Also not the huge post I've been threatening, but…
Superhero films. A variegated genre, and one that, whilst it turns up a few gems, is always walking a tightrope over the truly awful. It's a very difficult concept to get right without descending into campery, tongue-in-cheek in-jokes or simple cliché.
Now, I've surely mentioned at some point how much I admire Alan Moore (1). However, films of Moore have been to date controversial. I wept at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, to see so much of the good, good original butchered and badly reassembled. There have been worse films, but that film I did not enjoy.
On the other hand, I did enjoy the V for Vendetta film, possibly because I hadn't got hold of the novel, and so had no preconceptions. Anyway, it seems Mr M himself was fond of neither, as he disassociated himself from both projects.
There is one graphic novel that has a very special place in the history of the art form, a stand-alone piece that Moore produced for DC way back in 1986. I speak of Watchmen, and if you've never read it, then read it. I'm quite serious. I'll be checking up on you.
Well, news came that they would be filming Watchmen. In fact, the suggestion of a Watchmen film has been kicking about for years, with various directors mooted — Terry Gilliam lists it amongst the great projects he never quite had a chance to try. But now they're doing it. They're really doing it.
It's one of those classics that's just waiting to be ruined by a bad film. Neuromancer's another, and, yes, there is a film project for that, too, alack the day. However, recently Frank Miller, another giant of the graphic artform, struck lucky with a couple of his: Sin City and 300, whether or not you liked one, both or neither, had the singular virtue that, visually at least, they were very much the real thing, following in the style of the original.
Anyway… the trailer for Watchmen is out, now. I watched it like a child watching Dr Who, halfway behind the sofa, waiting for the awfulness.
There is precious little awfulness in that trailer. In fact, very large tracts of that trailer are, design-wise and visually, straight from the pages of the book. Even Night Owl's ship, which frankly was the first thing I thought they'd change. And it looks good. It's on Youtube about a thousand times. I recommend having a look and forming your own opinion.
Of course, it doesn't mean they haven't screwed up the plot something daft, and lord knows a good trailer has preceded a bad film more often than the other way around (2), but here's hoping…
(1) A topic that came up at a publishing lunch of late: Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman, who's the more influential? Answers on a postcard please.
(2) Phantom Menace anyone? That trailer had me salivating. The actual film was more towards the retching end of the scale.