Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter Teaser Trailer- Reaction!

If you want to see nerdsplosion, you need look no farther than the newly released John Carter trailer from Disney. I have blogged about John Carter before and my deep abiding love for the series, but this is the first true attempt to bring the world of Barsoom to life with any kind of muscle behind it. We can all forget the Antonio Sabato Jr./Traci Lords version. Better to pretend that one didn't exist.

So the trailer hits and there are a ton of questions. By admission, this is an adaptation. Director Andrew Stanton is bringing us a fully realized, breathing version of the hundreds of art prints by fantasy artists around the world. Keep that in mind. Every piece of art is an interpretation. So it goes with this film. There are plenty of people ready to leave this one on the doorstep and walk away based on a teaser trailer that lasts a minute and a half. Why? Because it doesn't have x y or z. They have already gleaned the entire story from this trailer and have decided it doesn't meet their needs. Excuse me if that sounds a bit ludicrous.

Others bemoan the look of x y and z. Again, this is an interpretation. I think a lot of people get caught up and assume that a film is suddenly new canon for a story that already exists. If you want the original with no changes and no deviations, then the books are there. They remain as accessible and relevant as always, but almost 100 years has passed since Burroughs created the original story. I would be angry if Stanton and company didn't make changes to match the culture we live in now just as Burroughs wrote for the culture of a 1912 society.

Having said all that, I feel cheated. Only a little and it is only because this is a teaser. I want the whole film now. Right now playing on my TV. The fact I have to wait eight more months becomes interminable. The trailer does it's job. It gives you just enough to make you say "What the F&*$ was that" and re-watch for the copious minute details. As I have gotten older my desire for strict adherence to a specific story has wained. I can already tell you that many of the things I saw in the trailer did not exist n the original novel or any of the first three for that matter. Thankfully I don't care. As I said, if I wanted to be slavish I can just reread the books.

Taylor Kitsch is in for a huge career boost if this lives up to it's pedigree. He is a charismatic actor that plays the reflective warrior well. I have only seen Lynn Collins in one movie, so I have no expectations of her, but the trailer shows off some good moments between them. Barsoom doesn't look quite as I expected it to, I thought they would put a bit more red into the shots. I think the flyers look very cool with their huge solar wings shooting off to the sides. I will be curious to see how the costumes look in the final film as I was surprised to see them stick John in his cowboy boots. Frankly, he looks a lot like a certain barbarian getting ready to make his own return to the screen soon.

All in all, I never could have anticipated what I saw. I knew this was an adaptation going in, I had read descriptions online, but seeing it was something else entirely. More than likely we can expect another trailer around the holidays to start fleshing out the story and show off the Tharks in greater detail. John Carter may open in March, but it will still feel like another hundred years to me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The beautiful chaos of 2000AD

Comics are most definitely an art form. If you can call a crucifix in a jar of urine art, then surely you can allow some room for comics, yes? One of my favorite parts about collecting comics and it's art is trolling through the vast amount of back catalogue available and discovering the early days of artist x, or the great inspirations of artist y. I think that beyond all, the early years of 2000AD and Judge Dredd encapsulate the former.

I have had a love for the Judge Dredd character and world since the early nineties. When I first learned about the character, the World was preparing for the all encompassing stink that was the Sylvester Stallone film. To be fair, it sounded pretty cool. I ended up falling into my standard obsessive behavior and began devouring what information I could. In the middle of Oklahoma, the choices were somewhat limited. This was in the dark ages of course before the advent of the internet.

I even have an old drawing I did of Dredd back in the day, which at the time was one of my better attempts. I never really knew the true joy of Dredd and his 2000AD brethren until recently when I started getting the Judge Dredd Complete Case Files from 2000AD and Rebellion press. It is awesome, campy, fanboy love. The stories feel like a lot of other independent comics of the time. There is a fair amount of corny humor and beat you over the head storytelling, but in the middle of all that, you see the writer's working towards some great social satire and the art is off the walls bonkers.

There is a book called, "How to draw comics, the Marvel way" full of the method used by the John's Romita and Buscema. Everything is orderly, dynamic and one of the better references of the time. It's a great intro into how to develop a cinematic feel for the medium. 2000AD acts if books like that never existed. Every page is eye blisteringly full. Characters fall out of panels. Each page is so crowded that at first you have no idea where to look because your brain is processing so much visual stimuli. the stories are all the better for it. It feels like the sprawling, claustrophobic megalopolis that Mega City 1 is supposed to be. You can see the spittle flying from the lips of the villains hurling insults at the Judges and the grim steely visage of Dredd's chin.

The true shame of all of this is that 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine no longer function in this manner. The stories are far more cohesive with modern dialogue, but the art no longer seems to push the boundaries in the fashion of old. It resembles the American comic structure, and it seems lesser for it. Don't get me wrong though, They are still introducing some of the great artists of the future who will leave their impression on the industry for years to come. Part of me still misses the chaotic independent style that permeated Dredd in his earliest adventures.