Friday, December 1, 2017

Comic Book Movies

h/t to Silicon Graybeard

SiG went to see Justice League, which is apparently worth a look.
He's probably right, but I won't know for some months.
And let's face it, "Best DC Comics movie in a long time" is a fairly low bar to get over in the grand scheme of things.

Got it: Avengers - DC version, but not quite as good. Now that Marvel's unlocked how to do comic book movies near flawlessly, Warner Bros finally has a bare hope of aping their success, by rote, with the DC 'verse. (They had to do something. Harry Potter is over, and Eastwood's in his 80s, so they can't lean on his talents forever to keep the lights on.)
After failing on almost every prior outing, with the occasional decent flick scattered throughout three or four decades, including the Dark Knight trilogy, which they've now thrown out completely.

This is like the time everybody was making a volcano eruption movie at the same time.
See film tropes: 17th guy to say "I am Spartacus!".

I'll absolutely take SiG's word for it on the quality. When it hits the discount bin at ChinaMart, I'll be there to check it out.

But since there's already a great comic book franchise, and DC isn't it, maybe WB could focus on the once-every-five-years resurrection of a decent western. Disney pretty much screwed that pooch with their craptastic everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attempt in Lone Ranger, and I have it on good authority that the long-departed Louis L'Amour only has about 70 bestselling western novels that still haven't made it onto the silver screen yet, including most of the Sackett storyline. And as a bonus, L'Amour, unlike Stan Lee, isn't around anymore to require getting a cameo in every flick. Downside: since he's not around, unlike Stan Lee, there's no one handy to keep them from screwing around with success "because they can", and doing to his westerns what they did to DC Comics.

Every once in awhile (Harry Potter, LOTR/Hobbit) Hollyweird - particularly WB - finds directors and producers who don't gut the written work and actually make decent flicks because of that restraint. (I'm always amused when twenty- and thirty-something directors and producers with nothing notable in their resume think they can "improve" the work of beloved and best-selling authors. In a grab-the-vomit-bag sort of way.)

Then there's all the other ones they make, which usually they couldn't get the dog interested in, even if you tied a pork chop to the flick.

Thanks for the heads up on Justice League.
When they can get four good ones in a row, I'll pay closer attention.

It took Avengers in the first place to get me to see any of them, and it was good enough to get me to go back and watch how they tied multiple backstories into a continuing narrative, which was done exactly no times prior to that idea in Hollywood. Now that Disney has bought Marvel outright, and basically told them "You make the movies, and we'll roll the trucks loaded with money back to the bank to fund them", their continued success is unlikely to peter out any time soon. (Until Stan Lee dies, and Disney turns loose the team that's absolutely fornicated the entire Star Bores franchise into the gastronomic equivalent of craft paste, sprinkled with cinnamon, and lets them take a crack at screwing the Marvel-verse pooch in like manner. Mark my words, they won't be able to help themselves. Look no farther than what Paramount has done to destroy the Star Drek cash cow. Or UA/Whoever Sam Mendes-ing in their pants with the last deplorably awful and regrettable Bond flick. F***ing up franchises and stories is what Hollyweird does, and it's their only actual superpower. People who can do show and business at the same time are few and far between, as they've proved in Tinsel Town for over a century.)

But seeing the bargain version of Avengers doesn't exactly thrill me with anticipation.
Christopher Reeve made a pretty good Superman. Christian Bale put all the lesser attempts of Batman to shame. Trying to burp forth a tentpole franchise, congealed with bits of all the previous craptastic attempts strewn into the recipe, strikes me as a doomed quest, but I'll wait and see.

Maybe someone from DC has broken some producers' hands every time they try to monkey with his work, and they've got a shot at longevity. But it's long odds.


loren said...

I realize that movies, like advertising is made for the people who buy tickets or trinkets but maybe they could try for the adult market? You know. Movies with a plot that doesn't involve super powers or porn.
Just a thought.

Aesop said...

It's worse than that: movie are made for the rest of the world.
What Americans like or want is barely even a factor anymore.

Which explains the whole of the rot.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, no it doesn't, the rot with Hollywood has been going on for some time. And I don't think it has anything to do with un-American audiences. HW movies are like common core these days, promoting catch'em while you can and while their young, impressionable minds need impregnating. Meanwhile exhibit the lowest common denominator.

