MAN OF STEEL:AN EPIC KIND OF ORIGIN…-PART 2

So then, the movie.

I had seen some trailers, knew a little of what was coming, but from the very begining of the movie I was fairly surprised. I was honestly impressed with the very detailed depiction of Krypton, never before seen on the big screen in such stunning ways and to such an extent. Then we had Russell Crowe as the father of Superman. Not always a huge fan of his acting, but he was not so bad here.

This was a new version of Superman, but it still was starting over from scratch once again. It was showing us the birth and journey of Superman, the destruction of Krypton, which had only previously been fleetingly seen. It is certainly another very long Zack Snyder movie-they seem to just keep getting longer and longer- and it probably should have close to half an hour cut off somehow. Many of these fantastically designed scenes, directed sequences are at first stunning but do drag along at times.

Visually, this just is a really jaw dropping comic book fantasy tale. This is very much one of the best Superman films ever, and one of the best superhero movies as well I might suggest. There are admittedly some bad moments, some difficult or just wrong lines of dialogue I think.

Yes, it does throw in a good few Christ and religous moments and metaphors but I do not feel that these actually ruin things as much as they potentially could have. We know Superman is this kind of hero, always has been and should be. The pacing of the film seems to balance these elements well enough. The balance is also held between many various memories and flashbacks, which almost became very irritating but just about remained touching and emotional.

With this new Superman, there also came a fully threatening and extreme villain. Like the recent Star Trek reboot sequel, this is no new character, but an old one brushed down and depicted in an even more deranged way that previously. This is General Zod, military Krytponian megalomanic killer, hunting Superman through space.

He is absolutely a crazed, wild nutcase,  though political and ethical tensions are clearly placed early on, adding a clear level of tragedy to him.

Like the Marvel Avengers movie, the last 30/40 minutes of Man of Steel is an entirely over the top smack-down of truly epic levels, dozens upon dozens of skyscrapers and tall buildings shattered and smashed all over urban America, and it probably goes on so much longer than really needed. This could have ruined a film which up until then is reasonably very well written and acted, but thankfully the conclusion does still largely impress and round things off though not all who see the movie may agree entirely.

This is the movie that might be the real starting point for the still potential DC comics Justice League blockbuster movie, and it may just has given us very real new hope.

Richard Stanley to direct New “Colour Out of Space” movie (with teaser trailer)

Fantastic news to hear that this estranged and cult director is making a return…

Lovecraft eZine

From Horror-Movies.ca:

“Richard Stanley, the director of the post apocalyptic cult film Hardware and Dust Devil, is turning his hands to the work of HP Lovecraft. Stanley is looking to return to the horror genre after almost 2 decades with arguably one of Lovecraft’s greatest stories The Colour out of Space“.

Read more here, and visit the film’s official website here.

And here’s the teaser trailer:

What do you think, folks? Comment below.

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MAN OF STEEL: AN EPIC KIND OF ORIGIN…

I have now managed to see the the all new Zack Snyder Superman movie Man of Steel at the cinema finally after the first attempt was cut short when all of the shopping mall and cinema power went down. After reading a few reviews, knowing how many feel about Mr Snyder and his infamous style of overblown directing, I almost forgot about it. But I was persuaded and thankfully I entered the cinema again.

I say thankfully, which may sound wrong to some of you, but yes I do think that this new very altered, reworked and rebooted take on the Superman tale was worth the ticket price. I was not one of the most eager and rabid Superfans before the movie opened in cinemas a few weeks ago, but I have always enjoyed the character and most of the previous Superman movies.

This new movie comes around six years after the previous failed reboot of the franchise, which though admirable was just uninspiring overall and seemed unsure of where the character and series could go next after so many years since the last movie which featured Christopher Reeves (which also is not the most loved of the Superman movies by far).

Here though, after speculation and gossip it was announced that this new take would be directed by…yes, that was it…Zack Snyder. A successful ( sometimes, in some ways) director, known these days for his reliably epic and over dramatic movies and comic adaptations including Frank Miller’s 300, the long gestating Watchmen movie, and more recently the terribly narratively lacking but visually dazzling (of course) Suckerpunch, which garnered him some difficult criticism of the depiction of women in fantasy roles.

