is a douche, an uncaring, self-centered narcissist who can’t see past his mirror. Now it’s been a while since I’ve consistently read any monthly Spider titles but he has always struck me as the type of character that, when he is home, always has time for his family and friends. Not so in this flick. It’s all about him. Give him organic webshooters, no problem. Let Flint Marko be responsible for Uncle Ben’s death, sure. But don’t take away the character’s center, don’t take away his ability to be a hero.

You know who is the true hero in this movie? Harry Osborn. His arc is the most engaging, the most human. He falls into madness and then climbs, rung by rung, back up. There is no excuse of an evil space parasite, just one man coming to terms with his past. And even then Harry’s loving butler had to tell him to be good. Anytime, a secondary comes across as more heroic than your protagonist you’ve got some writing issues. Just look at James Marsden in Superman Returns.

As I was walking out of the theater at 2:30 this morning, I heard some behind me say that it was a B- film. When his buddy said that it was more like a C-, the guy responded with, “It’s a kids’ film.” That’s wrong, you don’t make a PG-13 movie with scary, big-teeth villains for kids. Also, there are great movies for children out there, movies that have fun plots, excellent characters, humor and hope. Toy Story, Shrek, the damn Goonies are great examples. Don’t let a perceived intended audience be an excuse for a film.

Finally, just as we were about to go out the front doors I heard another person say, “If they had just edited out everything and made a forty-five minute fight between everyone that would have been awesome.” Maybe, but that isn’t a movie. That is a boxing match. There were a lot of things they could have done to make the movie better. They just chose not to do any of them.

Look, even Spidey is hanging his head in shame.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Andy Diggle Is My New Favorite

So, yesterday I was going along my mornign routine of checking blogs and Newsarama. I says to myself, "Oooh, preview pages for the Black Canary comic and Green Arrow: Year One." They both look amazing but then I landed on this:

A freaking Buckarro Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension reference. Now, I knew I was an Andy Diggle fan from his Loser comic, but this seals the deal. I only ask just once for there to be a scene, maybe while on the cruiseline. There is a woman in distress, maybe a little chilly.
Ollie turns to his buddy and goes, "Give her your jacket."
The buddy responds, "Why?"
"Because your perfect."

Just once. Please.

Thank you for taking this moment and bearing with me while I geeked out.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Marvel Mondays: Compliments and Complaints

I thought I would take the opportunity to say something nice and then something not so nice that I thought about Marvel during this last week in comics. Let’s start off with the good things; it always makes the bad medicine go down better.

I do not know about anyone else out there but I freaking love the Wisdom mini-series. Crabby British street magician, colorful characters, Shang Chi and weird creatures, it’s like a Constantine story set in the Marvel Universe’s continuity. Two issues ago, Pete Wisdom fought an army of Jack the Rippers. This issue, Martians, straight out of War of the Worlds, invaded England. Superb stuff.

So here is what I’ve got nice to say. Marvel does a heck of a job with mini-series. They use the opportunities that six issues or eight issues presents to tell a quick, fun, almost out of continuity story. Look at the Loners, look at NextWave (cut unfortunately short) and you’ll understand. Freed from the nonsense of Civil Wars and Houses of M, the 616 Universe is full of interesting stories that can take place. If only editors could steer the rest of the tales with such skill. I mean just look at this page:

Hippie Skrulls about to put the hurt on someone, that rocks hard.

Unfortunately, the moment a comic seems to slip into “Big Picture,” Marvel does whatever it can to take the story down eight levels and bumps up the sleaziness of their marketing up fifteen levels. I’m not saying that other companies don’t have some crappy marketing schemes but Marvel is just more blatant about, less apologetic.

I will use the example of last Wednesday’s release of the Illuminati: Secret History #1. What is so amazing that they had to do a one-shot for a mini-series that wasn’t even finished? Nothing. The comic just collects the first two issues. I thought the “Camelot Falls” trade was a little thin, but two issues. That is a little much for me to stomach. The problem is that they know people are going to buy this. They know that people are going to own the first two issues and this one as well because it has a new title, it has a number one. It is abusing the trust we put in our companies to look out for our interest as a reader.

A couple weeks back now I was walking to work and I heard feet quickly approaching me from behind. I started to turn and then a teenager sucker punched me in the face. His buddy came, punched me again and stole my phone. The one thought that went through my head, other than “How did they both manage to hit the same spot?” was “Why didn’t they just stick me up for it? Why the sucker punches?” That’s what Illuminati: Secret History feels like, a sucker punch. If you’re going to take the money at least just say you’re collecting the first two issues. No reason to use flashy covers and a couple words after a semicolon to beguile us. What’s next? The Marvel marketing staff out on a street cornet, playing organs while trained monkeys pick our pockets?