Sitting in the theater, gobbling popcorn, sipping oversized pop and at the same time trying to look over the shoulder of the guy in front of you, just to watch a 2nd or 3rd rate movie. That's my kind of fun, not.


MMinWA said...

I liked the Batman trilogy but I've been a Batman fan all my life. When he took the A-bomb out of range and saved Gotham, that was pretty much the end of my interest in any comic book movie.

I would love to see some Louie L'amour westerns come to the big screen. Look at the bang up job that was done on Conagher, still a fav western of mine. Of course it's hard to go wrong watching Sam Elliott. Wasn't it you that recommended the L'amour ripper about the guy swashbuckling his way through Arab lands looking for his father-man that was a good one.

I'm afraid my main source of entertainment is my mind set loose in my studio. Or my dogs.

Aesop said...

"Some time" is a deliberately ambiguous phrase.
Compare, e.g., both versions of The Alamo.
Note the dates.
Watch Jeremiah Johnson, and then (if you can stomach its awfulness) The Revenant.
Note the production dates.

See if, even with that limited data set, you can spot the trend.

Movies pre- about 1980 (i.e. pre-videotape) made most of their money here.
Those since make most of their money overseas, not here.
The guy who hires the piper gets to call the tune.

Never forget the "business" part of "show business".
(Which doesn't explain everything, but it helps to do so.)

Now try and imagine Hollywood making anything ever done by Frank Capra today.
For that matter, imagine them making Sergeant York, The Bells Of St. Mary's, or The Bishop's Wife, Ben Hur, or The Ten Commandments.

Then try to imagine one such being cast with anyone like Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, etc.

And stars have to get to their stature first to be able to tell a producer, director, or studio, where to head in.

Yet when the perennially horrible and foul-mouthed Whopee Goldberg made Sister Act, it was the peak box office of her career - decades ago.

When Mel Gibson, of necessity, bankrolled Passion of the Christ out of his own pocket, it was one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. After every studio turned it down, repeatedly.
The studios were more worried about offending Greater Musland and Asia than trying to make truckloads of money.
And look at the virtually career-ending trainwreck Noah with Russell Crowe, where they tweaked the story to cleverly remove virtually all reference to God and immorality, and make it about green politics(?!).

Hollywood's problem is forgetting where its bread is buttered, in pursuit of the bread they make in foreign markets.
Which makes any reference to God (other than Allah or Buddha, of course), let alone truth, justice, or the American Way (scrubbed from Superman's backstory for some time, notably) total anathema.

Give them a couple of years, and they'll be working on making Black Widow, Spiderman, Flash, or Wonder Woman gay. The meetings have already happened, I can assure you, and it's only a miracle they haven't been able to shove it down everyone's throats (you should pardon the unintended pun) already. Even J.K. Rowling was careful not to burp out her own hitherto-private mental image of Dumbledore as gay until the last Harry Potter was in the can, and all her books had been written. In ten more years, she'll have a Muslim-esque wizarding professor grooming little boys, openly, and it'll be a hero, not a villain, which will give the term "box office gross' a whole new interpretation.

Aesop said...


You're referring to The Walking Drum, a magnum opus of L'Amour's.
It should be a three pic epic.

If Beau and Angelique will sell me the rights on spec, I'll give them script approval, and direct it for scale, and I'll make a paltry several hundred million over production costs for the trilogy it would be.

tweell said...

Marvel's already ahead of you there, Aesop. Spiderman is a half-black half-latino teenager, Iron Man is a black girl, Thor is a woman, Captain Marvel is a muslim lesbian, etc.. Purely coincidentally, their sales have been dropping year to year by 10-20%. Disney likes SJW crusades, but they like money more, so the Marvel movies are using 'old' characters and stories.

Don't expect DC to do better. They just hired one of Marvel's 'top' writers, Brian Bendis, away from Marvel. Bendis will destroy Superman and Wonder Woman just like he did Spiderman.

Anonymous said...

Re-reading Walking Drum now...would be awesome if it weren't screwed up like Tom Clancy's stuff. And, yes, the whole Sackett series could keep a production house busy and profitable for decades.

Anonymous said...

The last movie I went to was an original showing of The Boys in Company C (1978 IIRC). I was, stupidly, expecting something other than what it was.

You could not produce anything that would ever again get me to sit in a dark room with a group of people I have never met, paying to watch mind-numbing propaganda.