He is a modern cult director, specialising in vastly epic fantasy and stylised action movies, often now comic book adaptations. Many people do not like and are not often impressed by a continued lack of character and plot depth in his movies, though in some ways this should not always be entirely expected.

So Snyder took the helm as director of this new Superman movie, which was soon expressed to be a bold and very modern reboot. Given the general reaction to the last Superman movie, most of us thought that could be a great thing-but with Snyder directing?

While many of us were certainly very nervous about the next step in the cinematic history of one of the best known and oldest superhero icons ever, one very positive piece of information was offered eventually to calm us while the film was being produced. It was to be part written and produced by Chris Nolan, director of the recently staggeringly successful Batman trilogy of films.

So the visual directing style of Snyder coupled with the fine and thoughtful script writing of Nolan (and also regular superhero movie writer David S. Goyer) it then seemed much more like it could just maybe turn out to be some kind of stunning film. It also, almost had to be, given the rival pressure from Marvel comics/studios increasingly fantastic string of movies including the IRON MAN series, THOR, Captain America and then the monumental blockbuster that was last summer’s AVENGERS movie.

 

PACIFIC RIM: BIG, BAD AND BRUTAL…

So right now there are only literally days before we regular mortal folk get to sit in a cinema and finally see what is one of the most eagerly awaited huge budget blockbusters of 2013. There are teaser trailers all over televison and the internet, and over time this movie has come to look, at least so fantastically epic and action-packed in scale it is almost unbelievable on sight.

Even many months ago when there were only just a few stills and some artwork from the film to get us excited for a while it was a very exciting prospect, mostly due to it being directed by the huge cult fantasy legend Guillermo del Toro. This was the guy of never-ending artistic talent who has given us cult hits such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos, then more mainstream but still distinctly his own Hellboy and Blade films besides others.

As great as Pacific Rim does appear right now, just what does it tell us about the kind of action FX movies that are greeting us regularly these days?

Are these movies too many, far too often? Are we happy with the amount of crash-bang explosive mega budget CG smooth genre movies we get, not really considering if there might be too much narrative repetition or lack of enough originality?

In fairness, it is summertime right now, and these movies are all over the place until around September, and almost unavoidable in magazines, on tv and in shops most of the time. What we can probably relax a little more about this time is Pacific Rim comes from a film director who always finds a way to be able to add his own visual and story style into things, which we all love about him and is great to see in crossover between smaller budget indie films projects and the enormous Hollywood spectacles he often alternates between.

It can regularly seem like a conscious struggle and effort to seek out more original and creative films, be they science fiction/horror/fantasy or just plain weird and arty, and in very recent times some of the biggest directors including Speilberg and Lucas have commented on the ever increasing cinema ticket prices soon possibly almost blocking out lower budget, more inventive movies over the most certain mainstream blockbuster movies, which can now seem at times highly predictable and depressingly lacking in good scriptwriting.

This time, at least with Pacific Rim we can very likely expect a good level of inventive and quirky creative input with our monolithic shiny giant robots as they smack the life out of the oncoming monster attacks.

PAGES ON THE SCREEN:BOOK OR FILM SUCCESS?

As I am in the later stages of preparing my first science fiction novel for release with my publisher, I just got the thought in my head suddenly for this post. Not that I immediately expect some mega-super-szed Hollywood movie adaptation of my book, but I did start to think about the issues that continue to arise with so many modern films adapted to the big screen from books.

Right now, this summer we are waiting for a number of highly anticipated movies such as Ender’s Game, a few months back there was the film of Cloud Atlas, and we have just seen a mixed reaction to the colossal budgeted movie version of World War Z from the acclaimed cult novel. In some ways it does seem that these huge movies are increasingly getting it wrong over and over-or are they?

Having come from a film studies/production background, I do certainly understand that film and the written word are two different forms of entertainment and artistic expression. You will not get everything across from a book right up onto the screen, that is a fact.

