Friday, July 18, 2008

Camera Obscura: Batmania; New Watchmen Trailer; Dueling Sherlocks; Max Payne Trailer

The buzz for "The Dark Knight" is overwhelming (a gross understatement) and product tie-ins range from pizza to Reese's Cups. The movie is more than a franchise, the comic far more than an icon.

Unlike all the super-heroes of the past and present, I think there's one simple aspect of the character of Batman which appeals - a dark and conflicted millionaire whose desires are prompted by revenge and muddied by distorted identities.

Spiderman does well as that kinda nerdy guy who revels in the normalcy always outside his reach, but Bats is The Man In Black who appears to relate with the bad guys more than the social climbers and everyday folks of his own world.

For many decades DC Comics called him The World's Greatest Detective - but he's more a post-modern gunslinger: he's immersed in taking down social misfits while forever remaining one himself. Society doesn't really have a place for a "hero" who abandons all social rules in order to preserve them.

For a more more witty and even more fantastical approach to the icons of comic books, some audiences will find far less troubling philosophies in "Hellboy 2". A phantasmagoria of evildoers threatens humanity and Hellboy is more James Garner's "Maverick" than Clint Eastwood's ghostly killer. The textures of terror Hellboy endures don't seem to leave scars of psychodrama.

It's part of the reason heroes like Superman provide such little drama - he can't be hurt and his motives are Ordinary Goodness. Dramatically, that's pretty boring.

In the mid-to-late 1980s and beyond, comic books began to more seriously consider the reality that their stars were hooded vigilantes motivated by much more than notions of Good for Good's Sake.

All that sturm and drang about identity and heroism reached a pinnacle with the brilliant graphic novel from Alan Moore, "The Watchmen", which has forever changed the genre. Director Zack Snyder has been at work tackling the massive work as a movie while fans have wondered how it might be possible to capture the layered brilliance of Moore's tale. The final proof is not to be seen until 2009, but a most impressive trailer was just released which you can watch right here.

But please do yourself favor and read this classic before you see the movie - it is an unforgettable experience.



Oddest news o' the month - Sacha Baron Cohen is set to play Sherlock Holmes with Will Ferrell as Dr. Watson ... and filming at the same time, another Sherlock flick with Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock. Who will be Dr. Watson? Jack Black? Woody Harrelson??


Director David Fincher wants to turn "Fight Club" into a Broadway musical ....


Some years back I had most entertaining and often very scary few weeks plowing through (make that shooting endless rounds of ammo) with a videogame called Max Payne. It wasn't just a hard-boiled neo-noir nightmare. Now Mark Wahlberg is bringing the character to the big screen, complete with scratchy-voiced angst:



A short-lived British TV series called "Spaced", from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, the makers and stars of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz". Goofy twenty-somethings in a joke-filled sitcom which leaves other sitcoms far behind:

"In the span of just 14 episodes, Pegg, Stevenson and company managed to create a cast of characters and a world that are better developed than those that populate the vast majority of the sitcom landscape, while Wright raised the bar for half-hour artistry. Add in the fact that it's genuinely funny and laser-focused on the lives of the geek population, and you end up with an utterly brilliant show. This set, which delivers the show in solid quality and packed with a ton of deep, informative and entertaining bonus features, is everything "Spaced" you need (for now) and is a perfect little package for fans of quirky, creative sitcoms, the fanboy lifestyle or especially Shaun of the Dead fans."


  1. james2:10 PM

    Have you seen "GOTHAM KNIGHT" yet.It is a series of shorts that is very good.I have always thought Batman was a character for anime style animation.I also thought the Witchblade anime was good.And I liked "SUPERMAN RETURNS".

  2. The "Gotham Knight" animated DVD looks promising.
    But I simply did not care for either the comic or the anime of Witchblade.

    As for "Superman Returns" ... the only bright spot for me was Kevin Spacey as Lex, but otherwise it all was deeply predictable and dull. Sorry.

  3. james4:15 PM

    BTW Joe ,whats your opinion of "THE CROW" movies and tv show.

  4. i liked the first Crow movie, but the second one just never captured my imagination. i had no idea there was a TV show!
    i shall search it out, thanks!

  5. paige7:48 AM

    There was a TV show based on The Crow?! Hmm.

    The animated Batman shorts are worth watching, fwiw.

    And yea for the Watchmen shout out. Definately read it before seeing it. Amazing read.

  6. unknown to me there was in fact a one season, 22 episode show called "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven" back in 1998.

    I had no idea. the IMDB website says the show when the production company PolyGram was bought out by Universal.

    as for the animated Batman TV shows, my 6 year old nephew and I just loved the Batman vs Dracula DVD movie.