His Step-Dad’s A Real Sucker

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

While visiting Planet Comicon this weekend, I passed by the booth of a couple of Kansas City filmmakers.  The film they were pimping?

My Step-Dad’s A Freakin’ Vampire!

Who can resist a title like that?  This, I must say, adds a slightly bloodier menace to the role of step-pop than even what Terry O’Quinn brought to the screen in his entirely creepy performance in 1987’s  The Stepfather.  Plus, the effects look spectacular, especially coming from a group who doesn’t have the financial backing of a major studio:

That’s pretty impressive, and it comes from a Kansas City chapter of horror fans .  I’m looking forward to seeing this when it comes out in May.

They Forgot To Wind It

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Let’s talk about Watchmen.

There, that’s your spoiler warning, so no complaining if you read further and find out something you didn’t want to know.  With that disclaimer in play, I am blameless. (For this.  No such guarantee could be made about, say, my relationship with my girlfriend back in the sixth grade.  I probably screwed that one up.)

In short, Watchmen the movie is pretty blah.  In truth, the graphic novel was not that much better, being nothing more than a rehashing of the tired tale of what happens when those who protect us act to destroy (all or some of) us, all for the betterment of the world, but at least it was something new for comics at the time.  Plus, the comic could at least be said to have a semblance of subtext (a very, very thin layer), while the film abandons originality and daring for a nearly scene-by-scene adaptation of the comic.

In short-shorts (she wears), the film’s boring.  It’s nice to look at, but walking through a garden filled with nothing but perfect roses and pretty soon you find yourself hoping to see a war party of dandelions invade the place.  Oh, sure, Dr. Manhattan’s  ever-present blue Dr. Johnson was both refreshing (no, heh, big deal was made out of it) and amusing, but everything else about the visuals was note-perfect and, well… shiny and clean.  It certainly doesn’t match up to the real-world dirt and grime given center stage in The Dark Knight.

Plus, Zack Snyder missed something huge that made up one of the central tenets of the comic.  That is, all of the heroes in the comic–with one noticeable exception–were human.  Fighters, maybe; inventors, sure.  But, human, with no powers and all of the biological frailties we tend to have.  In the film, however, Snyder directs his special effects team to show costumed vigilantes punch through walls, lift and throw adversaries across the room, survive their heads being slammed against kitchen counters, and fight multitudes of men without breaking a sweat or wearing down.  When you give your non-powered characters kinda-powers, you’re missing the point.

On a good note, and despite what you may hear, Malin Akerman is actually pretty decent as Laurie Jupiter.  If you fnd her performance paper-thin, you really can’t blame the actress; the original comic book character wasn’t any better, with Alan Moore choosing to focus his angst and energies in developing our favorite murderous psychotic, Rorschach.

Speaking of Rorschach, he was, of course, the most intersting character in the film.  An unapologetic facist, unswerving, relentlessly truthful, an emotionless killer–a movie about him as a vigilante and what that would mean to the real world, that would have been interesting.  As it was, he got the best lines in the movie, and was probably the most fun to play.

So, yeah, the movie was meh.  Not much meat on that bone.  Extra points go toward substituting a pseudo-nuclear attack for the original dumb “giant alien”, but let’s face it: the idea was ultra stupid to begin with, and I can’t really tell you if that was Moore’s point or his failure.  Keep in mind that our “villain” was trying to save the world by threatening it; getting nations to band together to fight off what was expected to be an alien invasion.  Thing is, if Moore lived a few minutes outside the Incredible Kingdom of Nerdom, he’d know that cooperation between juggernauts doesn’t last long; eventually there’d be poltitical power juggling, old feuds making guest appearances, the inevitable breakdown of the alliance, etc…  Perhaps that weakness was intended, but given the time the comic was published (mid-’80s), and the nuclear holocaust we were all worried about, I’m just figuring he wasn’t thinking far enough ahead.

Anyway, aside from the much ballyhooed and overrated source material, the film suffers from the same irreparable flaw the Harry Potter films do: they’re nearly exact imitations of the books with no heart or soul of their own.  And this, I blame on the director.