It gets very interesting however, in the changes between the two forms and artistic expression, the two mediums. Lets look at a number of previous classic (in their own ways) movie book adaptations-

In the last year or so we did finally get a film version of the much respected and influential Kerouac book On the Road, which seems to have worked in some ways, missed the ‘feel’ of the book in other ways,

further back, and very famously we have Blade Runner-many known that it comes from the Philip K Dick short novel ‘Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep…?’ which missed out a good chunk of the book, and kept things more gritty and serious. Even with that direction, Ridley Scott has put out several verions of the movie, some with and some without an added voice over. How well did Blade Runner succeed?

David Cronenberg made his own ‘interpretation’ of William Burrough’s novel Naked Lunch, often called unfilmable. He understood this, and so the film was a mixture of parts of Burrough’s own life and selected parts of the novel, which then became a new strange kind of tale onscreen.

Over the last century almost, there have been versions of classic works by Jules Vern and H.G.Wells adapted to screen, and many of these now very old movies are simply regarded as classics. The War of the Worlds, and 20,000 Leagues under the sea-are they seen as a kind of great only because many decades have passed since they were made?

The film version of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange by the great Stanley Kubrick was hugely controvertial on release in the seventies, a national outcry ensued, and the film was then banned, with help from Kubrick himself. But hold it alongside the original novel-is it a success, a failure or even better?

With that movie, Kubrick famously changed the end of the story, which is in some sense ambiguous. I wonder how the author Anthony Burgess felt about that? Some authors who see their books adapted to film are delighted, and then on occassion possibly depressed or seriously angry when their novel is changed, shortened, scenes and chapters cut or changed.

Some might say that Alfred Hitchcock might have been one of the best when adapting books to film. Often they were fairly unknown or cult novels but now those films are just so extremely well known and loved worldwide, films such as Psycho and The Birds.

The fantastic author/filmmaker/artist Clive Barker adapted his own short novella The Hellbound Heart into the film Hellraiser in the mid-eighties, which became a huge success. He then a couple of years later adapted another of his short novels, Cabal into the movie Nightbreed. This was a much more elaborated, epic horror fantasy tale, and it bombed terribly at the time of release in the very early 1990’s. There could be various reasons for this-mostly the studio did not understand Barker’s vision-but could it also be that he was an author adapting his own work to the big screen, and the challenge that could pose to his own point of view? (I will add, I do very much love and admire that movie and the novel. Right now, a new edited version-The Cabal Cut- is touring cinema, hopefully to be released by 2014)

We had a film version of the very influential cult horror novel ‘I Am Legend’ a few years back starring Will Smith. It was the second film adaptation, though some ways much more faithful, possibly due to advances in CGI, film effects and studio budgets. Did it work well? The first hour of less, to me is fantastic. So effective and emotional. After that-after the mutated people arrive, it does become less intense, to some degree but it continues on. It maybe could have been better, but I think it was still a very respectable verison of the novel.

We have Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Dracula-some many dozens and dozens of adaptations and versions of those classic novels brought to the big screen-some loved, some hated, some just bizarre. Does it matter how faithful some of those have been to the original source material? Those authors are long gone now, though some of their family may exist and own rights.

So if an author of a much loved novel dies, and a film adaptation is on the cards, should it happen? What the author never wished it to happen, or hated the idea? Does it come down to the fans or the family who perhaps want to sell the rights? What about respecting the original novel?

So do films ever get it right when adapting books to the screen? Yes, there are definately times this happens. It could be argued that Neil Jordan succeeded in making a great film version of Anne Rice’s Iinterview with the Vampire novel, kubrick again made 2001:A Space Odyssey-a truly fantastic movie with the author of the book, Arthur C Clarke. Although David Lynch gave us a version of the very popular sci-fi novel Dune, which attempted to cram in far too much into barely two hours and ended up simply cofusing the heck out of most who even dared to try to watch it, though Lynch actually took his own name off the film, as he was so upset and unhappy with how the studio were trying to have it edited and presented to audiences.

(I myself very much like the David Lynch and the ‘Alan Smythee’ versions of the Dune movie, and find it interesting to see the differences between them)

So should we perhaps simply accept that a film version of a loved book will just never make it to the screen in full as it is on the pages? Like the many film remakes continuously being pushed out-if you did love the original book, go read that. And often, if you liked the movie, go find out what the book was like. Keep reading and keep watching.