Friday, July 18, 2008

Fanboy Confessions

Now, I'm an unrepentant comic-book fanboy. I'm also a HUGE fan of movies based on comic-books. I must've seen the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman movies dozens of times already. The best movie that I've seen in recent weeks is "Hellboy 2". Loved every frame of that movie. But there are some stuff that I will NEVER, EVER watch. And here are my reasons:

Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's "300" graphic novel was so successful that he got a chance to adapt Alan Moore's "Watchmen". I absolutely hate the "300" movie so much from the first glimpse of the trailer onwards that I swore NEVER to see the movie. Melvin even got free tickets for me but I absolutely will NEVER see this movie. I think one of the reasons had to do with the fact that I absolutely HATE Gerald Butler. He sucked in "Tomb Raider 2" and sucked even more in "Phantom of the Opera". In the "300" trailer, I saw him screaming "Tonight We Dine In Hell". That was it for me. Not interested. I did watch "Epic Movie" with my kids though and we loved that one! :)

That brings me to the upcoming "Watchmen" movie by Zack Snyder also. Now, I know the reputation of the original Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel. Even La Tey, a non-junkie, occasional-comic-reader had read "Watchmen" already. Couple of months back, some of my favourite writers (Ed Brubaker, Brian Vaughn, etc.) got together in a cafe somewhere to discuss this work (they even brought the "Absolute" edition of the book into the discussion). Me? I swore earlier on that I will NEVER read "Watchmen". It's just one of the things I do. I'm a superhero-junkie. "Watchmen" is kinda like the "wake-up call" that I refuse to heed. It's the book that first painted superheroes as fascistic fucks. I don't know. Lots of people liked that stuff and call it "sophisticated". Me? I like my fantasies and simply that - fantasies, fun, humour, etc. Hence, there is absolutely no reason for me to ever want to watch the "Watchmen" movie! (Not a biggie there since I know even Alan Moore himself swore never to watch the movie...)

Speaking of Alan Moore, he too swore off another adaptation of his work, the Wachowski Brother's adaptation of "V For Vendetta". Now, "V For Vendetta" is arguably the first non-spandex indie graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd that captured the attention of the alternative fans. This, of course, led to many other works (e.g. "From Hell", etc.). For the life of me, that was also when comics started getting pretentious. People started walking around telling other people that they're NOT comic-fans, that they read "graphic novels"! What the fuck is a "graphic novel"? I hate that term. I know I use it sometimes as well but I hate it. Comics are comics are comics! My colleagues make fun of my comics obsession at times but that's because they know nothing about them. I don't have to justify my reading to them! Or try to legitimize this stuff by adding an air of sophistication - calling them "graphic novels"! They are comics. And they're done by some of the best storytellers and creators that this world has ever known. I'm proud to be a fanboy and that's that! No, I did not read "V For Vendetta" and neither will I ever watch the movie adaptation of it.

Finally, the biggest thing making its rounds in your local cineplexes - "The Dark Knight". I hated this from the first glimpse of the teaser trailer/poster. Let me explain why. A lot of people think that Tim Burton made the best Batman movies in the late 80s/early 90s. I disagreed because his "Batman" (like all his other movies) was another exercise in ego-masturbation. He wasn't interested in the original material. He was only interested in displaying his flair for freakish-costumes and a neo-gothic setting. (FYI, I avoided "Big Fish", "Planet of the Apes" and "Sweeney Todd" like the plague as well!) The Batman movies that made me a lifelong fan of the caped-crusader were the universally-hated ones by Joel Schumacher! Mark Millar agrees with me on this. The Schumacher movies had a sense of "fun" to them that the Burton ones did not have. People slammed the movies for being "campy". But that's them. "Campy fun" is my cup of tea. "Campy fun" (from the Adam West series and movies) was what the Batman stories were all about to me. Colourful psychos and a hero in a Bat-suit running around with a kid in a green underwear, falling in love with a tree-hugging-femme fatale. That's MY Batman! I even liked George Clooney's head-bobbing Bruce Wayne! Chris Nolan and David Goyer brought us a new Batman for the new millennium with their "Batman Begins". I watched that and thought that it was a good movie but not really a "Batman" movie. It just felt wrong to me. Maybe because everyone was so gloomy all the time. Maybe because there wasn't any Danny Elfman score and in place was a terribly irritating and claustrophobia-inducing score. Maybe because the whole film had this tint of brown/grey/black throughout. I don't know. It's just not MY Batman anymore. With "The Dark Knight", things got worst! I wasn't a fan of Jack Nicholson's Joker but I didn't hate it. Having said that, I absolutely HATE Heath Ledger's Joker (even from the few scenes that I unfortunately caught in the trailer). If Chris Nolan wrote this, I can understand. He's not really a comic-book guy so he'd want to go for a dark-portrayal of this villain. [Note: I'm actually a Chris Nolan fan. "The Prestige" is one of my favourite films ever! I just don't think that he makes good comic-based movies is all.] But David Goyer? I cannot forgive him for this (even though I loved his "JSA"). Goyer is a comic-book guy who should know better! The Joker is not like that at all. The Joker is genuinely funny. Check out the old TV series. Check out Paul Dini's "Batman: The Animated Series". Apart from the Joker, this sequel brings back everything that I disliked in "Batman Begins". The grey/brown/black hues. The irritating music. The overall claustrophobia. I hate everything about this film. Local reviewers are calling it the best superhero movie ever made (even better than "Iron Man" and "Hellboy II", they said). Bullshit. Predictably, they again slammed Schumacher's "Batman & Robin" (1997). More bullshit. Superhero movies are things that I watch with my kids all the time. We laugh at the hysterics and the campy fun together. Weekend matinee show with milk and cookies. That kind of thing. The Chris Nolan movies? My kids don't even like them. As far as I'm concerned, kids are the real judges when it comes to comic-based movies. If they disliked them, then the film-makers failed.

Where is the "comic" in movies like "The Dark Knight"? Last I checked, they are still called "comic-books", not "nihilistic-tragic-books"!

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