Monday, October 13, 2008

Mavel: A Light in the Dark?

While I'm doubtlessly setting myself up for disappointment, I'm starting to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Apparently, the alternate opening to The Incredible Hulk as seen in the upcoming dvd shows Captain America, frozen in ice. Furthermore, the writers of Iron Man are talking about the Hulk as the villain for the Avengers movie coming 2011. ( To call this good news would be an understatement, as Marvel Studios does not appear to have produced Iron Man and Incredible Hulk as one hit wonders but in fact as the opening salvos in a series of productions that will redefine what comic book movies are.

(Spolier Alert) For those unfamiliar with the plot of the original story arc of the Avengers, Captain America gets thawed after years frozen in the arctic just in time to unite and lead the fledgling Avengers, who count among their ranks the Norse God Thor. Thor's mortal enemy and half-brother Loki is constantly scheming against everybody's favorite blond hammer wielding musclehead, and at this point he decides to pit the most physically powerful being he can find against Thor, everybody's favorite wandering hero, the Hulk. This would, I think, make for a fantastic way to do the Avengers movie, start it with Cap's thawing and immediately form a team with the already introduced Thor, Iron Man and perhaps others. Loki sets Hulk against Thor, worldwide delicious chaos, death and destruction ensue.

Whereas independent studios had mixed luck with their various Marvel heroes, Marvel Studios has largely stayed true to what has made these characters great for decades. Yes, the first two Spider-Man movies as well as Bryan Singer's X-Men were great movies and largely faithful adaptations, but I don't think I need to remind you of certain travesties against the sanity of every true comic book geek on the planet (ahem, Brett Ratner). True, Marvel Studios has only had two cracks at transferring its own heroes to the silver screen, but the studio's batting average is remarkably higher than anyone else, so for the moment I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Just how right does Marvel seem to be getting it? Inane, hard to spot references like the ones that abounded in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk are a big part of what makes comics so incredibly enjoyable, and like so much else Marvel was able to translate them to the big screen in a way few if any other studios have managed. I am very much looking forward to sifting through both dvds time and again in order to pinpoint all of the references that I'm sure I missed, looking for clues of what to expect from Marvel's next few projects. Needless to say, my faith in Hollywood lingers with the promises of Marvel Studios. The web, as it were, is being woven masterfully, and I can't wait to get caught in it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dragonball: The Difference between Anime and Live Action

Sometimes I wonder if the people who green light various adaptations to film, be them television, book, comic book, video game or in this case anime every actually bothered to look at the original version. To me at least, the answer seems unlikely considering the April 2009 release of Dragonball, of which I just had the misfortune of watching the trailer. You might perhaps recall the total absurdity of the Wachowski brother's live action adaptation of Speed Racer, well lets just say that Dragonball makes Racer look about as plausible as eating breakfast.

The benefit of anime is that there is absolutely no expectation and certainly no need for realism or plausibility, hence the propensity of the flying, super powered martial artists in Dragonball who can shoot energy attacks from their palms, scale mile high monoliths bare handed and travel on foot from one side of the planet to the other in a matter of weeks. Viewers watch these feats in anime without pause, because they know it is part and parcel of the genre, automatically displaced from reality by animation totally unbound by the laws of physics, something that is not shared in live action.

Of course, my opinions of the trailer itself would only by mildly better if there was no anime basis, because in a word, it's terrible. It is in fact possible for those who've never heard of the anime to actually think the trailer worse for it as it shows some of the dumbest outfits and weirdest hairdos ever to plague the silver screen. Compound that with what looks like some really awfully choreographed wire-fu and extremely silly posturing that only barely works in anime and you get a film that will be so silly, asinine and probably plotless that anyone unfortunate enough to actually pay money to see it will find themselves wondering exactly how much time, effort and money was blown on the catastrophe in front of them. In all likelihood it will be a mind numbing film with no intelligence, only the most tacit attempt at acting with the inclusion of the clearly short changed Chow Yun-Fat and not even any actually exciting action sequences.

In case there was any doubt, just the serious consideration of making a Dragonball movie all but wipes out my faith in the film industry. Risk your money, and your sanity, at your own peril.